6 April 2011

Wind, rain, sun - and mice

Wild weather the last few days - fluctuating temperatures, torrential rain and howling wind. At night we've been woken by the wind moaning, and venturing out in the street is an obstacle course with wheelie bins blown into the road. The other day was 6 degrees with a significant wind chill, today it's 14 and the wind feels warm. And the sun has now come out. It's like there's a battle for Spring and we're caught in the cross-fire!

The rain's been enough to keep me mostly indoors over the last couple of days, which has been fine because I've not been feeling great. Today though I feel marginally more like myself so decided to take the opportunity of dry weather to repot some seedlings. Potting delicate seedlings with those micro-fine trailing roots, and trying to gently ease them into new pots while the wind whips at the plant is a task that takes practise. Fortunately I get plenty of it! Of course, if I'd had my head screwed on I would have moved the pots that take up a shelf in the greenhouse and potted in there, tight a squeeze as it is. But I don't have my head screwed on just now which is why it takes me twice as long to do anything. Yesterday, driving to the agricultural supplies shop in Stirling I had one of those "tra la la... pretty birdie, gorgeous hills...  -  Whoooops, I'm driving, aren't ?! moments" I can tell you this because you don't live/drive near me so you can feel both safe and relieved... :-D

The greenhouse is starting to fill up nicely now. The planters for salad/tomatoes is doing the job of acting as a ballast to hold the greenhouse down and there are seedlings coming up. I ran out of plant labels so I can't remember what got sown in what part of the planters - it'll make a nice surprise I suppose!

The butternut squash is still living and the chard seedlings seem to be okay - bit shell-shocked but I'm sure they'll be fine, they're fairly hardy plants. I'm not sure how many chard plants to have... Never having grown it before I really don't know how much we'll use... I admit I'm growing it as much for looks as eating, the "Rainbow" variety looks so gorgeous and glowing jewel colours that even if I don't manage to eat all of it, it'll look good.

Elsewhere in the garden it's looking good. Bit drookit (soggy) but good.  Shoots now present in all the potato bags, hopefully at the allotment they'll be starting to come up there too.

But - oh - nightmare, we have mice. Just in the garden, they were there last year and seem to be back. We live in a fairly rural area surrounded by farms, so it was inevitable, but still... The concern is more the neighbours and whether they'll point the finger at the bird feeders, compost bin and of course, the hens... The last thing we want to be accused of is being an environmental nuisance. It's difficult to see what - apart from dig up the garden and concrete it, get rid of the hens, discourage birds etc, we can really do. The cats are pretty good at harassing the mice (if not actually killing them, apart from on one occasion), and when they're in at night, our neighbour's cat seems to take over. The hens I'm not worried about - omnivores that they are, they will eat mice. Thinking about it, it's probably more the bird feeders that would be the cause: there's no food left out in the hen run once they go in for their roost, but the birds are messy and scatter seed around. I've found some sunflower seedlings coming up from discarded seeds. I hear that cotton wool balls saturated with peppermint essential oil and scattered round the garden is effective as the mice can't stand the smell. Will see about doing that.

Allegedly, it is to be dry tomorrow. I'll believe it when I see it, but if it is, then I'm off to the allotment to plant the onions which I sprouted (and are sitting in the seat-well of the car after I decided not to plant them the other day), and to measure my rhubarb leaves to see if they're long enough for me to take a couple of stalks to stew...

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