Ants and Nests.

Bright days all around us at the moment, with frost maybe showing its face on Friday night/Saturday morning. The blossom on the fruit trees doesn’t seem to be affected. There’s none on the Opal plum tree, but the dessert pear is absolutely loaded.
Up on the plot Saturday morning. The rotary lawn mower that had been left out for the “tatters” and intercepted by me on an evening stroll is absolutely perfect for walking-and-cutting the paths between plots after a bit of adjustment and oil. It was, to be fair almost brand new. The grass on the paths has been allowed to grow too long (my fault entirely!): the strimmer’s automatic feed stopped feeding and this mower is brilliant. Well, it will be now that the grass is short again.
Used the spade to put a proper edge to one of the plots (the other two are edged with board – but it ran out) and the red handled fork to fetch out the buttercups. Then, wearing gloves sprinkled some Perlka on the ground we intend to put the cabbage plants into. They’re hardening off now after germinating successfully in the greenhouse. This Perlka is supposed to be the “bee’s knees” but I have also read some fairly controversial stuff about it. Any opinions or extra information you can supply will be seriously considered. We are trying to be generally eco-friendly and at least some of the articles I have read suggest Perlka helps soil microbial life. But also, convincingly it also said that it helps against club root. Snake oil salesman or what? Watch this space.

I hoed the stuff into the ground and we have to wait a couple of weeks for reactions to take place before planting. It needs moisture apparently to start a chemical reaction that releases hydrated lime and this benefits the plants, especially brassicas. I wore gloves – which I found to be awkward, but better safe than sorry my Nan used to say.
Moving a board which had been left on the plot in the process I discovered that within a very few days ants have built a nest underneath it. The white eggs and young ant larvae are quickly picked up and shuttled away by the industrious workers. I cannot begin to imagine the alarm that accompanies the lifting of the lid on an ant’s nest.


There is a local robin that was soon on the scene. Opportunist in an allotment: what a perfect spot. We believe it has a nest somewhere near. It was certainly collecting food to take away this morning. I pause to watch his – or, forgive me – her efforts.

DSC_0436    DSC_0435    DSC_0439

Elsewhere we see the first high-flying swallow looping around the buildings opposite. Reminder of the season’s moving ever on. The dandelion flowers are also turning into “clocks” at an alarming rate.
We heard the cuckoo some weeks ago – while walking on Cannock Chase.
Lots of material to go onto the compost heap: weeds, the unrotted leaves from the leaf mould bin; the rest spread out as a thick top dressing: full of fat worms. Where is that robin?
We sow carrots in raised containers to ward off carrot fly (it has worked in previous years and marvel at the tops of potatoes showing through the soil. Strangely the Charlottes we planted last seemed to be the first – and strongest so far.
Back at home the grass needs cutting and the hover mower seems heavy: funny that. The seeds in the greenhouse are germinating very successfully: beetroot, leeks, wildflowers, sweet peas, sweetcorn, courgettes … in short everything. The pelargonium cuttings are taking their turn to harden off too.

I have to confess, however, that while I was busily blundering about fetching seedlings out of the greenhouse to harden off I inadvertently scared a nesting robin from a wall mounted nestbox near to the greenhouse. I am saddened by the desertion as I seek to attract such marvellous wildlife into the garden at every opportunity. She clearly felt that the site was not ideal, made the instinctive decision and went, I guess, to another site. I wish her luck, of course. Meanwhile, not so easily disturbed, the great tits continue to inhabit the hole-fronted nest-box (oft-repaired) on the front of the garden shed.


2 responses to this post.

  1. One of the winners of the UK Blog Awards, Wildlife Gadgetman has a YouTube video of great tits in a box – I watched it a few minutes ago! Sue


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