28 April 2013

A Sultry Rainy Afternoon in Suburbia

These photos were taken on a rainy spring day in Manchester, but now I've processed them I think they could have been taken in Japanese park. Call me crazy but they seem to have taken on an exotic, sultry air.

Can't you hear the swish of silk kimonos and temple bells?

Is that the roof of a tea house?

But sadly no, it's not cherry blossom but alemanchier flowers against the red brick of a Mancunian house.

Oh for a little exoticism ... do you remember 'The Ginger Tree'?

26 April 2013

Clearing The Decks

Right hand side of deck scrubbed

I do think the urge to spring clean is instinctive. Longer daylight hours and warmer air speaks to our animal instinct to get active. We are just the same as the birds, but instead of feverishly searching for sticks to build a nest, our energies go towards moving out and clearing up that evolutionary cave we spent so many millennia sitting in.

Unusually this year my subconscious has developed an anxiety about the state of the garden rather than the kitchen cupboards. The other day I found myself on my hands and knees scrubbing the decking. It was hard work so I hope we don't have to do the cupboards later.

I haven't scrubbed the deck before because I am worried about the effects any chemicals might have on the fish in the pond. There are gaps between the boards, with concrete underneath, so any water swished on the deck drains directly into the pond. I assume commercial deck cleaning chemicals, or even normal washing up liquid, would harm the fish.

But this year the itch to spring clean was very insistent, so I googled, 'clean decking pond', and it seems the eco way of getting rid of green slime on your deck is to use white vinegar diluted in water.

The vinegar did a very good job. It's powerful stuff. The deck certainly does look cleaner. We just have to wait and see if the Google hive-mind is right about vinegar being harmless to fish (update: there are currently no fish floating belly up).

Almost good as new

24 April 2013

Pond Makeover

Did a job in the garden today that has been nagging at me for ... oh ... years.

When I made the little pond many moons ago I didn't manage to get the levels of the walls equal, so there is always 2 or 3 inches of pond liner visible.  The problem has got worse because the side of the pond that was designed to be lower anyway (to allow easy access for arthiritic frogs) has been degraded by the roots of this iris plant.

Problem area on left side

and right side squidged bit

So with the washing up gloves on I dived in.

Taking up the stone edge was surprisingly easy because it was a slate-like rock from Cornwall that  sheered into many thin layers that came away easily.

Small slabs of concrete protected by newspaper were put under the lining to raise the level, and then the remains of the Cornish slate were put back.

Then, after whispering a prayer to the pond spirit, I filled it with water.

And, blow me down, it's worked.

Can you spot the frog?

Doesn't it look sumptuous?

And over 5 hours later the water is still at the same height.

18 April 2013

Major Push On The Allotment90 Front

Allotments throughout the country must have seen a sudden flurry of fevered activity this week. As soon as the weather got warmer we allotmenteers rushed out with our trays of chitted potatoes and pots of wispy leaves.

Allotment90 is now hosting real growing vegetables.  Sally has done sterling work in her greenhouse growing on garlic, onions, shallots and potatoes, which we have now put in the long bed.

I think they look very comfortable in there.

And with the help of our friend Sue and her jazzy jeans we planted peas.

The strawberries have also gone in, and there are broad beans impatiently waiting to escape their packets.

It's amazing that after so many weeks of barren coldness the allotment now looks alive after only a few days of warmth.

Here is the view over all the other allotments. Still bare apart from some daffodils, but spring is definitely round the corner.