Monday, May 31

What have we done to upset our visitors?

The birds that usually flock into our garden seem to have deserted us. We couldn't keep up with them in filling bird feeders etc. But now ... we have the faithful blackbirds.

Mr Blackbird
and Mrs Blackbird

And we catch sight of the great tits that are feeding their young in the sparrow terrace! But other than that and some birdsong the birds seem to have abandoned us. Earlier as we sat at the dining table there was plenty of action around feeders and bird baths ... now ...

We went to Fairburn Ings last week - an RSPB reserve near to us - and everyone seemed to catch a glimpse of kingfishers - that is - you've guessed it - except us! The birds that we did see couldn't bear to look at us!

We had heard and seen goldfinches in and around the garden so whilst we were at Fairburn we bought a feeder especially for them.

Were they grateful? ... NO! I know it's only a small feeder but it was the only size they had and after all it's the thought that counts. So has anyone else suddenly noticed a distinct lack of birds? Or is it just us that has upset them.

One creature that is happy is - or maybe are - the hedgehog(s) who come every night to clear up whatever the birds have left. And a good job they make of it too!

Added later this afternoon - could we have the answer?
PS - I had a thought this afternoon as I watched a blue tit pecking in our plum tree at the allotment. It looked to be insect hunting. I know young nestlings need a diet of insects when developing their feathers - I wonder if this is why our bird food isn't good enough at the moment!

Sunday, May 30

Website guestbooks?

I just need a bit of advice. I've been working on my new website and wanted to add a guestbook that was embedded on a page on my site. I've added a Bravenet guestbook but the only problem is the large ads that appear between each comment.

I could pay for an add free version but I don't really want to have to do that. I have found other services but am always a bit wary of adding or downloading things from 'free' sites.

Can you help? Do you use or know of a free guestbook utility that is sound and offers a guestbook that I can embed on a page on my site?

If you have a spare minute can you visit the Bravenet guestbook on my website here and post a comment to let me know what you think about the guestbook that I have already added - do the ads put you off? I guess if I put only one entry per page I would cut down the ads - do you think that would be better?

Another option is of course to add a guestbook blog that links to my site - do you think that would work? This would be accessible from both the blog and website using links - the blog version is linked on the sidebar.

Sorry so many questions but advice would be appreciated - hope you can help.

By the way who noticed that the heading on this blog and the weather blog had changed recently? - Bet you didn't!

By the way I boo-booed with the poll on the sidebar - it asked for favourite month when it should have said favourite season - so I've started it again - if you voted please vote again!

Saturday, May 29

Bank holiday offers from seed companies

I guess most people have bought al the seed that they want and more but I as it is the bank holiday some seed companies are giving special offers - probably to clear their stocks.

Just in case you are unaware and want to take advantage these are a few that I have had emails about.

Ends Midnight Sunday 13th June 2010

Sutton seeds offer for one week

Dobies appear to have the same offer!

They also have a clearance sale of things other than plants click here to view the selection.

Two Wests have a sale of garden products available 'til 2nd June

Tuesday, May 25

Time flies when you are having fun!

Just to celebrate the fact that this is my
***700th ***
post on this blog I've added a few flowers. You would have thought that the sun would have joined in the celebration and continued to shine but no it's disappeared today.

A highlight of last week was the arrival of our first cauliflowers. They are a bit like buses - you wait ages for one and them they all come along at the same time.
Maybe soon we will also be harvesting a bonus find. Some lettuce went to seed last year and were left in the plot rather a long time - it would appear that these took advantage of this and cast their seed.


The result is that we have self sown lettuces coming up in various places on the plot. Amongst parsnip seedlings and amongst onions to name but two places. We have another growing in an empty plant pot. If we had sown lettuce seed and left it all winter I doubt that the seeds would have successfully germinated.

We are also picking some spring onions that were left in over winter - they are now going to seed so maybe we should leave them to self sow too!

Our full diary entry for last week is here

Last week's photo album is here

Sunday, May 23

Hoe, hoe, hoe ...

It was certainly a hot one yesterday, (see our weather blog), so hot that we put up the gazebo, for the first time this year, to give us a place to hide from the sun when the going was just too hot and to enjoy a drink or two - or three. Funnily enough around this time last year we also were hiding from the heat under the gazebo.

And it wasn't just us that were trying to keep cool so were the frogs in our garden pond.

The frogs in the second photo are very small - I did wonder whether they were survivors from this year's tadpoles but I think they may be a bit too large. It would be good to think they were though.

