I need to get out more at night!
This week: I need to get out more at night; Buying Hydrogen Peroxide; Some careful measuring; Mary, Mary, quite contrary;
This is going to be a short blog! I have really done very little for the last 10 days…
Last week started well but quickly degenerated into a complete failure.
On wednesday afternoon I felt a sore throat start. It got worse and on Thursday morning I realised I had a full blown flu type cold. So I started on my tried and tested cold tablets, Benylin Day and Night tablets.
This virus is the sort where symptoms move around the body, not staying long in any one place.
After getting up to feed the felines, I went back to bed and there I stayed for most of the day.
I felt much better being horizontal than vertical! After 24 hours on the tablets, I could feel them working.
Even so, Much of Friday and Saturday was “bed time” too. It is 20 years since a virus put me in bed. I get injured, not sick!
By Monday I was coming out of the worst, however more than a week after it started I still feel drained and tired.
That was the reason I abandoned even attempting last week’s blog.
This week I have been doing odds and ends, trying to catch up, but this virus is to be avoided…
I need to get out more at night!
This week I have finished clearing the floor of the polytunnel.
As well as harvesting a big bowl of broad beans, I have strung up the tomatoes and planted the sweet potatoes.
In the corner furthest from the door, I was moving some stones when I made a really interesting discovery.
As I lifted one stone to get at the roots of some grass, in the damp spot underneath there was a long black and red, scaled larvae.
It looked almost prehistoric, like something out of Jurassic Park, but is instantly recognisable.
This is a Lampyris noctiluca.
The Latin name for “nocturnally active” gives them away. It is a European Common Glow Worm.
I wrote in a Blog at the end of April last year about them and said that I was going to look for them at night in June. I never found any.
But then, I have never wandered around my own orchards after dark to look.
I moved the larvae away to an area I had already cleared, and put it under a stone.
A little later when I looked, it had gone.
Having checked my polytunnel after dark, there is no sign of the bioluminescence of this insect.
This means one if two things: once the females have mated with a male, then they no longer fluoresce or it has moved outside.
The temperature in the polytunnel is more than 20 degrees Celsius warmer than outside, so my specimen may have hatched earlier, having been tricked by the inside conditions.
The books all say that they are usually visible from mid-June for a few weeks, so it was a month early.
Bearing in mind that up until December, the polytunnel was open to the elements, it may have been a specimen which happened to get surrounded by the polytunnel as I built it.
Walking around after dark, I have not seen any insects bio-luminescing.
I think I need to get out more after dark, especially around my own grounds to see what is lurking out of sight…
Buying Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen Peroxide has the chemical formula H₂O₂. You can use it for, amongst other things, a rocket propellant.
It readily reacts in daylight and can be found naturally in the human body and other biological systems. It is actually close to water, H₂O.
I went shopping for some this week.
There is a saying in English, “the Peroxide blonde”, meaning a person who uses the properties of Hydrogen Peroxide to remove colour from their hair. So my starting point was my local DM store.
DM is a German store brand, with some 4,000 outlets across Germany, southern and eastern Europe.
In American English they would be called drug stores. In German they are called “drogeris markt”. We don’t have a word for them in English because a “Chemist” which would sell similar things also includes a dispensing pharmacy.
Think of them as a European “Boots”, without the pharmacy. I buy the cat food from DM, along with soap, toothpaste etc.
So arriving at the store near the ferry terminal shortly after it opened, I was on my own.
I was looking in the hair care section but failed to see anything marked “Peroxide” and I realised I should have done a website search before I left home.
But I am still only firing on three cylinders after my flu bout.
So in my best Croatian I asked the sales assistant if they had any Hydrogen Peroxide. She looked surprised, “Što?”….
I reverted to Croatlish and hand signals. “You know, Peroxide. Small bottle, Mala bočica, ladies use for their hair.”
She looked at me. My hair, what’s left that is, goes blonde in the summer sun here anyway and I could see her thinking, “Mad Englishman!”, but she took me to another isle where they had exactly what I wanted.
At this point we were joined by another shopper, who had clearly overheard my linguistic difficulty and was explaining in Croatian what I wanted.
At the checkout, I explained that 5ml of peroxide in 500ml of water acts as a starter for seeds with hard coats, because it helps to break down the hard, tanniferous outer coating.
“I didn’t know that” says the assistant, as I quickly retreated with my cat’s food and my Hydrogen Peroxide bottle.
Now I have some recalcitrant seeds I want to try and germinate…
Some careful measuring
I really need to get on with laying the hardwood floor above the Konoba. The trouble is that there are always a million other jobs to be done as well.
Looking at the floor area and then measuring the boards I have, I realised I have only just enough, with zero wastage, to cover the hallway.
So the ideal way is to cut the long lengths first and then use small lengths for gaps so there is little to no wastage.
Right at the start of the run of boards, they join with existing boards in my study. There is a tongue and groove joint in the doorway, with a complicated angled corner.
Looking back, I have no idea why I made it like this, but we are where we are.
After cutting a piece of board to length, I have used a profile comb to accurately measure and mark the board and then cut it to fit the doorway.
My idea is that when all the boards interlock, there will be little to no movement, whatever the floor underneath does when it expands and contracts during seasonal changes.
I transferred the outline to a piece of cardboard which I cut and checked for size, before transferring the shape to the wood and cutting it.
The other end is more difficult because of the angle. I need to cut a rebait as well, so I still have some more work to do.
Often I find that the preparation takes much longer than the actual job!
Mary, Mary quite contrary
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.
So goes the English Nursery Rhyme which has been dated to before 1744.
My garden is growing well, even if I don’t have silver bells or cockle shells.
As we arrive in June, with just 20 days to the Summer Solstice, the sun is high, the flowers are blooming and the weeds are growing at an extraordinary rate.
Wild Gladioli, Gladiolus iliricus, can be found all around my home, however this week I discovered that one of mine seems to be hybridising.
We all know that for centuries Plantsmen have been taking wild flowers and then selectively breeding them to create the garden flowers we know and love today.
The Wild Gladioli, native to the Balkans has Cerise coloured flowers. This plants has all the characteristics of the wild Gladioli, but the flower colour is clearly different. It is the only one I have seen, so I will be protecting it.
This week the Madonna lilies, Lilium candium, are in full bloom and they look magnificent. The flowers only last for a couple of days, but because I have planted them in stands, there is a succession of flowers.
After a VERY wet spring, some of my fruit trees are also covered in blossom.
In particular my Persimmon, is completely covered with pale green flowers. I do not think I have every had so many.
The Persimmon fruit are quite heavy, so if all the flowers set fruit, I think I will have to remove some because of their weight.
It certainly beats the total of five fruits that I had on the tree last year.
It is also a good year for cherries, which I have also finished picking. The sad thing is that cherries do not last long! NCG