Mid-March: Cold, Grey, Windy & Wet

It’s relatively awful outside these days – high winds, chilly, with leaden grey skies and the constant threat of rain.  Despite it all we set out en bicyclette and paid the rose cuttings a visit.  They’re doing fine so far as we can tell.

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Shed sub-frame and platform painted Saturday 16 March 2019

Despite the yucky weather and almost-rain with beads of water in the air, we decided to stay on.  The Mr painted the green wood stain preserver onto the under-frame and then the boards of the eventual shed.  The wood is already showing signs of wet.  We’ll just keep slapping it on and try to get a roof up as soon as we can.  We’ve decided on a wood frame of 2×4 beams.  We think that’s easiest to fill in and finally frame and cover.

And he tied back the woven barrier that we’d strung at the back to keep the back neighbour’s dogs calm, which had come loose on one corner as a result of the heavy winds lately.  (As for the barrier, it seems to have worked more or less, and even when the dogs do bark I somehow feel safer – illusory though that may be.)

I carried on with remedial weeding on the onion and strawberry beds.  And trying to pull out the grass from our pathway.  It’s tough going and I’m far from achieving clear paths, but the worst of the weeds are removed and slow and steady progress is made in pulling up clumps of grass with roots and all.   The side beds (besides the two stairways) are sprouting with bindweed, but I’m trying to pull it out as quickly as I see them popping up.  The paths are really sticky with clay.  Laying down sand helps.  (Need more woodchip!!  Need more sand!!)

Happily, the spring flowering bulbs at the base of the rose have come up.  On the other side of the arbour are grape hyacinth.

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Spring bulbs at the base of the red rose on the black metal arbour

I had wanted to start some seeds – radish, dill, beets – but the ground’s still cold and the soil very clumpy and wet.  (Need more sand!  Need more manure and compost!)

We moved the fresh garden-centre bags of compost ready to spread out from the top of the wicker basket.  Tons of little beetles were scurrying around underneath.  We’ll use that wicker hamper filled with soil as a raised bed to grow radish, beet and carrot – but wanted to give the beetles time to relocate, and besides, it’s still too cold.

To start seeds early we desperately need to build some small cold frames, in which we can have trays for seedlings.  A mini-seed bed / plant nursery.  Maybe we can in-build something with an infill wood raised bed frame – in two halves (so two boxes with open bottoms to the ground) which have pitched sides to facilitate a pitched glass roof which would be attached at the long back edge by hinges so you can open it up, prop the glass open for ventilation, or close it to build up heat.   That could fit in nicely in the middle ‘Saskatchewan’ bed – which is presently wildflowers and is in between the strawberry bed and the onion bed.  Hhhmmnnn…

The other option is to construct lightweight wood box-frames and then cover on five of six sides with clear plastic.  These can be built to fit properly onto the raised beds, and would be easy to lift and move when you need access to the bed to weed or water.   My idea is that after the cold early spring you could remove the plastic and replace with netting, to keep the birds off the beds.

But then again, except for lack of space, there’s no reason not to have both : a built-in cold frame and also some wood-frame boxes that can alternatively be covered in thick plastic to make growing frame clothes, and then fitted with netting later in the growing season.  And we’re pretty close to being able to do the frames: we have some wood and netting and the Mr can bring bike bags back from work, and we’ll just cut to make it fit.  Magic!

While the Mr was finishing up and fussing with the side blackberry canes, I tied up a bit on H’s side – just a bit of weeding on the boundary of our plot.  And laid out his black fabric covering – which had been blown free by the wind – and re-secured it all with bricks, stones and some planks to hold it in place.  Was tempted to do more but don’t want to be too obvious about lending a hand.  But the pond’s doing great – lots of frog eggs floating in the water and I had disturbed a big mature frog last time, as well as spotting a fairly developed tadpole.  And it does look much better with more of the blue plastic covered at the front edge with stones and bricks.

So it’s all going on and looking good!

 

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