Saturday, 23 June 2012

Up with the larks, down with the slugs.

Saturday 23rd June 2012
A lark soars into the air as the sun rises.
As the sun breaks the horizon, so up rise the skylarks. They sing unseen on the ground but as the sun pokes its head into the Eastern sky a magical moment occurs as, within a minute, five or six larks soar up belting out their song. They are nesting in the meadow at the moment. Don was lucky enough to find a nest on his side of the fence this week.

After a wet night, not such a magical sight met my eyes as I passed the potato patch. I just couldn't ignore it, so I spent the next two hours exterminating the munching little slimeballs. The weeds have run amock too, giving them a perfect little jungle in which they can hide during the day, emerging at night to do their damage. So another hour was spent pulling up sowthistles and fat hen. At least they come up easily from the wet soil. The pigs and chickens appreciated it. 

It looks as if the dwarf beans and beetroots we sowed in the lanes between the potatoes face being eaten as soon as they push their first leaves into the air. So I have now sown spares of all my beans into paper pots. It's worth a try and will give the plants a start. Who knows, by the time they are ready to be transplanted into the soil it may just be a bit drier and my slug hunts may be taking their toll.

I am now even considering ducks as an anti-slug measure too. Cayugas look good.

By late morning I had achieved a great deal, but it felt like the one step forward that goes with the two steps back.
So I decided to spend the afternoon and evening doing something new. The herb bed has been a triumph this year, and I have filled any gaps with pot marigolds, lobelias, alyssums and tagetes, as well as transplanting in a drift of pot marjoram and a seedtray of anise hyssop.

The herb bed has been a triumph this year
I have been growing trays of annual flowers in the greenhouse and nursery area, but without having anywhere to put them! The plan was for lots to go into the veg patch, but for the moment I'm just trying to make the best of a bad thing there. At least I'm not the only one experiencing considerable difficulties growing veg this year.

So, instead, I decided to finish digging out a flower border in the lawn. Next year it can accommodate some of the cottage garden perennials I have been growing - delphiniums, hollyhocks, lupins and the like. But for this year it can house the annuals. At the end of the year I will be able to take a monster harvest of seed for next years extravaganza! 
Seedtrays are good, but dry out all too easily or, at the moment, become easily waterlogged. Hopefully the plants will survive and flourish in the open  ground.
A dozen or so barrowloads of turves later and I had myself a border. Several hundred seedlings transplanted and I had this... 

It's a first expedition into the world of raising annual flowers and I'm hoping this bed can come close to matching the herb bed for colour and beauty.
All we need now is for the sun to come out!

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