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Sometimes I just wish

This week: Sometimes I just wish; Leaf fall; Watching the weather forecast;

Not a cloud in the sky
Not a cloud in the sky

It is still baking hot here in Dol. The temperature rises to between 35ºC and 37ºC every day, cooling by 01:00 to around 25ºC, so definitely tropical nights.

This week’s blog will be short, not because I have done nothing, rather because what I have done has mostly been on the computer.

I have just been out onto the terrace because I could hear the low pitch drone of Canadair water bombers. A completely unmistakable sound.

Copernicus is not showing any active fires anywhere nearby, which is good.

They were off to the west somewhere, hidden by trees, but seemed to be in transit rather than on a firefighting mission.

We are at the peak of the fire danger season. There are warnings everywhere about the danger of fire, however at the same time there are thousands of tourists too.

Their minds are on having a good time rather than necessarily thinking about any danger in what they are doing though.

I came across a video this week about the Canadair “Super-scoopers” which describes why they are so good at what they do

Everyone hopes they will not be needed here this summer!

Sometimes I just wish

It is the 24th February and the sun is shining. The weeds are growing and the Crocus have been in flower for a week.

Crocus flowers in Spring
Crocus flowers in Spring

However, I noticed that because of the shade netting around the Mandarin tree, some of the Crocus get no sun, whereas those which receive even a little early spring sunshine are doing a lot better.

I planted these bulbs around three years ago, and deliberately put them between two of the citrus, so I could see them from the kitchen window.

Only I can’t see them and although they are growing and appear to like the poor soil conditions, no one else can really see them either.

They have been on my list to “lift and move” for a while, however I didn’t want to move them while there were still green leaves showing.

Then other jobs got in the way, that is until this week.

I decided that I really should lift and replant them while they are dormant.

Crocus in summer!
Crocus in summer!

That I discovered is a lot easier said than done.

First of all, just getting a fork into the ground is difficult. The soil in the citrus orchard is a clay loam which bakes as hard as concrete in the summer.

Having got the fork into the soil it took several goes to break up a small part where I thought there were some bulbs. Only I wasn’t able to find any.

Breaking soil
Breaking soil

I retired to the study and fired up the computer to make sure that I was looking in the right place. From the photographs I was.

Returning to the orchard I did a little more probing and after some searching amongst the clumps of soil I saw the remains of stems.

This led me to a few bulbs. However the time and effort I expended, not to mention the perspiration exceeded the number of bulbs I could find.

Reluctantly I decided to replant those I found and leave the rest until next year, when I will lift them a little earlier, while I can still see them!

Sometimes I just wish I had done a task sooner.

Leaf fall

Just as in spring when people love to see the colours of the blossom, so in autumn people flock to see the changing colours of leaves.

Vine leaves take on their brilliant autumn colours
Vine leaves take on their brilliant autumn colours

Not all tree’s leaves have these colours and of course it is only deciduous trees which lose their leaves.

Here, it is the colours of the grape vine leaves which are especially noticeable.

There is a complex relationship between reducing day length, sunlight and falling temperatures which signal to plants they need to prepare for winter.

This creates the molecular changes, reducing chlorophyll in leaves and turning them a different colour.

What I noticed last year and has happened again this year is that because of the lack of summer rainfall, certain trees are already losing their leaves.

It especially seems to affect sweet cherry trees.

Cherry tree under stress
Cherry tree under stress

This is a large tree, perhaps planted 30 years ago. However it is under stress, the leaves are turning brown and falling to the floor.

Leaves on the ground
Leaves on the parched ground

This isn’t autumn leaf fall, it is caused by lack of rainfall.

I have five cherry saplings of different varieties in the Top Orchard, and they are all suffering to varying degrees. The have been receiving 4 litres of water each, per day, for weeks too.

Cherry sapling under stress
Cherry sapling under stress

They are not as bad as the old tree, but are still under stress.

This winter I will look at a different way of providing deep water irrigation to them.

Watching the weather forecast

I have said many times in these blogs that I always watch the weather forecast and plan my work around the anticipated conditions.

Early next week a small depression will pass along the Adriatic, bringing cloud and a small possibility of rain.

Rain on Tuesday? Maybe.
Rain on Tuesday? Maybe 0.6mm of rain…

I have been watching this for a week now, and the forecast changes as we get closer, but the actual chance of rain remains around 30%.

However a half millimetre of rain is really neither use nor ornament. That is a half litre per square meter. I can deliver more with my watering can.

My experience also tells me that because of the topography of the island, most storms are deflected away. This mean we sit in the dry, watching the storm clouds sail past.

A couple of cloudy and cooler days will be useful, but I’m not holding my breath.

So watch this space and I’ll report back next week. NCG