Thursday, 23 March 2017

A Close Call - Risky Chitting

Here's a snap of my chitting spuds sitting in pride of place in my newly painted shed



Turns out I was playing with fire (sic) on Monday night.  The outside temperature dropped to -1.9C and the indoor shed temperature stopped dropping at 0 C - on the nose.  That brought me out in a cold sweat when I checked my thermometer readings!!!  Thankfully two days on there are not any signs of damage from frosting. Now I am assiduously checking the weather forecast every evening ready to whisk the trays indoors.


Down to Zero

but not

Less Than Zero

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Kilmarnock Pussy Willow


Introducing the latest addition to the back garden:

Kilmarnock Willow 
Why you ask?  With one aim: to provide a source of nectar for emerging queen bumblebees!  There's not much about in March.  That's why.  And what's more it seems to be working!


Bee Visitor

We bought the plant a couple of weeks ago when it was in bud and potted it up into a larger pot. Since then the buds have transformed into catkins and the few queen bees there are about are going wild for them.

How did I know to do this?  I read Dave Goulson's book "A Sting in The Tale" and he mentioned the role pussy willow plays in providing vital energy for newly emerging queens.  (I am currently just finishing his sequel "A Buzz in The Meadow" and would recommend both books to anybody with even the slightest ecological interest). I'm not pretending that the bees have taken up residence in the  bee nest hotels I recently posted about, but they are appreciating this new service station facility!


Kilmarnock

Monday, 20 March 2017

The State of Play - Stealing a March


Looking at the labels I see that it already over 4 weeks since I made my first sowings.


Of the 12 pots all but one are showing some germination (even the leftover dried supermarket chilli seed has produced a seedling)



The one failure was some several years out of date onion seed


Look Lobelia!!! Who says only grow veg?
My challenge now is to wean these seedlings off the heat and light of the propagator!

I have started outdoor sowings with a raised bed of alliums at home. In addition - as I have so many seed potatoes I have planted out a short row of (reputedly frost tolerant) Epicure at the plot ( 17/3/17).

Today I'm going to do a greenhouse sowing of peas, leeks and lettuces  to add to the broad beans already sown but not yet emerged. It won't be long before the greenhouse is bursting at the seams.  But it also won't belong before outdoor sowings commence in earnest. Come April it's a free for all.

Get Ready



Thursday, 16 March 2017

Tunnel Vision - Innocent and Guilty

There is so much happening just now (what with Spring and all) that I am in danger of giving up on my blog. But right now it is raining. So here's a catch up:


Although I've lived in Edinburgh for 3 decades and explored most corners of it I was taken aback to come across this tunnel on the Innocent Railway (now footpath) connecting Duddingston with St Leonards districts of Edinburgh.  It is claimed to be the first railway tunnel in the UK on Edinburgh's first railway and is over 500m long.


Footpath Sign


The name is said to come from the exemplary safety record of the line. Either that or it's picturesque route or sedentary speed.

This is what the tunnel is travelling under:
Holyrood Park Salisbury Crags

If you are up for the ride you can travel through the tunnel at the following link:

Bike Journey Through Innocents Railway Tunnel 

and if you are keen on that sort of thing you can also travel back in time to do it by train at the following link:

Innocents Train 1968



Back at the plot I was mightily disappointed when I dug up the second of two drainage pipes planted with horseradish a couple of years ago.  Instead of a thick stem I got two foot of spaghetti strands:



A single six inch thong has been planted up in a tall container in the hope that a richer mixture might produce a better result by this autumn.


While I'm at it here is a snap of a guilty female sparrowhawk that appeared in our garden on Saturday.  It is standing on a pigeon it has just killed on our lawn and taken to a quiet corner of the garden.


And here's the nervous sparrows keeping an eye out for the intruder from the relative safety of a hedge.


On one previous occasion a sparrowhawk did a divebomb raid on the same hedge and made off with a sparrow, upsetting all who witnessed it as we were gathered around the table by the window at the time.

Innocents JCC poem/song

Friday, 10 March 2017

A Ridge Walk in the Pentlands

Having featured the snow capped Pentland Hills a few posts ago I set aside a day to do the ridge walk along six of its summits yesterday. The weather turned favourable so the trip was on



Atop Scald Law

The highest peak is Scald at 579 metres





West and East Kips


Carnethy Hill

It can be wild and desolate but in fact you are never far from civilization. Edinburgh and its suburbs loom on the horizon to the North and West and the A702 carries rushing traffic to the East.

Loganlea Reservoir


That's the sea on the horizon. The white house is idyllically situated.

Monks Rigg aproach to West Kip


West Kip the most photogenic Pentland Hill
A day later and not too many aches or pains. I really felt like I had recharged my batteries.


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Lights Camera Action - But Not Much Heat


After my last post I hadn't anticipated having anything to report for a while but already there are signs that the leeks cabbage and cauliflower have germinated. I was ready for them as I placed the lighting strip over the propagator from the outset.




Here's a closer view of the corner where the action is:



and an even closer shot of the leeks:



That only leaves nine more pots to watch over.

I am relieved that my light from last year is still working. I don't have a spare bulb and wouldn't trust buying one over the internet/in the post (although that's how the first one arrived as part of the set up). I have yet to find a local stockist.

My old heated propagator has been rather underwhelming having achieved an all time high temperature of 16.6C. It tends to sit at about 10C (It is located in a former coal cellar under an external stone staircase and possibly the heat could be coming from the neighbouring refrigerator!) The brassicas seem to appreciate that the above 8 degrees threshold has been achieved but it is not surprising that the tomatoes haven't decided to germinate just yet! It might be time to buy a new heated propagator specifically  for heat loving plants although this one clearly has its use.

Lighting Up

Sunday, 26 February 2017

More In Hope Than Expectation

It's that time of year when you are fed up waiting for spring.  On Thursday I looked out anything from my seed collection that could possibly be sown in February and filled twelve small pots - as many as I could fit in two seed trays which themselves fit snugly in my propagator. Just a sprinkling of seed in each - let's see what happens! Said propagator is tucked out of the way in the coal cellar which has a power supply and a grow light ready for when the first sprouts appear.

Don't forget those labels



That was Thursday, on Friday the view of the Pentland Hills (just south of Edinburgh) suggested that I might have got a bit carried away:

The Pentland Hills

 My impatience seems to be shared judging by other gardening blogs.


Like Starting Over