Week nineteen

Things you can do this week
Stake gladioli. Water trees and shrubs planted out earlier in the year. Water clematis. Put straw under strawberries. Keep hoeing. Marrows, pumpkins, courgettes, and ridge cucumbers should all be gently hardening off and a well manured site prepared for planting out in the next two weeks. Cover them with cloches if you plant them out now. Plant out sweet corn plants six inches apart thinning to a foot in rows two feet apart in square blocks. Sweet corn require a well fertilised soil. Plant out sweet peppers under protection.

Links to weeks throughout the year
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Gardening diary week 19 beekeeping blog

Diary week eighteen May 7th - May 14th
Sow main crop peas and carrots. Sow climbing French beans 'Blue Lake'. Sow the last crop of 'Green Windsor' broad beans.


Sunday 7th May 2017 Weeded carrots, earthed up potatoes, weeded shallots and dug more ground.
Sprout liked to be moved twice in their lives - so they have three locations 1) The seed bed 2) a bed they are moved to from the seed bed 3) Their final site where they will stay until they are harvested. I moved mine to their second bed today.


Saturday May 10th 2008 Today was another hot sunny day and perfect conditions for checking through the two bee hives on the allotments site that are making honey. The others are hopefully making new queens and I am resisting the temptation to open them up too early. I will open some on Monday.

I'm rough digging in the centre of my plot where I haven't dug for years and I have now dug all around the peach tree for the first time. I should dig up Rosemary's pond that came from the the old apiary. It needs to be sited better than it is. When I put it in a couple of years ago I tilted it so the water went to the flag irises. The iris have got well established as a result but the pond holds too little water especially now that it has frogs in it.

I planted out a row of Little Jem lettuce next to the row of peas that seem to be doing well. There is sprouting broccoli germinating all over the place. I have only sown two types of Cauliflower this year Medallion and Leamington but I am going to try growing them in different parts of the plot to see if they crop at different times. Sowed Blue Lake climbing French bean.

Friday May 9th The head gardener has a digging slave. It's not that she says "hey bitch dig this" she is much more polite than that, but when I suggest that she could dig in the beat spinach that was growing flower spikes she just said "go on then". So the spinach is now dug in and the weeds left on the surface to dry out. They will dried and dead in a day or two in the hot sunny weather we are enjoying at the moment. The hose has been fitted up again.

May 7th 2008 The hot sunny spell continues and is forecast to do so for some days to come. The apple trees on the allotments are in full bloom. A joyful site in the bright sunlight.

I bought some more bees today and took on a new apiary. All three hives were full of bees and one was full of queen cells. Enough queen cells to breed several more queens from and make up maybe four or five more colonies - hopefully before the month is over. I'm buying three more hives on another site that I will inspect tomorrow .


May 7th I dug up some of the dahlia tubers along the edge of the allotment and replanted them further back towards the gooseberry bushes

Thursday May 9th Rain

Friday May 10th Rain

Saturday May 11th 2007 Rain

Sunday May 12th 2007 Rain.

For the best part of six or seven weeks from the middle of March to the start of May we had hardly any rain at all but the last week has been extremely wet in contrast. Things are really beginning to grow now and we will soon be digging potatoes in earnest and picking broad beans. The first of the French beans have germinated and are looking good. Some of the Dahlias are a over a foot high. In the past we would would always say "Ne'er cast a clout till May be out" and see that as a reminder that it can still get cold (and frosty) until the first week of June. This year it seems that April and June have changed places.For some things this change will work to our advantage and much of the fruit seems to have set well and that includes the pears and peaches.

It's now time to get all the seed sown for the pumpkins squashes and courgettes. I planted a packet of yellow Courgette F1 Jemmer today. Peas, beans, lettuce, radish, beetroot, sweat corn can all be sown now.

Monday May13th The Rain has finished for a while and the evening was still and cool. The tulips removed from the bed in the garden have been given a temporary home in the allotment where they will stay for a few weeks until the foliage has completely died down then they will be dug up, dried of and cleaned up before being stored in a net sack hung from the ceiling in the shed until next November. The recent wet weather has been a boom for the slugs and snails that are now everywhere.

Saturday 6th May 2006. Sweet corn and bonfires. I have been helping the head gardener prepare a bed for sweet corn in a part of her plot that is well endowed with fine crop of bindweed. It took some time to dig out all the bindweed that could be located. The remaining weed will enjoy the muck dug in for the sweet corn and grow with great relish in the middle of the square where it can't be got at. This bed will need digging over and the bind removing again in the autumn. As our soil is so light this is not really too much of a chore and it's an opportunity to add more muck and plant some autumn vegetables.

