Friday, 6 April 2012

Good Friday

Is the arrival of a rabbit in the garden during Holy Week a sign or a portent? Happily (I say that with my gardener’s hat on) we rarely see one this side of the hedge although they live in the two of the fields that adjoin our property but one popped to visit on Wednesday staying just long enough for me to grab a camera and take a photograph.

You are probably right: neither a sign nor a portent but just a rabbit. Thanks to Aunt Em (who holds the copyright) I can also show you an Easter Stripey Bunny. She has also painted a Christmas Stripey Bunny but you will have to wait a while to see him.

Still wearing the same hat: I think I have made a rather serious mistake. Lulled by the beautiful weather we were enjoying a couple of weeks ago I decided to plant out some of the seedlings that were stifling in the potting shed and cold (humph) frames. Now, of course, the temperature has plummeted and I fear for their well being.

I have been experimenting with plant root trainers as shown below. You can see how using these created long, strong roots (not a very good photo, I fear).

One tray was sown with runner beans and has been on the windowsill in our spare bedroom. They were not included in those thrown out in the cold and so have continued to grow mightily. I fear they are beginning to look like triffids. I‛m sure they will be fine but, just in case, I sowed another tray yesterday.

On our travels around the west country, I have taken many photographs of churches. As it is Good Friday, I thought it appropriate to share these two with you. The top one, St Andrew's at Coryton, was taken on 3 March two years ago and St Peter's at Lewtrenchard six weeks later..

A happy Easter to you all – and do be moderate with the chocolate intake. One egg or bunny each at most. 


Not a great deal to report this week as all are now just growing and it will be a while before the first ones start to develop their legs. However, something interesting has happened in the tadpolarium which has nothing to do with froggy things at all.

The water and weed that I use is always from the pond. That way I can be fairly certain that there will be no pollution (which includes, if you are a tadpole, some of the chemicals water companies put into our water supply and especially chlorine) and that there will be some natural food for the inmates to enjoy.

Water that comes out is filtered (well, poured through an old flour sieve to be honest) and then used to water plants. For this reason I have a couple of drums to store this used water if it is not needed straight away.

What is filtered out is either thrown away or, if living, popped back into the tadpolarium. Thus over the weeks I build up a quite high snail population which will eventually be returned to the pond. Most of these snails are called Lymnaea pereger or the Wandering Snail. There is nothing particularly special about them: they are the commonest water snail in this country. 

Now for the interesting bit. I had always understood that these snails were vegetarians living on algae, lily pads and rotting vegetation. Indeed lily fanciers spend a good deal of effort on trying to keep their ponds weed free because of the damage they cause to their plants. Not mine - oh dear me, no. I decided to find out whether or not the tadpoles would enjoy a slight change of diet and gave the part of a strip of Schmako (basically a meat based treat intended for dogs with which we 'reward' Jossie when she does something clever like waking up). This bit would have been about one and a half inches long, half an inch wide and a sixteenth of an inch thick (30 mm x 10 mm x 1 mm for younger readers). The snails absolutely love it, they are crawling all over it so there is little room for any tadpoles which may explain why they seem so little interested. 

I have checked all my reference books and they confirm that this snail is a veggie so does that mean I have made a significant discovery? Will my name go down in history as the man who discovered that Lymnaea pereger is actually an omnivore? Probably not.