Yesterday’s afternoon of garden-centring in Lanarkshire was swiftly cancelled after our dog got into difficulty after chasing a couple of ducks into the River Clyde. A full-on rescue meant we had to head straight back home to get warm and dry. Continue reading And we’re off…
Things are even later than usual here and with the seemingly never ending Winter we haven’t really been out in the garden at all – fair weather gardeners and all that! The May bank holiday saw the sun come out and the mercury rise thoughand we finally had both time and the weather on our side to get stuck in. Continue reading Finally taking the garden in hand
Yesterday afternoon we headed over to Whitmuir Community Farm to take part in a joint event between Whitmuir and Food Communities.org where people were invited to visit the 2000m2 project at the farm and to bring homemade produce and seeds to swap with each other. I gingerly took my boxes of seeds out into the garden and shook the spiders out – thankfully I had LOADS to take (seeds not spiders)! Continue reading Homemade Food and Seed Swap
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.
I dodged the heavy downpours to pop out and harvest our first lot of potatoes of the year. 2kg of epicure spuds from three seed potatoes – not amazing but an improvement on last year.
This was bag one of eight – one more of Epicure, two of Mayan Gold, two of Salad Blue and two of Pink Fir Apple.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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…
As well as lots of other edibles that are just quietly doing their thing just now. Here are the cactus flowers, so pretty…
The past couple of months have been pretty hectic with Uni assignments but they’re behind me now and I’m just embarking on my dissertation – about people who grow their own food and then share these practices through blogs and social media – should be really interesting. I’m excited and terrified of undertaking such a huge piece of work at the same time.
In between my studies I’ve been busy planting seeds and planning this year’s edibles. Biodiversity and companion planting to deter pests or attract them elsewhere is also part of the grand plan. With almost 60 new edibles for this year, along with over 20 already in the garden and companion plants, it’s ambitious, to say the least. I’ve had to set up a spreadsheet to keep me right with varieties and planting schedules. I also received a lovely box of organic veggies from Rocket Gardens yesterday with about 20 more varieties.
Thankfully our gas tank has now been removed from the back garden and a new one buried under the front lawn so we’re just waiting on the timber and soil for a new bed to take its place – it’s going to be much needed this year, along with bags and containers.
There’s still a risk of frost here just now so the conservatory is bursting with plants and seedlings waiting to go outside. I can’t wait, especially as we’ve got some interesting new things this year like Painted Mountain sweet corn, Oca (New Zealand Yams), Jerusalem Artichokes, some interestingly coloured potatoes and tomatoes – no idea how some of these things will fare in our climate and short growing season but we’ll soon find out!
We’ve already had a fantastic rhubarb harvest and I made some rhubarb ice cream for a change, oh goodness, it’s delicious, the nicest ice cream I think I’ve ever tasted – will definitely be making more. Will probably post the recipe too.
Since starting my studies my eyes have opened to many things I hadn’t known much about and this year we’re using as many heirloom seeds as possible so that we can start practising seed saving and it’s organic all the way – I had no idea about the control of agrochemical and seed companies and the huge global loss of biodiversity – very much looking forward to trying out these organic feeds that were kindly sent to us by The Organic Gardening Catalogue (I have a feeling this could become a new favourite site).
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).
It’s exceptionally mild today and my thoughts can’t help but look toward Spring. Despite the freezing temperatures for a large part of the Winter, we’ve had very little snow in comparison to previous years. I haven’t forgotten the heavy snow at the end of April 2016 that brought the chicken run down though.
The rhubarb is bursting out of the ground just now and our seed potatoes have arrived – this year I’ve gone for Epicure (had to be really :o), Mayan Gold, a favourite with top chefs, Salad Blue – they’re actually blue all the way through and some Pink Fir Apples because I liked the name. This year I won’t make the same mistake I did last year – I put them out too early and a few late frosts meant we didn’t get great yields in comparison with the year before.
None of the Spring bulbs seem to be coming up – they were from two years ago and I replanted them using a multilayering method last year, guess they didn’t like it as they’re not playing ball. I have however ordered a load of summer bulbs for the front garden.
The hens are still incarcerated because of the avian flu restrictions – with an increasing number of outbreaks being confirmed down South the past couple of weeks I’m not sure they’ll have their sentences commuted on the 28th February either. I guess time will tell…