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Daphne

So how is the season so far?

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@Ursula123, it's expensive relatively speaking, because we've retired now and our income is very limited. I seem to remember that the price of water in the UK was less, but then it doubled up with rainwater disposal and sewerage charges, which of course in the 'sticks' you don't have. We're careful now so the loo doesn't get flushed every time. In the last place (rental) we had a water butt outside the back door and used to flush the loo with a bucket from that, but we haven't the time to do that here.

Our tomatoes have just germinated and are in a tray outside, so it will be a long time before they get planted. According to my records from last year they should go in 12th May and they were fleeced a few times even then, because of possible frosts. They don't sow sunflowers here until after 5th May (I think) because of the late frosts. Started the main crop potatoes now (Desiree) which the label says will be harvested in 120 days, so end of July, just before it gets really hot. The earlies (Agata) are in and should be harvested in 60 days at which time they perhaps won't have needed watering. Onions next; we had too many last year (still some left), despite one poor bed giving almost nothing, so we've reduced the quantity.

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Lets keep our fingers X, Luvachicken!  They are a really spectacular plant in my view, I love the big fat hairy buds, just before they open, because I can't ever remember what colour they are going to be!  You'll have to let us know what colour yours are.  I feel quite nostalgic now!

I gave in yesterday and bought some plug plants after my seed sowing debacle, so now I have planted some toms (large beefsteak type, which have a long growing season before ripening), peppers, beetroot and coriander.  I have never succeeded in getting coriander to germinate, so I have splashed out 7 cents each on 6 plants😁  However, we are in the midst of a 3 week heatwave, its fabulously warm, and in any case we don't get much frost, luckily, altough we did this year and it killed some reasonable size shrubs as well as flowers like osteospermum.  However, I have the best iris I have even grown, 2 massive flower heads per plant, I think perhaps they need more of a chilling than they get normally, so its not been all bad.

Water is cheaper here than in the UK as well, but the quantities I have to use to keep things alive, let alone thriving over the summer, is enormous.  Water founts are common here, where you can fill containers with free spring water, and we have one on our land, but its communal and you aren't allowed to connect a hose to it.  I use it for the odd watering can full as the water is purer than tap for some plants, and sometimes people come and fill multiple containers, but really you aren't meant to.

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@Beantree yes it is all relative, I used to live in the South west where we had to pay for the coast line in our water bill, South West Water notoriously high.

My tomatoes are in a very sheltered position at the side of the ruined house and even with the hard frosts of the last couple of mornings are all ok. The French observe the planting rule of the ice saints which I think is in May.

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I've just put 10 broad bean seeds in to soak for 24 hours.....I braved Lidl this morning (only my 4th supermarket trip since last Feb!) and picked up 4 x 20L peat free multi purpose for 99p each so am set for the seedlings at least and carrot troughs in due course. Have been out tidying up the pots and having a sort through so as to be really organised for what goes into which pot where!! Love hearing about everyone else's gardens and planting :clap:

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What are the 'ice saints' Ursula123?  I know my SIL regularly gets severe frost in May in Normandy, so her season is short, but almost perfect, hotter than the UK, but not prolonged periods of scorchio, although she has had drought before.  I have learned to distrust labels with timings on them, I sowed some 8 week cabbage in early September, and I think our first scoff was January!  

 

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Looks like our season is going to be delayed a bit? We have all the potatoes in and the earlies are up with the main crop not far behind. Just about everything else went in 7th April last year, but they are forecasting a cold blast middle of next week, so nothing will germinate anyway. We have plenty of fleece for the potatoes.

At the moment we are taking out hundreds of weeds from the pasture; Beaked Hawk's-beard has taken over large areas and spilled into the lawns. Last year it was Wild Carrot. The brambles and ragwort have just about been exterminated fortunately, but it's taken 3 years. Problem is the seeds also blow into the vegetable plot and we don't want to cut it all down or the insects suffer.

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Glad I didn't get carried away with planting seeds over the warm weather.........we are now promised some -1 overnight temps coming up! However, the broad beans on the windowsill have put in an appearance! Small fry in relation to others on the forum though!

 

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Yes it’s even forecast to go down to 2 degrees by night here in Cornwall after the weekend. The plum trees have just started to flower ☹️

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So this probably isn't the time to say we had 3 whole broad beans to eat the other day as OH mistakenly strimmed a plant!  

