Friday 24 May 2024

Life on The Weald - April 2024

Life on The Weald - April 2024

and other distractions

1 - 5 April
Easter Monday (1 April) was another rainy day. Our biggest distractions this week are having the builders in to create a cross-over and parking area in the front garden plus a visit from our tree surgeon to drastically pollard the eucalyptus in the back garden and cut back the Leylandii and a day out in London for a visit to the theatre to see Standing at the Sky's Edge.  

2 April - opening the front door!

2 April - That was the garden that was!

Jody, a neighbour at the allotment, had severely pruned her olive tree and I had brought home several branches which, between the other distractions and the rain showers, I managed to put through the shredder. 

The week ended with sunshine which continued into the weekend.

6 - 7 April
It would have been good weather for gardening but it was the Brighton Marathon weekend which kept me away from the allotment.  On Saturday, I joined David Weir for the Start of the various races for the children's and community one mile events in Preston Park.

6 April - The Community Mile

And on Sunday, I was on duty with the presentations for the Brighton 10K and the Brighton Marathon.

7 April - The Winners of Women's Brighton Marathon

Walking along the course, I found volunteers from the Plumstead Runners (my old manor) who had been staffing one of the water stations and I met up with a former running companion, Gina Little, from Greenwich. Gina had just completed the Marathon at the age of 79 and would be running the London Marathon - her 39th London - in a few weeks.  In all she has run more than 600 Marathons! (She was usually faster than me back in the 80s and 90s) and was part of the team that forged links with the runners in Reinickendorf (Greenwich's twin town in Berlin), a link that continues to this day, and we had run several Berlin Marathons together.

7 April - Hove seafront with Gina Little

I had been joined at the Brighton Finish by my grandson, Felix, who had been due to run the 10k as part of his preparations for the London Marathon, but had to withdraw due to a knee injury sustained the previous month in the Kingston 20miles.

7 April - with Felix on the Finish line

9 April
Back on the allotment and with the improvement in the weather, I removed the fleece where the mangetout peas were just showing through, and there were signs that some of the red flowered broad beans had germinated too.

9 April - Mangetout peas 

Luke had come round to saw up the trunk of the old fuchsia tree for his mother-in-law's wood stove and the branches which were too thick for my wood shredder.

9 April - my old Fuchsia

The rest, I shredded and used to extend and renew the path on the plot.

9 April - path renewal

I picked purple sprouting broccoli and the few remaining Kalettes, removed a few weeds from the shallots and cut a few rather wonky asparagus spears.

9 April - Asparagus

I was pleased to see that the Duke of York first early potatoes were all up and looking healthy - must be all that rain! To deter the snails and slugs, I spread some crushed egg shells around the shallots.

9 April - shallots

The plum trees were in blossom and the broad beans in flower...

9 April - Plums blossoming

9 April - broad beans flowering

...and the flowers on the Rosemary were attracting honey bees.

11 April 
The rain returned just as the work on the front garden had finished.  It looks very tidy but rather bleak. It will soon be brightened with various pots and planters.

11 April - what was the front garden

At the back of the house there is a profusion of flowers and the Three cornered leek (Snow bells) have taken over a whole corner.  It is considered by some to be an invasive species and shouldn't be planted in the wild, where it could overcome the wild garlic, but it can be contained within a garden and all of it is edible - tasting rather like a sweet spring onion.  The flowers look amazing in a salad.

11 April - Lady among the Snow bells

11 - Snow bells

12 April 
It was time to start potting up the home sown tomatoes. I had a plentiful supply of Marmande, Yellow Perfection and Sungold.  I have already given some to the organic gardening group (BHOGG) and I will have some more surplus to swap for other varieties or other plants.  I will need some swaps due to the poor performance of my brassicas!

13-14 April
A couple of days of bright sunshine!  

I had used some wood chippings to mulch the asparagus bed to try to keep the weeds at bay and was pleased to see some new asparagus spears showing through.

