Sunday, 28 November 2010

Frosty days in the sunshine

The Field

A bit of gardening on a sunny winter's day has soothed my soul and refreshed my mind; It's also created a twinge in my lower back and in my shoulders but hopefully a hot bath will take care of later!

How come, when you've spent so much time raking up leaves it just looks the same afterwards?  I picked up enough to almost fill my second compost bin this afternoon but you'd never know from looking at it afterwards.  You turn your back and all the hazel trees in the hedge have a good shake and drop more leaves onto the path, patio and lawn!

After the non-effective leaf clean up it was time to check the compost heap. Earlier in the year I'd made a compost container out of old pallets  and then spent months filling it up and turning it over.  It seems my reward was a great pile of compost ready for use. In addition, I was given a plastic compost bin which I'm filling up at the moment, but it doesn't hold much so maybe I'll build a second one from pallets.  It's easier to access, not likely to blow over in a strong wind and I can get much more in it. The only downside is that it's a much harder job to turn it all over, but that's a small price to pay to have enough compost for both the garden and Field in the future.

Jasper joined me, taking  up his usual spot, like a sentinel, on a corner of the compost container. I think it's because not only is it a great place to catch the sun but he also has a strategically placed high point from where he can see the various mouse holes in the nearby bank without the poor unsuspecting mice seeing him before it's too late!  Besides, evidence suggests that not so many rabbits are coming in at the moment - one attempt at a new hole which was instantly filled in - so I guess he's looking for smaller snacks at the moment.

Don't let the looks fool you...he may look relaxed but Jasper is ready to pounce at a moment's notice!

The compost came in handy for my apple trees.  Planted this year, they could still be susceptible to any hard frost so it was time to clear the ground around them and ensure that they didn't have to battle with the weeds for soil nutrients.  The sun was reaching the trees but not the ground around them so it was hard with frost and I was expecting it to be a really difficult job.  However, it turned out to be easier than I thought to get the weeds out. Having had decent weather in the summer and more chances to strim the weeds and brambles, thankfully I was only having to dig up ground cover plants around the apple trees.  After that I used a layer of dead leaves and compost around the base of each one to help keep the frost away and to give their roots some extra 'food'. I think perhaps a trip to the garden centre to get some fleece for them might not be amiss next weekend.

I took time too to take some photos of The Field; I like to keep a record of it's development and seasonal changes. It'll be great to look back at them, and this blog in the coming months to see the journey of this project.  Today was a great opportunity to see the frost lying on the ground.  In previous years I haven't been able to get into the Field for the 6ft weeds, wildflowers and brambles.  It was lovely being able to wander through it, through patches of sunshine and hard frosty ground where the sun's warmth hadn't managed to reach.

Mr Robin sits camouflages in the hedge eyeing up the worms
Frost makes even the nettles look attractive
Leaves on the brambles add some colour in the sunshine

Is that a lodger in Room 3 at the bug hotel?
 Tiny flowers of the Fatsia Japonica

It was so enjoyable,spending time in the garden on a crisp sunny day this time of year, but to end that with a mug of hot chocolate by the wood burner is the icing on the cake.  Jasper wouldn't know about hot chocolate, but he'd agree about the fire - he's sleeping in front of it.  Probably dreaming of mice and rabbits.


Dancin' Fool said...

You write such great posts! Top picture of Jasper by the way, he is beautiful.

Sensory Dragon said...

Cheers DF! by the way, I've been told I don't need to wrap the young apple trees up - it seems that the varieties I've got are reasonably frost hardy. Any advice/update on that?

bowledover said...

Great post backed up with wonderful pictures.
You will have so much to look forward to in the field.
Give Jasper a stroke from me.

Sensory Dragon said...

Hi Bowledover; the Field looks lovely in the morning frost. It even makes my photos look good! Jasper is curled up on my knee and is enjoying the stroke you sent him. hope your not snowed in!

bowledover said...

Hi Sensory D, snow has melted now thanks.
Phase two is expected tomorrow.
Soup makings being gathered plus a treat or two for Dancin'.
Take care and best wishes.

Claire said...

Hey great photos! - love the frost on the nettles particularly. Really good to read your blog; it's great! Jasper looks a cute little fellow. Sam and Bella my two mogs send purrs and licks

Sensory Dragon said...

Thanks Claire; I don't have yours and Dancin' Fool's talent for photography but I find that if I take enough there's usually one or two that come out ok! Plus the garden gives me plenty of opportunity to practice!

Dancin' Fool said...

Hey! I will ask Mr Dancin about the apple trees as he knows much more about fruit trees. Do you know what variety you have?

Dancin' Fool said...

Mr Dancin says don't wrap them and leave them to it but it would be good to mulch the root area to protect from frost which is good for any new trees, especially with these temperatures! We had frozen pipes this morning! Thankfully defrosted now!

I would put down a good 5-6cm of mulch if you can and have some spare to top it up as the birds will root through it and spread it about!