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The forecast weather has arrived: 8 degrees Celsius and lots of rain first thing. The rain arrived last night, and by midday, all the ice was gone. It's now safe to roam around again. I let myself run out of milk, gambling on safer footing today and it's paid off.

Pol keeps describing to me various social things he's doing. It all sounds very good. I'm glad, also, that his new job is apparently not awful. I hope to see him at some point soon, depending on the weather and so on.

I started getting bored and restless on my days off. I don't think it would be wise to go in five days a week, but it does seem I have spare energy left over again. I've rearranged my schedule, cutting back on time spent in conscious relaxation, and adding back in the things I used to study but was too tired to while volunteering was still new to me.

I can't help but wonder how Random is doing. And the cats.
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Coat several tablespoons of CHOPPED NUTS in a mixture of WHITE SUGAR and HOT WATER, toast in a moderate oven until the colour has changed to a more golden brown. Stir frequently and do not allow to burn. Stir again several times while the nuts are cooling back down to room temperature.

Melt about half a block of UNSALTED BUTTER and 100g DARK CHOCOLATE together in a mixing bowl on top of a saucepan of boiling water.

Once melted, spoon in about half a tub of good quality drinking chocolate OR equal quantities of COCOA POWDER and SUGAR. Mix vigorously. Stir in TWO FRESH EGGS, again mixing vigorously, then fold in two good handfuls of WHITE, SELF RAISING FLOUR. If the mixture becomes too dry, fold in FRESH MILK. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Once a thick, rich, chocolatey batter has been made, stir in the nuts.

Bake in a small, lined, greased roasting tin or square cake pan at 180C until a fork stuck into it comes out clean. Cut into squares.

Just had the corner bits of this recipe, still hot, with fresh double cream. Nom. Am now noting it down in case I want these again. Which I probably will.
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(NB: at the moment my dongle is content-locked, so I may not be able to view comments to reply on Livejournal. I can reply on Dreamwidth, so please consider posting there using OpenID or just signing an anonymous comment with your LJ handle).

So, I'm in a bedsit in Nottingham.

I've been getting better for a while now - able to cross the road, then able to get a bus, then able to go and study in Wigan every week. I wasn't very happy in Wigan for various reasons, so I went to stay with my mum over Yule, and found Nottingham to be full of things to do, close to her home. Part time jobs and voluntary positions abound.

I started volunteering at a charity shop, and I'm doing three days a week, six hours a day. If this was paid work, it would be just enough to live on. I'm hoping that one day this year it will be paid, if my health doesn't give out yet again. So far so good: it's been two weeks and I'm less ill and tired now, at the end of a shift of hard work, than I was after my first 6-hour stint. Mostly I steam clothes, which is mindless physical work that I really enjoy. Today though, I seem somehow to have ended up creating a system to log when various items are going to need to be culled, and thus when 'new' items will have to be priced up ready to go out, and how many.

I came home to slow cooked beans in a spicy tomato sauce. The bedsits are in a converted house - you have a room with a kitchenette in it, the bathrooms are shared but the landlord cleans them weekly, and water, heating, electricity and council tax are all included in the £65-a-week rent. I did have some issues with things being broken when I moved in. They were all but one fixed on the same working day as my complaining email, and the one that isn't fixed needs a spare part ordered.

Last night, I went out for a social with Kincaid in what seems to be the nicest pub I've yet seen in Nottingham. The only reason I didn't eat there was because I'd managed to get hold of a whole fresh trout for £1.60, so I cooked and ate that with some buttery carrots before going out. Well, wouldn't you? Kincaid seems very happy with his life just now, and it was a great evening.

Pol and I continue to communicate, in fact rather more than we had been doing. We're still firmly an item, I've just buggered off for probably about six months. I'll have to go back now and then to sort out the garden.
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Expanded form of a Facebook update:

I've just done some very heavy gardening in very heavy rain. Brr. The dead bush that defeated me all year is now finally in pieces, on the patio and in the compost heap. I had to take a saw to it in the end, which worked well. The larger pieces will make good firewood (along with the very large pile of other good firewood still waiting to be cut down to wood-burning-stove size and delivered to friends).

