Thursday, 6 March 2014

Spring weather

It definitely feels like spring now, and already I am feeling behind in the garden.

The crocuses have been glorious this year and already the first daffodil is ready to open. It has been a mild, though very wet and windy, winter - completely different from last year!

If you look at the projections for how climate change is expected to affect the UK, this winter is the kind of winter that they are predicting more of. In short milder wetter winters, and less occasions of snow.

However there was an interesting article recently on the BBC website about the reduction in solar activity. They believe there is a 20% chance that within 40 years Europe will have entered a period similar to the Maunder Minimum, an event during the late 1600's when the temperature was below average and River Thames froze over every year. They are not predicting global cooling, more that the jet stream over Europe is likely to be affected by the lack of solar activity, plunging it into some very cold winters, a bit like those experienced by the US and Canada this year..... all interesting stuff!

On to more frugal issues. Now what do you think this is?

It is my first ever homemade cider vinegar! All thanks to Wendy Brown's tips in her book Surviving the Apocalypse in the Surburbs. It is so very easy to make. Just fill a jar with apple peelings and cores, cover with water and leave it in a warm cupboard for a month. Cover the top with a cheese cloth or muslin to keep out dust or flies. A layer of scum forms on top, but that's fine. Ok so the cupboard smells of mouldy apples for a little while, but the resulting vinegar is mild and fruity, and will be great for salad dressings. (It could be stronger if I left it for longer.)

I wanted to be more organised with my veg growing this year. I ordered some seeds nice and early and also took advantage of the Transition Loughborough Seed Swap event. These are some of the seeds that I picked up for free, including sweetpeas, squash, kohlrabi, oregano and some beautifully coloured peas/beans. What I liked about the seed swap is you could just pick up a few seeds to try, and given how small my garden is, that is a very good thing!

The Transition team had also been along to the Chesterfield Transition Potato Day and here are 2 of the varieties they brought back to share. I can't for the life of me remember what they were called, but the knobbly ones are salad potatoes. Last year my potatoes were a disaster, so this year I am going to stick to growing just these four spuds in sacks or pots instead.

I had started planning out what to plant, where and when to plant them, the first seeds to be sowed in February. But the last couple of weeks have been very busy with work and now it is already March and still nothing has been started. Do some of you more experienced gardeners feel like spring is a complete race against time too?

The good news is that the little apricot tree that I planted last year has survived the winter and is ready to break out in lovely pink blossoms :-) It doesn't seem to have grown much though.... although it is supposed to be a dwarf variety. I thought the wall would shelter it a bit, but maybe I have planted it too close...hmm. I would love to hear how your garden plans are going?

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