Monday, 24 April 2017

Hail, Timerous Beastie

Had a great day at the plot today planting out the first brassicas and some peas.Also did some preparatory work for this year's major crop: carrots.  At times it was sunny and at other times it was hailing. To round things off while photographing strawberry plants (sadly blackened by frost)  I realised I had company. I took about thirty pictures. As often happens in these circumstances the first one turned out to be the clearest!

Carrot netting in background - can you see the hail in the foreground?
Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a risk of frost in Edinburgh tonight so I am off to light the greenhouse paraffin heater!

Hail Hail

Mouse on the Prowl

Black Eyed Strawberries

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Herb Revival

We love culinary herbs and always make room for them, 

One of our home garden raised beds is devoted to Mediterranean herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, Sage) and Chives. 

and another for green herbs (Parsley and Coriander and Sorrel)

Both beds are in need of refreshment... and here are the troops to do it.

And that first mint is not the only one. This spring I potted up the remains of a single supermarket pot bought last autumn. These seven pots are ready for shipping out to friends and relatives. 

Here's the sage cuttings taken last autumn now potted up.

...and rosemary

...and thyme.

I mentioned coriander above but there is none to photograph.  That's because it is the bane of my life. We eat coriander. Lots of it. Every year I try to grow it for leaf and every year it bolts.  Well this year I am dedicating a large container to it which I will keep moist and free from extreme temperatures.  I'm going to beat it this time!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Diggin Spuds

We operate a 5 year rotation* on our allotment. There are five zones which are prepared each year according to the next year's crop.  In addition there is a sixth  growing zone, the soft fruit area which is static and has a wooden framework to support netting in the summer. The internal path separates two zones to the East from the four to the West. The picture above is of the two zones to the East. In the distance is the soft fruit area. In the foreground is this year's potato zone - and it is fully planted up! This is making me feel really positive - because that means I can concentrate my efforts on the four remaining zones, And this is how they currently look - in need of attention. Our patch stops at the shed (or more precisely the path in from of it)

Here's a reverse view with the alliums in the foreground.  There are three rows of garlic and four of onion so far. You can just see the corner of the first carrot tent to the right

*The 5 year rotation is a progression from Potatoes to Legumes to Brassicas to Curcubits to Alliums and Other Roots.  This has been tinkered with a bit particularly to accommodate the use of weed suppressant fabric with all the advantages that brings.

Just now the potato zone is looking the best to me!


Trampled Underfoot

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Snap Decision - New Weapon Deployed

With the forecast for frosty snap overnight it was time to deploy my new weapon in the greenhouse.  Since buying this bizarrely shaped heater and 4 gallons of paraffin in March the weather has been uncharacteristically benign in Edinburgh (no frost and also not much by way of rain). But we know there is always going to be a frost in April and even one in May so we were ready!

Paraffin Heater
 It's only a small greenhouse but I crammed everything I could in, Everything down to and including tomatoes:

Stage Right

Stage Left

It was a bit of a kerfuffle setting it up for the first time and I even managed to drop the wick into the paraffin reservoir while trying to adjust the setting of the flame in accord with the (impossible to follow) instructions.  Still I got it lit and it kept the temperature up.  Success!  I was even a bit gleeful that the outside temperature dropped to -2C in our garden.  The greenhouse minimum  temperature was +6.3C.

Now in keeping with tradition I need a name for the new toy piece of kit.  Any suggestions?

Light My Fire

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Moving Out Today

Peas, Broad Beans, Potatoes belong in the plot not at home. So today was moving out day: 

Here's some happy broad beans:

And here;s the state of play with the alliums: Elephant Garlic in the foreground

Finally here is the potato patch (in front of the fruit cage)

There's a real feeling that the season is underway at last.

Movin Out

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Spring Gambol

I've been away for a couple of days to see these chaps:

It's always a bit of a risk at this time of year to trust Jack Frost not to visit your greenhouse when you are away, but I got away with it. (Min temperature was 6C)

Groovin with Mr Bloe

Friday, 31 March 2017

A Grand Day Out - Of The Greenhouse

Temperatures in Edinbugh have improved recently, just in time for the newly emerging broad beans

Broad Beans
but also for the rest of the crew

A  Day Out  (of the greenhouse)

The early sown leeks need to be weened off the heat ready for the rugged outdoors:


and even some of the big softees are getting an airing

Transplanted Sungold and "Green" Cherry Tomatoes

San Marzano still lagging behind

I'm also looking to save a fortune on bedding plants this year.  Here's a tray of transplanted lobelias.

Lobelia Crystal Palace - and cabbage muscling into the frame!
Of course all is well and good until the next cold snap when I will be scurrying around  to find frost free room for all these transplants!!!

A Grand Day Out

Shooting Up - Rhubarb

 Picked today:

After lifting the bin the difference between the blanched and the ordinary rhubarb clumps was dramatic:

Higher and Higher

Monday, 27 March 2017

The Joys of Spring

These Pasque Flowers are just so dramatic and photogenic that I have to share them

Alongside the Grape Hiacynth I cant decide whether they contrast or clash!  Both are vibrant signs of spring.

I'm making a bit of an effort to bring some colour to our rather drab slabbed front garden this year:

After the initial snow drop shower some more exciting colours are appearing:

While now looking drab in comparison our winter bed of violas and primroses has been really good value and had a cheering effect on every arrival and departure being right outside our front door. There are some underplanted tulips on their way.

I could be converted to a flower grower yet!

Beware of The Flowers

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!


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