The bricklayer and his mate arrive bright and early and set to work despite the miserable drizzly weather. I have an appointment at the dental hygienist which gives me an excuse to visit Nick's nursery for winter bedding plants...net a very good excuse as they are in opposite directions! However, it is an opportunity to make a start on planting out containers/hanging baskets etc. for the winter. I am trying to get as many jobs done as possible before the mammoth tasks of filling up the new terraced beds with soil...goodness konws how we will manage that. Patrick's suggestion is making a scaffold board ramp up to the top of the mount to push the barrows up, to then tip the soil into the terraces from above - that sounds like fun for a woman of my age and figure! The other mammoth tasks which will take weeks is planting all the bulbs. This was why digging up potatoes etc. was so delayed last year, because of bulb planting. This year I am considerably ahead by comparison. All potatoes are dug up dried and in sacks, all onion/garlic/shallots are in store, all pumpkins and squashes have been brought in, all Autumn sown veg and nearly all Autumn sown flowers have been planted. I'm sure this has been helped by me no longer working at the schools on Wednesday, and I'm very pleased with progress.
I buy Violas, cyclamens, heather and mini plants of hebe and skimmias which are intended for hanging baskets and containers which can be planted out in the garden later.
When giving Diane a lift, later in the day, I decide to check out Ducks Hill Nursery, I should say that I haven't visited any garden centres/nurseries since before the last open day! This time I bought some little Asters - good to buy small as they are cheaper - to add to my display at the start of the central borders - the Asters have been beautiful this Autumn and have lasted for ages. I also bought some very reasonably priced, good sized Thyme plants - I have planned to fill out 2 of the herb beds at the top of the veg garden with more thyme for some time ( excuse the pun!), pansies, some more cyclamen and 3 curry plants - I can never resist curry plants I find the smell of their leaves, which transfers to my hands, irresistible. I spend the rest of the day replanting 4 hanging baskets - removing plants that might over winter, renewing the soil and planting them out.
Pecky laid her first egg this morning, which I'm taking as a good sigh that she is settling in, she also lays it in the right place - the nesting box - sometimes chickens lay their eggs on the floor which can result in breakages. Tonights dinner is chicken leek and mushroom pie, with mashed potato, cooked beetroot and red cabbage and apple. Preparing the leeks and especially the red cabbage is a lengthy operation, they are very muddy and the cabbage is full of little woodlice which then escape over the work surface which I then have to catch! Home grown produce tastes wonderful but it is far more labour intensive even at this stage of its journey - cabbage and leeks require multiple washes to remove mud and insects.