Sunday, April 26, 2009

So that's where it went!

So - another week of not getting out there due to interruptions, but we managed out today for a wee while. More compost spread from the two year old heap - and see what turned up in a barrowful of the stuff! It's my favourite potato peeler which I lost - erm - 2 years ago. It was perfect for the job - especially for this left-hander living in a right-handed world. I was never able to get another one like it - things had moved on in the potato peeling design world and despite the wonders of soft grip - wide Y shaped blades etc, nothing felt as easy and comfortable to use as this simple - minimalist even - kitchen utensil. It must have hidden among the veg peelings one dinner time - and it still looks very useable.

Another raised bed completed today, though. This one (my best yet I think) is planted up with broad beans and will also contain the peas and other beans - dwarf, runner and climbing. The bean and pea bed is always one of my favourites and usually my most productive, so looking forward to broad bean hummus, minted peas and other leguminous delights in a couple of months.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth for Earth Day

"The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and, after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope"
Wendell Berry

Two years ago, this precious black crumbly substance was a slimy mixture of vegetable peelings, grass clippings, chicken manure, yesterday's news and junk mail - such is the wonder of this planet. Earth Day Blessings to you all.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A day of constant gardening

On such a glorious Sunday morning, my husband sent me out into the garden at 9 am, for a whole day of uninterrupted gardening bliss. It was wonderful - I worked away constantly until tea time, fortified by several stops for cool drinks and lunch in the garden. I am now, of course, paying the price for my day of unaccustomed hard graft with aches and stiffness in places I didn't even know I had - and a little bit of sunburn on the tops of the arms! This will be a lazy post then - mostly photographs

Garlic - looking very healthy, shallots and lettuce. The onion bed just visible to the right is all mulched and covered with thorns to deter the cats.

A newly created bed with carrots (under the mesh) and parsnip - some catch cropping too with more lettuce and salad leaves.

Another new bed half planted up with Swift early potatoes, and the other half will take the sweetcorn plants at the end of next month. I have some green clover seeds which I think I will put in until then.

Another view of the beds - obviously more will follow very soon - beans and peas are crying out to go in and before I know it, the greenhouse will be full of trays of burgeoning plants waiting for a new home. With that in mind, we have decided to dig out these ancient brick built cold frames and bring them back into proper use, rather than the dumping ground for old pots and seed trays that it had become. The soil was infested with all sorts of weeds too, so one has been emptied, and the other one is next. So many great resources in this garden and it is good to make use of them again.

It was so worth the effort - much has been achieved and the garden seems to have responded beautifully.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I am so pleased with my sweetcorn germination - 26/28 success! I followed the Sure Guide to Great Sweetcorn article in this months Kitchen Garden magazine, and it seems pretty good so far. Basically it said to start them off in a heated propagator and when they germinate take them out and grow them on under cover until the frost risk has past - so far so good. Apart from getting the seeds to sprout in the first place, my main problem seems to be the pollination bit later on - so hopefully this year with all these plants, I am bound to get some cobs which actually have kernels..
I have been trying to grow sweetcorn for years, ever since I saw a TV programme in the early 1990s called Grow Your Greens with a very punk rock looking Sophie Grigson. There were two programmes each week - one called Grow Your Greens and another called Eat Your Greens. Anyway, for the sweetcorn programme, Sophie visited a young Bob Flowerdew in his garden. Bob was filmed (in shorts and sandals) picking the corn and rushing back to his kitchen, stripping off the husks, where a huge pot of salted water was already boiling ready to receive the golden cobs. Once the corn was cooked, Sophie and Bob sat down to devour a huge mound of corn on the cob, dripping with melted butter. It was the sexiest thing I have ever seen, and I have tried to recreate the scene ever since. (obviously with my husband rather than Bob - although.....)
To make amends to my dear husband (sorry) I must show off a picture of a fabulous gate that he built today. It has a kind of Japanesey zen quality about it, which even the council bins do not detract from - it also keeps the hens from leaving messages all over the doorstep:)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Week's Work (Part 3 Hens)

Well - what can I say? We missed our own fresh eggs too much. We missed having them in the garden. We got new hens. Half a dozen 17 week old Hy-line pullets from a wonderful smallholding just outside Biggar. They were no more than chicks really - had never been on grass - never even been outside. We took them home like new parents with a baby and tucked them up in the hen hut. Old Jenny paced up and down and round and round all day wondering what was next. In the late afternoon we opened the hatch and.... nothing! They were all piled up on top of each other in a corner of the hut, bless them. Eventually the bravest one poked her beak out and about an hour later they were all timidly nosing around. We left them to it and when we went to shut them in, Jenny was on her usual perch, but the babies were cosied up under the plum tree which is next to the hut. This was the Thursday - by Sunday these babies had turned into hens. They know where their bed is, their feathers are sleeker and their combs are more obvious - I think we will be getting eggs any day now. It feels like they have always been here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Week's Work (Part 2 - Bees)

So - last Monday night, I attended the introduction to the Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeepers Association (EMBA) Beginners Beekeeping course. I LOVED IT. I must have a hive! Bees are just so amazing, and if they die out it is very likely that we will soon afterwards, so the more help they get the better for all of us. So many people ahd applied for this year's course they had to turn folk away! Last year only 10 took the classes, so the buzzword must have got around (sorry). I was not sure if my garden would be suitable for a hive, as we are quite enclosed by housing and telephone wires, but it seems I could have an appropriate site if we moved the arbour seat - hmmmmmmm (rubs chin thoughtfully). So I will hold back until I have been on the practical bee handling bits of the course - taking place at a hive near me next month!!!!! We have to order bee suits before this (EMBA member's discout) and I feel sure that my profile photograph may change to reflect that purchase:D Our next class is in a couple of weeks time and is apparently various presentations by EMBA members followed by a very civilised cheese and wine event. So good to be back in school:)

A Week's Work (Part 1 - The Plot)

As John was on holiday from work last week, we managed to get quite a lot done in and around the garden. To save anyone from having to plough through a long wordy post (think school compositions on "What I did during my holidays") I have decided to split it into 3 (relatively) short posts. So, this is Part 1 - What we did in the garden.
Well - not a lot different from last week. Mucho diggio really. The main veg plot has encroached further into the weed field. Onion bed finished, mulched and planted up. More seeds sown in greenhouse - lots more to do. We had a small bonfire with piles of thorny branches and twiggy waste we had in various piles around the plot - not terribly green, but we are in a serious mess here. I tried to appease my conscience with the tiny amount of potash from the ashes, and the fact that we are not tripping over piles of stuff all the time and can get on with clearing more - er - stuff.
We also cleared up what we refer to as our "patio" - a sort of dead space at the back of the house. This will become an outdoor play area for James, so John has now set about constructing gates and fencing off bits and pieces.
I uncovered a couple of small polytunnels which had been abandoned in the border - no doubt due to some interruption - a bit tangled and mucky, but I will sort them out ready for use this season. So - as they say - onwards and upwards... ;)


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