The four new fruit trees are standing in the places they will be planted, tomorrow, when it's dry (2pm according to the forecast). Pol took me out yesterday to get them and it was rather a nice day all in all, if really very cold. He got me a lovely lunch at a Horwich pub, slow roast pork belly. The fruit trees are: Sunburst and Stella cherries, Victoria plum, Golden Delicious apple (the only apple Pol likes and probably the only food he'll ever get out of the garden). They're going against the tall, brick West-facing wall that runs down one side of the garden. They'll be cut down to less than wall height and then fastened in horribly unnatural contortions to nails driven into the brick, because you get lots of fruit that way. I'm thinking of covering their feet in strawberries and pineberries.

I have pork roasting in the oven. There's a bowl of coleslaw inspired by ruthi, ready to go with it. But for now, I'm appreciating the invention of one Slavoljub Eduard Penkala. He invented many things, but I most appreciate the modern form of the rubber hot water bottle. I love him very much. Unfortunately, he's married. Also, dead.
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I've had a pretty good day. I'm still learning Latin from Lingua Latina (a book which teaches Latin by starting off in a very Janet-and-John style and gradually adding vocabulary. There's not a word in any other language than Latin in the book, other than the copyright notice.) I pored over a medieval court record, although I think I have as much from it as I can get without help. There are only about four words missing, but they're the vital ones which make sense of what the dispute was actually about. I can tell who it was about, and when, and where everyone lived, and what the sentence was, but not what exactly Gilbert had done to John.

I also went out on the bike. Something is amiss with the back wheel. The ride itself was great. Lots of mud and horse poo, and something across the path which looked alarmingly like a dead horse from a distance, but which turned out to be a long pile of chestnut-coloured sandbags placed to hold back a flood. Pol's been at home all day and has kept the sitting room very warm, so my room has more or less had underfloor heating. I got back from the ride and basked happily upstairs for a while and only had to redon all my winter woolies after he left the house. Pol's not been particularly welcoming of my presence all day, after I woke him up early by moving around the house, so I have left him to come out of it on his own.

I had a lovely evening watching The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, the book of which I never finished because I thought it too depressing. The film isn't any more cheerful, but there's so much less of it to wade through. I feel as though I've achieved something by reading it; earned some sort of merit badge or something. Much more fun was 60 Years of Attenborough, where he gets enthusiastic about filming techniques. I didn't realise until this programme that he has kept journals. I fully expect them to end up in a museum one day as a national treasure. Meanwhile, I am thankful that we still have the national treasure that is David Attenborough. Hatter cuddled up with me while I watched it, and seemed to really enjoy the scenes of swooping fish.

And so to bed.
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Today Kira went with me, but I could as easily have gone on my own. It's been bright and not too cold all day so far. We've somehow missed the patches of rain, seeing only damp pavements where rain has been.

This was the second lesson on Secretary Hand, which is ane bastarde to reade. 'e' is backwards. There's a sort of t which is actually 'c'. There's a 3-shaped capital E, except it's not an E, it's a lower case 'h'. There's a w which is actually an 'r'. There's a flourished O which is a 'G' and some weird scrolled thing which is a 'J', except when it is 'I'. There's a b which is a 'v'. And there are |||| marks, loosely joined together, which can be 'm', 'i', 'u', 'v', 'n' or any combination thereof.

And then, to save time writing, they have contractions. So #tE with a line above is actually 'Wch' with a line above, which is actually 'Which', the line indicating the missing 'hi'.

Oh, and this was before dictionaries, so spelling is more or less arbitrary. That said, the words read surprisingly modern. There's 'wee' for 'we', and 'soe' for 'so', and 'discrecon' for 'discretion', but most words are as you'd expect.

So yes, by the end of that, we were all quite thoroughly brainstretched and I was backsore too. I managed lunch, which had home-grown things in - baby pak choi (thinnings basically), baby spinach, rocket salad, baby celery stalks (thinnings again) and swiss chard, chives and nasturtiums. Some plants were salad, some went in with the beef meatballs and the carrots and the (dried, soaked) wild mushrooms in beef gravy. There were cubed boiled potatoes and butter with, and a little pancake (leftover batter from breakfast) to soak up the gravy afterwards. People are Fed.

