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

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