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Spring is nearly here!

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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby roselanekoi on Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:09 pm

Best wished to everyone for the new year.

Whilst the length of daylight is now slowly starting to increase it's something of an illusion that it's getting lighter in the morning. Sunrise today was the same as it was on the 21st December, 8.25 AM. The 15 minutes increase in daylight is currently all in the afternoon, sunset today was 4.09 PM whereas it was 3.54 PM on the 21st.

It's getting time to start thinking about starting some seeds indoors, I've already sown some leeks and onions. The onions are from a giant onion stock that has been grown to over 10lbs although I'll be happy to beat my record of 3lbs.

£2.75 for 2kg of seed potatoes is a very good price, I think I'll have to pay Wilkos a visit.
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:46 pm

King Kenny of Rhyl has fond memories of giant onions Colin, he won them as a raffle prize I grew and donated a few years back, they were Robinsons Mammoth onions of Lancaster. Kenny's onions were about the three pound mark though I grew several over 5lb out of the same batch of seed, they are remarkably mild onions to eat raw!
The recommended (and traditional) time to sow the seed was on boxing day in a heated propagator then prick them out into individual 3" to 4" pots, the pots must be deep (6") to accommodate the long roots. One particular way I tried to grow specimens is to sow the seed individually into cardboard bog roll tubes full of compost then as they grow to about 3" transfer these into compost filled 1 foot lengths of 4" plastic pipe in the greenhouse or polytunnel, you get minimal root disturbance this way.

Curious sight at 8.00 o'clock this morning in our back garden, we counted ten blackbirds! so unusual to see this many as they are such territorial birds but we appear to have more than usual.
Lunchtime I spent an hour or so sitting in the summer house with both doors open watching the birds on the feeders toing and froing.
The female Sparrow hawk swept through twice but missed catching anything thanks to my hawk deterrent, the fishing line with the lead weights on hanging around the bird feeders in the old apple tree.

Here are just a few of today's visitors to our feeders.
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Blue tit on suet.jpg
Blue tit on suet.jpg (50.71 KiB) Viewed 310 times
Nuthatch on feeder.jpg
Nuthatch on feeder.jpg (78.28 KiB) Viewed 310 times
2 Coal tits 3 Goldfinches.jpg
2 Coal tits 3 Goldfinches.jpg (78.01 KiB) Viewed 310 times
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:08 pm

There's a first time for everything and yesterday was one of those days! Nigel and I totally blanked at Graiglwyd!
In 4 hours and at least 12 different flies tried, I had one half-hearted take, Nigel, despite trying various flies from buzzers to Zonkers and floating to sinking lines was totally ignored, oh well, these things are sent to try us.
We think there were too many people fishing there (19) that kept the fish down, or, it was too dull, with scarcely a breath of wind or too cold, it just managed to creep up to 3 or 4 degrees in middle of day, whatever the excuses, we blanked for first time ever.

This morning after a hard nights frost, it dawned into a much brighter pleasanter day with not a cloud in sight, so I took some more pic's from our summer house.
There were some more unusual birds spotted today, they might come every day but from the house, even with binoculars they're difficult to spot.
Just in an hour and a half I spotted these below.
The Goldcrest seem well established locally as I have seen at least one pair quite regularly, more good news is a small flock of Greenfinches and Siskins turned up about 9.00am flocking and feeding with the Goldfinches. Our resident male woodpecker came to hammer the suet as usual and I caught him posing on the top of wooden arbour seat.
The Tree creeper on trunk of apple tree always starts at the base of tree and works its way up, unlike the Nuthatch which doesn't seem to mind which way up or down it is on the trunk.
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Treecreeper taken Friday.jpg
Treecreeper taken Friday.jpg (76.26 KiB) Viewed 294 times
Greater Spotted Woodpecker.jpg
Greater Spotted Woodpecker.jpg (49.73 KiB) Viewed 294 times
Goldcrest Friday.jpg
Goldcrest Friday.jpg (59.4 KiB) Viewed 294 times
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:24 pm

Two more pictures from today, a Siskin and one of the most charming and pretty little birds in garden, the Long Tailed Tit.
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Siskin taken Friday.jpg
Siskin taken Friday.jpg (64.34 KiB) Viewed 294 times
Long Tailed Tit on feeder.jpg
Long Tailed Tit on feeder.jpg (76.03 KiB) Viewed 294 times
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby roselanekoi on Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:17 pm

Phil you get a much better selection of birds than me, I mostly get sparrows and jackdaws.

I see it's the annual RSPB birdwatch event this coming weekend, 27th - 29th January. I'll be sitting by the bedroom window for an hour on Sunday morning, binoculars at the ready, making a note of all the birds visiting the feeders.

If anyone wants to take part you can get further details on the RSPB website.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/ac ... birdwatch/
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:20 pm

Our RSPB Garden Watch list is downloaded, we have supplies of tea and biscuits in ready for the 'big sit' and we are ready to go!
The list however seems to get shorter each year and birds that are still quite common are 'missing'? for instance, Song Thrush, Missel Thrush, Jackdaw, Woodpecker, Jay, Crow, Rook, Nuthatch, the Greenfinch is listed but not the Siskin that regularly flocks with it every winter?
Pull your finger out RSPB!

