Thursday, 20 September 2018

Wild and Stormy

The "Wildflower Meadow Bed" is looking suitably neglected in pride of place:

Wildflower Flowerbed

Here are some of the current hits:

Queen Anne's Lace or Wild Carrot

Also Queen Anne's Lace - just more mature

Who can resist Clover?

If you like architecture: Teasel

Bright and cheery Oxeye Daisy

Another Tease

The storms of the last few days have stopped the courgettes and beans in their track. Sheltered tomatoes and cucumbers are under notice, served by the night time temperature.  It will soon be time to plant garlic, as long as it's not stormy.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Rocket Gardens - A Plug

Well lots of them really. The picture shows an unpacked delivery of plug plants received by the School on Tuesday from Rocket Gardens based in Cornwall. Today they were planted out into the garden beds by the children under the supervision of the Garden Team.  Every space freed up after summer harvesting has been filled with  Lettuce( 4 varieties) Corn Salad (Lamb's Lettuce), Winter Purslane,  Spring Onions, Cabbages (2 varieties), Kale (3), Pak Choi, Mizuna, Broccoli, Turnip, Mustard and Perpetual Spinach.  Custody is now down to us - and the vagaries of a Scottish winter!
I was impressed with the previous May delivery too.  It included courgette plants.  Despite the change in latitude they took off after being planted out and produced fruit before the summer holiday (end of June in Scotland). Despite a dose of powdery mildew they are still producing large fruit now! The School obtained the plants for free as an award under the RHS Gardening for Schools Scheme, but I have to say that the plant quality and service has been most impressive.  It would be invaluable for anyone stealing a march or playing catch up after falling behind on their sowing schedule.

School Garden Produce

Thursday, 6 September 2018


After my last post I thought I should check on the sweetcorn. Variety: Earlibird

Guess what - It is ready for harvesting.  Described by James Wong as "10 times more sugary than conventional sweet corn, super early and hugely productive."  For once I have to agree. This is the one for growing in Scotland. The only downside is they only produced one cob per plant. Not what I would call hugely productive...

...but worth it for the flavour!

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

A Voyage Round My Parterre

It is time for my warts and all annual review.  Viewed from the East it is not very photogenic.
The view from the East End
In the foreground you have rows of brassicas (turnips, kohlrabi and swede) which I have as catch crops between the asparagus.  Very few asparagus fronds came up after the last winter.  I will be filling in the gaps next spring.  Beyond the "asparagus bed" are next year's strawberries (Malwena) and a row of cucurbits. Aside from the Romanesco Courgette bush there is little to show.  Beyond that is:

Sweetcorn.  Really just an exercise in thumbing the nose at the naysayers who don't think it could possibly be grown in Scotland. It can - just!
Beets and Fennel
Beyond that we are on safer territory with beetroot, fennel, Swiss chard and lettuces.  The beetroot this year has been very boistrous and I am hopeful that some of the bigger "roots" will survive well into the winter. Once they get gnawed though they won't keep, so some will be coming home for home storage in the coal cellar. Next is the remnants of the allium patch.  Just a few shallots from seed left aside from the stalwart leeks. Beyond that is...
Allium Patch 
The carrot temple.  Looks rubbish but is the key to keeping the crop free from the tunnelling root fly maggot.
Carrot Temple
On past a row of scorzonera I am growing for a laugh, there is a solitary parsnip and 4 half haearted  celeriacs. Then 3 rows of winter spinach (Amazon/Medina/Winter Giant) Only sown recently I want to see if any can survive rhe ravages of winter.

Spinach + Parsnip + Cleriac
Finally, to complete the run from end to end, we arrive at the potato patch.  The main crop is still showing impressive folliage, I think you will agree?

Main Crop Potatoes

Earlies + Artechoke
The earlies have been harvested but there has been an unplanned  reemergence of last year's Jerusalem artichokes smothering one corner of the patch.  Turning through 180 degrees here is the single tubor I purposely planted in order to establish a new patch for the future:

Next Year's Artechoke
Moving to the Northwest corner to start the return sweep here is my fruit cage.  The first of the three bays has goosberries redcurrants and  new jostaberry and gojoberry bushes.  The current cropper is....
Fruit Cage
The middle bay is chocka with raspberries (Joan J producing Glen Ample and Glen Moy finnished but not yet cut back).  Then the third bay was Marshmello strawberries but these have been grubbed up after a poor showing.  To use the netted space I have planted out some spare brassicas in the hope of overwintering them. Already I have some casualties but the Daikon Radish is looking happy - and needing to be thinned.

Late/Early Brassicas
Also squeezed in are some very late sown peas.  Hopefully I will be as happy as Monty Don in a few weeks if these come good.  In the background is a fill in row of flowers where the early peas were!
Very Late Peas
Beyond them is a patch of green manure (clover) where the later peas were, and then there is a riot of runner and French beans.

Beans and Green Manure
The last "room" is the brassica patch proper.  Not particularly pretty but a stalwart of any allotment.

Brassicas reverse view.
After the photos some harvesting:

I hope you enjoyed your tour of Mal's Edinburgh Allotment.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Vertical Urban Food Initiative

Here's a little experiment

The school garden had a couple of grow bags over and we also had 6 spare runner bean plants, after planting out the wigwam in the garden.  Put the two together in a public space available right outside the front entrance and what have you got?

A success!

There has been a lot of excitement as the plants grew up the strings.  The strings were cut once but that was soon repaired and the plants have survived to maturity despite being on a public pathway.

Here is a picture when it was in flower:

The wall is south facing but there is the small matter of the school building to the south.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Comparing Carrots for Taste

This has been another good year for carrots (if you overlook the fact that the early sowings failed to germinate, so no Early Nantes). Last year was a bumper year but I didn't get organised enough to do an objective taste test.  

There are five varieties. Autumn King2, Flakee, James Scarlet Intermediary, St Valery and Berlicum2


The Berlicum were noticeably more cylindrical. Flakee and St Valery most uniformly tapered.  I deliberatley chose similar sized roots for the purposes of the taste test.  I think they look great in cross section.

St Valery
Tasting notes.  They all tasted great!  For my two indicators, sweetness and depth of taste, Autumn King 2 was my winner.  I thought this might be because it was the first to be tasted, but a return visit confirmed this hair splitting exercise outcome.  I would be happy with any of the above on my plate.  I do accept that my exercise may produce different results after storage or after cooking.

I also have a soft spot for the appearance of one:

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Tomatoes - Breaking Up to Making Up

It's a bit early to give up on ripening tomatoes, but these ones grown in a growbag with a flimsy plastic canopy got the chop.

Not from me but from the weight of fruit and the blustery wind.  The stalk just snapped.

Broken Stump

To make the best of it I made up some of our favourite Green Tomato Chutney.

So not  a complete disaster after all.  I should add that these were Gardeners Delight but we also have 5 Sungold plants, grown from seed, already producing a steady supply of ripe red (actually orange) cherry tomatoes.