13 April - Asparagus

13 April - Asparagus

The mulch had served a useful purpose as a barrier to annual weeds but nothing could not prevent the spread of the raspberries from a neighbouring area or the bindweed.

In the potato bed the first early Duke of York were putting on growth.

13 April - Red Duke of York potatoes

14 April
With help from Sylvi, I managed to renew the frame for the climbing beans.

14 April - a bean frame

With a fresh supply of woodchip, I continued to renew the footpath.  The Broad beans were now quite tall, so I spent some time placing some stakes and string around them to keep them upright.  In the tidying up process we also moved the compost tumbler to a less intrusive position.

15 April
Another change in the weather brought some very strong winds.  I had tied up the broad beans just in time, otherwise they would have been flattened.  I carrried out some repairs to the compost tumbler, patching up the rusty parts of the drum.

At home I sowed some marigold seeds which will be planted out as companion plants for the beans.

17 April
The marigolds sown only two days earlier showed signs of germinating! The day started bright and sunny and now that the eucalyptus has been pollarded and the Leylandii cut back, we can actually see the sky from our patio.  With the sun shining I set off for the allotment.

17 April - the back garden

But the sunshine was not to last - as soon as I reached the allotment the rain started - I hurriedly put a chair in the shed....

17 April

....and settled in until the rain stopped.

17 April

When the rain finally stopped, I potted up one of my two jostaberry plants.  It won't be fruiting this year but I will need to find a suitable place to plant them out and am hopeful for next year
17 April - Jostaberry re-potted

18 April
There had been a fresh delivery of woodchip, so work contnued on the path.

18 April - the path progresses

19 April
At home, several Zimbabwe Black chillies had self seeded in the pot where the parent plant was growing so I decided to prick them out and pot on.

19 April - Zimbabwe black seedlings

The parent plant was now in full flower.

19 April - Zimbabwe black chilli
19 April
This would be another weekend when the plot would be neglected as it was the London Marathon weekend.  On Friday, the welcome reception was held in Frameless the immersive art gallery in London.

20 April
On Saturday, I joined Trustees of the London Marathon Foundation to help with the various waves of young runners doing the mini-Marathon - either 1 mile or 2.6 km
Around 10,000 young people participated!

20 April - Start of the Mini-Marathon, Horseguards Parade

20 April - Start of the Mini-Marathon, Horseguards Parade

20 April - Start of the Mini-Marathon, Horseguards Parade

20 April - Start of the Mini-Marathon, Horseguards Parade

21 April
Sunday saw the real Marathon, with many records broken. Felix and his partner, Lauren, joined me at the Finish.  Hopefully he will be fit and running it in 2025. I was able to introduce him to running and hurdling legend, Alan Pascoe

21 April - on the Finish gantry with Alan Pascoe and Felix

22 - 27 April
Another week when little was done on the plot apart from a bit of maintenance and tidying up, and meetings in London kept me away.  I was pleased to see that the Serbian Quince at home was flowering for the first time.

23 April - Quince - Serbian Gold

27 April
More distractions at the weekend as Felix and Lauren came to visit. It gave me an opportunity to recreate my classic Moroccan tagine.  I had carried the two tagine pots back from Morocco several years ago in my suitcase.

27 April - guests waiting in expectation

27 April - Chicken and Vegetable tagines

28 April
On Sunday Felix came up to the plot and we were pleased to spot some bees.

28 April - Buff tailed bumblebee on the Borage

28 April - honeybee on the Rosemary

29 April
A very wet month ended with more spring-like weather and blue skies.

29 April

I planted a few marigolds as companion plants near to where I sowed some dwarf French beans. Last year the slugs devoured the marigolds in days, so it will be interesting to see what happens this time.

30 April
There is a lot to be done on the plot, and there have been rather too may distractions this month but nevertheless we're off fo a few days to Krakow to celebrate Sylvi's birthday.  Hopefully we will return to sunshine with renewed energy!

John Austin

Hove, April 2024