Having shown willing as a host, I've now retired and left Kira and Small to entertain themselves while I sit hugging coffee Kira made and probably playing Minecraft all afternoon. It is 1.4.2, the Very Scary Update with carrots, potatoes, witches (and their huts), corner stairs, cobblestone walls, picture frames (you can put items in), flower pots and goodness knows what else in. Lots to do.
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I have finally, finally uploaded and labelled the pictures of my garden I took some weeks ago. Here they are in an imgur album. Just click and visit. There is no need to sign in or anything. The images are fairly large. These pictures were taken just before summer turned to autumn proper.
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I'm tired. I'm tired because I've been out all day. First to a doctor's appointment, then shopping, then home again. Then out again, to the Museum of Wigan Life for a history chat-and-coffee. Then a while reading a history of Wigan in the archives. Then home again, having been out pretty much from 9am to 4:20pm. I did all my travelling alone by bus, and have taken six different buses today.

This is actually pretty major. I've been more or less housebound, other than for short walks, since the migraines set in hard several years ago. After I came back from Spain, I tried to go without painkillers at all for four months, to kill forever the idea that they were 'rebound headaches', and made everything very much worse. Bolton Pain Management team worked wonders with me, and I've been following their advice ever since. Now I can think straight enough, and see well enough to travel around Wigan, even if I have a great deal of trouble remembering which bus number goes near my house. I had to keep pulling my day ticket out and checking the number. I was still able to cross roads, and to remember where I was *and* where I was going *at the same time*, abilities that migraines had previously taken away from me.

It's possible that I'll have repercussions and end up quite ill again as a result of all this excitement, but frankly I don't care. Worth it.

I still haven't done my double-entry bookkeeping homework. Also, it's British Black History Month and already the 18th, and I haven't so much as read an article about, well, anything. The history I've been reading has been Wigan history (Saxons and Danes and Britons) and Chinese history. I'm probably not going to start tonight either: I've asked Pol (who has just come home) if he wants to go out to eat. He said yes. My phone's been dead all day and he woke up to find me gone and the back door unlocked, so he wasn't *entirely* sure I wasn't dead too. Oops.
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Spice is doing very well although she's now over 4kg so I have to watch what she eats. She is totally all about food as soon as any is around, but I want her to stay her current side of obese. Hatter won't stay still long enough to get a photo.

I have a new camera, that Pol got me for my birthday. It's an Olympus SZ-14 in red (just like the one linked). It's easy enough to use that I've managed, for the first time ever, to get photographs from the computer to the interwebs without help.

It does help that Imgur is very simple to use too.

So, I can finally, *finally* start actually sharing images of the world around me.
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After a slump in energy and spirits, I've finally sown all the seeds which were left over from 27th April, as well as done a few other jobs. So, Giant Yellow Sunflowers are in the garden again, as well as Lupins and Sweet Williams. In the greenhouse, I have sown Leaf Beet and Spinach in the same container as the Giant Green Mustard. The plan is to harvest leaves as they arrive, so the fact they're crowded shouldn't matter.

I have 10 sown Autumn Mammoth Leeks and 12 Elefant Leeks, since, of the Autumn Mammoth Leeks I put outside to die in the winter, two are *still* alive. I sowed more Asparagus Peas to make up for the mixup earlier in the year - it's late for them, but they should cope.

My White Lisbon Spring Onions are doing very well indeed and want but a couple of weeks to harvest the first three. I planted out the spare Arcoat Turnips, as they're all fine big plants and I have nowhere in the greenhouse to plant them to. I suspect they'll be eaten, but they're spares anyway. If they actually survive, any turnips I get will be a bonus. Since the garden is so voraciously pest-ridden, and since I can't do much about it until I can rearrange the beds in November (and even then, slugs are *always* going to be numerous as we're very wet here), I've kept some turnips inside to mature.

*All* my Watercress plants got eaten to the ground, but a few are coming back. I'm inclined to try again, but this time in a trough container, and to plant them out when they're in danger of being potbound. My sugar snap peas are doing variably well. Some are vanished, and some are now a foot tall.

