Thursday, 25 April 2013

Mercury Rising

tulips bursting into flower after rain and heat
I don't know about the rest of you but this spring tested my love of gardening to the absolute limit, so it's not before time that the weather has finally improved and everything has taken off in a spectacular way.Animals and birds included; birdsong has gotten louder and begun much earlier in the morning, bunnies appear daily in the upper field and a plethora of tom cats have taken to visiting the garden.

Whiskers waiting to ambush Ginger!
Unfortunately it looks like the cats may have alterior motives; Whiskers from next door has decided the fine weather means it's now mating season and since their are no girl cats around he has turned his amorous attentions to Ginger who luckily enough is twice his size and can reject his passes with one decisive swipe of the paw(or more usually by hiding under the table).So in between weeding, hardening off and sowing I'm trying to break up the romance, often lifting my head from the weeds to find Ginger flying past with whiskers in hot persuit behind!! My aim isn't improving either. The advise to drench the horny cat with cold water probably works like a charm if you can manage to soak him as he passes you. So far I keep missing. All I can do is shout at Ginger to keep his arse to the wall. If only they would invest all that energy in hunting the bunnies and the field mice whose populations are exploding while these two play hard to get-bloody cats!!

bat plant by sue kohler
The new propagator Seamus bought  has proved to be the best bit of growing this Spring. Although he bought it specifically to grow crazy exotic stuff like Australian bat plants(I'm not joking) it's adjustable temperature control means its suitable for loads of veg, particularly those that like high temperatures and garden flowers too.It's quite amazing the speed at which seeds germinate on it. When Eileen told me it had increased her output dramatically I didn't really understand how but now that I am using one myself and I have a glasshouse as well I can really see the advantages of both. It's so easy getting things to grow now, easy to keep them healthy and well, easy to take them in on a cold night and put them back out next morning. I find it hard to remember the time when I got everything to germinate on windowsills and managed to squeeze them all into a cold frame and plastic greenhouse-but I did!

Thermometer in the glasshouse.

The temperature under glass rises quite spectacularly too. In a tunnel it's not as dramatic as a glasshouse owing to the bigger space and the different frequency of light passing through plastic as opposed to glass. All last week and into this week temperatures of 25-35 degrees celsius have been the norm in the glasshouse here even with the vents open. On the advise of Chris in Garden World I invested in a minium/ maxium thermometer for the glasshouse showing you not only what the temperature is when you walk in but what the highest and lowest values were since you last reset it.Although the temperature does drop off at night so far it has remained around 5-15 which I think is really good.In this very benign indoor climate sunflowers, birds of paradise, early dahlias, french beans, an avacado tree and many, many more thrive.Outside last weekend Seamus used his newest toy, a soil thermometer to test the garden soil in the terraced garden. The result was an amazing 11degrees celsius, getting warm enough to sow carrots and other root crops not to mention all the annual flowers like marigolds, nasturtiums and poppies!

French beans in the glasshouse
Nothing lasts forever I suppose but while the met office are predicting good warm sunshine over the next week or so they are also predicting a return to colder nights, nights cold enough to give us frost. My accu weather phone app predicts temperatures ranging from 1 degree celsius tonight to 3 on Saturday night, 2 on Sunday night and 0 on Monday night! So if you hardened things off put some fleece or newspaper on standby to protect them and remember even under glass (or plastic) temperatures can drop dramatically at night so don't forget to protect what you already consider protected.

Keep tabs on the weather
Ireland only
Biogreen heat mats here

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