Tag Archives: Gardening

In The Garden – Early Morning Cobwebs

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In The Garden Today – The Acers

One of my favourite garden specimen trees, especially when they first burst into leaf…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

 

A Ladybird Visits The Garden

Molly watering seeds

The Ladybird visitor reminded me of a story that I wrote several years ago now…

I was on child minding duties and I collected my three year old granddaughter from pre-school.  As she packed her bag and put her coat on one of the classroom assistants passed me a sheaf of papers which represented various bits of art and craftwork that they needed to get rid of to make space for the following week.

As I rolled it up to keep it safe Molly announced that she had another present for me and started to dig deep into her coat pocket.  I was expecting another masterpiece to add to all the others but eventually after a bit of foraging she produced a tiny ladybird.  I asked where she had found it and she said in the playground at lunchtime and that she had kept it for me.  I was certain the poor creature would be dead, either suffocated or crushed to death so was surprised that after she released it from her thumb and forefinger grip the thing began to crawl across her hand.  She transferred it to me but as soon as it had adjusted itself to being in the open air again it took its opportunity and free now from its captivity it promptly flew away.

Molly was disappointed of course and I tried to explain why it had gone but it didn’t really matter because after just a few steps she found another one anyway.

This week she stayed at my house and we spent some time in the garden together.  She likes gardening but not the insects that she occasionally comes across and the sight of a beetle or a spider or a worm will always be announced by a shrill shriek.  Not so the ladybirds however and spent some time hunting them down in the shrubs, gently collecting them up and transferring them to a glass jar for safe keeping.

This intrigued me and I asked her why she didn’t mind the ladybirds but didn’t like the other creatures and she explained that she liked them because they are red and pretty and kind!  I told her that a ladybird was a sort of beetle and not so terribly different to the black ones that we had recently disturbed under a stone but she just looked at me in a disbelieving sort of way and carried on collecting them up.

Today in the Garden – The Shed Project

Shed Mural

Kim continues her project to brighten up the garden shed.

The Not Such Good Life – Potato Woes

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Everything was going really well in the vegetable garden until it became clear that anything that we grow to eat something else as its eye on as well and is determined to get in first.

Blackfly on the Broad Beans were easily dealt with and a mouse nibbling off the pea shoots was efficiently dispatched but you just can’t see what is going on underground and almost our entire crop of potatoes has been destroyed by a critter that I had never heard of before – the wireworm.

I began the harvest just about a week ago and noticed curious holes in the tubers which under further investigation led to maggoty creatures inside and brown rot.  Everything destroyed and I know how the Irish felt now in the potato blight and famine of the 1840s.  Kim has had to go to the supermarket to get alternative supplies.  I was looking forward to at least a month of home grown produce but it is not to be.

Now I am worried about the beetroot and the carrots.

This is the total crop that I was able to salvage, not a great return on three months work…

Potatoes

Hopefully nothing is going to take a liking to the runner beans but at least they are above ground and I can see what is going on.

A Challenge Accepted

Just recently a blogging pal of mine challenged me to tackle these three questions. I don’t usually respond to challenges but in this case I have made an exception.

1. Which philosopher do you most admire and if they were alive today in your country/town how would they focus or direct their main theory and to what end?

Thomas Paine Thetford Norfolk

I immediately thought that I might go for John Locke “The Father of Liberalism” because I think that “Two Treatises of Government” is where nearly fifty years ago I formed my own views on politics and society.

I then considered Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (not Voltaire himself of course even though it neatly sums up his contribution to the principle of Free Speech.

But I have decided to choose Thomas Paine. My interest in him was rekindled when I visited his birth town of Thetford in Norfolk.

Thomas Paine Hotel

Paine supported both the American Revolution (one of the Founding Fathers no less) and the French Revolution and his most important work was The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which became the basis for a nation of free individuals protected equally by the law. In 1792 he was elected to the French National Convention. In all of the turmoil of the revolution he was arrested. He only narrowly escaped the guillotine during the reign of terror and was then (not being welcome in England) allowed to travel to the USA.

