Getting on Top of Things in the Garden
Phew, I think I’m on top of things in the garden! It’s the same every year – things seem a little overwhelming when you first venture out and there are so many jobs to do. However, a few sunny days and the nice long list of jobs to do soon starts to get whittled down. Then, all of a sudden everything looks good and I feel as though I’m back in control.
We’ve had a few such sunny days now and back in control is indeed how I feel. That’s not to say things are finished, they never are. There are still lots of big jobs to do and the garden never rests, so nor can I. It is however under control and is looking nice. As well as the usual weeding, cutting things back, clearing up, pruning, mulching and transplanting there were of course a few maintenance jobs to be done as well. I’ve also noticed that a few panels on the shed are a little rotten so I’ve got another big job to do there!
With the purchase of a new bench to replace the rotten one I thought it was time to tidy up the seating area out the back a little. Some of the log edging was rotten so that has been removed and replaced with new recycled plastic edging instead. It looks good, was easy to install and will hopefully last a little longer than the wooden variety.
I might add yet more large pebbles to the seating are though as I quite like them and it gives it a nice ‘beach-like’ feel.
Talking of large pebbles, I’ve moved a big pile of them out the front around a little. I then broke through the slate ground by hacking away at it with a large spike and then dug out a hole until I hit sand. I have hacked off a piece of the large Phormium we have in the back garden and have planted it in this hole out the front. It looks nice there surrounding by the pebbles but I don’t know yet if it will take. Mind you, a piece of Phormium that size from a garden centre would cost over £80. It’s cost me nothing other than some sweat and toil so if it does settle in and grow I’m onto a winner. If not I haven’t really lost anything. It will compliment the Cordyline on the other side of the gate nicely too.
Another big job was digging out the compost bins. I tend to dig one out each year, rotating between the bins so that each one has a couple of years of composting before it is utilised. I then bag up the compost. The compost then sits in bags for another year where it breaks down further. By the end of it I have a lovely, rich compost than I use either as a mulch. Or I can use it as actual compost for situations such as the above with the Phormium where I needed fresh soil to fill a big hole. I’ve used about 15 bags of it on various parts of the garden and still have quite a few left.
It’s quite hard work digging out the compost bins and lugging the bags about, but it’s nice to get it done. The large bin is in the apiary as well so I have to be mindful of the bees whilst doing it too.
Of course, once I have I dug out the compost and turned over the remaining material it doesn’t take long for it to be full again. It’s surprising how much waste organic material a small garden can produce!
Flowers, Bees and Power from the Sun
Clearing up does reveal a few flowers here and there of course. The crocuses have pretty much finished now, but they’ve been replaced by primroses everywhere. The Forsythia is looking nice too. There are also Celandines everywhere. these are almost weeds but I like them, the bees like them and they are good for other pollinators so I just let them do their own thing.
The bees don’t seem to forage on the primroses as much as they do the crocuses but they were fairly busy yesterday and seem to be returning with plenty of pollen so there’s clearly something somewhere for them to forage on at the moment. The Bay tree is covered in tiny little flower buds too and they look like the sort of flowers honey bees will like.
I did do a quick inspection of the bees yesterday and both colonies seem OK. One is quite small so I topped up the syrup in that one to hopefully keep it going. It was a little too cold for a full inspection, and typically just as I decided to do it the sun went in for a while as well.
You can see the sudden drop in sunlight from the generation curve of our solar panels yesterday. Yep, that drop at around 11:30am was just as I started my bee inspection. Otherwise it was a pretty good day on the solar generation front. Our best day yet with just over 23kWh produced, better still, more than 14kWh of that went to the car. We’ve managed to go a few weeks now with only using solar power to fuel the car. If driving a nice new EV doesn’t make us feel smug enough already, driving one that has been charged for free from sunlight is even better!
The panels have actually been performing better than their maximum specifications would suggest on a couple of days. We have twelve 360W panels on the roof which should therefore in theory have a maximum power output of 4320 Watts. However, we’ve managed to hit 4602 Watts from them. This is because all panels are rated based on a standard test which is carried out at 25ºC sallowing like-for-like comparisons to be made. Many panels actually perform slightly better than this at lower temperatures. Of course, lower temperatures are often associated with lower levels of sunlight too, but on sunny spring days such as those we’ve been having there can be plenty of sunlight at a suitable angle. Combined with cool temperatures this allows the panels to over-perform. I’m not going to complain about that.
Elsewhere in the garden, the new jet-black ‘Metal Bird’ decorations that I put up last week are settling into life at Ynyslas already. Those who’ve never lived right by the sea won’t know quite how quickly things rust, but after just one week the metal birds are already getting the hang of rusting away. The robin out the front has quite an orange glow to it already.
And now for an orange glow of a different type. A quick shower followed by a nice sunset lit up the newly resprayed camper nicely the other evening. It looked as though it had a mural of a palm tree and a sunset on it!