Tag Archives: gardening

Gardening Scotland June – Tickets just £10 at mo…

Gardening Scotland is one of my fave (and usually expensive) days out, although I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price for a ticket yet, thanks to the voucher deals that usually crop-up (no pun intended 🙂

I always go on a Sunday because you can get some amazing bargains when they start to knock the displays down about 4.30pm.

Here’s a wee look back at Gardening Scotland 2017 and Gardening Scotland 2016 and Gardening Scotland 2015.

And here’s the link to the Voucher deal  £10 instead of £17 on either the Saturday or the Sunday – who knows, may see you there…

 

 

Salad Blue Potato Harvest

We tried ‘Salad Blue’ potatoes this year, a Scottish heritage variety, as they are supposed to be coloured all the way through (unlike last year’s ‘Arran Victories’) and retain their colour when cooked.

The harvest itself wasn’t great – only 1.5 Kg from three seed potatoes but they sure do look pretty. Wondering if it’s something to do with all the rain as there were quite a few rotten ones in the bag… They’re also an early variety so maybe we just lifted them too late although the foliage has not long died back.

They are more of a deep purple colour when peeled and they roasted up a treat (unlike the name they’re not a waxy salad type). They also retained their colour when cooked but the biggest surprise was how good they tasted. I’ve heard from other people that blue varieties have been disappointing on that side of things. They had a great depth of flavour, much better than the Epicures I roasted up with them.

These will definitely be on my growing list again next year.

Things are starting to happen…

A quick look around the garden this past week has given us a lot of pleasure – we have things now flowering and producing edibles that we’ve never tried before and we’ve also had three indoor cacti flower – a complete first.

Apples are starting to form

One thing I’m most excited about is the apples, we planted the tree three years ago and for the first time had lots of blossom, guess the pruning worked. We didn’t know if it was self-pollinating but, looking at the apples now starting to form, I guess it is.

Tomatoes are looking great!

The tomatoes that we grew from seed are doing remarkably well and even more exciting, the test container using Chase organics SM5 tomato feed already has tomatoes, guess it’s safe to say that it works.

The potatoes are flowering

The potatoes are flowering. We planted Pink Fir Apples, Salad Blue, Epicure and Mayan Gold this year. As well as Oca and Jerusalem artichokes, we’ll have plenty of tubers that’s for sure.

A cucumber flower

The cucumber is flowering, a new thing we’re trying this year, It’s remarkably similar to a courgette with it’s spiky stem and leaves.

We have strawberries…

And mange tout, another new thing…

Blackcurrants

As well as lots of other edibles that are just quietly doing their thing just now. Here are the cactus flowers, so pretty…

Flowering Cactus Mammillaria

 

 

Beth Chatto’s Shade Garden – Book Review

I’ve only recently become a fan of Beth Chatto after a recommendation from Monty on Gardeners World. I promptly bought and thoroughly enjoyed her book ‘Garden Notebook’. I’d put her Shade Garden book in my amazon wishlist so it was perfect timing when I was asked if I would like to review the revised and updated version which was has just been published.

Beth is well known for coining the phrase and gardening philosophy of ‘the right plant for the right place’ and holds the RHS’s highest award, the Victoria Medal of Honour as well as being awarded an OBE. She is a plantswoman. garden designer and author who created her own famous gardens and nursery in Essex in 1960. The Beth Chatto Gardens comprise a varied range of planting sites totalling five acres, including dry, sun-baked gravel, water and marginal planting, woodland, shady, heavy clay and alpine planting, and now include the Gravel Garden, Woodland Garden, Water Garden, Long Shady Walk, Reservoir Garden and Scree Garden. It was the development of these sites that prompted her to write books on gardening with what could be considered as “problem areas” using plants that nature has developed to survive in differing conditions.

The Shade Garden was originally published in 2002 and describes how she transformed a dark, derelict site into a garden that is tranquil yet full of life in every season. She offers a palette of more than 500 plants that will flourish in the shade. The book begins in Winter and follows the seasons in a diary style. We begin with snowdrops, aconites, narcissus and hellebores heralding the awakening of the garden and move through to the Summer when the overhead canopy provides the perfect habitat for ferns, hostas and grasses. Autumn brings the berrying shrubs and the glowing colours that are synonymous with that time of year. The book also contains a reference section of shade tolerant plants for specific hardiness zones.

I really love her writing style, it’s personal, based on her many years of experience and trial and error, it’s not like a more traditional factual gardening manual. You really get a sense of the gardens and her love of nature through the narrative and it’s illustrated throughout with lush photography. I’ve been sneaking up to bed early every evening so that I can read this and now have a growing list of plants to put into our shady border bed under a beech hedge where to date, we’ve had little success. Attention has been duly paid to ‘the right plant in the right place’ principle which should stand us in better stead this time around.

This book is great for anyone who has a shady area that they’re a bit stumped with or just for a good old interesting read that fills you with a rosy glow of well-being. It would make a great gift. I’ve also now purchased a copy of her book The Damp Garden that I shall savour for another day – she’s still winning fans at the age of 93, I’m one of them, which is pretty impressive. She still lives in a house in the gardens where she continues to work with her team, I’d love to visit one day.