We are super lucky this year, its the best Spring I can remember, I think the very cold January gave many plants a proper dormancy, then we had plenty of wet and March was just dry and sunny all month.  As a result the blossom is early and magnificent everywhere and because we can see it (normally its all grey and rainy) its a real celebratory sight.  I will keep my fingers X for your blossom, MT, as we had heavy rain yesterday and the beautiful blossom is all over the ground.  I see Japan has reported the earliest blossom for years because of global warming, and we are in a cherry growing area, but its all white, the only pink you see are either almonds or peaches.

I know exactly what you mean Beantree about weeds/wildflowers.  I do leave 99% of ours for the bees, although I do remove brambles and obviously ragwort is poisonous to some livestock.  We don't have lawn (actually I can't remember the last time I had a lawn!) so maybe its not so bad for me.  One thing I have noticed is that each year something different dominates, which I think is the sign of a healthy ecosystem.  This year we have a lot of something large with small pink flowers, as well as various cranesbills, so its actually made a nice change from yellow flowers and daisies.  Next door was more or less abandoned last year (not lived in, but coronavirus prevented holiday visits) and its lost most of its wild flowers, its now mostly grass.  Which is a pain as many of the seedheads germinate on our side of the wall and crowd out the less strong weeds/flowers.

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I’ve spent the last couple of nights wrapping the seedlings in the greenhouse with fleece.....I’m not risking losing the lot with frost. Easier to just leave the fleece on all the time for the next few days...

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Last night it went below freezing (-0.9) here for a couple of hours around dawn. It’s forecast to do the same again tonight and Monday night. I’ve brought my new fuchsia plants in to the greenhouse along with my just unfurling potted acer. There are also lots of seedlings in there (although I’ve brought the tomatoes and sunflowers indoors). Will I need to give them any extra protection or should they be OK?

Nothing I can do for the plum or kiwi 🤞🏻

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I have no personal experience of greenhouses, but I hope your plants and seedlings have survived/will survive this very cold period.  I suppose if it all goes horribly wrong you can buy some plugs later, a bit defeatist I know, but at least you will get some goodies to repay all your attention!

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The potatoes are going crazy. I've got to fleece 5 beds because of the frost coming day after tomorrow and the frames for that are in. Tomatoes are in the house as we haven't a greenhouse (yet), but where it will be is under trees. We have kept an English paraffin burner but the French units are miles better (as is the paraffin) so it will probably go to the tip.

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That's an incredible sight @Ursula123. I didn't realise the scale of the operation. It was just a touch below freezing here this morning, so a very light frost. Supposed to be colder tomorrow morning and then the rain arrives at the weekend; we do need it because the ground is pretty hard and cracked now. So fleece off tomorrow afternoon and I'll try to get the onions in before the rain (unlikely).

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The pictures are from St Emillion this morning posted on Twitter. The air was thick with smoke here this morning as they are burning small piles of hay in the vines, also spraying with a sugar beet mixture as this apparently protects from frost.

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OMG Ursula123 - thank you so much for posting, that's an incredible sight, I almost can't believe what I am seeing.  Can you imagine being there last night, it must have been so haunting and beautiful.

I wonder if the wine growers have always done this.  I remember Le Grand Gele around 1990, when there was an April freeze and the crop was ruined for Bordeaux growers  (although this early here we mostly have leaves, the vines don't have any fruit yet, so it must mean that a frost is catastrophic even for leaves on vines).

We are getting a bit of rain from tomorrow, like Beantree I welcome it, but for a different reason - I am already watering twice a day.  Yesterday I discovered the garlic is forming scapes, so tonight we are going to have a potato salad with chopped up scapes, which I hope is going to taste a bit like ransomes.

 

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1 hour ago, mullethunter said:

Wow Ursula that’s incredible. Is it to keep the frost away?

Yes, the buds are just breaking through. A whole years wine can be lost in a night to frost. We are forecast another cold night so more candles and fires. This will continue until mid May when the “ice saints” have passed.

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32 minutes ago, Cat tails said:

Over here the orchards are sprayed with water on frost nights. The little layer of ice keeps the bud inside from freezing.

I would never have thought that would work. Every day’s a school day 😊👍🏻

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2 minutes ago, mullethunter said:

I would never have thought that would work. Every day’s a school day 😊👍🏻

Well for the science nerds between us: the freezing of water is an exothermic reaction. So very counterintuitively, freezing water produces heat. The heat provided is just enough for the centre of the bud not to freeze and the little ice layer acts like a little igloo.

Sorry about that... this chem teacher will put herself to bed now! 😅

image.thumb.jpeg.27b78a9a22eaa1f17125a437e5e9cc46.jpeg

not my picture. Honestly stolen from the interweb

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