My special wet-climate Garlic is thriving, as is the Catnip I planted outside. There are probably other plants I've sown or planted and forgotten about - it's been a busy couple of hours.
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Had a nice dinner with Pol's family.

I've also been in the garden, where I found all my dill has been killed. If I want dill, I have to start again from scratch. I probably will do just that, and let it get large before I plant it out. This dill had been out for weeks and been fine, so I am sad.

I have a few live turnips outside, (Arcoat, which grow to the size of a golf ball) until they get chomped. In the greenhouse, I have sixteen I've transplanted to get nice and big. The rest can stay in modules for a while longer, since they have room. Seed compost is low in nutrients, so they should be retarded compared to the moved on ones (which are the biggest anyway), so I'll move them on for an ad hoc succession planting. I wasn't expecting so many to germinate and do so well so soon.

I now have two nasturtium plants, one well-chewed and one okay. And I have to stop typing because Spice has missed me and keeps wanting a cuddle. She can be very heavy and demanding when she wants to be.
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I've scrubbed one of the two waterbutts that takes the rain from the greenhouse and, from now on, feeds it back into the greenhouse. If the weather continues this wet, I will never have to make the trek to the garden tap again. The other one waits to be emptied of the various rotting yuk and scrubbed in turn. I also cleaned out the guttering on the garden side of the greenhouse. The wall side will be impossible to clean. I'll assume that plant roots will act as a filter for that water. Yes.

The Watercress I sowed last month is all now out by the pond side. The Watercress I planted out last week is thriving, the plants that stayed in the greenhouse less so. The left-indoor ones will soon catch up. I finally have a Nasturtium plant, under the Blackcurrant bush. Just one, out of about a hundred sown. There's no sign of any of the others in any other place. There are a whole bunch of identical seedlings under the Blackcurrant, suggesting I sowed something there, but I have no idea what.

I have baby Leaf Beets still, and plenty of Sugar Snap Peas and Mange Tout. One Asparagus Pea is still visibly alive. I am learning for next year, certainly. I have a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaby Victoria Rhubarb which won't reach its final place in the garden until November. I also have thriving Spring Onions in a window box, in need rows, graded from 'really getting tall' to 'baby wee seedling'. Poached Egg plants are sprouting in all the places I want Tomatoes to eventually be - this is deliberate. The Dill and Comfrey plants are well. Except for the ones who are dead, but there's no use crying over every mistake. Comfrey is apparently delicious to something in the garden. I have baby Lovage (just one!) and Cosmos ready to go out to the Carrot, Brassica and Allium bed. I have also plenty of baby Arcoat Turnips in a greenhouse and even a few alive outside. My Crystal Lemon Cucumbers look very well so far.

I'm starting to wonder if the unknown tree standing guard over the Rhubarb patch is actually some variety of Apple. It is covered in deep pink buds opening to pale pink blossom and the bees are delirious. I've planted out Tayberries, along the same wall as the Raspberries and Loganberries. They can all pollinate each other.

The weather is wet with occasional sunny intervals during which gardening can be done.
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I've finally started trimming all the bushes around the garden. It's a bit of a hack job on some for now, and I'll wait a couple of weeks and do them again before the house inspection on the 9th May. The new metal garden burner works beautifully. I've green binning some and composting a lot, but it's nice to have a third way to get rid of all this excess growth.

I've emptied one of the water butts EW, so that it can be scrubbed out and used as a source of clean(ish) water over the summer. There's another one I have to do, with about a million, million snails clustered around the top, but today I had enough to do.

I've planted out Watercress around the pond, although it won't actually contact the water for ages and will need frequent watering until it gets something over the lip of the tiny little plastic pond (which is about two feet by eighteen inches). I've tidied up the little show pond, killing off the Pyracantha shrub and seedlings, and cutting back other plants. The pond has been dredged and wasn't as nasty as I feared. No sulphurous smell of rotting nastiness, just mud and water. I've swept out that part of the driveway and gathered all the rubbish, so it looks a lot nicer now. Pebbles and decorative glazed beads have been taken away, washed and put back again on top of the new compost. There's a 'Welcome to My Garden' frog-and-flower statuette, which I shall scrub and paint with acrylics, before putting back. It's not something I'd choose, but I can take care of it. Every bit of this newly cleaned and trimmed pond is hidden behind Pol's Delica, but it will be a nice surprise for House Inspection Number Two.

