Here we are in May and still locked down. I may have mentioned it before, but we feel so lucky to be out in the country, where comparatively speaking, Prue and I seem hardly affected. Unlike the high-rise flats, where following the guidelines would seem to be impossible, here in our garden we can be completely legal in word and deed while watching the season unfold. It seems to be the same for some of our members, as you can see, below.
Margaret Linge writes: About 25 years ago I dug the tiny back garden you couldn't see for weeds and discovered the flints etc. of the old farm buildings. I used the hole to create a pond, heaping up the rubble to make a waterfall and rockery. The trouble is, the trees behind are now huge and pond gets full of leaves. The pump broke and the pond also leaks, so I am occupying my time changing the whole thing. Yours Margaret.
Prue and I also have a pond; leaves are not the problem, it's blanket weed. We have tried every kind of treatment, but none seems to work the way it's described on the treatment container. It also gets loads of sludge on the bottom. We have a vacuum cleaner that will easily handle the sludge, but the blanket weed blocks it up in about five seconds. So every few weeks we have to drag as much out as possible, which stirs up all the sludge, so it's not on the bottom to vacuum. Best advice on maintaining a pond? Don’t have one in the first place.
Julie Brown writes: Hello Ed & Prue, Hope you are both OK and every one of our members is too. What a difference a bit of rain makes... A picture of the village hall garden appeared in the Wretham newsletter Now it's rained I will have to get down there to do the weeding of the garden and weed-kill the car park in case the photographer turns up again. I'm glad it rained, the earth needed it and I needed a rest from digging stuff up and moving soil. Having emptied the pond, removed the liner and then filled the pond in, I could move onto the bog garden, or so I thought.
I had been seeing a couple of red legged partridges in the garden, I thought they were looking at a spot right at the bottom of the garden but no, I found the nest right in the middle of the bog garden amongst the double day lily that I wanted to dig out! As the bird wasn't sitting on the nest and I hadn't seen them in a couple of days I decided to start digging. I dug up and filled 14 black backs with the day lily and the red persicaria, leaving a circle of plants around the nest.
I moved onto another part of the garden that needed working on, weeded it, moved the bag of soil stacked and tipped them onto the pond area. Dug out all the nettle roots, dug out a metal washing line pole and managed to get a leylandii tree root out, but the other 16 will have to remain, I will just plant between then as the other beds in the garden.
Each morning I went out to feed the birds I checked the nest 7, 8, 9 and then 10 eggs, still not seen the birds, thought this must be a decoy nest? Still checking each morning now we are up to 14 eggs! Done a bit of research, yes, red legged partridge do have two nests, and lay eggs in both. He incubates one and she the other. 23 days incubation but when will that start? She can lay eggs into the 20s. Then when hatched the chicks can fly at 2 weeks, I could be over-run, they could be fodder for sparrow hawk, I will be a wreck, like when I looked after my sisters rabbits who had babies when they were both girls!
I have bags of garden rubbish stood everywhere, fortunately I gave found someone who would let me dump it in their 'pit'.
Whilst delivering food parcels a few days ago I got chatting with someone who wanted plants for their garden and pond, the pond was a 'boating pond'.
So now I can help someone fill their garden with double day lily, which is still OK and damp in these black bags, and the yellow flag being damp to start with, can just be dropped into the pond around the edges to make its own way. Fantastic, so upward of 60 bags of garden 'rubbish' moving on to help others improve their garden, ordinarily I would have taken those bags to the household re-cycling centre.
Finding the nest has made me re-think where to work next in the garden and to make some changes to my plans. I have lots of plants in pots, many from my Mum's garden, my childhood home, they really need to go into the garden, I'm going to plant them all as far as possible, the bulbs may have to wait or I could just be surprised in the spring when they come up.
The rain, although great, has stalled my gardening a little, so decided to tidy the patio, again, too many pots.
I have 2 large silver birch in the garden, every year I have to rake the grass and sweep the patio of the seed catkins that fall, there are thousands. I have filled 4 pig meal sacks, nice strong bags, still have a small area to clear and they are still falling, should I have waited, trampling them into individual seeds to fall between the block paves and grow into trees?
