Derek – Friday 5th June 2020

It’s a chilly, overcast morning, 13ºC, feeling all the colder with a 17mph wind. My source is BBC Weather for E7. That’s a 13 degree drop from last week. Although chilly for me, better for the garden as it allows our watering to sink deeper into the soil, and flowers to mature more slowly, and so last longer.


Still no rain, but we are less dependent with our new water tap. I’d hate to be an arable farmer, so dependent on rainfall. In past years, walking in the countryside, I have seen acres of peas and beans, ready to be ploughed back in as lack of rain has left the crops too poor to harvest. Climate change appears to be giving us drier summers, not good news if you work on the land. There was barely a drop in May, and June could be another dry month. Our cereal project is watered every day or two, but out on the farm, cereals in the fields need rainfall, and at the right time. It is so hit or miss. Too little rain and no crop, too much in August and it can’t be harvested.


Lots of action in the wild flower bed where we have our first red poppies, plenty of white campion, hedge mustard and mayweed. There’s a plant, nearly a metre tall, with spearhead shaped, bristly leaves, which I think is bristly oxtongue, named after the shape and roughness of its leaves. It has dandelion type flowers which should be out soon to confirm (or decry) my diagnosis. In a bed nearby, there’s another of the same family, nipplewort, with its small flowers. The smallest I know of among the dandelion assortment.


The water boatmen are darting about the pond. They are ferocious feeders and I pity our remaining tadpoles. As an individual tadpole your chances of making it to maturity are very low. When a tadpole, you have to face water boatmen and dragonfly nymphs. If you are fortunate enough to make it to froghood, there’s birds, cats and mowers to shorten your lifespan.


Three water lily blooms grace our pond surface, monkey flowers are on the ledge. The latter are very like yellow snapdragons.


A squirrel, I think, a couple of days ago, had a go at the dwarf maize in the cereal project, giving them quite a bashing. But I firmed them in, put a couple of sticks in and watered them, and they have recovered. Three of the cereals are in flower, possibly in seed, it’s difficult to tell. They are rye, Red Fife wheat, and barley. The other two planted in March with them, emmer wheat and oats, are not yet in flower. The two maize, dwarf and sweetcorn, are doing well, but planted in May they have no sign of flowers. The other grain in our ongoing saga is rice. And so far, a sad episode. I have a single plant. There’s a chance we might get more, but I am not hopeful.


About the garden, we have lychnis, various roses, and giant scabious. The name of the latter comes from its former usage to treat scabies, a contagious itch caused by a mite. Other flowers are in bud, like the hollyhocks and the globe thistles, awaiting a little warmth to get them flowering. The cold spell has subdued the bees, so as well to wait.

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