A View From The Greenhouse; Turned Out Nice Again…..Innit?

A View From The Greenhouse

Nature Meets Glasshouse, Head On
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

On more than one occasion over recent years I’ve nursed (if that’s the right word) the odd bird back to health following collisions with the greenhouse. They’re either rushing to get at the strawberries, or their spatial awareness is a bit off and they think there’s a shortcut through to the hedge. They’re mostly stunned and happy to fly away after a short while, although I did once (last spring) have a blackbird who stayed with me for a while, having damaged its wing. One day it was gone and I like to think it’d miraculously recovered the power of flight, but it was probably got by a predator, although I never saw evidence. Any road up, on Tuesday I heard the thump as I pottered about and knew what it meant. Sadly, a redwing, a bird I’d never seen close up before, had hit the glass by the door and broken its neck. It was still twitching when I got to it, but within seconds it was over. I gave it a decent burial, which I thought only fair. They’re beautiful creatures.

Precision Planting Procedure
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

This last week or so I ‘ave mostly been sorting out the strawberry plants and measuring the membrane in an effort to (hopefully) produce a more regimented and higher yielding strawberry patch, free of the rotting fruit which I get when the plants have all been on top of each other and I’ve missed them or left them, even only for a day or two, to ripen on. I used a Stanley knife to make 50 cross-cuts in each bad, fairly equidistant from each other, in 3 rows and planted 100 of the healthiest I could find. I hadn’t reckoned with how labour intensive the watering regime is going to be, but I feel it’s a small price to pay, if it works. I even bought a small watering “can” with a narrow spout, so I can do them individually (I know) and hopefully eradicate any chance of over watering.

Waste Not, Want Not
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I mentioned, last week that Dave (Forester Dave) was having a bit of a clear out. He’s well aware of my “Yorkshireness” and that I hate to see things go to waste, even when they’re of no earthly use. Consequently he dropped off these poly-carbonate ‘V’ cloche’s which he’d used on the small outdoor vegetable plot. They’re partly what inspired me to plant out the strawberries a little earlier than I normally would have as they make the perfect support system for fleeces (seen in the orange tub) just in case we get a bit of a late frost which isn’t unusual this far north, they usually strike once the fruit tree blossom has just opened, almost as if old Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humour.

The Best Firewood Money Can’t Buy
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Got a call from one of the Dave’s last week (geologist Dave) about a couple of things (more of one of them later) including the fact there was a trailer load of felled timber (mostly hawthorn) which could be had FOC, so long a I was willing to help cut it to a suitable size and load it for transportation. I didn’t need asking twice, so off we popped to a roadside “forest” a couple of miles from mine, where we did, indeed, find a good trailer load of off-cuts, stumpy bits and branches that the chap who logs the area commercially was happy to see “tidied up”. Dave calls it “the best firewood money can’t buy”. I’ll go along with that.

Pest Prevention Yawk Up V.1
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

More tips for using up things that, until recently, were completely redundant items. A stack of forty “floppy discs” turned up in a drawer at home and, having been shuffled around various shelves and the odd bare patch on the garage floor (it’s never seen a car inside it) they ended up in the bait cabin, gathering dust. We are inundated with wood pigeon and I thought it might be a good idea to come use said discs as bird deterrents. Pigeons may well be voracious eaters, but they are pretty stupid and I thought said discs, suspended from string and left blowing in the breeze, reflecting what little sunlight we get in these parts, would do a job. I got one side done before Dave (my Dave) suggested I cease forthwith and remove the ones I’d already (experimentally) hung. His reasoning? The birds would get used to them and, as there was nothing yet planted, there was little point in giving them a heads up. I’ve taken them down as it wasn’t worth the discussion, but I’m pretty sure, given how stupid pigeons are, by the time they’d had a bit of an overnight roost, they’d have forgotten all about the scary, sparkly blowy thingies that had terrified them the day before.

A (Tatie) Stitch In Time
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Although the weather’s continued to be very damp I’ve made a start on getting the first of the potatoes in the ground. I’m going to plant 3 seed a week (6 to a trench) over the next several weeks, with a view to harvesting from June to September. The right side of the central path is much more dry in comparison to the left. We think this may be due to the fact it’s at the spot where the ground levels out from the fields behind, causing the water table to be closer to the surface at this point (we could be wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time). Any road up, Dave’s been for a half ton of dry sharp sand and he’s going to rotovate it in. Hopefully, as the weather improves the water table will drop and allow us to plant that side of the path. The plan (subject to change) is to utilise the four slightly raised beds to define beetroot, kohlrabi, onion, leek and brassica plots, leaving room, either side of the path for a variety of beans and a couple of rows of early peas (two plantings).

