Things have been happening apace here, so I thought it was about time for a general update. Now where shall I start? The weather perhaps.

The most noticeable effects of the weather have been the lack of rain and the wind. The soil is bone dry and everything is struggling to keep going despite my watering attempts. The wind just adds to the problem. April was warm enough for any July, but now it’s gone back to ‘normal’ and we all feel cold.

Then a few nights ago there was a severe frost forecast. The bird bath was frozen solid the following morning. Having got caught out last year, I had been out after tea covering up everything that I thought might suffer. Potatoes, strawberries, acer, sunflowers. Pots and trays of bedding were brought inside, and  for the most part it worked.

The strawberries survived, the potatoes are only affected a bit. All the bedding survived, except the dahlias I forgot about! Unfortunately the pear tree that was full of potential pears has lost most of them. The jury’s still out on the plums and cherries which, like the pears, had looked set for a bumper crop this year.

There is rain forecast for the next few days, boy do we need it.

My next topic is tools, great when they are working OK but not so great when they’re not. My loppers, spring rake and pressure sprayer have all broken over the last few weeks.

Then there is the mower. When I got it out at the beginning of April it wouldn’t start. Having charged the battery overnight I was delighted and relieved to find that it started first time and I cut the grass without further mishap.

About 10 days later I decided to cut the grass again. Guess what? The mower wouldn’t start, so we put it on charge again. This time it only took 7 hours to fully charge, and I eventually finished cutting the grass at 7.30pm.

Now the question is, will it start next time? Watch this space.

Incidentally whilst I’m on the subject of things that don’t work, the central heating is playing up, the toilet overflow is dripping and I think the septic tank might be full, but hey-ho, at least Peter has mended the broken floorboard on the landing after only 4 years of waiting!

Last year the peas and strawberries got attacked very badly by the birds. Blackbirds like strawberries and wood pigeons like peas and pea shoots. I don’t like using netting as one year a blackbird got trapped and died in my strawberry bed, even though I had gone to great lengths to fix it securely.

This year we’ve tried to come up with a more bird friendly solution. The idea is to use canes and fleece to make a barrier around the crops, hopefully high enough to stop them walking or flying in, but open enough to allow an escape route if they did.

It sounded such an easy thing to do, but proved a lot harder in practice, particularly in a wind! Time will tell now as to whether it works. Once again, watch this space.

I’ve seen the bullfinch pair again which is good news, but sadly I found 2 dead blackbirds in my  water butts behind the shed. I’m not sure how this happened, as it never has before in the 13 years we’ve been here. Suffice to say I’ve now covered them up so it won’t be happening again.

So there we are, you’re up to date. Happy gardening.