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…
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).
Just as we were starting to get excited about the brief whiff of Spring we had, the snow returned – whilst it looks beautiful here when the white stuff comes down, it does rather dampen the enthusiasm a little.
Our new heated propagator has arrived – after much deliberation, I finally decided on one with six smaller trays as it seemed the best value for the most space (it was £40 from Thompson & Morgan), along with a load of seeds that I’ve optimistically ordered – our season is so short here that growing from seed is a risky business so hopefully the propagator should help things along.
I’m especially excited about some of the tomato seeds we’ve got – Indigo Cherry Drops, a dark purply colour that will go nicely with a mixture of other yellows and reds in a variety of sizes. We also bought some companion plants to help control pests – marigolds, calendula and cosmos – time will tell if this works but at east things will look pretty as well. It’s all about biodiversity this year…
The Avian Flu restrictions that were in place have now been lifted in Scotland, a low-risk zone, meaning that as long as extra biosecurity measures have been taken (removing bird feeders etc) that our birds are allowed back outside. I was very excited although with fresh snow on the ground they had to be coaxed with mealworms initially. Now we just need them to start laying again – another effect of them being cooped up for 3 months.
What a miserable few weeks of rain we’ve had – the grass is going wild and I still haven’t had chance to try out the cordless strimmer that the lovely folks at GTech sent me a couple of weeks ago to review.
My soggy garden inspections are showing that it’s going to be a bad year for crops this year – we haven’t seen so much as a blossom on any of our apple trees, we have 2 gooseberries between our two bushes and no blueberries at all.
On the plus side, our blackcurrants and rhubarb are both doing very well and it looks like we’ll be able to start harvesting some of early variety potatoes soon. The newly planted herb garden is doing well and we also have tomatoes growing nicely in the conservatory, despite everything being a lot later this year after the extended Winter.
The chickens have managed to dig up most of the plants in our recently planted bed – periwinkles, tiarella, heucheras and helibores have all been tossed asunder by the naughty little beasts. We’re going to have to replant what we can salvage and then cane-off the bed until they’ve established themselves.
Praying for some nicer weather this week as the to-do list is growing longer daily. I’ve been sent a self-watering hanging basket by Stewarts so I’m keen to see how that works and finally get to test the strimmer.
I’m also quite excited to have been invited to RHS Tatton Park by Stiehl on the 16th and it looks like we’ll be in for a treat. Can’t wait to see the show gardens there.
After over a week of rain and fog, I finally got a couple of precious hours in the garden before it started to pour down again. I made good use of that time however and potted and planted out almost 100 plants.
The chickens destroyed our herb garden so I used the opportunity to get a much better selection of plants that I would be more likely to use. We now have bay, sage, lovage, blue and white borage, lemon verbena, lemon balm, caraway, chamomile, rosemary, oregano, chives, thyme, fennel, and mint. I’ve also taken the precaution of sticking bamboo all the way around so the girls can’t get in and feast.
I got a total bargain of 36 perennial posti-plugs for 36p with my last Thompson & Morgan purchase so now have Erigeron Stallone, Armeria Ballerina, Echinacea Pink Parasol and Nectar Pink, Coreopsis Early Sunrise and Delphinium Magin Fountain so they’re all potted on and will be great additions for our new front garden when we’re ready to plant.
Our long shady bed under the beech hedge has now been planted up with a selection of periwinkles, Tiarellas, Muscari, Leptinella and Heuchera, now just waiting on the Hellibores to fill the gaps.
I split the courgettes and tomatoes that grew from some ‘seed pods’ that I was sent – the courgettes look amazing, never tried them before but very impressed so far, and potted both of these on along with a sweet pepper. I also caned the blackcurrant and a gooseberry so they’re looking much tidier.
The beauty of potting all these things just before it rains is that you can skip the watering stage – probably how I got so much done before the heavens opened again. Everything’s crossed for some better weather as there’s so much to do out there.