7 Feb 2012

One day winter

Well, it was fun while it lasted. After freezing nights and a great deal of anticipation, our 3 inches of settled snow properly lasted only one day. (Although I may be speaking too soon.)

Yesterday the streets nearby had started to turn to a nasty slush and the air temperature was relatively mild, considering there was thawing snow on the ground.  Who knows what the rest of February has in store? But, just in case that snowfall is all we're having of winter, I thought I'd best take a few snaps for posterity.

Monarda seedhead
~ Monarda seed head against the snow.  The green is fennel. ~

Foxy footprints
~ Footprints show that a fox has visited, as have several little birds. ~
This photo reminds me that I need to cut back my autumn fruiting raspberry canes. This is a job which should be done very soon, otherwise last year's canes will begin to grow and the idea is to have a better harvest by cutting at least half of them back.  (I'm experimenting with a tip to see the difference between cutting some to the ground and leaving some at 40 cm - should give me an earlier crop. )

Winter veg patch
~ The winter veg patch ~
And here's the veg patch in the snow.  Looks a bit of a mess and reminds me that there's a lot of work to be done once the ground thaws. The lovely thing is that if I look back in a few months, this view will have completely changed. I'm thinking about what to plant where in order to make best use of the space and, rather excitingly, our new Director of Housing has said that he's all for expanding the space into a kitchen garden! ... but perhaps I should have got that in writing. The cot sides and trellis panels, by the way, were all found over the summer months discarded by the road and dragged back as quick protection to keep cats out of newly planted beds.  I must plan a way to fix them from toppling over because they do work.

And I couldn't leave this post without a pic of the snowman that the kids made, could I?  This chap was resisting the thaw yesterday and standing guard over the other end of the garden. One benefit of living on an estate where there's plenty of clean snow for building with!

The Snowman
Flowerpot fez, dogwood arms and bark chipping for eyes.
(Coal is a bit hard to come by around here!)
Without wishing to sound too curmudgeonly, I'm quite pleased that the snow has almost gone.  Things are definitely easier without it, although I suppose the children were hoping for a few days off school.  (Our schools remained open, thank goodness.)

5 Feb 2012

That settles it

Finally!  Winter's here, proper snow, face and finger numbing cold, heating on, hot buttered toast (or crumpets) at teatime with a large steaming mug of tea. The sense of anticipation over the last couple of days has been huge;  I felt properly excited at the prospect of wintry weather descending and yesterday evening, sometime around 7 p.m. a light, persistent misting of snow started to fall over north London, leaving a good few inches to wake up to this morning.

Winter, finally.
Seen at Camden Lock Market yesterday afternoon -
the waterbus frozen into its dock.
Now it feels like we're having a proper winter, the traditional seasons have re-asserted themselves and once the February freeze is finished, we can confidently begin the process of nurturing our seeds into life. What a relief.  I hope that doesn't appear churlish; being snuggled within the reaches of an overheated city, I'm relieved to know where I stand, weather wise.  On the other hand, I can fully appreciate that if you're currently cut off from access to the nearest supermarket, you might not see things in the same light.

Recent warm sunny daytime temperatures had prompted thoughts of sowing a few herb seeds on the balcony. Thankfully I resisted.  Instead, last weekend, I successfully split and repotted a floppy supermarket chive plant.  Spring is the time to divide clumps of chives growing outside so I thought why not try this with my windowsill chive?  It was beginning to look very sorry for itself, not far from that moment when you know that your supermarket herb will keel over regardless.  Do or die time, I thought, as I removed the pot.  Have you seen how many bulbs are crammed into one tiny pot? And, bizarrely, it looked as though the roots had been cut off close to the bulbs.  Now, divided into six clumps and repotted into good fresh seed compost, the plants seem much happier and are throwing up flower shoots.  Incidentally, chives grown from seed should be left to grow for a year then moved to their permanent position after frosts have passed.

Chive repotted
~ Divided we stand; united we fall! ~

And the last essential job of the week was to move the veg patch lemon tree.  Poor little thing suffered last year by being exposed to the full blast of winter and dropped all its leaves.  It's pot grown so, this year, I've brought it upstairs to my tiny balcony, a space not much bigger than a metre square, and covered it with fleece protection.  I'm working on the theory that the proximity to the flat creates a sheltered micro-climate for my plants but I'm still going to mulch the roots with straw, just in case!

February is forecast to be typically very cold.  Good.  The soil will be conditioned and soil borne pests and diseases will be zapped by the frost - ready for it all to begin again.  Now, warm wellies on, I'm off to find my straw and check the snow damage in the garden. I hope that all my gardening friends will have heeded weather warnings and been able to protect their plants in time.  Keep warm people!
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