So, apologies first....February was a horrible month and having been raised with the old adage 'If you've nothing nice to say, Say nothing' that's exactly what I did.
But now it's March, spring is springing and it's impossible not to be cheered by the sight of bobbing daffodils so I'm back, feeling a bit fragile but optimistic nevertheless.
Let's get the bad news out of the way first.
In February my bees died. Having made it through the coldest winter in decades, having thwarted the attentions of a hungry woodpecker, having eluded human vandals and withstood the dreaded varroa mite they got over excited one sunny afternoon and broke their cluster early. They flew about collecting pollen from the crocuses and Queen Bea foolishly started laying eggs.
When the temperature plummeted (as it does in February....every year!) a large number of bees refused to return to the cluster and remained instead diligently caring for the brood and there we found them two days later, frozen to death.
I was quite unprepared for how sad I felt when I found them. It's not as though they were pets! Yet a silent hive is a terrible thing and the sight of the dead bees 'bums up' in the comb where they'd tried to warm....and the waste! there was a litre and half of beautiful honey in there and so much new pollen...I was gutted. I still am.
Still, onwards and upwards. I've ordered a new colony (ready in May) and might even pick up a swarm in April as well. Lets hope for better luck next time eh?
Up at the plot things are picking up. The purple sprouting broccoli is already showing signs of budding and (as shown here in this totally rubbish photo!) the garlic is growing strongly.
I'm hoping that the early snowfall last December will result in fat bulbs with lots and lots of cloves.
This picture is my 'elephant garlic' actually a type of leek that looks and tastes like garlic only much, much bigger!
I bought a bulb (it was expensive too) the other year, split into eight cloves and planted.
Only two grew.
I ate one (oven baked and delicious) to see if we liked them and whether they were worth the effort (yes and yes) then split and planted the other last September for one last try.
I now have eight growing strongly and two weak ones so I'm well pleased! At five quid a bulb to buy (if you're lucky enough to find them) these are one of those crops that make me feel very smug to have an allotment!
Elsewhere on the plot I'm off to a slow start. My arthritis has flared up quite badly and I'm simply too vain to use my crutches in public so I'm not as far ahead with my digging as I'd like. I have sown some early peas, beetroot and carrots. It's a bit too early actually and weather is still very unstable so I've only sown a little of each along with some onion sets just to cheer myself up really and anyway....you never know your luck!
The currant bushes are beginning to leaf up but as they're not very photogenic I thought I'd leave you with a picture of the crocuses that snuggle amongst them.
Fantastic little flowers aren't they?