Category Archives: Gardening

Rhubarb & Ginger Jam Recipe (easy)

Rhubarb is one of the best growers in our garden (being an arctic plant the hard frosts we get in the hills keep it very happy) and I’ve spent a lot of time refining this recipe but I’m finally happy with it. I often make up a half batch (just 2 jars) if I have some windblown stalks needing using.

It’s super quick and easy to make, not to mention, very tasty! 

IMG_7613Ingredients

1kg rhubarb, washed & sliced into 2cm lengths

1kg caster sugar

zest & juice of 1 lemon

75-100g fresh ginger, finely chopped (I like a strong ginger zing)

(This makes about 4 average jars)

Method

  • Place the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice & zest into a bowl, stir and cover and set aside for a couple of hours.
  • Once all the sugar has dissolved in the rhubarb juices transfer into a preserving pan and set over a medium heat.
  • Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved and then bring to the boil.
  • Continue to cook until the rhubarb is really tender and it has reached setting point – this will probably take about 10-15 mins.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and leave for 2-3 mins before pouring into sterilized jars. Seal immediately.

Tips

Testing for Setting Point

Put a couple of saucers in your freezer before setting the jam to heat. When ready to test, drop ½ a teaspoon of the jam onto a saucer, leave for 30 seconds and then gently push with your fingertip – if the jam ‘wrinkles’ then setting point has been reached. If not, cook for a few minutes more and test again.

Sterilising Your Jam Jars

I do this in the microwave, soak the jars in hot water and then put the still wet jars into the microwave on full power for about 1 minute (until they are dry) and then use immediately.

IMG_7585

Top UK Gardening Blogs 2016

It was really lovely to receive an email this week telling us that our Pentland Garden Diary has been listed in magazine.co.uk’s Top UK Gardening Bloggers List for 2016. Amazing to see our humble journal being amongst some of the country’s gardening elite.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 08.43.49

On top of last year’s listing in Vuelio’s Top 10 UK Gardening Blogs it’s really quite astonishing. A big thank you to anyone who’s ever stopped by and hopefully you’ll continue to enjoy our, more grubby than green, fingered journey.

An evening with our local Bonsai Society

I’ve always been completely fascinated by the art of Bonsai – I guess my ‘Beautiful Bonsai’ Pinterest Board says it all.

I’ve unsuccessfully tried to keep a couple before but after a very long chat with a very enthusiastic member of the Scottish Bonsai Society at last year’s Gardening Scotland we came out with two lovely new Bonsai and a couple of pots, our only job was to keep them alive until March 2016 when we could then pot them.

How on earth are we going to get that in to that pot?
How on earth are we going to get that into that pot?

March arrived and we only had one surviving Bonsai and looking at the size of the plant and then the size of the pot we realised that help was needed so we looked up our local Bonsai Society group in Penicuik – the next meet wasn’t until April, hopefully not too late!

What a lovely evening we had – there was some amusement at our specimen as it was overly-wired (not by us), unidentifiable, very very dry (but looking very happy on it), and with a huge root system. Basically, it was a rather unpromising start for our wee fella.

Dave takes control of the situation
Dave takes control of the situation

After much chat between the members they decided ‘surgery’ was in order and Dave, the organiser of the group got to work digging down and cutting back to see if there was any noticeable root structure (very important to have good visible roots in Bonsai) that would then define the front of the tree and then how it should be developed.

It was absolutely fascinating, some decent roots were found (things started to look up) and we now have what looks much more like a tree, some wiring was removed and some new wiring was added and some pruning took place and now there is hope!

IMG_7529
The beginnings of the all-important visible root structure

 

We now need to let it recover from it’s ordeal (fingers crossed) and we’ve been advised to tease out the root system with a chopstick and then sit it in a pond basket along with bonsai grit (or Sanicat cat litter) and feed it (with Miracle-Gro) and see how the shape of it develops over the next few months.

