Whilst I know that we will get frosts until the end of May and so I have to be patient with things like Sweetcorn and Tomatoes, the last couple of days have been beautiful and bringing out the insects and wildlife.
The Bluetits are in and out of the birdbox so hopefully they are nest building. I can’t remember when we first hear the young but based upon previous experience, they won’t fledge until towards the end of May. For whatever reason, we were unlucky last year and, whilst we heard nestlings early on, I suspect that something scared or killed one of the adults and we never go any Tits to fledge.
The Butterflies are out and about in force, we released eight Peacock butterflies from the shed and there are lots of Yellow Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell about, not something I remember at this time of year in the past.
The Harlequin Beetles are out in numbers as well so I’m doing my usual thing of encouraging them into the polytunnel to provide a first line of defence against the aphids that will come in the future. I don’t know whether I “like” Harlequins. Obviously they affect the populations of our native Ladybirds but they’re bright and cheerful and do an excellent job of keeping the greenfly in check. There’s no way that we can control their numbers so I guess we have to accept them as endemic if not native (how long does something have to be in the country before its a native?).
I saw the first Bee-Fly today (again just about on time). I noticed these for the first time a couple or three years ago and now they seem to be common at this time of year. Again, I don’t know whether I like them or not, their larvae are parasites of the solitary bees so when you see them buzzing around the bee’s nest entrances they’re up to no good. But, they are pollinators in their own right and are fun little insects.
Finally from a wildlife perspective, the frogspawn is settled in well and will hatch in the next couple of weeks or so. The pond net seems to have prevented the ducks etc. eating the spawn so hopefully we’ll have some froglets later in the year. I haven’t noticed and toad-spawn or newt-spawn this year but that’s more difficult to see. I assume there is some in the pond as we’ve seen both toads and newts around the garden as well as frogs.
I wen’t down to the allotment this morning and planted up the last of the strawberries. We’ve now got two beds of strawberries one be dedicated to one variety and the other a mix of about five different sorts. The idea is to get a good flush at one point in time but to extend the season with smaller amounts for longer. We’ll see how it goes. I planted the first few lettuces (its probably a bit early but if they don’t survive it won’t matter). I grow a lot of lettuces because I think they taste much better that the ones from the supermarket and they fill up the beds and make good compost.
Finally, I also planted out the first of the peas from the ones I sowed in pots a couple of weeks ago. Again my plan is to grow a decent number of peas (Early Onward) so that we get enough to freeze them for over the winter. So when I came back, I sowed some more in pots to give me some more to plant out in a couple of weeks. My plan had been to plant some and sow some underneath as they were being planted but I’d forgotten to take the seeds with me. However, I can poke some in around the peas next time I go.
Because of things like Leek Moth and Onion White Rot, I’ve decided not to grow leeks or onions this year (although I hope the garlic will survive the white rot) and I’m reducing the number of potatoes.
That was all I had time for so the Sugar Snap peas came back and will get planted next time I get to the allotment.