20 March 2016

Dorset Garden Diary - New Growth and Frog Spawn...It's Getting Exciting!

Hi everyone,

Well, the weather forecast was correct and it's been a lovely week for gardening, although there was a chilly wind at times, but the sun has been shining. I hope it has where you are and you've also managed to get out in the garden.

Monday - a glorious sunny day, started chilly at 40F 4C but warmed up nicely later. I was out for most of the day, when I came home the pak choi had nearly doubled in size, the zinnias had broken through, so had one green chilli and three of the sweet peas.

Tuesday - another chilly start, 40F 4C and sunny. A few of the Chinese leaves seedlings are coming through and the tomato plants have put on a spurt...exciting. Had to go out first thing so quickly fed the birds. When I came back I did a recce of the garden and there is one (only one in the whole garden) tulip in bloom, two tiny viola (so delicate).

The Echinacea are emerging in their over-wintering pot near the greenhouse and in the greenhouse, the acer tree has plenty of new leaves

the garlic is coming on well and hopefully will remain disease free this year

 and the freesias are close to flowering

The lemon is still growing, albeit slowly, but looking good.

 But the big excitement of the day is...frog spawn in the pond overnight!

The adult fish were near the surface in the warmth for a few hours today:

As I was watching them there was a big splash and a quick glimpse of a frog, far too quick to get a pic unfortunately.

I pulled out the dead growth from around the bluebells in the shade garden. One of my projects this year is to get it all tidied up and plant more flowers, as this is one part of the garden I haven't tackled yet.

I re-potted the pak choi into pots ready to go into the greenhouse, hopefully at Easter if the nights are a bit warmer. I wasn't going to plant out the potatoes and onions until Easter but I couldn't wait any longer. I planted some small potatoes that had started chitting from a bag I had bought from the supermarket earlier in the year, I have no idea what they are or if they will grow so watch this space; and I planted pink-fleshed shallots (Longue) Jermon. I will plant the rest next week.

Around 10pm this evening I heard a sort of low growling/snuffling noise coming from the patio which took me by surprise. I'm presuming, hoping, it was a hedgehog. Definitely not a badger as there are no big holes under the fences.

Wednesday - cold this morning with an amazing sunrise (38F 3C) and there was an equally amazing sunset this evening. Unfortunately I was unable to get any gardening done today but I did check all was ok and fed the birds. The adjustment to the bird table appears to be working, the pigeons now stand under the table waiting for any scraps to fall their way.

Thursday - another spectacular sunrise this morning - pinks and golds - and not quite as cold (42F 5C), but there was a bitter east wind. The sparrows and blue tits were in abundance this morning and a blackbird was sat in the middle of the bird table for ages. I had to go out for a couple of hours in the morning and when I came back...hello courgettes and hello sweet peas!

I re-potted the tomato plants and pepper seedlings and left them in the house until this cold snap clears. I switched on the pond pump for a couple of hours, the fish were lazily floating near the surface (alive I hasten to add!). I bought some potato fertiliser while I was out so I mixed a couple of handfuls with compost and put on the potatoes I've planted. At midday today the temperature in the greenhouse was 70F 21C! I've been leaving the door half open for a few hours each day this week to cool it down. Another stunning sunset.

Friday - and yet another glorious sunrise, very cold with a ground frost (36F 2C).

There was a lot of bird activity this morning and a robin visited the bird table -makes a change from the blackbirds. And look how much the courgettes have grown overnight plus the gherkins have appeared, so potting them up was my first job of the day.
The zinnia have also put on a spurt so I've re-potted them as well. It's all starting to happen - exciting!

I've been hoping more frog spawn would appear as we had three large clumps of it last year - maybe the resident frogs are being territorial. I watered the greenhouse and I had to water the outside pots as they were all dry. Surprising how quickly they dry out after a week of no rain.

Saturday - another cold start (38F 3C), dull this morning with a chilly wind. I re-stocked the bird food and didn't feed the fish as it was too cold. I watered the potatoes which I'd forgotten about yesterday, gave them a good soaking. I won't be out in the garden this weekend as we have an important family reunion to keep us busy so I double-checked that all was well and nothing had appeared overnight that needed potting up.

Sunday - another cold, dull morning (41F 5C), hopefully it might clear up a bit during the day. The weather forecast looks good for most of next week, getting a bit warmer tomorrow and Tuesday and some much needed rain coming in Wednesday night, which means no frost so looking good for planting out over Easter weekend. Not only am I looking forward to getting the outside sowing underway but also being back on the chocolate next weekend!

Have a good week and enjoy the rest of your weekend.