I don't suppose the spell of good weather should surprise us as May is out!

The hawthorn is in full blossom all around the site so we should be casting our clouts - but will we need to put the layers back on again when the May blossom fades?

Until then it's hoe, hoe, hoe and off to weed we go hoping that the heat and dry conditions will shrivel up the plants we don't want whilst we struggle to water and keep the ones that we do want flourishing.

Never satisfied are we?

Saturday, May 22

Just singing in the ... sunshine!

Isn't it great to hear the birds singing on a lovely sunny day. I know the technical reason behind them singing but you can't help but think that they are happy singing in the sun. Don't blink or you may miss this lively songster - such a loud song from such a small body. In the background a blackbird is joining in the chorus. Blackbirds seem to be singing all the time at the moment - even when it is dark!

Friday, May 21

Tanya's Challenge

Tanya from Allotments 4 you passed on a challenge to choose the eighth photo from my eighth photo folder and post it along with the story behind it.

Being me I only had three photos in my eighth folder so Tanya adapted the criteria to be the third photo in the fifth folder. So here it is:

The photo isn't brilliant as it was taken pre digital and scanned a few years ago when I wanted some photos for our website. It was taken some time in the late 1980s when we took on our second allotment plot.

We initially took an allotment when we decided we didn't have enough space in our garden to grow everything we wanted to and vegetables too. About a third of our garden was vegetables at that time. We considered moving to somewhere with a larger garden but couldn't find anywhere we wanted to move to so Martyn came up with the idea of an allotment. His dad had gardened a plot when Martyn was younger and his grandad before that.

This was well before allotments became 'trendy' and I wasn't really keen. I pictured us being surrounded by old men growing leeks and to some extent this was how it was. I was one of only two women - the other being retired and site secretary. We were a lot younger than most other plotters and a bit of a novelty. We grew strange things called herbs and didn't necessarily grow everything in straight lines from east to west.

We rarely volunteered the information that we had an allotment as we would have been considered to be a bit weird. When we did mention it we were greeted with strange looks. How things have changed! Not just in attitudes but the view has changed too.

The following photo was taken from a similar viewpoint this month.

Hope that is OK Tanya! I'm just glad that it didn't end up being a photo of me!

Tuesday, May 18

Plants strike for better growing conditions!

All the plants on the plot went on strike last week – they were protesting against the poor growing conditions – until the weather improves they just refuse to make any growth.

Seedlings that had popped their heads through on the plot just refused to come out of the ground any further. Those plants that had attempted to defy the weather were punished.

Potato shoots which we just couldn’t earth up quickly enough were badly frosted and the frost even nipped back some of the shoots of a rosemary.

Excitement at the sight of flower buds on the kiwi turned to dismay as its leaves were devastated. Flower buds that offered such promise still seem to be in tact so maybe they have survived the onslaught.

Let's just hope for a better growing week this week.

To read the complete diary entry for last week visit my website here

And to keep us cheerful ...

Cornflowers flowering on the plot

Bluebells and wild orchids at Rievaulx Terrace

Bees enjoy the dandelions

Oil- seed rape gets everywhere including up my nose!

Monday, May 17

New website is now up and running

We have managed to transfer the contents of our website to its new location:
so hope that if you have any links to it on websites, blogs or forums you will change them. We still have lots of people visiting to view the information on contaminated manure so if you wish to link directly to these pages the link is:
With the relicensing of aminopyralid it is important that gardeners have access to this information so that if the problem recurs we can be aware.

If you have some time to browse the new site (you may need something to do whilst the weather is iffy) then please let me know if you find any typos, broken links, missing images etc. As you can imagine transferring everything in just a week was a mammoth task so mistakes are bound to have happened.

Links on earlier posts of the blog may still go to the old website until we have the chance to edit them.

Friday, May 14

Just to try something different!


We have been clearing up behind our greenhouse in the garden. We were wondering what to grow there and thought that this would be a good spot for a nectarine to grow in a large pot. The pot could be  then taken into the greenhouse to overwinter. Then we had an email from Thompson and Morgan offering a special offer on fruit trees. The result was we ordered a nectarine called Fantasia. It arrived today but it is a bit of a concern that it doesn't yet appear to have any shoots - maybe it has been in cold storage.

Never to do things by halves we also ordered a Paw Paw - no idea what this will be like but nothing ventured etc. At the moment this is just a small sort of twig with a green shoot on the end. I've read that the fruit tastes like a banana and a mango - I wonder if we will ever find out?