We just got back from a holiday in Madeira and the weather change is rather extreme. January is normally the wettest month but they are having a drought at present and it's quite warm bright and sunny.
Us Britt's certainly never complained at the hot sunny weather experienced and also the fact that it's light from 7.00 am to 6.30pm.
The one day it rained, on the 18th January, in the morning for an hour and a half, just a week ago today, we went on a trip up Pico das Torres the highest point on the island, it's 6,100 feet above sea level and clearly shows its volcanic origin.
I took the picture below looking down at the clouds, a strange experience,just like being in the aeroplane again, weird!
There are people scraping out a living in the steep sided valley in centre of picture just above shadow from left, I zoomed in and took a second picture, Pico das Torres 2.
It shows the typical style adopted all over the island to cope with the steep terrain. It consists of strips of garden terracing with the irrigation channels built in called levada's where they grow an amazing amount of produce 12 months of the year.
People go there on holiday just to walk the hundreds of miles of levada's but Colin please note, the path to bottom right of second pic is very steep! Warmer than Cader Idris but much much higher!
We cheated and got a mini-bus to within a half mile of summit, you cannot get any closer due to steepness of peak. We think native Madeira n's are half human half goat!
They are certainly fit.
Interesting anomaly about the airport on Madeira is that it has two 'Departure' points!
Literally right outside the gates to the airport is a cemetery!
This must have been a popular sight when the airport first opened as it had one of the shortest runways in the world, built out over the sea.
I landed there for the first time twenty five years ago before they extended the runway. It was hair-raising as the pilot takes you past first before you land!
Look it up on the internet.
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Pico das Torres 2.jpg
Pico das Torres 2.jpg (76.57 KiB) Viewed 273 times
Pico das Torres north.jpg
Pico das Torres north.jpg (55.77 KiB) Viewed 273 times
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby roselanekoi on Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:52 am

Looks like January in Maderia is much nicer than January in North Wales.

I carried out my birdwatch yesterday, the RSPB bird list is more than adequate for my back garden. With a total of 10 varieties, the main visitors to my bird feeder are Jackdaws and a flock of sparrows. My rarest variety was a coal tit and also maybe a dunnock, although this could have been a sparrow.

I set up a small GoPro type camera in the garden when carrying out the survey and was amazed how much activity there was on the ground below the feeder, I can't see the ground from the house because of the pond walls.

Not having a branch of Wilkinsons nearby I went to the local garden centre for some early potato sets and settled on 2kg of 'Casablanca' for £3.99, this is still around £2 cheaper than most of the big mail order companies. I grow all my potatoes in large pots and I'll start a couple of pots off in the next few days, keeping them inside until the risk of frost has passed.
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:08 pm

Very good choice of new potatoes Colin, Casablanca new potatoes have had excellent revues and now compete with 'Swift' for a fast cropping first early (62 days)
I checked out the Suttons Seeds internet site for Casablanca seed potatoes and they are £4.49 for 1kg plus £4.99 P&P= £9.98!
At these prices, your £3.99 garden centre spuds are still a good bargain at twice the price apparently.
My Wilko first earlies are chitting nicely and I will plant a couple of tubs up this next week or so in the greenhouse.
I'm due another visit to Wilko this week to get some more seed potatoes and buy some spud grow bags to try out. £2.50 for two 42 litre woven polypropylene grow bags, they have had a good review by all accounts so I will try them this year, much cheaper than tubs so I will see how they pan out!
Their own brand compost is pretty cheap too at £3.00 for 50 litres, just the job for filling potato tubs I think, add a handful of fish, blood and bone and some Growmore then look forward to some nice new spuds!

We did our RSPB bird count today, a much nicer drier and surprisingly warmer day and as usual we split it up into three half hour sessions, 8.30am to 9.00am 12.15pm to 12.45pm and 2.30pm to 3.00pm.
I think you get a much better idea of what comes and goes over this extended period as the main reason for the census is to get some idea of what is surviving in the avian world in GB and what isn't, where its surviving? and in what numbers!
One strange anomaly of the bird count is you have to be honest in your returns which doesn't give an entirely accurate view of what's there every day in your garden.
For instance, yesterday a very rare occurrence was a large flock of Starlings, at least a hundred turned up feeding on the food we scatter in the field for the Rooks and Jackdaws (to keep them off our feeders) today not a one, so, none recorded!
Also absent from the garden today, not a House Sparrow or Hedge Accentor or Jackdaw spotted and only three Blackbirds recorded!
Again, yesterday, several Greenfinches and Siskins, male and female, were flitting about, today just three female Greenfinches on feeders.
It certainly makes you concentrate though it's a lot easier with a scope, even a cheap one like mine.
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby roselanekoi on Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:32 am

I've tried the potato grow bags in the past and are not a big fan. They are OK if you can leave them in one spot and not disturb them as when you lift them or add more compost, they distort quite a lot as they have no rigidity. This makes them unsuitable to move, say from the greenhouse to outside once the risk of frost has passed. This is the reason I changed over to pots, although as you say they are more expensive.

One other advantage if you are using pots to grow maincrop potatoes is that the pots can easily be stacked in a dry frost-free place over winter and then harvested as required.
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Re: Spring is nearly here!

Postby pollygog on Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:55 pm

In hindsight Colin, the 45/50 litre tubs with the handles are far more rigid, manoeuvrable and practical and stack neatly when empty so tubs it is!
Just ordered some 50 litre tubs today, £50.00 for ten delivered. Never thought about storing/overwintering spuds long term in them so that is another future plan.
I did some calculations and comparisons yesterday on compost and discovered that the cheapest compost at present is actually 'Verve' multi purpose compost marketed by B&Q.
A 125l bag is currently retailing at £6.93 but on a Wednesday it's 10% discounted for us wrinklies.
I priced delivery of 2 X 1000 litre bulk bags from several local merchants and incredibly its still cheaper for a 1000 litres delivered at B&Q!
Also, B&Q did a promotional offer, at £5.93 for the 125l Verve recently.
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