A mixed bag in the kitchen garden.

What fantastic weather we have had over the past few days, especially over the weekend when I was able to get out into the garden and catch up on some jobs.

Now that the majority of the weeding in the garden borders has been caught up they will in the main look after themselves for the rest of the year. We have lost one or two plants over the winter period, but I suppose this opens up some space for new plants when visiting the shows this year.

The bulk of the work that needed to be done was in the kitchen garden.  The peas and the mangetout that were originally sown into pots and planted out a couple of weeks ago needed to be tied into their frames to help get them climbing. Once done I put some protective netting over the frame to protect them from the birds. I know from experience that sparrows in particular like to nibble at fresh peas shoots. The courgettes were also planted out as were the baby corn plants. It was probably a little too earlier for the latter, but I was feeling brave with the weather and I am giving them protection of a cloche on a night. I also managed to find time to sown some swede, turnips, beetroot and beet direct into the soil. So far this year I have not had much luck, one minute they are growing away fine the next demolished by slugs. Just in case, I have also sown some seed into individual plugs, not sure if it will work, but worth a shot. I also managed to get a wigwam structure in place for when the climbing beans are planted out.

Meanwhile in the greenhouse, the tomatoes, cucumber, climbing beans and peppers are coming on a treat. But all is not rosy as for the first time I am fighting against the aphids. Hopefully by keeping the plants under observation and regular squishing they are now starting to get under control.

Elsewhere in the plot, the autumn raspberries are starting to bulk up and the blueberries are showing promise of a good crop. Whilst the onions that were planted in autumn are starting to swell,  unfortunately the garlic appears to be showing signs of rust, which isn’t great news.

All in all a mixed bag of good and bad, that said perseverance generally pays off and it won’t be too long before the taste of some success.

Blue tit chicks part 3

Arrived home from work yesterday to find that the blue tits had become proud parents of four chicks. Looking very much naked of feathers they looked quite vulnerable, it appeared to take all of their energy just to lift their heads up and to open their beaks for food. This appears to then be followed by a general collapse back into the nest, to then summon enough energy for the next round of food. Mum was quite busy toing and frowing with food and after a short while decided to take a breather at the nest, where she promptly sat on the chicks. That surely can’t be comfortable for either party.

At some point overnight another couple of chicks had hatched and another busy day commenced in keeping the little ones fed. Thankfully this task was undertaken by both parents as they flitted in and out of the hedgerow in search of bugs and the like. Not once did they pay a visit to the bird feeder, not even to stock up on food for themselves.

At some point during today another egg has hatched bringing the number of chicks to seven. It looks like tomorrow is going to be another busy day, but what I can’t understand is, what happens to the eggshell once the chicks have hatched?

Blue tits part 2

It is just over a week now since the bluetit laid her last egg, counting nine in total. For the last week she has spent a lot more time at the nest keeping the eggs incubated and only leaves the nest to feed. Initially the male was going into the box to feed the female, but it has become apparent that the male calls for the female to leave the box so that he can feed her outside. On occasion the pair have been seen flying off together, but she never goes far as she will only leave the nest for a short period of time.

The other day we had a sparrow hawk land in the tree whilst the bluetit was out and about. Under normal circumstances we would admire such a bird. However, we have become protective of our blue tit and we quickly made some commotion in the garden that sent the bird on its way. After all she’s part of the family now and we couldn’t let anything happen to her.

I found out that during the incubation time the female plucks out her own feathers to line the nest. This was proven to be the case as the nest has become more snug and soft looking. I assume that that this is to help incubate the eggs and keep the fledglings warm when they hatch. I think there is an incubation period of 12-16 days, this would mean that come the weekend we could have the first of the bluetits starting to hatch.