So, over the last few days I have pushed on with jobs in the garden.  One of the problems that many of us have at the moment is the fact that all the garden centres have had to close their door so it may well be case of grow your own flowers and veg this year!

Now, I was lucky enough to have a tin with a load of different packets of flowers seeds as well as a few veg ones.  Unfortunately I keep it at work so it was one of the things I remembered to pick up whilst doing my fence check visit on Monday.  If you do not have such a stash then do not forget to check wherever you are getting your shopping as many stores sell seeds.

Inside were several that I thought I might be able to grow so I found a few pots and the last of my compost (all gone now...) and got sowing.  I am sure that this is something you could get the kids helping you with.

I have planted Calendulas (Marigolds), Nicotina (Tobacco plants), Nasturtiums, Echiums and Sunflowers as well as a big tub with some Carrot seed in.  They will need some sun and warmth to germinate so I had to create a mini greenhouse lid out of an old piece of Perspex which I popped over the top after I had given them a water.  All these flowers are perfect for insects and I am trying my best to make my garden even more attractive to them.

And my makeshift green house - I might put some wood round the side to insulate it

If you are able to put the pots on a sunny indoor window sill with some clingfilm or small plastic bag over the top you will probably get the seeds to germinate.  I do not have central heating so to be honest it is probably warmer and sunnier outdoors!

Remember the little plot that I dug over near my Raspberry and Red Currant patch the other day?  At the time I did not know what to put in it but I then found a few really old Potatoes that had started to sprout – perfect! If you have some like in the picture below do not throw them away or rub the ‘eyes’ off! They are perfect for growing.

Eyes up!

Again there are choices depending on whether you have a garden or just a patio or even a balcony. If you have a spot in the garden dig it over well and deep (to about a foot I reckon) and remove any weeds, roots and stones.  Pop the spuds in the trench about a foot apart with the majority of the budding shoots pointing upwards and gentle backfill the whole.  Mark either end of the trench and water.  As the shoots and leaves start to appear gently pile more soil up around them to give more space in which the potatoes grow.  Keep them well watered and they should be ready when all the leafy bits have wilted away several months down the line.

Nicely spaced spuds in trench with eyes up

ta dah! three rows planted

You can also plant them in a big pot, taller the better and nuture them this way so, you see, anyone can grow a chip factory!  Do not fill the pot with soil all the way to the top but like the outside plot, top up the pot with more soil as the shoots come through to maximise yield.

I also found a packet of Broad Beans which I soaked overnight before planting out today.  This did however mean that I had to dig over another section to create plot number two and two rows of Beetroot seeds went straight in after I found them in my tin.

'Get digging Vaughan!'

Ready for planting

All done - Spuds, Broad Beans and Beetroot and some old aviary wire to keep the neighbours Cats and the Foxes off till things get going!!

I also continued with my creation of Hoverquariums after the discovery of five of my old feed dishes from when forty foot of my garden was an aviary with rescued budgies, parrots, lovebirds and such like. The end wall of the aviary still stands as a wind break up my hilly garden and I was able to hang them in the sunshine and top them up with water and soil. A Syrphus ribesii and Eristalis pertinax was loitering around them within minutes.

High Rise Hoverquarium

Eristalis pertinax

Syrphus ribesii

Both of my ponds are now looking good and I could see Ramshorn Snails in the big one which  probably transferred from my tin bath when I moved some Marsh Marigolds over and a female Smoot Newt was just out of the water on my gangway wildlife plank. 

Down the garden frmo about half way...

Marsh Marigold

Smooth Newt

There were more bees around today with many Bumbles and Honey Bees on the Willow and Crab Apple and I found a single male bee of one of the solitary Andrena species.   There were quite a few flies about that were not Hovers too but as ever these are challenging to identify and Phil has already helped to narrow things down!

Honey Bee

Andrena sp - male

Fannia sp

Anthomyiidae sp

Needless to say I have been watching and listening all day too and the garden was alive with bird noise but more of that later...

In the meantime, make the most of your unprecedented garden time opportunities. Enjoy!

I will leave you with a Velvet Mite...

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