Friday, April 26, 2013

Chilly April

Crocus, up and blooming under the viburnum!
       I'm having a domestic engineering day, because it's only 5 degrees out and I don't want to have to bundle up in winter gear to get out and garden. And anyway the house needs work. I am planning an all-out assault on our bedroom - Spring cleaning, if you like. The duvet cover is in the laundry and I think the curtains are coming down for a wash. I may even replace them for the summer, I don't know. A freshen-up is in order (and there's a wide variety of curtain fabric on clearance at the shop).
       Spring is progressing, as is gardening - I have re-skinned the greenhouse, and, innovation for the year, I have a thermometer out there, which, yesterday when the sun was out, was reading 40 degrees C. I opened up the ends to cool things down, although the only plants out there at the moment are onion sets, sprouting. I must also get some potatoes chitting right away.
        I finished feeding and mulching half of the raspberries yesterday. I am using for mulch some bags of wood pellets which had spent the winter outdoors and absorbed a lot of water, returning to their original sawdust form. I hope the fertilizer I put underneath will prevent it from leaching all the nitrogen from the berries as it decomposes. I am planning to give them a high nitrogen feed once the leaves start to emerge. I put lots of newspapers under the sawdust, as I am trying to control the cooch grass which is everywhere underneath the raspberry canes. I am trying to just dig it out of the vegetable garden, but it's impossible to get out of the raspberries, short of digging out all the canes. That's Plan B, if the mulch doesn't work! I have also carpeted between the rows, so the cooch should be well-suppressed.
     My "Pot for Winter Colour" is making good progress. There were some lovely dark purple crocus which lasted for weeks, and now the tete-a-tete daffodils are taking over. I haven't moved it indoors for the night in quite some time, even though we had a night-time temperature of  -7 a few nights ago. The flowers seem to have survived, and I hope the pot has too, as it's an unfired one. There are actual tulips coming as the next layer. At Beechgrove, they kept the bulbs in one of their layered pots, dried them off in situ, and got them going again in the fall - just to see what would survive, and it did quite well. I am not sure if I can spare the pot or the space - oh, I suppose it could summer in the greenhouse! Maybe I'll try it.
      My hellebore is blooming, at last! I planted it last spring, and it just sat there with the same 4 leaves all summer. I guess it was building up its strength, because this year it has produced two healthy flower stalks. I am as pleased as Punch.
        Here it is, looking at itself in the mirror so I can see the bloom, as it is a nodding one. There are many more blooms to come, I am pleased to note!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy April!

Although the weather is anything but happy. We are burning the last of the wood in the furnace and wearing sweaters indoors, but just can't seem to get warm. It's 3 degrees outside (or was, when we walked earlier) but there is a nasty SE wind and it goes right through you!

So, not much spring to report, although there were buds breaking on the beech trees and I saw pussy willows and catkins on the birches. Perhaps we are just beside a stretch of really nice weather. I hope so! I am finding this pot quite cheerful now that the crocus are out, though I am not sure that the daffs and tulips will actually bloom. TWT.

Yesterday I finished all of the Master Gardener course I had time for - I didn't do the assignments on fertilizing and propagating because I didn't plan ahead. I will be pleased if I can get enough marks to pass.

Another thing I'm awaiting is the start of Beechgrove Garden - should be this week! I think they start April 5th, but it may not be posted right away. I am watching Gardeners' World but it's not the same - the English climate is so much better/earlier than ours. The flower beds are still buried in snow here! There, they are planting, dividing perennials...sick-making. Oh well.

I have been finishing up knitting projects and digging out old hibernating ones. Blaithin is finished except for the i-cord bind off and the buttonhole row. I am a bit bothered about how thick the steek sandwich turned out, although there's no doubt that it makes a nice neat finish.
 This is the side where I'll make buttonholes, later, when I figure out button placement.

I was worried that the green wouldn't show up very well against the grape but it seems to be visible in the photos at least.

I think I might have to do a few more decrease rounds at the neck- it is quite loose - but otherwise the sweater fits well.
This is the button side, with that nice neat steek sandwich. I will not use such a high-contrast yarn for the crochet the next time - I used a bright orange, and sometimes it peeks out!

I also did some home sewing - a quilted runner, table square and 6 placemats, in shades of brown, oranges and golds to go with the kitchen. They're pretty garish, but I like them!