The Declaration is important, it is included in the beginning of the constitutions of both the Fourth French Republic (1946) and Fifth (1958) and is still current. Inspired by the philosophers of the French Enlightenment like Voltaire and Rousseau, the Declaration became a core statement of the values of the French Revolution and had a major impact on the development of freedom and democracy in Europe and Worldwide.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is so significant that it is considered to be as important as Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the United States Bill of Rights and inspired in large part the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If he was here now I’d like to think he would have a solution to the crisis of democracy in the UK which has been brought about by the whole BREXIT fiasco.

Thomas Paine Memorial

If he was here now I’d like to think he would have a solution to the crisis of democracy in the UK which has been brought about by the whole BREXIT fiasco.

2. If you could completely “remove” three things from this planet what would they be and why? By “things” I don’t mean poverty, disease, discrimination etc, I mean tangible items, goods, or artefacts that really bug you. 

Dogs

alsatian

In the UK you need a licence for a shotgun or to keep poison or even weed killer but not for a killer animal!

Apologies here to my canine loving friends but I really don’t like dogs, I suffer from Cynophobia – I am scared of them, and this isn’t completely irrational because they really don’t like me either – but they are not frightened of me!  As soon as people with dogs realise that I have an unnatural and unexplainable fear of them then they seem to take sadistic delight in subjecting me to the terror of their company.

I don’t like dogs because I see no redeeming features in them. They sweat, they are greasy, they smell, they have bad breath, they foul the pavements and they piss up my garden wall.  What is there possibly to like about them?

My dislike for them started as a boy when I was taken one day for a walk by my granddad and on a piece of waste land opposite my parent’s house in Leicester an Alsatian dog knocked me to the ground, pinned me down and stood on my chest.  The inconsiderate owner had let it off its leash and I was absolutely terrified.

I couldn’t sum it up better than in the words of Bill Bryson…

“It wouldn’t bother me in the least…if all the dogs in the world were placed in a sack and taken to some distant island… where they could romp around and sniff each other’s arses to their hearts’ content and never bother or terrorise me again.” 

I wasn’t always frightened of dogs…

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Garlic

I hate garlic, I mean I really, really hate garlic. I hate the taste, I hate the aroma, I hate the way that it dries your mouth out and I hate the way that it makes you smell for twenty-four hours after eating it. I know that it is useful for warding off vampires but that is all I really have to say about garlic.  I am not even going to post a picture.

Plastic

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I wish plastic had never been invented.

I have recently become more upset than ever before about litter alongside roads and paths. While littering of the oceans is now at the forefront of public concern, general littering of the countryside and communities is barely on the national radar. Yet the amount of eyesore litter, not just plastic, is increasing exponentially on roadsides, in rivers, in public spaces and in the countryside and has a hugely negative impact on our lives.

Litter ruins people’s enjoyment of the countryside and makes open spaces feel like waste grounds. In Lincolnshire, where I live, many road verges are strewn with plastic sheets and bags hanging from trees, discarded meal containers and sacks of general rubbish.  Rubbish collection, or lack of it, compounds the problem. Bins for public use are relatively scarce, and litter collection is less frequent as councils simultaneously promote recycling and cut budgets.

This is me  at work in 1990 trying to tackle the litter problem with local school children…

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3. Magic wish …. you can visit and see anything or any place on earth for a week, what is it, where, why?

Easy, my garden with some bottles of fine wine and a plate of my favourite nibbles!

So that is my challenge completed.  It is my job now to pass it on.  I have decided not to nominate anyone specifically but to invite anyone that has a care to, to think about and answer my three questions…

1 Most disappointing place ever visited

2 Which King or Queen of England would you invite to dinner and why and what is on the menu

3 Should the World build walls to restrict free movement of people

If you don’t like my questions then you could always use Brian’s…

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Check out his amusing and informative blog pages right here…

https://thetwodoctors.wordpress.com/

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These Are a Few of My Favourite Things…

Daisy in Bottle

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition

Alium pre flowering

From a bulb to a flower, from a flower to a seed!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Enveloped and Waiting

Alium pre flowering

Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale

How can something so small create such a large hill as a small mole and do so much damage?

