Browsed by
Tag: frost

The big freeze

The big freeze

It has been cold. Finger-numbing, shoulder-hunching, teeth-chatteringly cold. Freezing cold. We have woken up (it seems like for weeks) to heavy frosts and winter wonderlands. One night we recorded a minimum of -6.3C, now that is cold!  Many of the garden plants are now wrapped in plastic bags, fleece or bubble wrap. There will be some trepidation when they are unwrapped to see how they have survived.

The first victims have been the prickly pears. Every morning they have drooped lower and lower, and their recovery less noticeable. Alas, some have now snapped although this just means replanting the fallen leaves, and we’ll have a lot more come the summer.

The pond has regularly turned to ice and its plants blackened. We did remember to make sure that it was full before the big freeze came, somehow the leaves of the lilies and water hyacinths suffer more by being exposed to the frost rather than being frozen in the water.

This little, actually rather large, salamander was caught with its mate during a clear up. I do hope they, and the resident frogs, will be okay come the spring.

We have also been making sure there is plenty of extra seed for the garden birds, the usual suspects come and work their way through vast quantities every day.

One bitterly cold morning a little robin was completely still in the courtyard, almost like it had been frozen to the ground. I was able to gently pick it up and place it in a nest we’d kept. The next time I looked it had flown away.

Along with a certain beauty the cold has, there is also the reward of clear blue skies and sunny days. When the wind drops it’s still warm enough to eat outside for lunch, and has meant there is no excuse for not tackling the winter jobs. Pruning continues with the plane tree having its annual pollarding, the vines all being cut back and the willow too being pruned.

Like the summer afternoons, when the temperatures go well over 40, the veg patch has been a sorry sight these winter mornings. At first the broad beans would have collapsed and then bravely ‘pulled themselves together’ come mid-day but now most of them lay on the ground in a sorry state. The smaller ones planted later seem okay but we’ll be lucky to have another bumper crop.

Having said that we, amazingly, have had loads of broccoli and tonight we’re having the first of the cauliflowers. Somehow the leaves have provided enough protection, full marks to them.

We’ve also just had the last of the Jerusalem artichokes, the ones the voles kindly left for us, and there are still some leeks to be had. We’ve just had the first of our beetroots too, so really we can’t complain!

And with a roaring fire every evening the dogs aren’t complaining either. There is also some welcome rain on the horizon too; it seems incredible that we have actually watered some of the plants and smaller shrubs, in January! Let’s see if I can finish knitting that jumper for Richard before it’s no longer needed…



Win some, lose some

Win some, lose some


We have a friend who sometimes says on her Facebook page that she has lost a day. Well, for me I lost a whole month. I mean, where did February go? January seemed endless and yet here we are mid-March. The horta, however, has not weeded or pruned itself so I must have done something down there! Richard recently strimmed everywhere and it does look so much better, with lots of cleared, empty beds waiting to be filled.

horseradishBut, as always in the gardening world, it’s win some, lose some. I dug up the horseradish recently. It has never done really well, and no fear of it spreading, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised to discover that the roots had gone rotten. It was just beginning to sprout but there was nothing edible. It seems to be one of the easiest plants to grow but, unlike most of the plants I shove in the ground, it wasn’t happy. There is a slight dip in the ground where it was planted and despite the good drainage perhaps it just got too much water. Ah well. I did manage to save a couple of small roots that looked okay and have put them elsewhere. We’ll see.

broccoliSo on a more positive note the asparagus is shooting up, a mixture of great stocky stalks and thin lanky stems, all very tasty though. Plus, although I have always known that broccoli (calabrese) gives out extra shoots having had the main stalk cut, I hadn’t realised how long they do this for, and just how big the off-shoots become. We have been eating from plants put in the garden from the summer, a real cut-and-grow-again veg.

Meanwhile the temperatures are hitting the high 20s, during the day of course. But those lovely clear skies are still giving us frosts at night, and more than just ground frost. This has meant every evening all the seedlings have to be put away at night, not a small task now that most things have germinated and been potted on. We bought one set of plugs, some beans, and I chose to leave those out. Well, the outer leaves have been frost bitten, I’m just hoping they’ll be okay. Then of course every morning out everything comes again. There’s something very exciting about this time of the year though, all those little seedlings bursting through the soil. I look at a tiny purple sprouting broccoli and glance over at the four sown last year, over a metre tall and almost ready to eat, and am always amazed.

Oh and we have also bought some more ‘roasties’ and 4 more ducklings, but they’re another story…