Sunday 7th May 2006 Bees sold. I sold another nucleus of bees today (from the hive that is on the 'students' allotment). Although the hive wasn't making much honey and hadn't' started doing much in the super it had started making queen cells and was looking like it would be ready to swarm in a week or so. There were quite a few drones in the hive so getting virgin queens mated now should' t be too difficult. With the queen removed the bees will now have to make an emergency queen cell and I will check it again in one week.

I gave an old queen away.

Planted the first of this years cabbages

Tuesday 10th May 2006. My small cooking apple tree looked such a picture in full bloom with Star of Bethlehem and Bluebells flowering underneath it that I just had to clear the dumping area behind the water tubs next to it.

Wednesday 11th May 2006. I have put up a large scaffolding construction and prepared trench for planting runner beans out. Planted a giant pumpkin that John gave me.


Tuesday May 10th 2005 It is still cool with a due north stiff breeze - but it feels like a change is in the air and that warmer weather is on it's way.

The battle of the bindweed continues on a variety of fronts. The area under the large apple tree is now 99% clear and if even a couple of leaves appear above the ground digging immediately commences to get rid of the pest. However there are patches of my land that are still full of it and I'm busily protecting the areas that are bind weed free by making sure that none travels in from the infested areas whilst at the same time digging those over and removing it great quantity and burning it. It is going to be some time before I get a grip on it and feel that I'm beginning to win and I fear it may mean that some old gooseberry bushes may have to be sacrificed in order to get the ground they are in clear of the weed. This a link to a discussion on someone else's bindweed battle

Sunday 8th May 2005 More random showers in between patches of sunshine but still with a cold wind. Despite the weather I opened one beehive that hasn't been inspected for a while as I was afraid it could be getting into a swarming mode and the bees seemed a little frisky. Even though I started in a bright sunny patch I had to stop half way through and close the hive up again as it rained. There was enough evidence in what I had seen so far to convince to try once more when the sun came out and sure enough there were queen cells on in the brood box with eggs in and some even further advanced than that. Maybe on this occasion the weather prevented these bees from swarming on the day they would have liked to. I did find the queen and was tempted to remove her as she was the queen from a swarm picked up last year. But in the hive was in good shape and she seemed to be laying OK so in the end I left her in residence. She will however have to go some time later on in the year and I am hoping she will last until the middle of July and that I will be able to find her then and remove her. I will check this hive again on the next possible opportunity.

Sowed sweet corn in pots in the greenhouse and started to dig a square area of ground for them to be planted in.

Saturday 7th May 2005 Rain on and off all day and a good solid rain overnight means that the ground is in great condition for planting out and sowing seeds and it even makes the weeding easier. The carrots sown at the end of January had their first close weed today in the rain. I dug up the tulips planted last november and dug muck into the ground so that it is ready to plant out or sow courgettes. I have managed to get quite a lot done in the last week including planting just about all of the remaining potatoes, sowing more broad beans weeding the asparagus and preparing a bed and planting out the Celeriac that John has grown from seed. Geoff gave me asparagus plants that he has grown from seed.

In the greenhouse I have started off a tray of three different cauli varieties Violet Queen, Romanesque and Medallion.

The Minicole Cabbage sown outside a few weeks ago germinated well and are are looking good it's time to get some ground prepared to plant them out in.

Allotments for all

The blue Abutilon (planted two years ago - see below) must now be over eight feet tall and is in full flower.

2004 Friday 13th May 2004 At the last the wind direction has moved from North to South this means that we will get some warm weather at last. I had a quick look in the top of the four beehives (but didn't open the brood box) and gave the strongest one some old honey to process from my box feeder. None of these hives are putting honey into comb outside of the brood box as yet, maybe they will now that this warm weather has arrived.

This year I have promised myself that I will pay more attention to getting rid of the bindweed. This maybe at the expense of growing more plants but it has to be done. I think the only real way of totally removing this traveling weed (apart from weed killer) is to continually dig it right out just as soon as it appears above ground level. This is easy if there is nothing growing in the ground the problem come once the weed gets into areas where there are other plants. It travels and gets amongst the roots of the plants and when it is dug out even the smallest inch or two left behind will regenerate and start the whole process of again. The only good thing about is the fact that once it is dug up and laid on top of the ground it soon shrivels up and can easily be burned.

