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Week fourteen

Things you can do this week Now is the probably the best time of the year to sow a lawn. Plant a clematis in a position that can be given large amounts of water in the summer. Plant out sweet peas. Prune forsythias as soon as they have finished flowering removing as much old wood as you like from well established plants, they will flower next year on the new growth made this summer. Sow some asparagus seed in a warm well prepared seed bed for planting out next year. Sow winter cabbages, January King, savoy cabbage and purple and white sprouting broccoli.

Links to weeks throughout the year
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Gardening diary week 14 beekeeping blog

Diary week fourteen April 2nd - April 8th

If the weather is mild, you could risk an early sowing of runner beans in a sheltered warm position but only if you have saved plenty of seed from last year and are prepared to loose these early plants to a late frost.

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2009

April 4th and 5th 2009. The Peach tree is coming into blossom as is the greengage in front of the house. The greengage no longer has the Victoria plum to pollinate it but now replacing it another, but not quite so posh, greengage. Lets hope we now have good week of sunny weather in which the bees can get stuck in.

I have just about lost the plot again and things are not getting done that need to get done. It seems to be happening earlier every year.

2008

April 5th/6th 2008 More winds from the north gave us a cold weekend. I Had another load of muck delivered. This time I shared it with the head gardener's good friend Lucy who has the allotment on the opposite corner to mine.

I topped up my first compost bin with muck with the intention of growing something on top of it later in the year. Maybe I will plant a squash or two on it and let the bin's contents continue to rot until November when the frost arrives and finishes the squash off -- that is if it has lasted that long. But, will I need the bin empty before then?

Even though it is cold we are not far away from the asparagus season and once the weather warms up in a week or two the asparagus is likely to start pushing its tips up above the ground. So this is about the last opportunity to hoe over the row without doing any damage to the asparagus plants below ground. Once the asparagus spears come up it will mean weeding the row by hand.

Friday 4th April 2008 The bee hive in my allotment had my best queen of 2006 kept on for 2007. I built the hive up during the year and prevent the bees from swarming by squashing queen cups and removing queen cells on my weekly inspections. I took a fair amount of from it and re-queened several other hives with queen cells removed and took it into the winter on a double brood box. On it's first inspection last week I could see that the bees didn't like the queen and that she was running out of steam. Only one frame had a few eggs and small amount of brood and the there perfectly positioned at the top of the frame in the centre was a a queen cup. On my inspection today it was a fully formed queen cell. These bees have waited long enough and need a new queen as soon as they can get one. The bees deciding the time is right, even though they are probably desperate, means that I can take that as indication that I too can start to force the bees into emergency queen cell production by splitting hives by putting queens into new brood boxes.

Pictures April 3rd 3008 My out apiary in Old Costessy had eight hives set up in it last autumn all with laying queens. I had lost one before the winter was over but thought that the remaining seven may be OK when I fed them a few weeks ago. I should have known that there was something amiss with the one hive that hadn't used up it's last bucket of feed and on opening up today found the bees in that hive were dead too. The other six all had flying bees although one of them looks to be queenless. Out of eight I have five hives with laying queens in.

Two of the hives were on double brood boxes. One of these was a large swarm I picked up last year and the other has a new queen bred from the hive in my allotment last year. In the middle of the summer when there were a lot of bees in the hive the swarm bees were not very nice to handle so I approached those with plenty of smoke and soon had to put my leather bee keeping gloves on. At this time of the year they weren't too bad especially after plenty of smoke and there was a good number of bees in the hive but a fair few showed the tell tail signs of a bad Varoa infection as several of the young bees that had hatched out this year had deformed or missing wings - not something I have seen for a few years. Those bees will need careful checking in the coming months and plenty of medication and drone brood removal to get the mite numbers down.

The other double brood box hive had a top brood box stacked full of stores and a bottom box full of bees that were just beginning moving up into the top frames. I could take some of the full frames of stores out and put new foundation in instead and I reckon they would still have enough stored supplies to give them the extra energy required to pull out new foundation into honey comb.

I changed the bases of several of the hives taking away those that had seen the bees through the winter replacing them with ones that I had scraped clean and scorched with a blowlamp earlier in the day. One hive I left with a feed bucket on and one had a frame with eggs put in from the hive next door to see if it is queenless.

The double brood box swarm hive I split in two and put a frame of eggs in from the other double hive. I just hope I have the queen in the right place in the box removed from the top to sit next door and not in the box left behind with the one frame of eggs in it. We will see on my next visit in a weeks time.

2007

Saturday 6th April. We haven't had a good downpour of rain for some time now and we could do with some.

Wednesday 4th April I had put a tray of Apiguard into the hive in Suffolk over a week ago and today returned to see how the hive was doing and although the weather hasn't been ideal with sunny days but with cold winds from the north east I was concerned that the hive had enough supper space for the bees to use. I needn't have worried and indeed moved the Apiguard down to the bottom brood box (it was on top of two brood boxes) as I could see mites on the bees and signs of Varoa infection.