Campanula is rife everywhere in the North (South-facing) shrubbery bed. I should have an amazing show of flowers, and then I can find out what sort of Campanula is actually is. They're bell-flowers, so I should end up with something pretty. Or the identification could be completely wrong - I just don't know! So exciting! The tree above all this maybe-Campanula has budded with very, very many potential deep pink flowers which are slow to actually come out.

Foxglove and Red Poppy have been sown to make insects happy. I already have established Foxglove plants and some sort of Poppy, but more would be nice. The 'wildflowers for bees' and Cornflowers are coming through. Next to that bit, I've put in a rosemary bush and sown stock all around it. I'll be adding another try of Morning Glories next month after the Hawthorns have blossomed. The bit of 'wildflower meadow' where the bird table used to be is alive but apparently with only grass. At least the square hole in the lawn has been filled.

I've cut back the Hellebores, which, far from succumbing to the Hellebore Black Death I thought they had, are now vigorous and green with new (unmottled) leaf. Hellebores can apparently foster a great many snails in their old, dying leaves - these treats have been saved and given to the rats. The snails seem to be doing no harm at all to the new leaves.

I should have sowed seed last Friday, but was away, so today I got on with it. I've sacrificed the excess Sugar Snap Peas, instead of umming and awwing endlessly about what to do with them. The actual Asparagus Peas (as opposed to the sugar snaps that somehow climbed into their modules) are now planted out and will take their chances. I've sown Borage everywhere, and French Marigold in tidy lines which I make by getting a long box, putting in compost to the recommended sowing depth, adding seeds, filling the rest of the box with damp compost and then making a seed-castle on a bit of ground I've roughly weeded but haven't actually dug. Quite a lot of my seeds are in face sown this way, and this makes it easy to find them.

Planting out 'Red Baron' red onions, I found out that the allium/brassica bed of compost which was four inches deep is now half an inch deep - soil fauna has been very busy, clearly. This bodes well for my plants, I think. Little baby Arcoat turnips are now everywhere. There are three leeks left. Something ate one of my comfrey plants, so I replaced it with two bigger comfrey plants. I couldn't find the culprit, but having more and bigger plants may let them outgrow whatever is eating them. If not, I've learned something. The sweet peas are still mostly not dead, but aren't thriving either. Then again, they haven't been thriving since I sowed them. I'll outdoor sow the rest of the packet later on and then give up.

The Leaf Beet is showing nicely everywhere I put it, and the sugar snap peas are mostly fine although one has been thoroughly eaten. I put out supermarket fennel and excess baby leeks out to die, and they are getting on with that but rather slowly. The fennel is in a concrete planter, which is full of tiny, tiny Pansy plants all flowering busily. The leeks are stuck into the allium bed and have been there for well over a week. There is no sign of even a single Nasturtium, not in any of the many beds I've planted it in. I don't know what's happening there.

The 'dead' apple tree is very green suddenly, having been black when I left for Eastercon. All those new leaves are thumbing their noses at me. I don't mind at all, as I want cooking apples later. Blackberry is showing itself on the very overgrown bit, and will be encouraged where possible in order to shade out the Winter Jasmine. I have so many more uses for excess Blackberry Bush than I do for Winter Jasmine - the shoots are edible as a vegetable, the fruits obviously so and the canes can be used (once worked to suppleness) as tying wires.

All in all, a very productive day.
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I'm in the Radisson Non-Euclidean Hotel near Heathrow, for Eastercon. It's a hotel with a refreshing lack of regard for conventional physics in the architecture - bits of the building go through other dimensions and/or one another, and the corridors are based around a Moebius design.

The highlight of the convention for me so far has been the Creativity Workshop, wherein we listened to a beautifully short, coherent and worthwhile talk on creativity, then did some exercises which were actually fun, then put together a television series with a budget of £370,000 for 16-34 year olds on BBC3, in an hour. I learned quite a lot and I had tons of fun.

