Thursday, 22 June 2017

For the Record

It's great when the soft fruit gets going (and some peas)

Just so I can keep tabs here are the last four pickings of strawberry Marshmello on the scales - each at two day intervals:





Not to be left out the raspberries have started ripening:

Time to hone my preserving skills.  Judging by the mess I made of the gooseberry jam (it caught) honing is definitely required.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Time For a Tonic?

At the allotment this morning and not all is well.  Half a row of raspberries has veined leaves like this:
Raspberry Leaves showing classic symptoms of iron deficiency.
and early cabbage Greyhound is also a bit blotchy.

Cabbage with blotches - Manganese deficiency?
Returning home with pictures and consulting the books both seem to be mineral deficiencies. Given recent climatic conditions it could simply be waterlogging showing up in different ways.  All the same I will be looking for a suitable tonic for each.  The iron deficiency might benefit from a sprinkling of ericaceous fertilizer as this  states "Extra Iron For Richer Green Leaves". Manganese sulphate might be harder to come by.  The advice seems to be not to over lime susceptible soils.  This seems harsh for a brassica patch!  If there is an organic trace element cocktail in the shops/garden centre I will probably get it as an insurance.

Now on a more cheerful note, I also picked the first strawberries of the season today. Now when is Wimbledon?


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Three Weeks is a Long Time in Propagation

Coriander now:

(I had already harvested some plants yesterday before I took this picture today)

Coriander 3 weeks ago:

And I did promise to update progress on the water cuttings of mint and basil

Mint cuttings now:

3 weeks ago:

Basil cuttings now:

3 weeks ago:

The growth on these cuttings is easily outstripping the progress of seedlings sown at the same time or earlier, 

Then and Now

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A Voyage Around My Garden

Here's the current state of play:  Looking from East to West, there are beans in the foreground, brassicas beyond.

The East End (reverse view)

In the corner the globe artichokes are showing a bit of muscle.

The blueberries are responding to winter pruning in their pen.


Here is a closer look at the brassica, each plantlet at its station 18 inches from its neighbour planted through the weed suppressant fabric. At the rear are the early planted cabbages and cauliflowers already well away.

A closer look at the early brassicas,

Moving along further West there are peas, cucurbits and sweetcorn (also through weed suppressant fabric) carrots (under nets) and alliums.

Cucurbits: Squashes and Pumpkins:

Sweetcorn with two courgettes beyond.

In the next corner the old rhubarb is looking robust

and alongside at the West End there are first signs of another robust cropper: Jerusalem artichoke.

The alliums are looking very happy.

Heading back from West to East the fruit cage now has a net over it.

and the early potatoes are flowering.

View of the potatoes and fruit East to West.

These pictures were taken yesterday 7/6/17 a dryish day between two very wet ones!

Getting Around

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Beecause You Can

 I've been trying out my new present today.  I asked for a camera lens that would be able to photograph bees (and a tripod to keep it steady).

Initial experimentation suggests I have got just what I asked for! A big thank you to the family.

Bumble Bee

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Book Review - The Jam Maker's Garden

There are three bays of cookery books in our local bookshop, celebrity chefs beaming out from the front cover of most volumes, but I could find only one book devoted to preserves (a worthy River Cottage manual).  So I was more than happy to hear about this new book by Holly Farrell published today. In one volume there are fifty recipes covering the the full breadth of ingredients and techniques.  The presentation is modern: recipes are afforded a page each with a facing page picture.  The content is modern to match:  No old fashioned Piccalilli, but in it's place Giardiniera  (or Mostarda di Frutta if you really have a craving for mustard).  No pickled onions as such but pickled garlic instead.

The organisation and internal cross referencing, from the fulsome Contents page to the separate indices for plants and recipes, ensure easy navigation to your chosen topic one way or another. I particularly appreciate the "Use in" jam jar tag on the Growing pages. So if you have a glut of apples, for instance,  you can see that there are eight recipes which include this ingredient. Unlike the celebrity chefs this author is happy to keeps a low profile and allow the recipes to take top billing.

My Pickled Rhubarb

My first cheeky question to the publisher was: Are there any rhubarb recipes? and sure enough there are two - both of which I have now had a stab at. There is also the option to make rhubarb cordial/syrup. The instructions were easy to follow and the quantities sensible rather than industrial.   Other inclusions you wouldn't find in traditional preserves books: Pesto, Chilli jam and Chilli dipping sauce as well as "so retro as to be modern" Rosehip syrup.  I have not focused closely on the Growing pages mostly because I am up and running on the ingredients front. All the signs are that the recommendations have been well considered.  I feel a novice would have to be very patient to hold off on these recipes until their growing plans came to fruition but I guess that is the nature of growing. You can also buy when seasonal to enjoy the lowest prices. Having said that, now that I have a recipe, I just might get a quince and/or medlar.

All in all I have no hesitation in giving this book 5 stars and recommending it to anyone looking for a  comprehensive contemporary preserving guide.

Making Jam

Saturday, 27 May 2017

A Late Goal for Chelsea?

As I write this Chelsea and Arsenal are about to take to the pitch to contest the FA Cup Final. But my Chelsea goal is simply to get these allium Puple Sensation to flower before the Chelsea Flower Show finishes - and before all the tulips go over!

This bed at the front of the house has been my foray into flowers since I dug up the disappointing hydrangea that occupied it to date.

Back to edibles:

The cucurbit team forming a defensive wall:

Together with the sweetcorn the should be more than enough for this year's cucurbit patch!

Purple Sensation

7/6/17 Here's a later picture of the purple sensation:

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