The annual event which truly heralds the arrival of summer for me is the glorious sight of a mass of unfurled mesembryanthemums. I have two of the Schiaparelli Shocking Pink variety in my balcony 'earth box', planted 7 years ago as tiny succulents and which now tumble in a riot of colour over the edge despite being cut back each year. Sadly this magnificent display lasts for just a few short weeks before the flowers die back and the 'leaves' take on the appearance of samphire. As the roots have taken over the balcony space to the detriment of any other plants which I try to grow alongside them, this year I vowed to remove them once flowering was over. (Although I may just take lots of cuttings and then try to transplant them.)
I'm having a modicum of success in keeping the pigeons at bay - 45p wisely spent on bamboo skewers at the supermarket, fashioned into mini wigwams (pointy end up) seem to have done the trick. (Although I recently discovered that my balcony neighbour is encouraging them by letting them breed on his side of the balcony, 3 pigeon-ettes so far. Eeuch.)
But with one pest semi-sorted, another has appeared: (and don't get me started on the human variety - the ones who didn't help us, but nevertheless help themselves. You know who you are. ) Anyway, back to foxes:
Just a cub (one of three), but part mole given the way he's been digging up the veg overnight! Just a couple of days ago, I sowed more salad leaves, spinach and coriander as the last lot had bolted; I tied a string fence around the seeds, thinking this might form some kind of protective barrier but, no, all dug up again in the morning. At this rate, the VP will quickly resemble a giant earthworks.
And the broad beans which survived last time? In the ground with bees a-plenty buzzing around, pollinating those flowers. They're dwarf beans (a fact only recently discovered when I read the packet) and should only reach a height of 18" but, even so, they're still more than slightly vertically challenged at the time of writing. I'm doing regular checks for blackfly and wiping it off as soon as I can although this is a vile task which I'd cheerfully pay someone else to do for me - even the children won't do it which shows how high it is on the yuckyness scale.
We're finding lots of new ladybirds in the VP. I deliberately left the over-wintered-now-bolted spinach and kale as a Bug Stop for them until late May. Lots of tiny wiggly caterpillars on the kale meant they weren't munching elsewhere and regular sightings of blue/yellow larvae bugs shows the plan worked for the ladybirds as well. Very satisfying as I seem to be swamped with black- and white-fly this year. So munch on my little heroes!
Elsewhere, one of us is a year older (heh, heh, not me this time around, thankfully) so a cake was baked, strawberries were picked and chocolate butterflies and flowers made:
Ah yes, looking back that was a very tasty (and simple) cake: vanilla sponge, whipped vanilla buttercream and organic strawberry jam filling, glacé icing on top to hold the fresh strawberries in place, piped buttercream to hold the chocolate decoration. Yep, yum, yummy, yum. (BTW, chocolate decorations like these are very easy to make. If you don't know how, let me know and I'll post a quick tutorial. ☺)
Now back to digging - and fox-proofing - and re-sowing/planting ….