I share your pain. Because that’s what the website has been since it’s ‘update’! There has been one niggle after another, and whilst I don’t think everyone was affected I do know that a good number of you were exasperated by the antics of the ‘Shop’ when you were trying to place your order last week. Now, my fingers are firmly crossed, but I am hopeful that the last fixes made by the boys in white coats (well skinny jeans and flip flops really) will have worked. The acid test will be when you next try to fill your shopping basket, but trial runs would suggest that the main problems have been addressed. Please let me know if you continue to encounter any issues – I would prefer to know rather than risk losing you to Sainsbury’s (other gargantuan food retailers are available), so send me a note to inform me of the specific problems that you encounter. Together we can fight the evil technology demons.

What a terrific week it was weather-wise. Lots of sunshine, mild temperatures, and best of all….dryness. It meant that working outside was a treat, and the ground has dried out enough to be able to get on and make preparations for the forthcoming growing season. I cut down the raspberry canes two weeks ago, and last week I mulched them with woodchips. I would like to look after them well enough this year to harvest a decent crop, because in the past 2 or 3 seasons I neglected them, leaving most of the fruit to the birds. At least I am starting out with good intentions. Yesterday I fired up the tractor and rotavated a good sized section down the bottom half of the garden, I will crack on with more cultivation in the week ahead.

While I was on the tractor approaching the bottom right-hand corner of the garden – the part that adjoins the copse, a small Muntjac broke cover and darted along the fence line, trying to find a way through. It went the whole width of the garden before taking a sharp left and tracing the far perimeter fence towards the top. I later scoured the garden looking for it, but there was no sign of it, but I had left the big gate open, so I’m hoping that it found its way out. This morning I took Nellie over and we walked the boundary without her picking up the scent, so maybe its back in the woods where it belongs.

I had to go over this morning anyway to open up the greenhouses. In the full sun they heat up very quickly, even when the outside temperature isn’t that warm. When I left early on Friday morning I had to scrape ice from the windscreen of the van, but by the time that I got back from my delivery round at lunchtime it was 28° in the main greenhouse, and 35° in the propagating house!

I am struggling to keep up with the appetites of the birds. The tits empty a feeder every day, and I put out some food – mixed seeds and mealworms, on a pile of pallets for the birds that can’t use the hanging feeder. However, it attracts not only songbirds, but pigeons, pheasants, jackdaws and of course the ever present squirrel population. I took the photos below yesterday afternoon just after sprinkling some more mealworms on the feeding platform. He is a handsome fellow though, don’t you think?

The vegetable availability list is not very much changed from last week, though the sweet potatoes are gone, and cauliflowers return. I lost my shirt last week on the courgettes – they weighed much heavier than I had anticipated, so most of them were sold for less than I paid for them. I am getting a limited quantity in this week, but I have bumped up the price – I’m still not going to make my fortune on them, but it’s not all about the money is it? There will be very limited curly kale, and some broccoli. The ‘guest’ potatoes this week are Desiree, a red tatty that is versatile, and holds its form well when cooked. Mushrooms continue to be a problem in terms of availability, but the farm is working hard to overcome its production issues. There are dirty beetroot and parsnips, washed carrots, red cabbage, swede, red and brown onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric. The blood orange season will be over soon, but there are still some this week. Kiwi fruit, Gala apples and lemons complete the offering.

Out in the garden today the air was full of the hum of honeybees with the willow tree smothered in them. They were my neighbour’s bees from her hives a couple of hundred metres away, mine are located a mile and a half from here, so will be foraging closer to home. I managed to take a few snaps of bees in action.

Honeybee on willow catkins – note the pollen in her pollen baskets on her back legs

I had a strange encounter in the lavatory at the West Suffolk hospital last Monday after having my ENT appointment. After checking in at reception I was told to take a seat in the corridor close to the examination room that I was to be seen in. A few minutes later a man sat himself down 5 metres further along the corridor. We both had a long wait before being called in, but he was collected by a member of staff about 20 minutes before I was. At the conclusion of my appointment I had to go down to the pharmacy to collect a prescription. On my way out of the hospital I decided that it would be wise to pop to the loo. There was one other person in there, and it was corridor man. He made a comment about how long we had to wait for our appointments, and then he turned to me, pulled down his face mask and said “she just rebroke my nose”. I didn’t quite know what to say, but I spluttered out some banal words of sympathy. Imagine that, going into a consulting room and having someone intentionally break your nose! Ouch!! The poor chap seemed to be in a state of shock – well you would be wouldn’t you? He told me that he had parked over at Hardwicke Heath, so was obviously going to be driving himself home; I hope that he made it safely.

I noticed this evening that the peach tree in the greenhouse has got its first flowers, the sap is rising, tomorrow is the first day of March and the start of meteorological spring – the only way is up.

The least said about the rugby the better. Thank you and goodnight.

Have a good week

Phil

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