The Mole in my garden is more efficient than a JCB  excavator and I can hardly believe the size of the hills and the amount of soil he can shift in one night.  Not only that but he goes to the trouble of separating the stones from the soil so what I am left with is a pile of the most perfectly graded John Innes no.1 compost.  At the weekend I demolished his huge pile of excavated soil and put it onto the vegetable patch so in retaliation last night he built me an even bigger one.  I don’t know if I should just leave this one alone or provoke him some more by taking it away.

If you have an enemy then it is important to know what you are up against.  Moles are animals that live underground and burrow tunnels and holes.  Male moles are called boars and females are called sows and a group of moles is called a labour.

They create extensive systems of tunnels and they can move their own weight of soil every minute and these tunnels can stretch for a distance of thousand metres or more.  There excavate a system of permanent tunnels about thirty to sixty centimetres below the surface that cannot be detected from above but it is the runways close to the surface that do the trouble in gardens.  I suspect that underneath my back lawn is a system of tunnels bigger than the London underground!

I am not sure how to get rid of him because some of the traps available look positively medieval and I don’t fancy using them at all.  Human urine is said to repel moles but I have tried that and it hasn’t worked either. Failing that the weasel is the mole’s natural enemy.  Apparently if the soil from a molehill is removed carefully an entrance to the tunnel will be revealed.  If there is a weasel in the garden it may well nip down and clear out the mole, either by killing it or driving it away.

Presumably the next problem is getting rid of the weasel!  Apparently, mammals such as foxes and cats don’t actually like the taste of weasels (I don’t know how we know that) and leave them well alone so I suppose once you have one of them you have just got to put up with it.

As well as being a nuisance and making unwelcome alterations to the garden infrastructure, moles can be dangerous.  I know this because the other night I tripped over the fresh molehill in the garden that was over twenty centimetres high and considerably more than that across and I mention this because a mole excavation has previously been responsible for a much more high profile accident than this.

William III

King William III, the Prince of Orange, had an unfortunate incident involving a molehill with irreversible and mortal consequences.  In February 1702, whilst riding his horse in Richmond Park in London, the horse stumbled and fell over a molehill, causing the King to fall and break his collarbone.  A subsequent fever and illness followed and in the following month he died, much to the joy of the Scots who had spent many years under his steely persecution.

This is the reason why even today the Scottish Jacobites raise a toast to ‘The Gentleman in Black Velvet’ and why the statue of King William in St. James Square in London depicts a molehill at its base.

On the whole moles are regarded as cute and likeable creatures whose mistake is being in the wrong place at the wrong time but whose unfortunate visiting card is an almighty mess behind them as a result of their nocturnal activities.  Unlike some pests however, such as rats, birds and insects, which spread disease and cause damage to property, moles generally do not appear to cause any real harm other than leave behind an unsightly ‘spoil hill’ as a dramatic calling card to show where they have been.

Moles feed on small invertebrate animals like worms living underground but supplement them with insects and their larvae and have to eat about half their weight in food every day.  Every adult mole requires approximately twenty worms a day to live and since they cannot put on body fat, they have to eat throughout the entire year and do not hibernate.  As a result, they are most active in the autumn and early spring when the soil is moist and dining conditions suit them best of all.

Moles are very territorial anti-social animals that mate for one day, once a year, and then spend the rest of the year alone.  As they live on average for about four years this means only about four shags in an entire lifetime.   After annual sex, moles have litters of up to seven pups and as they mature into adults, each mole sets about establishing its own tunnel network and will dig at speeds of up to four metres per hour.

That’s a lot of tunnels and a lot of damage.  I am becoming fearful of the house and garden disappearing into a pit of subsidence on account of the activity of the mole!  I am not exagerating when I say that my mole can shift even more earth that the Thunderbirds mole rescue machine so you can imagine just how much damage it is doing!