Tranquil Space For Quiet Reflection
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Took myself off for little wander down Aira Force last Friday, there’s always something different to take a picture of, but mostly it affords an opportunity to switch off from the world, as it were. I sometimes wish I wasn’t such an inquisitive, cantankerous and (dare I say) conspiratorial old curmudgeon. It must be nice to look forward to Ant & Dec every week, without a care in the world, swallowing all the guff we’re fed without giving a second thought to why nothing works and why there isn’t a plan to fix any of it, beyond making empty, vacuous promises about “the future” and how it’ll be so much better, once this utter car crash of a government is consigned to the dustbin of history. If things don’t change (they won’t) they’ll stay the same (they will) or (more likely) get a whole lot worse. The EU is waiting to welcome us back into the fold, mark my words.

Saved For Posterity
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Some of you will no doubt be aware of a chap, sometimes (jokingly) referred to as “Pickled Onion Jim”, who plies his trade  on “far right” radio and television, presenting as an “expert” on the weather. He’s also a leading cheerleader for the cult of “Man Made Climate Change”. He’s particularly fond of informing the nation that extreme weather events are increasing in both frequency and severity. He has something of a presence on social media too, where he takes great delight in talking down to those amongst us who are somewhat sceptical of the whole “Climate Change” scam. Geologist Dave is one such sceptic and with good cause. He’s worked in the field of petrol-chemical geological research for around 50 years and knows all about weather patterns (global and local) and how, over millennia, climate has altered overwhelmingly dependent on factors outside any influence of humanity. In a world of “experts”, Dave is actually an expert in his field. He’s a dab hand at tidying up aged agricultural implements, too.

Any road up, he recently came a cross a book entitled “Agricultural Records AD 220-1968” written by a chap called J.M. Stratton, this book is based on the earlier 1883 work by Thomas H Baker entitled “Records of the Seasons, Prices of Agricultural Products and Phenomena Observed in the British Isles”. The contents are (if you like that sort of thing) both fascinating and broad in scope and shine a light on how important the weather in Britain was for food production and its associated cost. I don’t intend to bore you with a long list of extreme weather events form the per-industrial era, but several examples, spanning around 1600 year of verifiable British history do stand out. The first date note is 245 AD, when there was a major sea flood in Lincolnshire, which caused much damage and loss of life. There’s a gap from 353 AD to 991 AD (probably to do with the Dark Ages), but 991 brought a very severe winter, followed by three years of severe drought and heatwaves. 1014 saw nationwide sea flooding. In 1041 there was a severe frost on Mid-Summers Day that decimated both ground and fruit crops, the following year saw many major storms and heavy rain, which led to a 25 year period of severe famine. In 1091 severe autumn storms hit London and London Bridge was swept away in the consequent flooding. The 13th century started out very wet, but latterly was plagued by major heatwaves and droughts, leading to the loss of much livestock and human suffering. 1315, with exceptional rainfall in July and August, was the first year of another great famine, from which Europe didn’t fully recover until 1322. The 15th and 16th centuries were subject to several very harsh winters along with some summers of drought and others of extreme rainfall. The early 17th century was very cold generally, with many rivers frozen over with thick ice for prolonged periods. There was another severe winter in 1684, followed by Europe wide heatwaves, with hardly any rain before August. The patterns remain much the same throughout the 18th century, 1729 saw violent tornadoes in Sussex and Kent, which caused great damage, as did a large whirlwind in Wiltshire. In 1748 a very hot summer led to many violent thunderstorms, in August of that year a swarm of locusts was witnessed feeding on vegetable crops. Major drought in 1762 was followed, in 1785, by a very cold spring, with average temperatures in March of 1.05C.   In 1825 early summer heatwaves dried up many streams and rivers to such an extent that without rains that came in late August much livestock would have perished, and another period of famine may well have ensued. The records continue on, in much the same vein, but I’m sure you get the gist.

Of course, you pay your money and you make your choice, “Climate Change” zealots and bought and paid for “experts” would have you believe that extreme weather is a feature of life almost exclusively visited upon the planet by a combination of The Industrial Revolution and the calumnies and greed of the human race, but I’d contend they’re mostly in it for the exposure and the kick-backs. Dave concludes, combining the wealth of his own research with the verifiable contents of these two tomes that, far from us being in an historical period of very frequent and extreme weather events, we are actually experiencing a somewhat benign period, which the fruits of Industrialisation/human progress allows us to mitigate to a certain extent. Nobody denies that the “Climate” changes, it was ever thus and I doubt anyone would argue that a population of 8 billion souls don’t have a potentially detrimental effect on the planet, but Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with. It’s hubristic to think otherwise. Follow the money.

© Colin Cross 2024