Hoping to finish the patio Sunday, sort through those bags to salvage plants for the pond garden and the rest to go into the pit. That will be a great day, I hope to be exhausted but happy and sleep well, and you all too sleep well, stay safe and keep well. Kind regards to everyone, Julie.
Shelia Mathers writes: Hello Ed, Been busy planting trees to try and disguise the houses that have sprung up next to us. Had a bit of help from my chickens and fitted in a bit of shed and gate painting. Always wear overalls when painting as I always manage to get some on me! Hope you and your family are all well. See you soon after the all clear. Best wishes, Sheila.
Sue Thomas writes: We have been very busy in the garden, have even goy a sun tan! We have renovated the poly tunnel by giving it a good wash inside and out (you can actually see out now), and the structural bits that have rotted over the years, have been removed, remade, painted and replaced. The interior path has been relayed and the soil on both sides replaced, enriched with compost and been further enriched with fertiliser. Just waiting for my tomato plants to get big enough to transfer into it. I thought I would try runner beans in the poly tunnel this year, as I have quite a bit of space to fill. Will let you know how it goes!!
The Greenhouse has not fared so well over the years, and is on the point of collapse, but I have washed it inside and out, and now done loads of seed setting, and hope it lasts another year!! The raspberry bed has been totally refurbished, and I have now only got two rows of raspberries, but feel sure that it will be enough. The strawberry bed has been totally cleaned up, and the runners, that I would happily brought to the Horn Fair, have been put back into a further bed. So instead of having 132 plants, I now have 182 plants. Having fed and watered them, the stupid things are now coming into flower!!
Again, the rhubarb is over running us. The Horn Fair was my outlet for the excess, so my neighbours have borne the brunt of my excess. So we are all 'regular' so to speak. Asparagus now coming to life, so not short of veg! The blossom on my crab apple tree is magnificent this year, but the plum and greengage not so great. Wisteria going bonkers, even though I cut it back to within an inch of its life.
Do hope you are keeping safe and well, and look forward to getting together when the lockdown is over. Cheers, Sue
Nigel and Laura Lincoln Write: The hot, dry April produced an abundance of blossom, so the bees were very busy and each colony now has a full box of honey on board. Unfortunately it also means the bees have been very keen to swarm, and we have lost at least two lots recently. Give me a ring (Contact Ed at email@example.com) if they have turned up in your garden, and I’ll gladly take them back home.
We kept the fruit trees watered during the dry spell when the blossom was setting, and it looks like we might have a bumper crop of apples, pears, plums and cherries this year – fingers crossed.
Seed has been high on the ‘to do’ list – both for veg and flowers. We are still creating herbaceous beds, so the garden is still able to absorb everything we grow. Plant sharing has continued despite the lockdown. Our neighbours include some keen gardeners and we have swapped plants and seedlings by leaving them by our gate for collection. The gap left by our lack of butternut squash germination was filled by one neighbour, and another is in line for our spare sweet corn plants once they have got a bit bigger. Who cares if the garden centres are closed? Although to be honest we do miss visits to Diddlington and the Diss auctions.
We planted over 100 bare root beech saplings over the winter and are now making sure that the grass each side of the hedge stays at least two metres apart. Chippings have been put on the exclusion zone. We have also been watering the new plants and they are now just starting to come into leaf.
Social distancing means spending all day every day pottering in the garden – so business as usual. Lockdown? What lockdown? All the best, Nige & Laura.
Val Hester writes: Hi Ed, Attached is a photo of my wisteria which I think is lovely but with only me to see it seems such a waste. Hope you are both keeping well. Best wishes, Val.
As secretary I am trying to keep the Great Hockham Gardening Club going by compiling this Corona Diary, and as you can see, some of us are hard at it. I fear there is the danger that if we don’t don’t give them regular stimulation our members will become soft, will just stop coming and the life-force of the club will become sterile.
Some people in our area are still working, but are feeling the strain: with all the extra demand the people running our corner shop are going round the bend and even shoplifters are feeling the pinch. If that wasn’t bad enough our local coven didn’t know witch way to turn until, after a spell, they realised it wasn’t a crone virus.
Worse to come, keep safe, Ed.