Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

The story so far….

847 people have died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours

Before the arrival of the Pandemic that is COVID-19, most of the news coverage was related to our exit from the European Union. Great Britain had been part of the union since the early 70s and a democratic decision had been made to leave. It had become a long ponderous process but we were coming to the end of the negotiations. I personally was optimistic about the future of my country. I was hopeful that things might revert back to what I had seen in my youth. It wasn’t all roses but work was plentiful and life, on the whole, was good. We did import some food from the commonwealth but mostly our farmers grew what we needed seasonally and most of our commodities were produced in factories here. We had thriving industries and improving commerce. We were close to being a self-sufficient country.

The welfare state and the NHS were born more or less with me. In my lifetime they have always been there. A trusted cushion that my generation has taken for granted. I had the privilege to spend a large chunk of my working life in the NHS both in a hospital setting and in general practice. After retirement, I had a couple of years of respite before I was thrown into the heartbreak of caring for my youngest son, Adam, who contracted MND in 2011. Adam died on the 20th of February 2016. Adams’s death hit me very hard both mentally and physically. My life was on hold.

Suddenly this crisis happened, it happened all over the world and has made everyone sit up and take notice. As soon as the pandemic started the cracks in the British way of life began to show. The NHS was on its knees after years of cutbacks. Unemployment was rife. Our shops were full but most of the goods were sourced from abroad. When we suddenly needed increased supplies of medical equipment and medicines our government ordered it from abroad. First big mistake.

The country hadn’t had time to put things in place. Promises made by our government about massive improvements to our way of life following the exit from Europe hadn’t even been realised yet. This is a global problem. Each country was having to look after its own people. It seems that the impetus to source what we need has had to come from the people. Manufacturers, engineers, scientists, private labs and so on have stepped up and the government has had to be prompted to take advantage of the many skills that we have available here.

The people of my country have shown that they can adapt and produce the goods needed and adapt quickly. Precious time has been lost and as a result, many lives have been lost. I hope that from here on our government will learn from their mistakes. There is no end in sight as yet but we are nothing if not resilient.

I live in hope that we can eventually recover from this and make the country the exceptional place that it could be. Thriving and productive, self-sufficient, no jobless, no homeless, a good welfare system for sick and vulnerable, free education and health, clean and efficient buildings, good housing with gardens for everyone. A country to be proud of again. It will take a long time and I may not live to see it but we can do it. Our people deserve it.

A vaccine may be a long time coming

COVID-19 where will it end?

Today’s deaths are reported as 778 in the last 24 hours bringing the total deaths recorded in hospitals in the UK from 6th March to 12,107.

ONS – More than one in five deaths in England and Wales is linked to coronavirus, figures show. The Office for National Statistics data showed the virus was mentioned on 3,475 death certificates in the week ending 3 April. It helped to push the total number of deaths in that week to more than 16,000 – a record high.

So many families of victims are grieving as a result of the virus. We were repeatedly told way back in February that younger, fitter people would only get a mild illness as the virus affected mainly the elderly and vulnerable. We know now, in April, that this vicious virus is relentless. It attacks and kills people from any age group. From neonates to a hundred and four years old. Sick and well. weak and strong. It is heartbreaking to read the news every day. The whole world is grieving.

Many more NHS and Health Care Workers are also losing their lives to COVID-19. Every day brings news of another family coping with the loss of another dedicated nurse, doctor, surgeon, health care worker.

They have had to go out there and do their job. Add to these an army of postmen and women, bus drivers, shop workers, farmers and many other key workers who have no choice but to go into work and risk theirs or their family’s lives.

Just at the moment, I can see no end to this crisis.

Courgettes Peppers and Tomatoes – Summer Salad

This morning I am sowing seeds of a variety of courgettes, bell peppers and tomatoes. They are all late going in so I am being very optimistic when I dream of Summer Salad. The only things I am confident of are the Sungold Tomatoes.

Green, Red and Yellow Bell Peppers

I already had saved seeds of Bell Peppers. I have put a generous amount of seeds in a large pot to allow for some of them not to germinate as they are quite old. This large capsicum form is known as bell pepper. The only difference between bell peppers and capsicum is the presence of capsaicin which is a lipophilic chemical that produces a burning sensation in the mouth. Bell peppers do not contain this chemical.