Tuesday April 3rd "Foxes don't wear shoes" said the head gardener as she threw the rake at my feet. She was angry. There were blackberry pruning strewn across the path and that was a red rag to a bull compounded on top of my other sins. There are parts of my allotment that I have neglected for years. Areas where I have started projects and run out of time or motivation and areas where things have been dumped with the intention of sorting them out later. Areas that I call 'wildlife areas' because the blackberries have moved in and taken over thus hiding a multitude of my sins. Sins that today were unveiled and I was being held to account for. An angry tirade came my way from the boss who was not impressed by my lazy ways and the string and the glass.

Monday April 2nd Planted rhubarb

Digging - prepare runner bean trench

Cauliflower

Cauliflower Leamington - ready for the kitchen?








2006 Friday 7th April 2006 The South Norfolk farming brothers delivered a 25 load of muck to the corner of my allotment today. In the evening I completed cleaning up and pruning the red gooseberries Whinhams Industry and potted another four plants up for sale. I have just about emptied the compost bin ready to fill it with part of the new load with the intention of leaving it for a year until I start to use it. In reality I will probably start using it in a few months time before a year is up.

Thursday 6th April 2006. What the head gardener started the worker has to finish. We now have four blueberry bushes planted out in well dug and weeded soil each with a wheelbarrow load of well rotted muck under and around them to get them going. They were bought in pots and not bare rooted so the only downside with these plants is that they will dry out in the summer if not watered frequently. I have now potted red gooseberry plants in the pots that the blueberry bushes came in ready for sale in the allotment shed on Saturday.

It was a quite night in the allotment until Fergal arrived. Fergal often wanders over for a chat when he is around and I have a beehive sited on his plot and share a runner bean structure with him.

Wednesday 5th April 2006 We did more digging at lunchtime today as there are still two blueberry bushes left to plant. I should have been planting blueberry bushes in the evening too. However I was in a more completive mood and decided to hoe and weed instead. The autumn sown broad beans are still struggling through and still getting eaten -- it should be -- one for the mouse, one for the crow, one to rot, one to grow -- and as as I'm organic -- one for the grubs that live in the soil and eat the roots below.

I've gone back and weeded the area around the red current bush again. It doesn't seem to matter how often I fork through my soil there is always spear grass in it.

Monday 4th April. I was planting blueberry bushes with the head gardener today. I bought two over the weekend and when I told her where they came from she bought two more. At 6.50 each they are not cheap - but then again not so expensive.

Sunday April 2nd.I mended the garden shed roof - at last!

I have moved the hive back from Costessy -- it is a very strong hive in comparison to some of those in the allotment. I made two trips Costessy the first to sort it out and the second to bring it back. Apart from sowing some cabbage seed in the afternoon I didn't do much at all in fact as I had a fit of depression and sat for couple hours staring into space.

Saturday April 1st 2006. The carrot seed has just come up and the red cherry plum is in full flower. Re-planting this tree was one of the first things I did when I took my allotment plot on over twenty years ago. It was a small seedling growing in what was then an immaculate onion bed that I had inherited from the previous owner and I transplanted it on the northern boundary thinking that it would make a good windbreak. It is the earliest of the plums to fruit on the allotment although I don't get many of them, as the pigeons eat all of the plums at the top of the tree when they are still green. When they are fully ripe they are red. Strangely I did a similar transplanting in the back garden the first year we moved in and that tree has bright yellow cherry plums when it is allowed to fruit. They are very pigeon friendly trees as the pigeons like to eat the young green shoots before they start on the small green fruits.

2005 Thursday April 7th 2005 Stunning weather formation as the the winter returns from the north and the black sky progressed over the allotment site replacing a light breeze from the south west with a much cooler breeze from the north. By the time I left the site there was only a slim silver rim of light in the southern sky and it had started to rain. I made sure I was digging with my back to the north.

Monday 4th April 2005 I'm still planting potatoes and indeed bought two more bags of seed potatoes (Cara and Koncord) from the allotment shop yesterday as they were reduced to 1 per bag. The Greengage tree outside my window is flowering, but so far I have seen only one small bumble bee visit it. The weather is forecast to get cold and windy so it may be bad news for pollination this year.

Nice weekend of sunny weather. The beehive that I thought was queenless may have a queen after all. I checked out one of my two 'out' hives. It seemed in good condition with a good looking queen in residence (it's the queen from my 'problem' hive 2003 - see below). As I can't get to the hive often I have put a couple more supers on so that it is now on a brood and half as all my hives are (except one other that is also out) and has two more supers on top.

Moved dahlias the edge of the plot near the old Gooseberries (that have flowers on now).

Sowed beetroot. Planted out summer cabbage, all the year round cauliflower and little jem lettuce.

