Another mammoth rambling entry – woodland bluebells and rubbish brassicas

It sounds like some of you had just as a good a weekend as I did last week. And I can’t believe that already, I’m in the middle of yet another weekend. The week just seemed to zoom by. As much as I love the weekend, it worries me a bit that time seems to be flying past at such a pace. I mean, we’re already in May. May! That’s almost half way through 2009. 2009!!!! I’m only just getting used to writing 2009 or ’09. Before you know it, it’ll be Chr….ooooo not going to say the ‘C’ word yet.

No, I’m just being silly. The growing season has yet to really get into full swing. Not that you’d know it by looking at my Utterly Pathetic Seedlings. The green aphids that suspiciously/miracuously transported themselves into my conservatory (read: giant propagator that has been messing everything up) have been slowly sucking the life out of my cosmos seedlings. And some of my chilli seeds that were part of my birthday present from my cousin. Boo! And yesterday morning I came down to find that Snoopy had let himself into the conservatory and done a bit of his own handiwork – he’d managed to not only snip the tops of four of my giant single sunflowers, but also sat on and flattened my salad tray AGAIN, and sat on my spindly string-like leeks and flattened those too. Sometimes I wonder why I bother.

Rich has been working like a trooper, going to bed at stupid o’clock and rising with me again at 7am. He’s had no time to make a start on my greenhouse staging, but I’m hoping next week things will calm down and I’ll finally be able to start moving things out to the greenhouse. It’s missing two panes in the roof (something else that needs fixing), so is a sort of halfway house for hardening off some of my seedlings. The cabbages and other brassicas I’ve got on the go in the conservatory are just so crap it’s unbelievable. I doubt they’ll do anything, but I’ll still stick them outside. I am definitely going to try again with them. Brassicas and propagators/warm, sunny rooms are just a no-go. This, I have learnt. Last year I sowed a load of primo cabbages in module trays and just left them outside on the garden table, and they did wonderfully well. I think this slow, cooler propagation is definitely the way to go. So I’ll probably get around to doing that sometime this weekend, because, yes, it’s a BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND which means I have EXTRA TIME TO DO WHAT I WANT TO DO (apart from the fact that I have a load of freelance work to catch up on, but shhh, we don’t mention that. We pretend I have all the time in the world to while away as I wish…until Tuesday at least).

Yesterday I also bought some more butternut squash seeds. Of the three I sowed in the conservatory, one germinated and looks to be doing pretty well. Butternut squash plants take up a heck of a lot of space, so what I’ll be doing is buying some straw bales and putting them in one side of the greenhouse. The squash plants can then sprawl along those. Mum had some new-fangled idea about growing hers in a hanging basket and using melon nets or something, but I narrowed my eyes and contorted my face in a kind of cynical way when we were discussing it.  I’m sure I looked very attractive (!). I don’t know, it may work. Maybe I’ll give it a try and let you all know.

I’ve still got to empty the old, rusty wheelbarrow (currently full of bits of hardcore that were pulled up when the veg plots were originally dug), and then fill it with soil and strawberries. That’s just one of those annoying jobs (emptying, not the planting) that I’m pretty sure I just won’t get around to. Or maybe I’ll just make a concerted effort and do it of an evening sometime next week after work. Speaking of strawberries, our alpine strawberries that grow in the gravelled area outside the backdoor have made a spectacular comeback. There are flowers. There will be tiny, juicy, fruits. Whoop!

Glad to see our fruit trees have been in blossom, and that Mr and Mrs Bee have been having a field day pollinating them. It’s very encouraging. The only thing is that the damson now has these strange wart-like green growths on a few leaves. I wonder whether it has anything to do with the reason we hardly got any fruit last year?

The flowers in the garden have come out in a spectacular fashion in the last week or so; the clematis montana looks like a fountain of pink, the honeysuckle smells absolutely divine in the evenings, the wallflowers, euphorbia, dew’s mallow, tiarella, honesty and lilac are all adding some much-needed colour after a long winter. In my mini (currently microscopic) woodland garden, the forget-me-nots, dicentra (dutchman’s breeches/bleeding heart), wild buttercup and oxalis are out and looking stunning. The wood anenomes that I planted last year haven’t come out yet, although I’m hoping they’ll make a later appearance. I’ve got some foxgloves and poppies pushing through too, very glad to see so Mr Bee will be able to keep himself busy at the Smallest Smallholding.

This time of year is just fantastic – the clouds are still distinctly April-like in their volume and frothiness, the days are getting longer and warmer, the hues of green look so fresh and new, and everywhere great swathes of colour are starting to appear. Rich and I went for an hour-long walk in my local woods, which are just completely awash with wild garlic and bluebells at the moment. We even saw a roe deer grazing in the middle of the woodland. So picturesque. I’m so lucky to live where I live.

And here at home, the birds are getting busy – so my final note in this exceedingly long entry is this: please don’t forget to feed the birds. With raising their young at the moment, they need all the help that they can get. Let me know if you’re feeding yours!

(Oh, and next week is National Compost Awareness Week I think. So I may be blogging about compost. If I have anything to say on the matter…).


  1. Yes it is National Compost Awareness Week Lucy…I am in the throes of doing a post about it, but am to tired by the end of the day to do it at the moment!

  2. Keep going Lucy! You just have to keep sowing and hoping, some will fail but hopefully enough will make it through.

    I sowed some purple sprouting brocolli last year and it got completed destroyed by caterpillers but amazingly made a comeback, only to get eaten by the rabbits during the snow (it was the only thing growing above the snow). Somhow it has kept on going and for the last 2 weeks we have been enjoying fresh brocolli so it just goes to show keep tryingno matter how bad things look.

    Looking forward to reading your compost post, I think the only thing I have to say about it is don’t let it get too dry, the rats in mine give you quite a fright!

  3. Good point about the birds, we just bought a new feeder station for the back garden and the birds are loving it. Especially the bluetits who are nesting in a box on the side of our house…. 🙂

  4. allotment blogger says

    I think you’re right about brassicas – we chucked some old summer cabbage seeds into a tray outside the greenhouse and forgot about it: result, over 50 cabbage seedlings. But the carefully nurtured red brussels sprouts? The greenhouse ones came up and died and the outdoor ones came up and were killed by Himself catching them with a spray of weedkiller (yes, he’s very sorry). So the answer seems to be neglect and more neglect!

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