My other tall black pot contains seeds of both Long Sweet Red Chilli Peppers and Yellow Sweets Banana Pepper. Banana pepper seeds need high soil temperatures to germinate. Start them indoors 40-60 days before transplanting time. You can grow banana peppers from seeds or buy young plants.

Tomato Sungold

There are three substantial plants of Tomato Sungold sitting on the window ledge. They were purchased last year from thompson-morgan.com and delivered a week ago as posti-plugs. They have come on well since I repotted them so I have high hopes of a good harvest from them. I have grown these tomatoes from seed before and was amazed at how tall the plants grew and how many fruits we had from them. The taste was perfect.

Tomato Sungold F1 is a cherry tomato firmly established as one of the sweetest and tastiest available. Produces an abundance of golden coloured fruit throughout the summer. A cordon tomato that is suitable for growing in the greenhouse, allotment or garden. Tomato Sungold will produce small orange, tasty tomatoes that are perfect for salads.

Easter Bank Holiday Monday – Sowing Seeds of Courgette and Squash

COVID-19 News Update

Deaths in UK hospitals rose to 11,329 – up by 717in 24 hours

Our Prime Minister has been thanking the NHS for saving lives for weeks. Today he has thanked them for saving his life as he has left the hospital following his own personal fight against COVID-19

Courgette Zephyr F1 Hybrid

As promised yesterday I have made a start on sowing the squash this morning .I have sown the last three seeds of the Courgette Zephyr, an F1 Hybrid variety purchased from thompson-morgan.com. I have grown these successfully before. I have placed three seeds in a 7″ pot of moist general purpose compost. These seeds are best sown vertically I have found. I have enclosed the pot in a polythene bag and put it on the window sill. They should germinate in about 7 days and hopefully be flowering in June for an Autumn harvest.

This distinctive variety produces attractive, creamy-yellow cylindrical fruits with an unusual pale green tip. The strong, bushy plants of Courgette Zephyr produce fruits with a firm texture and a delicious nutty flavour if harvested regularly when no more than 6″ long.

Butternut Squash Hunter F1

Next seeds to be sown are six Butternut Squash Hunter, an F1 hybrid bought from Premier Seeds Direct. These fruits are a family favourite and I have treated them the same way as the courgette seeds.

Bred specifically for the UK and Northern European climate this variety delivers outstanding crops over a variety of UK summer conditions. Ready for harvesting up to four weeks earlier than other hybrids with fruits averaging 1kg with very high yields per plant.

Saturday 16th May 2020 – Update on the Courgettes and Squash – Laura bravely went and begged an old tyre from next doors skip and we have made a little garden for the squash and courgettes. There is a group of seven plants and I have high hopes for them. The seeds grew into very healthy plants and they lived on the window ledge until today.

Fingers crossed that we have seen the last of the frost but I have built up a protective surround of plastic covered netting with polythene bubble wrap. My only worry is overcrowding. I am hoping that the plants head for the skies and cling onto the netting.

Easter Sunday 12th Apr 2020

The number of people who have died in hospital with COVID-19 in the UK passes 10,000, after a daily rise of 737. (10,612)

Its the time of the year to sow seeds of Courgette and Squash. I have quite a few seeds in the seedbox and this morning’s plan was to get them sown into 3″ pots of damp compost. I plan to sow some Hunter Butternut Squash, Courgettes Tromboncino, Black Beauty, Zephyr, Tuscany and All Green Bush. Its a little late in the year but I am also planning to sow Green Bell Peppers and Pepper Sweet Banana.

Queuing to lay their egg

The chickens in the garden are absolutely oblivious to the virus and are laying happily. All queueing up for the same nest box with no thought of social distancing.

The death toll, combined with a busy day trying to order an online food shop plus cooking an Easter Sunday Roast, has meant that I am sitting here at the computer, dinner has been cooked, eaten and washing up done, the shopping is ordered for Wednesday at 7 am, My Herculean task for the day. ‘Herculean task’ seems to be the latest, constantly repeated phrase on the news at the moment. The government’s description of their continuing struggle to find PPE for the front line workers in the NHS.

I am now sitting looking at the seed packets but no sowing has been done. I feel weary so the sowing will have to be postponed until tomorrow.

Sowing Seeds During a Pandemic – Madness!!!

980 new deaths from COVID-19 today in the UK

It’s Good Friday 2020. We should be buying hot cross buns and Easter eggs but instead, we are counting the dead. The whole world is in ‘Lockdown’. The new buzz word meaning that we have to stay in to keep ourselves safe from the virus. I fear that we are not being kept in to save our own lives but because there aren’t enough hospital beds or staff available to treat us should we all become ill at the same time.