2004 The first week of April is a great time for seed sowing and moving plants around from plot to plot.

2003 Saturday 5th April another sunny day - although with a stiff cool breeze. Having Spoken to Rosemary I now know what has to be done with the bee hive without eggs. As there were no eggs I put a frame of brood in from the other hive expecting the queen to begin laying or the bees to make a queen cell. As neither happened after two attempts I was stumped as know what to do next. The advice was find the queen -- she is there or they would have made queen cells -- and remove her because she can't lay eggs. So that is what I did and then put another frame of brood and eggs from the other hive after being carefully to see that queen was there and to leave her in place. Next I will remove all the queen cells except one.

Planted more potatoes. Moved muck heap around the plot. Brought home a splendid cauli and another good picking of purple sprouting. Weeded the spring cabbage. Bought a bag of blood fish and bone

1st April. We had the first rain for several weeks today. I moved a few small gooseberry bushes that are now in their third year. Every year I take a few cuttings from each of the different varieties of gooseberry bushes that I have. In fact I have collected three white/green varieties, one yellow and one red and now I'm beginning to find it hard to give away all of my spare rooted cuttings.

I also planted two or three dozen snowdrops under the greengage tree on top of a generous helping of muck (that the gooseberries didn't get).

The time it takes from sowing a fruit pip or plum stone to get fruit makes it seem like a waste of time. Especially as you never know what the result will be like. Indeed having looked after a gooseberry seedling until fruiting only to find that the bush had small fruit with zero resistance to mildew and having grown a cherry stone from a large luscious black cherry only to get small bitter fruit should prevent one from ever trying again. Not so, I'm looking forward to see what two new greengages that are flowering for the first time this year will produce after several years of nurturing from stones to trees. Christine (Joe's mum) brought me have a dozen bush tomato plants.

Sunday 30th March. Spent a quite afternoon in the apiary splitting and replanting snowdrops and aconites. It's sad that there are no bees there at all at the moment - but I will move a hive from the allotment there soon.

Saturday 29th March. Checked both the hives in the allotment. The hive with the laying queen was looking very good with the first drone brood in position. The other hive still shows no interest in making queen cells although there is no laying of eggs at all. I will have to consult the experts to find out what I should do next.

2002 April 5th earthed up early potatoes wind in the east cold nights.

Weekend 6/7th April 2002 The sunny weather continues although the breeze is from the east and the nights are cold so watching for emerging potato leaves and when spotted earthing them up is important now. This is a good week to sow seed outside so I plan to get another seed bed prepared by the end of the week. I have finished planting mid season potatoes but still have some main crop varieties to do. Had a load of muck delivered on Saturday a little late or many things but not too late for the remaining runner beans and later on the leeks. My 'compost' bin at the allotment is a rough box or corrugated tin that I inherited when I took the plot on and as I put no kitchen waste in it (rats!) it does tend to be less than perfect at making good compost. I turned it out a couple of weeks ago and the contents would have made a fine bonfire but a useless mulch on the asparagus bed. However I put it all back and trod up and down on it to break it up a bit. What I did do last year was to put a several fork loads of spear grass in the middle of the heap to see if it survived and was pleased to see that it hadn't. After returning my 'sticks' and jumping on them to break them up the bin was only half full, so I'm filling it up with farmyard manure that I noticed had plenty of worms in it. I will try to remember to water it over the summer and leave till the autumn or longer before turning out again.

When we moved to the house we live in now (December) the front garden had been cleared of all plants and three newly planted conifers stood in a row in the bed at the front of the house. All slow growing miniatures we were told be the departing previous owner. Before the winter was out they had been moved to the back garden and I don't suppose I waited until April to do it. Today we were cutting large branches from a tree that is now taller than the house. So much for three slow growing miniatures one of them was a fast growing monster.

2000 2nd April. The bees in the allotment were working hard today. After a week of cold North Easterly winds the weekend was mild and damp. I gave them an extra supper as the one that has been on all winter is still full. If the weather turns really sunny they may need it but I'm probably too early. I gave one of the hives in the apiary a feed in case we have another hard week and because the queen wasn't laying on my first inspection two weeks ago and their stores were severely depleted even then. Did more course digging of the new plot and planted more potatoes. The sprouts seeds sown earlier in the year germinated well and are doing fine.

1999 April 2,3,4,5 Spring has settled in with exceptionally warm weather. For one week at least now, we have been enjoying above average temperatures. The many flowering Magnolias in the city have, for once, not even been tinged by frost. Easter weekend has been more like summer than spring and the possibility of a good plum crop is increased with the sight of bees all over the blossom.

The lawn had it's first cut and trim and the garden a general weed and tidy up of any left over reminders of winter. The spring and winter flowering shrubs have been pruned.

In the allotment more sprouts and various cabbage seed sown. More seed potatoes planted. Digging hoeing and weeding. The fear now is that the early sown seed potatoes will race ahead and a late hard frost will be the price we pay for this warm spell.

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