Plotting

I made it along to the allotment today, for the first time in a few weeks. Time and weather has been against me. It’s just a little too early to plant anything, so today we did some more weeding to try and keep on top of the couch grass and surveyed our plot, looking forward to good things to come. Meanwhile the overwintering onions are looking mighty fine and the daffodils are in full bloom

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Some brave nasturtiums have appeared beside the compost bins, ready to race all over them in the summer:

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Back at the garden, my first salads have germinated in the seed palace

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and the pigeons have eaten all my broccoli. Inside, I have my first germinated tomatoes and potatoes are chitting nicely in an absent musician’s bedroom.

The gardening season is truly underway

Rain, hail, seeds and holly

It’s twenty past ten on a Sunday night and I STILL haven’t got round to sowing the seeds I was going to sow this weekend. It’s been a weekend of storms and snow and hail and sleet and rain and the odd sunny spell, during which I cut back my awesome autumn fruiting raspberries and mulch them with lots of yummy compost. While doing this I noticed tiny signs of growth in the seeds in the seed palace and I spotted a baby holly growing in one of my many ‘wildlife patches’ aka, messy bits, in the garden:

20190309_122824.jpgDuring a hail storm I managed to wash my seed trays, pots, propagator lids and my collection of seed labels – formed from plastic milk bottles, tubs and other miscellaneous ‘single use’ plastics. All ready to be used for one more year.

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I didn’t make it to the allotment today and ended up playing scrabble instead but right now I am going to get off the computer and sow some seeds!

Seeds

The seed palace is now populated! I had a small window of time this morning to sow some seeds, resulting in two small trays of oriental salad and one of sweet peas:

I also sowed some broad beans and spinach in the surprisingly warm ground. The sun is deceptive though and I have covered these with a cloche:

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Just to show that I don’t always, or even usually, rush out and buy new stuff, you will be pleased to know that this cloche is constructed from a twenty-five year old frame and has a cover from another defunct plastic seed house. It is tied down against gales using old bicycle inner tubes and the whole thing is protected with metal shelves from same defunct seed house to deter any cats who might think that this is just one big cat toilet or sunbathing spot.

I didn’t have time for any more gardening today but I did go to the big seed swap at Gorgie City Farm. I spent many happy days with my sons there when they were small and am always pleased to visit the chickens, pigs, goats and, of course, vegetables. I deposited countless unwanted packets of free seeds from the front of gardening magazines, collected by me and my allotment buddy. In return I got these gems:

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Three varieties of heritage pea including one ‘mystery pea’, some runner beans and some sweet peas. It is a scientific fact that you cannot have too many peas, beans or sweet peas, not in my garden anyway.

A good day and an important start to the growing season.

Seed Palace

First of all, here are my quick, let’s compare the garden to this time last year, pictures. Here is the pond this year, complete with daffodils and the cowometer showing a no snow reading, and how it was during the Beast from the East, with the cowometer fully charged:

But on to the seed palace. I’ve had my trusty seed house for about ten years but it is really beginning to show its age and it doesn’t seem to be possible to buy a replacement cover

20190302_103831When I suggested to the other household members that I might upgrade to give my seedlings a new home and make the area look a bit nicer, the response was ‘it could hardly look any worse’. It doesn’t help that it’s full of old pots and dead plants. I took that to mean ‘go ahead’. So I have invested in what has come to be known as the seed palace. This meant the arrival of a very big box, delivered by a rather grumpy man who complained about its size. Then I had to wait until this morning before I could put it up. First of all I had to remove the old seedhouse and tidy up some of the dreadful weeds and mess that had built up around it. An old kitchen bread knife came in handy for some of the weeds embedded between the paving stones:20190302_104907

I still need to decide what to do with the old seedhouse. I do have plans, but for the moment I have tied it to a garden chair to stop it blowing away. Then I was able to start the joyful meccano exercise of putting the new one together. I read the instructions carefully, checking I had all the bits and pieces and necessary tools:

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I decided to do the actual construction inside. It’s a bit cold today and I knew I would end up getting very frustrated and probably break something if I had to fiddle with all of these bits and pieces out in the cold and wind. The only distraction was the cats, who apart from their daily mission to kill each other, also wanted to inspect this new piece of furniture. Because of the killing thing, they are still having to take turns at being in or out. This was Chelsea’s turn to be in and to inspect the palace:

After a little bit of swearing when I found some screw holes missing, and the use of our trusty handdrill – it has been mocked by visiting nephews but is very handy for small jobs like this – the thing was finally finished. With the help of an assistant, I carried it outside and set it up in its new home:

20190302_150649Then it started to absolutely pour with rain, which we need, but I was glad I had done most of the work inside.  Now all I need is to tidy up all those buckets and things, crowding out its beauty and starting sowing some SEEDS for this new palace!