The weather is wonderful but we are all confined to quarters so those of us who can, spend time in our own garden. On the plus side children and their parents are spending quality time together. The ‘key’ workers still have to venture out and do their bit for humanity.

I have sown quite a few seeds around the garden today, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best. I’ve also planted out a few young plants started from seed last year.

Icelandic Poppy
GoldenEye Grass

The pond is teeming with new life as the frogspawn is hatching hundreds of little tadpoles. The fruit trees are frothy with blossom again. It seems unbelievable that such a tragedy is unfolding across the globe.

Cherry Blossom
Common Garden Frog

Too Many Sad Stories

Children are losing parents
This is a global tragedy

“All the deaths are tragic, absolutely heartbreaking… but either protect bus drivers, posties, cabbies, shop workers, refuse collectors, etc or don’t send them out at all. ” Eamonn Holmes.

This quote caught my eye because my partner Rob is a postman. Eamonn Holmes was complaining about the lack of protective equipment provided to these workers who, although they are classed as key workers, are expected to go to work and risk their lives with little or no protection. I am in an older age group and advised to ‘Sheild’. I worry every time he goes out to work that he will contract the virus and I worry when he comes home that he will carry the virus to me.

We, as a country, were given a warning way back in January about the coming of this virus. As individuals, we were informed and could see for ourselves from news reports that action was required on a massive scale. Had the correct measures been taken at the end of January, many lives could have been saved.

Our health workers should have been provided with top of the range protective equipment. This country wasn’t prepared for a medical emergency on this scale. The emergency services had been cut to the bone in recent years both in numbers of health care personnel and the amount and quality of essential equipment provided. Everyone should have been told that they had to stay at home. Not told that they could pop out for a stroll or to walk their dog.

History will look back and say we failed. There are so many past examples of Pandemics killing millions of people. So many clever people saying “It’s not so much if it will happen as when” Why then weren’t we prepared?

Every day the number of deaths rises. Every day a family member is lost. The news is full of heartbreaking stories. Our doctors and nurses are dying. I am sorry that this post is so sad but it’s just the way I feel today.

Deaths are still rising. 7,978 people with COVID-19 have died in UK hospitals since the 6th of March.

Aquilegia Crystal Star

It’s a beautiful spring day today and although I still have a heavy heart, I have sown some seeds directly into the garden. I already have a few established roots of Columbine here and there but as they are such rewarding perennials I feel you can never have enough. The seeds I have scattered are of a startling crystal white variety.

Aquilegia Crystal Star. This is a long spurred aquilegia with pure white flowers. A cottage garden favourite and an excellent and unusual cut flower possessing a clean crisp bright whiteness. Columbines are one of those plants that have a very long history of cultivation. Aquilegia vulgaris is a Native of Europe and is the traditional Grannie’s Bonnets of the cottage garden. In the late 19th century a florist call Douglas began to cross this with Aquilegia caerulea, canadense and chrysantha to begin the long-spurred hybrids that we know today under the name Aquilegia x hybrid.

Aquilegia comes from the Latin Aquila meaning eagle, Columbine is also a reference to the flower shape. Columba is Latin for dove. info from Dorset Perrenials.

(938 UK deaths from COVID-19 today)

Spring – Looking Forward

Hope springs eternal

“It’s barely two months since the first COVID-19 patients were diagnosed in the UK. And yet the number of cases has now exceeded 30,000. In the 16th Century, measles and smallpox were spread by Spanish Conquistadors to entire communities who had no prior immunity. Those viruses took 100 years to conquer the Americas. COVID-19 has taken 100 days to conquer the world.” Senior Sister Emma Barnes, Bradford Royal.

Its Friday 3rd April 2020. It is very difficult to think of anything positive to write about these days. My mind is still overwhelmed following the loss of Adam in February 2016. It is still the first thing I think about on waking and it will probably always be that way. However, in these scary days, I am also frightened for the safety of the rest of my family. Before, I thought I was one of many suffering from grief following a bereavement. Friends and family had been telling me to get out and about and start to enjoy life again. I believe that now the whole of humanity is feeling the same fear and sadness. Certainly, the vast majority are isolating as I was.

Along with the rest of mankind, I am living in hope of better things to come.

“How could we tire of hope

so much is in bud”

Denise Leverton

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-52144390