Weekend May 8th/9th A cold breeze has dominated the weekend and kept the bees inside. Many of the apple trees are still in full bloom and awaiting a visit. The weather needs to warm up if they are to get well pollinated this year. We have been getting plenty of rain in the last few weeks and I'm still moving things around the plots in these wet conditions. I dug up the tulips - probably much earlier than I usually do - but decided I may as well use the space they were in and planted courgette in the space (yellow ones given to me by John). I also planted some seed as well. I'm still sowing beetroot, carrots and beans of all kinds and of course radishes. Planted out more lettuce and the first sprouts. Moved the Autumn cauli from their seed bed on a holding bed in richer soil. When these plants get to be five or six inches high I will move them on again and make sure they have plenty of well rotted muck under them. Weeded the spring cabbages that were beginning to disappear.

2003 Sunday 11th May three laying Queens: The first virgin Queen of the year has successfully returned after mating and although she chose not use the front door but some spare frames on top of the hive she was located and is now in position. She has replaced the no-laying Queen that was removed three or four weeks ago. So now I have three hives with laying queens in and one more with a virgin yet to fly and mate and still two of the six that I ended last year with are still empty.

Saturday 10th. I purchased a blue Abutilon 'Suntence' (Flowering Maple) from Urban Jungle's stall on the market and planted it against the trellis in the south facing border the hottest most protected part of the garden. Another Abutilon Suntence Link See week 18 2007

2002 Sunday 12 May 2002 A much brighter day with sun and large white fluffy clouds. The bees in the hive that I am waiting to open (not until the 17th) had all the drones in the neighbourhood going in and out. Does this mean my virgin queen or is about to mate or has already mated? In the apiary I checked over the largest hive, looked in the top box of the middle hive and removed two from the hive taken up there a month ago. The plan is to move that hive again on Tuesday back to the allotments but to Geoff's plot. The bees in that hive are more placid than the hives in the apiary and I want to breed some more queens from her. Sowed Blue Lake climbing beans and All Green Bush courgette. By the end of the day the light breeze had moved to vaguely South East. It as almost as if the weather is trying to make it's mind up as to what to do next. The forecast is for wind and rain then heat wave in four days time - we shall see.

11th May 2002 The day was gray, warm with a fine drizzle coming down until half way through the afternoon when the drizzle stopped and sun almost made id out from behind the cloud. Planted out tomatoes.

10th May 2002 The growing weather has arrived. Warm gray and damp from the south west. I planted out another row of sprouts this time from the leftover seeds sown in week 11 It is still early for planting out sprouts but this year I have now finished my planting and have four rows of mixed varieties planted out . The slugs and snails are on the move again and I'm going to have cut down the long grass under the low growing greengage tree, sort out my old flower pots, and clean up any odd areas that give them refuge. Fed (with blood fish and bone) the All The Year Round cauliflower that are now good looking plants. I must prepare a bed for the courgette's and sow some seed this weekend. I also want sow some Blue Lake climbing French beans.

9th May 2002 The evening was still and neither warm nor cold. The Northerly winds seemed to have blown themselves out at last now we await the next weather front. The forecast is for wet weather on its way from the south west. Sometimes the rain reaches us and sometimes it doesn't make this far east. In the meantime we can have either fine sunny weather of still gray skies.

I gave the two hives on the allotment a quick look tonight. I wanted to see that I hadn't trapped the queen above the excluder. All seems OK but I will go through the whole hive on the next sunny chance that I get. The hive that was left with a queen cell on the 17th of last month I only a brief look at. There is plenty of space in the top box and they were putting some some honey in it. I will try to leave it a few more days before I look to see if there is a new laying queen in residence but if the weather turns really good temptation may get the better of me.

6th May 2002 Planted out a row of red onion seedlings given to my by John. Moved the brood box to the bottom of P1 and put the queen excluder above the next super. Although the super above the queen excluder has eggs in it now once they hatch it will get filled with honey. I carefully checked to see that I hadn't got the queen above the excluder but will have to check again to be sure.

2000 Sunday 7th The allotment beehive was buzzing on a warm sunny afternoon although there was even now, still, a light cool breeze from the east. This hive has a lot of bees in it and has always had a super of honey on it. This spring started early as there wasn't really a winter and these bees enjoyed an early start to the year. Unfortunately, what should been the glorious spring, more often that not, reverts to be the winter we didn't have.