Another bouquet of vegetables

I had a mad dash into the garden today to harvest the last of the tomatoes before tonight’s threatened dive into zero temperatures:

WP_20181026_12_31_08_ProThis is the last of an incredible tomato harvest this year and these are lovely fat juicy San Marzano plum tomatoes which will probably now ripen indoors.  The tomato bed still has a couple of rather beautiful rainbow chard plants and some nasturtiums, which I hope will survive the deep freeze:

It was another dash into the garden as I’m still busy with my mother’s house move. So all the overgrown weedy stuff will just have to stay where it is, overgrowing happily. My mother is staying with us for a few days over the moving period and I thought it would be nice to put some flowers in her room to cheer the process. I’m not a great flower grower, and certainly not a flower arranger, but there were some lovely sweet peas, and I added some radish flowers for extra zing:

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Saving seeds

Despite today’s rain, I went along to the allotment this afternoon to see what was up. The apples have now all been harvested though there are several bags sitting waiting to be consumed. The courgettes are still coming slowly, there are handfuls of raspberries each week and there are winter brassicas waiting their turn. But most of the harvesting is now over. So today I planted some autumn onion sets and overwintering broad beans.  I did take a photo:

WP_20181007_16_43_58_Pro[1]That’s an onion bed with anti-bunny wire netting.  I admit it’s not very exciting but it excites me to think that next year’s onion crop is lurking beneath the soil and that there are broad beans in the bed next to it. There’s nothing like thinking about next year’s crop to get you through a damp dreary Sunday.. unless it’s looking at seeds:

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These are my saved seeds from the pink pea plant. This was a heritage variety – Pea Salmon Pink – which I originally picked up at a seed swap event a couple of years ago. They have lovely flowers and a very unusual growing habit, with the peas all growing at the top of the plant. Oh and the bees seem to like them too:

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You can’t buy these beauties and I was worrying about what would happen when I ran out of seeds, so decided to try and save some. Those in the picture are the result. I’ve dried them out carefully on a sunny windowsill and put them away in a labelled envelope. While I was at it, I saved some sweet pea seeds too. Crossed fingers they will grow ok next year. Now that is almost more exciting than sowing next year’s beans and onions.

..it’s not just winning, it’s about taking part

..really.  It was the allotment annual show on Saturday.  I thought I’d better enter some of our plentiful produce, although I wasn’t expecting any prizes.  I entered:

courgettes and runner beans, apples and rhubarb, raspberries, some not quite ripe yet tomatoes and a big vase of flowers. I knew the rules were all about perfection and submitting identical specimens. I had checked with the organisers whether unripe tomatoes would count – they said ‘no’ but thought I’d try anyway.  We could have entered our monstrous marrow, if only it hadn’t been carved, stuffed and eaten by musicians a few weeks ago, or possibly some of the stunning peas, but they have all gone now

 

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It was all about joining in though, so I did my best with what we had. I was delighted that we won three prizes!

My first ever allotment prizes.  I was a little chuffed. Then I brought all the vegetables that hadn’t won any prizes home and the musicians turned them into an allotment feast:

WP_20180915_13_02_23_ProIt was a very satisfying day.  Really it was about taking part but we will be proud to have those rosettes adorning our shed until next year.

 

Allotment harvest

I was along at the allotment this afternoon to bring home a harvest. Up until now, I’ve tended to bring home a few vegetables at a time but today it felt like a real harvest. In preparation, I took my bike along. I still can’t actually cycle though the arm is improving every day but I knew that I could walk with the bike and it would act as a handy pack horse.  As usual, I forgot to take any photographs of the vegetables but we collected up a huge pile of potatoes, almost all of the onions, two huge bags of apples (a branch had collapsed off one of the trees – they are not quite ripe but should be cookable), three more marrows, six courgettes, six white turnips some runner beans and a handful of autumn fruiting raspberries.  Here are a couple of photos of the allotment from a few weeks ago when the peas and beans and potatoes were in full growth:

We shared our spoils between us. My share fitted nicely in the panniers of my bike:WP_20180819_17_14_50_Pro (1).jpgenabling me to get a very heavy load home.  We had the turnips in white sauce for tea. I’m going to have to organise a jam and pickle making session for the marrows and apples soon but haven’t quite found the time.

At the allotment, I had leant my bike against the compost bin – it has to go somewhere – and while my back was turned, a family of ladybirds moved onto the bag I had brought for the potatoes – along with some less pleasant blackfly:

WP_20180819_17_02_03_Pro.jpgI was tempted to bring the ladybirds home, but moved them all onto the marrow plants instead to continue their blackfly munching.  We also spotted a huge frog in the compost bin. Something rather larger – we don’t really want to know what – has been helping itself to some of our broad beans and leaving plum stones lying about but it is good to know that there is at least some helpful wildlife on the plot.

Fig

I have a fig tree in a pot, given to us for our silver wedding by a much loved and much missed cousin. Every year I worry that the winter will finish it off, but every year it has survived:

WP_20180804_12_13_47_Pro[1]It even made it through the snow this year, when we had more snow than I can ever remember in Edinburgh. I think it may be the twiggy things you can see in this picture:

WP_20180301_07_48_59_Pro.jpgBut this summer, what with heatwaves and such, it has not only survived but is producing actual figs:

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How exciting is that? I’m not holding out for a fig glut, but you never know.

Meanwhile we had our first ripe tomato for tea last night:

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We ate it with some chopped garden cucumbers and a little salt and vinegar, to accompany a Friday night Indian takeaway.

We should really be working our way through the courgette and broad bean glut but last night we were all too tired. Today I’ve just harvested the last of the broad beans from last autumn’s cardboard experiment and will do something improving with them:

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Here’s how they looked in the autumn, planted through the smiley cardboard, and in the spring after all that snow:

Hard to believe but the changing seasons and the surprising survivals are what makes it all worth it.

Rainbow Peas

All my lovely multicoloured edible peas are now in full bloom:

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and some purple flowered beans:

wp_20180704_21_12_28_pro1.jpgAnd the sweet peas are also rather good:

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Red runner bean flowers and rainbow chard in the background too

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WP_20180704_21_11_13_Pro.jpgNow we just need a little rain