Today Bella and I tidied up the garden after winter, we had a great time and it only really took the afternoon!
The first thing we did was empty our bird feeders. These have mostly been used by the squirrels, and most of the seed has been left untouched, which could be the red kites (which constantly fly over the house) scaring them away (I doubt it’s our cat Bilbo who has hardly been out all winter). The seeds and nuts were very decayed so we replaced them (we will probably keep putting food out for some months yet).
We did a walk around of the garden and Bella pointed out to me how we knew that a plant had survived winter and was coming back, or had not and should be cleared away.
Bella had lots of fun playing a game as we added all the things we were throwing away into a small trug. The game was that she was making a special stinky mixture for the birds, which with some persuasion she agreed should be a special mixture for the compostarium (see compo in Mr Blooms Nursery).
The next thing we did was clean up the “lawn”. Our poor little meadow has suffered over the last twelve months; little light (we have now chopped down the offending tree), too much rain during the summer and then during winter Bilbo used it as a toilet, killing off some big patches. Bilbo now has his own outdoor loo, and we used our new extendible/ fold away rake to clear away all the dead grass, moss and twigs. Sadly there is not much left, but we planted some snowdrops (from a local garden centre) and will add some fresh meadow seed.
Our little vegetable patch was very easy to clear and dig over. The compost from last year has broken down well, it is a dark brown (not grey as it was) and no longer has a manure smell. As we dug the patch over lots of earth worms came up; it really looks good and healthy! At one end of the patch there is now lots of garlic growing. I thought it had died last August, but almost as soon as the peas had been harvested last year shoots began coming up, and several random plants have grown well during winter. We dug lightly around them and then covered the whole patch in the remains of some shop bought compost.
I also dug into the compost heap a little. I will do a proper update later but the material I pulled from the bottom was black, like clay, had a slight smell of manure and a few smears of colour in it ( the remains of something unidentifiable). This I covered the shop-bought compost with. I tried to dig it into the top of the vegetable patch but it was so sticky I ended up more smearing it than digging it. I hope it will dry out a little over the next few weeks so that when the vegetables are finally planted I can mix it into the top soil.
Finally (for the vegetable patch) I kept some of the longest straightest branches from our big tree last year which Bella and I used to make a pea/ potato frame (much better I feel than going and buying some imported bamboo).
Bella and I also transplanted some more of the small pea seedlings from the propagator into some toilet roll middles. These (the peas) are getting big and will in a few weeks be ready for the vege-patch. We put some seed potatoes (as well as the little plants we have grown from seeds) out on the window sill to sprout.