Paw paw

Both plants are now out of stock and so we must have just been one (or two) of many to be tempted - just hope they grow now!

PS The greenhouse isn't as untdiy as it looks on these photos - honest!

Thursday, May 13

Free Shed

I've received an email offering a free 6x4 shed.

The message reads:

"To make way for a new patio, I am currently dismantling a 6x4 garden shed which is still in good condition. it is free to a good home, or it goes on the tip at the weekend"
The offer is from someone in the Wakefield area so if anyone is interested you will need to make contact quickly. Email me asap if you are interested and I will pass on the donors contact number.

Someone was quick - the shed has gone!!!

Tuesday, May 11

Believe it or not it IS May!

Spring may have seemed to have sprung at the end of April but at the start of May it appears to have retreated. If this goes on my fingers and toes will grow permanently into a crossed position as the low temperatures threaten the promise of a successful cropping season. The weather conditions are fully explained on our weather blog.

Small plants and seedlings which are filling up the garden greenhouse are being covered with fleece each night in an attempt to protect them from the worst of the cold temperatures. Young cucumbers had showed signs of distress but appear to be rallying. Growth although happening is fairly slow moving. It’s May for heaven’s sake and our planet is supposed to be warming up.

One good bit of news however, is that our tree fern is now producing new fronds.

As far as visiting the plot each day we seem to go through a shall we ... shall we not ... routine and so this week we have concentrated more on working in the garden.

We have turned out attention to some previously neglected areas in the garden but So far it has been a tidy up and throw away campaign in preparation for the start of new projects - I’ll save news of these for another week. 

My full diary entry and photo album for last week can be viewed here 

This is posted on our NEW website and so please forgive the fact that the website isn't in its finished state.

By the way I've started a poll asking which is your favourite season - it's on the sidebar of the blog. I voted for spring which has always been my favourite season but maybe after the last few days I need to reassess!

Friday, May 7

The year of Biodiversity

2010 has been declared by the UN as the International Year of Biodiversity. Many organisations including the RHS are holding events that support this.

On May 22 the RHS are launching summer wildlife trails at each of the RHS gardens. The trails are designed to give visitors ideas for how they can encourage biodiversity in their own gardens. They are also featuring biodiversity in their display at the Chelsea flower show where they will highlight that gardens are Britain’s biggest wildlife reserve and offer ideas of how we can help wildlife flourish.

You can also download an Natural England publication offering ideas for how you can encourage wildlife on an allotment plot.

This all set me thinking of how wildlife friendly our garden and allotment plot were. If you just sit and think about it - it is amazing just how much you can do to help wildlife without really thinking about it.

I decided to write an article on my website describing of just what we have done to help encourage biodiversity on our plot and in our garden. It was all really done for selfish reasons as for me part of the joy of having a garden or being at the plot is to share the environment with nature.

To read my article click here

Please note that following the information on my last post this is my new website which will be housed at It will take me quite a while to transfer all the content from my old website which is still active and so many links will be inactive. Also the design isn't yet completed but I didn't want to waste time writing new pages for a website that will soon be discontinued

Thursday, May 6

Important information for visitors to our website!

I had an email yesterday saying that our website will have to change its URL some time in June/July. This means that all the work over the last four years buliding up the site status and establishing links will have to start again! I have deiced to change my web system completely so the new address will be where I am transferring pages to as quickly as I can. I would be really, really, really grateful if you could edit any link to the site for me when pages become available.

Wednesday, May 5

Everything is coming up!

Last week was quite successful. It's always a tense time watching for parsnip and carrot seedlings to push through but push through they have! Just hope the slugs and snails leave them alone! Carrots top left and parsnips bottom - the other seedlings are pea top right salad leaves bottom right.

The potatoes are beginning to come through too - the photo is Red Duke of York - the colour of the leaves is lovely - but some other varieties are popping through too. It must be so frustrating reaching daylight only to be plunged back into darkness but with the cold nights - days too - that we have been having they should be grateful.

The potatoes growing in bags in the greenhouse have flowers buds. These are Maris Bard. Just hope the size of the plants mean that we will get a reasonable crop of early new potatoes.

I have however saved the best 'til last. Our kiwis have lots of flower buds - only five flowers last year and no fruits. We'd be really really pleased if just one of the flower buds produced a fruit that we could share.

For information on growing kiwi Jenny click here although ours are different varieties!

My full diary entry for the last week of April - yes it's May now, how did that happen so quickly? - is here with lots more photographs and a video clip here.

A summary of April's weather is here