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Lockdown Week 4

Date posted: Friday 17th April 2020

Lockdown Week 4

Almost at the end of Lockdown week 4 and we’re still waiting for those April showers! After an Easter weekend of temperatures in the 20s it’s become more like April ‘in the olden days’ – warm, not midsummer heat, light cloud, gentle breezes and a few perfect days, before it’s become overcast, cooler and so far, a few drops of rain. Nature continues to blossom and thrive on the allotments and the bees, butterflies, birds and insects are about their usual business, while we continue to adapt to this strange new world we’re inhabiting. My neighbour, Lucy’s apple tree is a bee magnet at the moment!

In the past couple of weeks the peacock butterflies have been emerging, settling onto the ground to stretch their wings and feeding off dandelions and other early flowers. I spotted my first brimstone a week ago, now joined by orange tips and small and large whites. The past week has been perfect April weather for working on the plot, although it’s hard work due to the lack of rain and the pumps have been busy, as we observe the social distancing and keep gloves on to work the handles. The ground is rock hard and the ground feeding birds must be having a hard time of it – presumably the early bird catches the worm when the dew’s on the ground!

As soon as I arrive at the shed ‘my’ robin zooms in for the special robin food mix that I throw down – it’s become a routine and I now watch her/him eating a few pieces, then loading up a beakful and flying low to the ground to feed her young, in the brambles at the back of a plot a distance away.

We put up a new bee post a few weeks ago and now it’s being investigated and checked out for suitable accommodation purposes. In the past week or so the solitary bees have emerged from the existing posts and there’s been a lot of activity around the holes as the newly hatched bees make their first, orientating journeys out and back to their nest holes.

We’ve had a new visitor around the site for several weeks now – intent on it’s predatory instincts and not in the slightest interested in us!

Digging over a patch of grassy earth this grub was revealed. It’s a wireworm, the larva of a click beetle:
• The larval stage of the click beetle can take up to four years to complete before the grubs pupate and turn into brown elongate beetles
• Wireworms are most troublesome in newly broken ground but become much less numerous with regular cultivation, this is because the adult beetles prefer to lay eggs in grassy ground. (RHS)

As I write the welcome sound of rain falling, this time quite heavily, but it’ll take more than one afternoon’s gentle showers to fill the water butts and ponds! Better than nothing, though the gardener’s wry comment is always: ‘Just enough to get the slugs and snails moving’!

During this time of lockdown, staying at home, hardly any traffic on the road or in the sky there are benefits – the sound of bird song so clear and entrancing, the heightened scents of trees, grass, blossom and flowers, clearer and cleaner air, peace and quiet on our streets – we’re all so grateful that we can still get to our allotments and spend time in a wonderful natural environment.