A blog on gardening, life by the sea, photography and wildlife

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Accord first early potatoes

Harvested the first of them today exactly 10 weeks after planting out the tubers. The taste will be all important. They should grow more if left in the ground a little longer, sadly all my three varieties of potatoes are in need of a really good drop of rain which is in short supply at the moment. My plot soil is free draining loam over a chalk base, and that applies to most of Eastbourne and the south downs.

My good friend Jennifer Hunter kindly sent me a mixture of nigella seeds last year and the mixed colours are a picture of delight growing across one allotment bed in amongst the pineapple mint the roots of which will need attending to soon.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The painted lady butterfly with the Canon 100mm f2.8 image stabilised L lens

I recently purchased a macro lens with image stabilising of up to 3 or 4 stops built in.

I wanted to be able to select a small aperture with a slow speed to enable hand held photos, I am not a fan of tripods for these type of pictures.

This enabled me to hand hold these two photos of a painted lady butterfly supping nectar on our pyracantha bush at f16  1/40th of a second ISO 200.

The second picture may be the one for purists but I like the first for the sheer detail in such a wonderful creature.

All the way from Africa

The lens with the hood attached useless for macro work far to close to the subject scaring the beastie and blocking the light

Monday, 30 May 2016

This well rotted cow manure is wonderful stuff

Plot update 30th May `16

We recently took delivery from a local farmer a quantity of well rotted cow manure, hard to believe that 18 months earlier it had been a nasty smelly pile of cow poo. Now my plants are getting the benefit of the wonderful earthy natural fertilizer. I am trying to find a word that best describes the smell ............

I did a trial of some spinach with and without the manure and my photos speak for themselves. I had a really large picking today much  earlier than expected.

Martyn Garrett from A Gardeners Weather Diary here had his bamboo bean poles supported with a cross brace which I tried on mine as my plot is very exposed and a strong wind had collapsed the poles in the past, its good but not as strong as a simple pole placed at one end at an angle, I will probably use both methods, belt and braces so to speak.

My runner beans have flowers and are nearly at the top of the poles, will I get an early crop?

I also am trying baby sweetcorn Minipop for the first time I planted those out with the magic cow manure liberally applied when digging over.

and had my final small pick of asparagus

wonderful stuff
Better growth with manure, note my dirty finger nails no gloves for me when planting out

much slower growth rate with no cow manure added

My normal effective simple brace
cross brace ok but would be better about half way up the poles not as effective as one brace
Minipop sweetcorn

flowers on enorma runner beans
Even I can take a one handed out of focus picture

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Third week in May on the plot

I took a chance this year and planted my runner beans out early hoping to get an earlier crop, time will tell, all plants are in except the baby sweet corn which go in later this week.

accord 1st early, belle de fonteney 2nd early and pink fir apple main crop potatoes
Strawberry patch will need covering as soon as fruits form
My over wintered broad beans will soon be ready to pick
Enorma runner bean and Blue Lake green bean on the left are the pot marigold plants
Part of the perpetual spinach patch 
I had to pinch the tips out as the blackfly had started to invade the broad beans
Frame and netting ready for the alderman peas

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Forget Me Not

Sometimes I take a closer look at a plant through the camera lens, as I did with the forget me not and saw that the buds are pink before they flower in the familiar blue.

I did a similar thing with a perpetual wallflower Erysimum `super bowl mauve` in my garden because I like the colour and realised it was host to some creepy crawlies.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Bird watching in the garden

It`s a great time of the year to be bird watching in the garden the blackbirds, starlings and sparrows in our garden all have young to feed and are frequent visitors, we don`t have bird feeders or a bird table as such because of the constant danger of the sparrowhawk who is always on the lookout for a easy meal at this time of year. We tend to place food, special seeds for small birds and sultanas for the bigger birds on the garden path close to vegetation.

Our regular Mrs blackbird is starting to look a little worse for wear, hardly surprising at this time year, but I noticed her standing on one leg for quite a long time today. As I have mentioned before the theory is that they do this at certain times to conserve energy due to heat loss through the leg and foot.

Mr blackbird I swear was watching me out of the corner of his eye as he saw me with the camera poised. He comes regularly throughout the day for his sultanas and hops onto our garden seat and looks in the window if we are slow to replace his supply.

We are waiting for the dunnocks to finish fledging they have a ground nest in our wild bit of the garden which we are waiting to partially clear. All the birds including gulls, tits, starlings, magpies wood pigeons make full use of the bird bath, really essential at breeding time to keep the feathers in good condition.

The magpies use the bath to wet and soften food that would otherwise be hard to digest, large pieces of bread for example, they would be high up on my list of "Bird Brain of Britain"

Do you know what time it is, when are you putting out my sultanas?
The dunnocks are in there somewhere
Excuse me I was here first...hop it 
Those greenfly are bit of a stretch

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Carrots in six weeks

I am growing  Accord first early potatoes in bags this year for the first time, in addition to some on the allotment plot and they are doing very well. I placed the bags on a patch of ground that was not doing a lot since some perennial geraniums died off and would you believe the geraniums have started growing again between the bags.

At the same time I planted on some very young Paris Market small round carrots in a Growmore multi-compost pot and was amazed to see that some are ready to pick. I have not had the best of luck with carrots on the plot not only do I find germination tricky but they suffer badly from the carrot fly. I am considering doing what Mark does on his veg plot and plant in raised containers with a covering of very fine mesh, I do love home grown carrots they cannot be beaten for flavour.

 The Agapanthus my son gave me  is showing signs of new growth in its smart terracotta pot

And finally to save reducing file sizes for blogs etc in post editing, I set my camera file size on the lowest available 3Mb basic, and posted here straight from the memory card

geranium between the spuds

Paris Market small round carrot nearly ready

Agapanthus in a lovely large terracotta pot so much better than plastic

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Do I really need a new digital SLR macro camera lens

I am back after the best part of a year away with various health problems now resolved. Hoping to pick up with you fellow bloggers on my favourites list. More posts to follow on my allotment plot later.

As to the title, well no, not really except I love mosses, ferns and lichen and they do look good under the microscope so to speak and I had the chance to buy the IS (image stabilised) version which does away with a tripod for most of my work. Most smartphones and even basic digital SLR kit lenses can get close enough for most pictures with some cropping but true macro at life size of 1-1 take some beating.
Let me explain what I mean by life size, it relates to the size of the sensor in your camera, so the sensor in my full frame Canon 5D is 36 x 24mm so if I photograph an image that is 36 x 24 mm it will fill the viewfinder and the final image should not need cropping, my watch face picture gives you an impression although note that very little of the face except the sub dial is in focus at f2.8 macro lenses have very little depth of field at that aperture.
Some zoom lenses mention macro but they are usually at best half life size 1-2 or even 1-4 in some cases.

My watch face at life size note how very little except the sub dial is in focus due to the f2.8 aperture set by the camera
This Herb Robert flower would need cropping to show more of the flower since it is tiny at about 1cm in diameter
Lichen on our apple tree