Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Situation Contained

I'm trying a couple of edibles in containers at home this year and they are taking off:  

Potatoes and Spinach
There are three Winston in the potato planter.  The supermarket caddy has holes drilled in the bottom and the spinach seems very happy with it.  Today I will be picking every second spinach plant for the pot and hoping the rest will resist the temptation to bolt.  A second supermarket caddy has been deployed as my coriander patch.  I am determined to figure out how to grow coriander for leaf, and this is my best attempt at controlling the growing conditions.  Moisture, fertility, and no extreme temperatures.  Because it is portable I hope to be able to get a handle on it (apologies).

Handle with Care

Saturday, 20 May 2017

In Mint Condition

A couple of weeks ago I was taking mint cuttings and ended up with some trimmings consisting of 2 leaves and an inch of stem. Not much to go on, but rather than discard these I balance them by their leaves across a jam jar of water on the kitchen windowsill so that the bottom of the stalk was submerged.  Here's what happened

and here's another that is a week older.

The reason I happened to have a jam jar of water on the windowsill was because I was trying out a system for taking basil cuttings and rooting them in water.  While slower than mint the basil went on to develop dramatic roots too:

I will now be potting these up.  The basil I have sown at the same time is minuscule so I think this method for generating successional cropping will be very useful for basil.

For mint it just proves how vigorous mint is!  If you plant roots it will grow leaves and if you soak leaves/stem it will develop roots!

If you would like  to read more about mint cuttings and how they fare why not visit Darren's  blog at Darren's Mint

Peppermint Twist

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Ready Set... Go Go Go

Edinburgh has had a terribly dry, dull, cold April and early May this year but things seem to progressing even before the promised rain of this weekend.  My early early row of potatoes has started emerging (and are being dutifully mounded). I've never been keen on watering spuds but I made an exception for the really early ones and they seem to have responded.

The Potato Patch

As you can see there are a lot more yet to emerge. Even the weeds have been discouraged by the conditions!

The soft fruit area is getting a move on too and soon I will have to sling a net over the newly painted wooden frame

Soft Fruit Cage

The redcurrants are shaping up nicely....

,,,and so are the gooseberries:

Three rows of raspberries seem to have sprung to life.

Not forgetting the strawberries

Strawberry Patch
Next door to the soft fruit the alliums are leaning to the light source from the south. The latest planting of sets is to the left and that's two rows of elephant garlic on the right with ordinary garlic between it and four rows of onion sets in varying degrees of development as some were presprouted at home and others set out directly.
Squeezed in at the end I've recently planted out the first leeks (Jolant). Not sure where I will put the next lot (Musselburgh) when they are ready.

Leek planting and Rhubarb
Maybe I have been over generous in the space allocated to carrots. All the more because they have to be netted. I really am trying to make a success of carrots this year, being one of the crops that we eat most of all the year round, and yet they did miserably last year. (The tunnel to the left is sown but the hooped tunnel is going to house our main crop - and, hopefully keep out the root fly.

Carrot Nets
These peas and broad been are squatting between the weed suppressant fabric for the brassicas and the WSF for the cucurbits. The runner beans and French beans have been allocated another similar sized area on the other side of the brassicas which is currently still covered with WSF - which won't be removed until the last moment before planting out.

Broad Beans and Peas
It's the bit with the bricks in the foreground here:
Room for Brassicas and Beans
With these preparations and the sowing and growing in the greenhouse at home, and the promise of rain this weekend,  it really is all about to go in a clatter!

Go Go Go

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Swanning Around

There are some new kids on the block - well cygnets really:

This picture was taken today and the following was taken on Monday at the nest site at the end of the pond:

Other ponds in Edinburgh and the canal seem to accomodate lots of swans but our pond seems to support a single breeding pair each year. Later in the year the adults drive off the youngsters.  There is a lot of interest locally and someone has taken it upon themselves to post updates on the pond railings for the benefit of all.

It is always exciting to see how many will be in the brood and this year's count is 4. Dad has been very attentive in the run up to the hatching and subsequently

Hopefully there won't be a repeat of the calamitous events 3 years ago when the RSSPCA  had to step in to rescue the brood and their mother when the dad disappeared. Mr Fox has been cited but the case is not proven.

White Swan

Friday, 5 May 2017

Votive Offering - Delayed

 I made Hot Cross Buns today.  OK I know I am three weeks late, but I have a good reason- the oven was bust and took three weeks to get repaired (under guarantee). Of course by that time Easter had come and gone.  To make amends I bought some expensive hot cross buns on Good Friday from an artisan bakery at over £1 each.  Either by accident or design they had no fruit in them aside from some candied peel.  It didn't pass muster with family. So today I gave in to the request for "the real thing" and baked this batch.

I am happy to report that they passed the taste test.

The top picture also shows off our new kitchen table covering. Doesn't that hen look peckish?

Friday On My Mind

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