Now we are in the last few weeks of frost possible time - the first week of June being generally agreed as a certain first frost free week. It may be that we don't see another frost this year and the sun could shine without break for the next three months. Possible, but Unlikely.

The next two months are vital for good honey production. I'm banking on the next week being warm and sunny and put another super on the hive after checking the brood box for queen cells. The second frame was full of new eggs so I wasn't too concerned to see the queen, she must have been there very recently.

On the third frame from the end, there she was, large, leather brown, marked with a bright red spot and unclipped. It took some time before she walked on to the side of the frame and it was safe to put her back.

The far outside frame in this hive is on it's last legs, with the right hand lug about to break off. This was it's time to break. I was going to leave it, however, I had just removed one queen cell and many cups with eggs in so I didn't want to risk it. On getting this frame out there she was again and she didn't want to return she wanted to fly.

Panic! I can't have the queen bee flying around. A frame above kept her down, after she had got stuck to it. She was last seen dropping down into the brood box. I hope she is all right. She looked OK and all the bees eventually returned inside the hive before I left for home.

The bees now have a new super of empty frames just above the brood box some are brand new foundation that still needs to be drawn out the bees won't do that if they don't get a good few days sun and a nectar flow.

This one of my excuses for still planting potatoes.

I have spent a few evenings in the allotment this week. The apple trees covered in blossom many in contrast to flowers planted underneath. I've spent much of my time hand weeding onions, shallots, carrots, beetroot, spinach etc. I have also been liquid feeding and watering. The weather has been sunny but only on one day was it warm in the evening. By the time evening came on Thursday the wind was again from the Northeast and the evening was cold and gray.

6/ May Saturday morning warm still and sunny - summer is here again. The plum tree outside my window has made several inches of growth already. Apparently now and the next few weeks is the best time to prune plum trees because the wounds (that can be the entry point for silver leaf disease) heal over faster when the plant is in the full surge of early summer growth.

Of the two bee hives that survived the winter one is continuing to be a mystery. No eggs have been laid so far this year. On two occasions I have switched empty cone with the other hive that contain eggs. The intention being that a queen less colony would take the opportunity to turn one or more eggs or early stage brood into a queen cell. So far no queen cells. So if the queen is there why doesn't she lay? On checking today and not finding a queen cell I didn't switch another frame deciding to see if the improved weather may and the abundance of food supplies. The theory being that the queen won't lay until there is food to support the brood. In future I must ensure that enough sugar syrup is provided to see them through the winter.

The other 'cottage' hive had a sneaky maturing queen cell tucked away at the bottom of one of the last frames to check. As none of the other frames even had queen cups with eggs in I was thinking that this hive had no desire to swarm and very nearly missed it. Maybe I should have put this into the other hive to what would happen. If the weather is fine tomorrow I will check the hive in the allotment and learning from today's lesson - very carefully. We will keep our fingers crossed for the next few weeks in the allotment. The potatoes are growing too big to easily earth up and are in danger if we get any more frost. Early sown beans, courgettes, tomatoes, etc. could also be damaged on the other hand when the wind is from the south (as it is moving to at the moment) it suddenly becomes hot and sunny and the watering can may be suddenly needed.

At this time of year the snails that have hiding away for the winter are all about. In my garden they particularly like to get up under the gutter on the single story kitchen extension behind the clematis. Now that I know that, they don't stay there for long. Over the wall is the school's, very wild, wildlife garden - just right for snails - but will they come back for the clematis?

I don't take cuttings of shrubs nowadays, as I don't have a greenhouse or conservatory, but I did in the past and several of my shrubs as a result have there own memories attached to them - some happy, some sad. I have a small flowered delicate lilac that came from a large fifteen-foot high shrub from the garden in the middle of Hyde Park Corner. It's flowering now and although I took the cutting maybe fifteen, or more, years ago it is only seven or eight feet high at it's highest point and but a few feet across in each direction. Each year, however, it grows in strength and vigour and I'm beginning to think that area beneath and around it is due for some replanting. Consultations with the head gardener will have to take place before I begin, or my work will be subject to much criticism and eventually get undone.

May 12th 1999 Rain and more rain. Perfect timing. Planting out is being made easy this year. We will probably pay for it later. First sprouts planted out. Blue Lake climbing French beans, radish, courgettes sown. At this time of the year the weeds are really taking off and hand weeding of onions and shallots takes a fair amount of time.

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