There have been a few, a very few familiar faces around, including Tlanti who made a really clever chain of Daleks which I have given to small room mate. Room mate was delighted at them and has them on prominent display - I wish Tlanti could have seen her face on them being unfolded.

I got Pol a present then totally forgot to actually give it to him, but he's at the Dr Horrible Singalong and it would have got in his way. I've got to go there shortly anyway to give Penwing his money back that he very generously handed over so I could have dinner. Wendy told me about Warrington's police tweet, which sounds very worth following, but I can't remember the name of that tweet account. Warrington police are apparently doing a remake of Heartbeat on Twitter.

I have quite the bad migraine this morning and may have to write off all the panels. In theory I go and visit someone new at 4pm, so I hope I can go to that. However, it's a nice room in a nice hotel and I am pretty happy. I will probably spend the time getting my teen sim hooked up with a nice girl so he can marry her when he ages up and have the next generation of my sim breeding programme.
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So, the frost did *not* kill the tomatoes (!) but it did kill very nearly all the morning glories. However, since they take a massive two weeks to get from sown to ready-to-plant, I'll just do those once the last danger of frost is gone.

I have planted out all but five of the sugar snap peas. I only have three mange tout, but tons and tons of sugar snap - thirty plants I think. Heaven only knows what happened there. I do know some of the asparagus peas turned into sugar snaps, despite the seeds being totally and utterly different in appearance and size.

Spice is having a mad episode just now. I've played with her, but mostly she wants to run madly about the house, making tribble noises and with her fur all on end. I've learned that her fur being all on end often means excitement rather than terror - her whiskers are forward and she's easy to approach. Just... brushy. There are lots of insects around, so she's been kept happy and occupied. She hates the rain, but will come out into it anyway if I am there. Hatter doesn't care, as long as he can come back to me later and warm and dry his feet on my neck.

There are now twice as many turnip plants as there were - there are now two. I planted out some comfrey and managed to drive a thorn deep into my thumb. I got the splinter out eventually and it bled freely, so it should be okay.

I've run out of compost, again.
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The reason I so often garden in my pyjamas is that before or after breakfast, but before dressing, I'll put my wellies on and stump out to the greenhouse to check and water my plants, and then around the garden to see how everything is doing. I then will see something that needs doing, forget I am not dressed yet and suddenly I've spent hours planting out or whatever. Cotton pyjamas wash well, which is just as well really.

The weather has turned cooler and greyer, although rain isn't expected until Monday night. I'll be quite glad of it. Meanwhile, I've had the fun of expanding coir compost in 60 litre buckets, then the fun of draining it after I realised I put in too much water. I think my '60 litres when expanded' is closer to 50, to be honest. The process of stirring it involved getting into the tub and treading the compost like grapes. That was when I discovered a small hole in my super duper wellies. Does anyone know how to fix wellies? I don't want new ones, as these are the nicest wellies I've ever had since I was about three and had a bright red pair with daisies around the top.

I planted out dill and some sacrificial tomatoes which are surplus to requirements and got in my way. The tomatoes are Roma VF plum tomatoes. They're hardy little seedlings, but even so I think I've signed their death warrant, with no hardening off or anything. If they make it, I'll merely put the rest of the tomatoes somewhere else. They're in a pile on the soil, of living alehoof, followed by dead rhubarb leaves (well chewed by now), followed by blood, bone and fish, followed by coir compost which tomatoes supposedly like. I need to shove some lime in there (easy to do when it's a heap), and they won't get any nitrogen at all beyond the initial dose. What they will get is a companion group of comfrey plants I can cut down and let rot into their heap from time to time. If I *really* need to, I'll give them comfrey tea, but I'm reluctant to use liquid feed. The tomato heap is next to some planted-out dill which should live.

From the same tray as the dill and tomatoes, I've planted out five sweet marjoram seedlings of six sown modules and one lavender seedling, again of six sown modules (I overwatered them, poor things.) They're in a seed tray heaped up well with compost, and will be planted out as an entire unit. I'll sow new lavender in the same tray, for a lovely fragrant double row of herbs. I think the lavender will do a lot better in the bigger tray because it's a lot less drown-and-drought than the little modules. I love that I am learning what works, and what doesn't, and still ending up with plants. Plus, seeds are cheap.