The Shade Garden has an RRP of £30 however it’s on amazon for £20!

Power of Food Festival – 17th-18th June

This is a fantastic two-day festival that allows people the chance to visit different food-growing gardens in and around Edinburgh – with almost 30 gardens throwing open their doors this year – there’s bound to be something for everyone.

I can’t recommend the Lost Garden of Penicuik enough if you fancy a wee trip out of town. I had a tour there recently and it’s a wonderful place with an interesting history and some innovative ways of managing their land to grow food.

For more information, see below…

The summer solstice marks a special date in Edinburgh’s festival calendar. A time of growth and renewal, it has been chosen to showcase and celebrate the incredible richness of the city’s community food gardens. What started as an experiment in 2015 is now growing into its third edition on 17th-18th June 2017.

29 gardens, including over a dozen that are new to the Festival, are gearing up for a joyful weekend of fun and inspiration, hopefully in the sun!

The 2017 programme will invite visitors on a city-wide exploration. From the heart of the city centre all the way to the outer edges, the Festival demonstrates the tremendous diversity of Edinburgh’s food-growing community gardens and the fantastic people who keep them alive. Many of these community food gardens are little gems hidden away in neighbourhoods seldom the focus of city-wide festivals and all have a unique story to share. This year’s programme will include a 17th century garden in the heart of the Old Town, an urban croft in Leith and an old farm steading in the Pentlands, as well as a food garden on the grounds of a GP practice, to name but a few.

Over the two days, the gardens will open their gates to the public and stage a range of free activities for all ages and interests, from music and storytelling, apple pressing and bioblitz, to food growing and food tasting!

The Power of Food Festival has a partnership with Sustrans which will offer guided bike tours of the gardens.

The Festival’s full programme will be available in May.

A GROWING COMMUNITY

The story of The Power of Food Festival itself is a simple one. With so many inspiring food gardens springing up around the city, transforming individual lives and communities, the Festival seeks to highlight community food growing as a powerful force for social change – connecting people, building trust, doing something together that’s greater than the sum of the parts. It aims to raise awareness of the environmental and social impact of our everyday food choices. It centres around a joyful garden gate open weekend and offer an exciting programme of free events and activities at local venues. Hosted by community food gardens, the Festival is the opportunity to be inspired by positive stories of collective action. Unlike traditional food festivals, this event gives the public the chance to go on location and experience how food is grown by local residents in their own neighbourhoods.

The Festival is entirely volunteer-run and operates without any grant funding. It seeks to harness the great human potential of our city and draws on people’s energy, enthusiasm and talents. The Power of Food Festival team would like to thank all those who are working hard to make the gardens and this Festival grow from strength to strength. It is a heart-warming sign of the community empowerment the Festival aims to celebrate.

If you haven’t already, you too can play an active part in the Festival. We welcome offers of in-kind help, partnership and sponsorships. Or you can simply give us your support:

For more information, please get in touch with the Festival team:  poweroffoodfestival [@] outlook.com

All the gardening things…

Despite being buried under a foot of snow again earlier this week, things are definitely looking up on the gardening front, not least because I’ve been doing lots of garden planning and subsequently lots of garden purchasing.

The post has been full of wonderful arrivals over the past couple of weeks including books on companion planting, biodynamic gardening and a couple of Beth Chatto’s after seeing her on Gardener’s World – Monty rated them very highly.

Live Plants, including horseradish (let’s hope it does better than last time, it was all spindly little roots that would’ve been a nightmare to peel – are we the only people that can’t grow it?!), strawberries and blueberries (ours weren’t great last year but planning to do something to make the soil more acidic this year and hopefully some cross-pollination will help). I also got garlic, a variety especially meant to be planted in UK soil, rather than just planting cloves from supermarket garlics which is what I’ve always done before, I’m hoping that my soil maintenance over the Winter will mean it’s less clay-ey and we’ll get much bigger bulbs this time around.

Seeds, all the seeds have been arriving! This year I’m hoping to save some money by bringing things on from seed instead of from plants but being so high up we have a very short season. The heated propagator is working well and the tomatoes and companions seem to be thriving. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to sow more in normal seed trays without them getting too cold in the conservatory at night.

and stuff! Cane holders for the climbers, plant clips and a hanging basket chain – all to be revealed with that one in due course.

The potatoes have been chitting – we have Pink Fir Apples, Salad Blue, Mayan Gold and Epicure. And, I finally braved pruning, I’ve been too feardy the past couple of years but I went on to youtube and learned how to prune all sorts of things – nothing was safe once I got started – roses, blueberries, apples, buddleias, blackcurrants, jasmine, fig, ivy and lilac – not sure if I haven’t gone a little too far with some of them, guess time will tell.

Next job is to write a new to-do list, plan my seed sowing and raised beds and get back to the chicken run that was interrupted by the Avian flu restrictions, fingers crossed for some nicer weather soon. I’m also deliberating on whether to buy live worms or to invest in a wormery so if anyone has some thoughts, I’d love to hear from you (definitely not sure about the dog poo wormeries I found on amazon – who knew there was such a thing?! the thought of worms who’ve digested that around the veggies isn’t filling me with great joy despite it sounding like a clever bit of kit).