Loved meeting these local enthusiasts, some of them are working on 50 or so plants of their own, very inspiring and I have a feeling that we will now also be on the look-out for some more to start nurturing and learning from. We’ll definitely be going back to the Penicuik Bonsai Society meet as well.

IMG_7530
The results of it’s session with The Society

You can find out more about your local Scottish Bonsai Association groups & meetups here.

We were also recommended the Bonsai4me website as an excellent resource.

New Girls on the block – Ivy & Etta

Meet the latest additions to our Pentland Garden – Ivy and Etta.

2165868554929310762

They are Maran chickens, Ivy is a Copper Blue Maran and Etta is a Copper Black with lovely iridescent feathers. They lay a dark brown coloured egg and they’d even thoughtfully laid one for us en-route. (We thought it’d be a nice complement to the blue eggs we get from our Cream Legbars, Betty, Marge & Rose).

Still being newbie backyard chicken-keepers we had a lot to learn very quickly when we discovered they were being delivered a few days earlier than expected. A mad dash saw a neighbour kindly bring us over an old dog box and run as we tried to cobble together a separate area for them from random materials lying around and about.

IMG_7494

There was certainly a lot of noise from all of the girls to start with – there’s also been a lot of squaring up and pecking through the fence, hopefully it won’t last too long and they get used to each other quickly. Marans are a more docile breed so I’m assuming our girls, who are quite territorial, will stay top of the pecking order but we’ll see.

We had one escapee moment (I’ve now ordered a big fishing net for future chicken catching shenanigans) as well as raising the divider even higher. Have a feeling these two will be just as entertaining but in very different ways and who knows these ones might even be a bit more cuddly – would love a proper chicken cuddle (like in this cutest video below).

FREE Wildflower seeds from Grow Wild (& WIN a DSLR camera)

The lovely folks at Grow Wild UK are again giving away thousands of FREE wildflower seed kits to the people of the UK.

Primary_Lock_Up_Horizontal_RGB_On_White

There’s no catch (this campaign is funded by BIG Lottery Fund) and it just takes a minute to register and you will be sent wildflower seeds native to your country that will attract bees, butterflies and insects and of course be beautiful too.

More information & claim your seeds here

Go get yours now!

#grewitmyselfie – You can also win a digital SLR camera by posting a pic of you and your plants on social media – more info here (awesome hashtag!)

CfcI-s5WsAII_XN

 

 

 

 

Pots and Pots of, erm, well, Pots!

We’ve recently started heading down to the auction in Peebles, it’s great fun and there are some real bargains to be found. Previously we’ve come back with things for the house but this time around we went totally garden potty!
IMG_7394
 8 beautiful big blue pots, some with plants already in them (Lavender & Rhododendrons and something as yet unidentifiable) for £82 – considering we paid £100 in Dobbies the previous weekend for just 3 big planters (and they were all on sale) that’s an absolute steal! I was loving it when two folk were jealously watching us load the car – turns out they’d popped out for a coffee and missed the lots so apart from some online bids, we had no competition.
IMG_7398
We also managed to snaffle a Victorian foot bath and a vintage watering can – both of these are also destined to become planters!
 I finally found a really unusual plant worthy of putting in the lovely Kew Gardens pot that The Orchard sent me, a succulent called Sedum Cristatum, I think it looks like a brain and it’s hard not to touch it.
IMG_7279
Next week I’m heading off to the Penicuik Bonsai Society’s monthly meet to see if they can help me re-pot the Bonsai we bought at Gardening Scotland last year – it was supposed to be done in March but hopefully it won’t be too late.

Honesty Box – had fun with this!

IMG_7200

Now all the girls are laying we seem to quickly build up a surplus of eggs, even with just the three of them, so we’ve been and set ourselves up an honesty box to sit out in the front garden.

Hopefully, between neighbours and hillwalkers, we’ll get some passing trade. Who knows, I may even start adding jams and other homemade goodies to it as well in due course.  Continue reading Honesty Box – had fun with this!