I have a container ready for when the black cherry tomatoes come up. I have more pea seedlings, still, than I can face planting out in a day. Hopefully, I can put out more tomorrow, in their own little piles of compost. I'll put the compost out in the morning and put the peas in it in the evening, to make sure the compost has had a chance to drain further. Every edible pea I've planted out so far is alive and well. The sweet peas are more finicky and apparently tastier, but by letting some grow taller and then hiding them under bottles, I've managed to keep a dozen or so plants alive. I'll supplement them later in the year with outdoor-sown seed.

Dill has also been placed to one side of the brassica/allium bed, on the opposite side to where the carrots will go. Everything else on the bed supposedly really benefits carrots, and dill really benefits the everything else, so I'll just let the everything else play chaperone. I also planted out some spring onions, as my spring onion trough (with eighteen healthy plants in it) is full. I also planted out some spring onion ends that I soaked in water overnight. Apparently, you can get three spring onions from each one you buy if you only save the root end. Let's see if it works in practice. It also works for celery ends, apparently, except those you bury straight into the soil an inch deep.

My nasturtiums are just at the stage of splitting and putting out the first bit of root, as I found out when I turned one up. By this time next week, I should have little baby nasturtiums everywhere. The eventual plan is that every bit of ground not growing something else I want will be covered with nasturtium. All I have to do for the nasturtiums is put them in a crappy bit of soil and leave them well alone.

My catnip is doing very well and every plant now has new proper leaves. In COMPLETELY UNRELATED news, both cats have suddenly become very interested in joining me in the greenhouse and I keep having to chase them out. I'll pot them on and let them get good and big before I throw them out to the mercy of every neighbourhood cat. The plan is to place them strategically to keep the birds away from my tomatoes. They'll go on their own in a bit of 'waste' earth next to the greenhouse where it won't hurt anything to have cats rolling on it. I also have to look up what it was they were meant to be a companion for in the west-facing bed, and where they can go to do that and not cause cats to crush my other vegetables.
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Today I was outside before dawn. The radio had forecast a week ahead of scorching hot days, so I watered all the plants before the sun could hit them. Last thing at night would be better, but I am always so very tired by then. By the time I was done, there was a thin skin of ice on the bird bath, by that magical process that uses a black, shallow dish, morning sunlight and some weird trick of radiation. It allows people in hot countries to make ice in above-zero temperatures and I have no idea how it works. The outside was chill enough to see my breath, but the greenhouse was nice and cosy already. Thank goodness for the automatic vent. I foresee myself having to put blinds in as well later on.

I've planted out lots of strong young morning glory "Grandpa Otis" plants, which were sown less than two weeks ago. After only three days, they were strong seedlings with two leaves each, and now they're starting with their true leaves. They're poisonous as anything, so they're safe from slugs.

My sweet peas I wanted to cover the ivy have been eaten, so I planted out more. Learning from last night, I strewed the ground about them with dandelion leaves, but then I got nervous and gave each one a plastic bottle greenhouse as protection. They only get morning sunlight unless they get a lot taller, so they should be fine.

I had the idea of watering the holes into which I was planting my sugar snap peas before planting the peas themselves. I have no idea why I thought to do that, but doing so revealed that one of the holes had a major drainage problem and would have drowned my poor pea. I solved the problem by poking holes down through the clay pan with a knife-sharpening steel (one of my favourite gardening tools) until decent drainage was achieved. I put a comfrey plant in next to that pea, so it can drill down with its massive tap root and break through the pan of clay. It isn't quite ready to go out, really, so it got a little bottle greenhouse too.

My turnip seeds I think got baked to death in all the hot dry weather, so I planted out more under square clear plastic tubs. That particular bed (brassicas, carrots, alliums and helpful herbs and flowers) is a no-dig bed - a four-inch deep layer of rough compost on top of the existing layer of dead leaves. One dandelion has so far managed to work its way through even that layer, but its single long, blanched yellow leaf was simply plucked out and left for the slugs. Six leeks still survive, poor things. I actually plant leeks 'for real' next month with decent hopes that *those* ones will make it. I've learned more since the January sowing, and the future leeks will sit in plastic cups until a decent size, then go out. I'm not sure how many leeks I should sow for myself, anyone got an idea?

Not everything I plant out is dead or dying! The sugar snap peas I planted out a while ago are absolutely fine, thriving even. The raspberry, loganberry and redcurrants are fine. My calendula pot marigolds, by the blackcurrant bush, are starting to sprout. The potted nettles have already provided a meal. I have three living parsley plants and one coriander (I drowned the other one, which is very, very easy to do). I think some outdoor-sown asparagus peas are sprouting.

There are dandelion leaves everywhere now. I am starting to run out of dandelion plants. This is a new and refreshing situation.
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So, there's this hippyish organic idea that dandelions, instead of being a scourge, actually draw up minerals from deep down and bring them up to the surface as leaves. And that you can bring these minerals to the top of the soil by trimming the dandelions and dropping the leaves on the ground in your vegetable beds instead of wrecking the soil digging them up.

The idea then goes that the wilted dandelion leaves will be more attractive to slugs than your precious seedlings. Slugs won't touch fresh dandelion, but the hippy idea is that wilted leaves are madly attractive to slugs. Even dandelion leaves.

So, I went out with a torch tonight, and what do you know, it works. My tender plants had slugs making a beeline for them, but where there were wilted leaves on the ground, they'd all gathered there instead.

I still killed them with scissors, but that's really good to know. If wilted dandelion leaves will keep slugs away from my seedlings, then the dandelions can keep on growing, and welcome. Even if they're only being cut-and-come-again salad for slugs.

The thing about the minerals might even be true.
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It was beautifully warm and sunny again today. This spring has been remarkably clement. I mowed the lawn, which is quite the undertaking, especially as the lawnmower has to have its electrics taken apart and put back together again every time.

I've had another harvest - the same foods again, but more of them. Rhubarb, chives, nettles and rocket salad, in case anyone is wondering. Fifteen rocket plants yield enough leaves for a one-person bowl of salad a week. One rhubarb plant will yield five stems in a week (there are a good number of stems ready to replace what I've just cut very soon). The nettles are perennial so counting the number of plants is problematic, and the chives are in clumps.

The massively-yielding apple tree over the east (west-facing) wall looks very dead. I'd expect some sign of life by now. That means *all* the trees along that wall are very, very dead, and died last year some time, although the other plants are alive and well. Anyone got any idea what could have happened?

Bumble bees are busy looking for nest sites and the honey bees are out. There are butterflies around too. The food I am putting out for the birds is apparently especially attractive to reed buntings, as I had at least four and I think a half-dozen in my garden today. The robin was active where I had been planting out parsley. I'd like to have put out more pea plants but was unable to stand the crouching needed to do so, and was also too clumsy to really handle seedlings today. Perhaps tomorrow. Anyway, the lawn was a great big job and I am glad it's over.

On another note, I had an idea that it would be nice to *just* cook hickory smoked sausages, slice them up and put them in a muffin tin with corn muffin mix on top. It's going to be a regular treat, I think, served with baked beans.
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Had another burst of energy, oddly enough following the onset of migraine. So, in my greenhouse, I've sown Crystal Lemon Cucumber, Lovage, Cosmos, Celery, Sage, Sunflower 'Black Magic', Tomato 'Black Cherry', Wild Strawberry, Buddleia and more Comfrey. I'd have sown more Dill too but it meant going back to the house and it's pouring it down now.

Outside, I've sown English Lavender and dumped Basil and Thyme rather than repotting them. There's another Thyme and some baby Basil in a long box on the kitchen windowsill, so it doesn't matter that the planted out stuff will probably die. Also there are the Morning Glory I sowed about three days ago which is already a nice healthy set of young plants with two leaves each. They make the Sugar-Snap Peas look hesitant.

In the conservatory, I have some Chilli 'Twilight' - look them up, they're gorgeous.

I'm now pretty much out of room for more plants until I start planting things out. I can do half a dozen Dill in the space next to the Sunflowers, that's really all. Tomorrow, I'll check the planting plan and see if I've missed anything. I know I am not doing more peas for a while yet as this lot will keep me going for about a month solid. The next planting is in three weeks time in April.


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May 2014

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