I brought the lawn mower back from the allotment last week so that we could tackle the jungle in the garden. Fortunately a small gap in this year’s monsoon enabled us to have a go at the lawn. But the monsoon has returned, which means the lawnmower is useless and the grass just keeps growing, but I have found a solution
I evicted all of these little chaps from my pea plants and set them to work on cutting the grass.
Meanwhile the marrows are really enjoying all this rain:
I did get a great harvest from the peas and made a huge pot of pea and broad bean soup to see us through the November-like gloom:
Now all I need to do is to persuade the snails to stay on the lawn and leave my other plants alone. We can all dream.
This week has had some extremes of weather and the garden and wildlife have been loving it. Following last year’s heatwave induced frog invasion, the pond has again provided a haven for these little beauties during the hot early part of the week:
Generally they have been very shy this year, coming out only after dark and hiding under the pond jungle the rest of the time. But on those couple of hot days they were out sitting on the lily pads, looking awesome.
The heat was followed by biblical downpours which made the pond look great but no sign of the frogs
The slugs and snails however have been enjoying all this rain and are having a great time on the pea plants:
Most things seem to be surviving this onslaught though and the pea harvest has been wonderful. Yesterday I also harvested a couple of cucumbers and today I harvested a baby marrow, leaving the rest to grow into monsters. Then I spotted the first tomatoes forming on the tomato plants
I know, they are tiny but they are full of promise.
I picked what is probably the last of the summer raspberries and strawberries, a few autumn raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and a windfall apple:
The apple trees are groaning with fruit this year and have had to be propped up with a range of ingenious devices to prevent their branches breaking. This one falling off should help the poor tree to survive for a little longer.
Despite the four seasons weather we’ve had this week, it’s not autumn yet.
It’s been a scorchio day here as everywhere else in the country. I went for a wander and passed an in ice cream van, selling, among other things, mint choc chip ice cream:
I had been thinking about my Dad, as I often do at this time of year and now six years since we lost him. His childhood was during the Second World War, a time of rationing and few sweet treats. This led to him taking great pleasure in sharing childhood delights like ice cream with us. Ice cream in my rural childhood came in blocks from shops and was always vanilla, or strawberry or chocolate if you were very lucky. It was for special occasions like birthdays and, without freezers, it was usually a bit melted by the time it was served. The first time I had a mint choc chip ice cream was when we were out for a family outing in the ‘big’ town. My Dad saw someone walking towards us eating a ‘green’ ice cream in a cone. None of us had ever seen such a thing before. Lacking any sense of embarrassment, Dad stopped them, and asked excitedly where he could find this new green delicacy. They were a little taken aback: ‘Along the road, at the ice cream shop, where else?’ He rushed us all to the ice cream shop and we stared in awe at the astonishing range of flavours available: mint choc chip, rum and raisin (that seemed very exciting), real strawberry, raspberry ripple. He bought us all a green one just because he could. So I bought one today, just because I could and toasted his memory.
None of that has got anything to do with gardening but I did do a big green harvest of peas, beans and courgettes. I made a huge batch of pea and mint, courgette and watercress and generic green soup. some of it will go in the freezer but I don’t think I’ll risk pea ice cream. Apparently it does it exist but it seems an awful faff. I’ll probably stick to soup.
There are tons of peas and beans in the garden so I made a classic green soup for lunch, with some added watercress from the pond:
Earlier in the week I made a classic summer pudding:
It was duly guzzled by my various visiting young people.
It’s lovely to have all this wonderful fruit and vegetables but all these gluts are causing a bit of crisis at the allotment. The warm wet weather of the last few weeks has caused a massive growth spurt among the onions, strawberries, peas, beans and courgettes, which is great. But is has also caused enormous growth of grass and weeds, which, combined with our faithful allotment push mower having a breakdown, has meant that things are getting a little out of control. The mower has gone to the mower hospital to see if it can be tempted back to life but what to do about the grass? The solution was to take my ancient, but almost wholly reliable, lawnmower from the house along to the plot (for more on the history of this beast see here and here):
Part of its realiability comes from its ancient metal parts which make it much heavier than its younger partly plastic cousin. It was too heavy to take on the bike but it was quite easy to get it to the allotment, just by pushing it along the street, if you discount the funny looks from passers by. But then I am often to be seen carrying odd things along the road to and from the allotment. It did a stalwart job of dealing with the overgrown grass and clover and will stay at the allotment for a short holiday until its modern friend is feeling better.
I’ve spent most of today at the allotment, tackling weeds and harvesting onions. Everything is coming along nicely although the peas are still rather straggly, which is strange as the peas in the garden raised beds are in full flourish, with their beautiful butterfly wing flowers:
The onions have been magnificent this year but feel a little overwhelming at the moment. I’ve also had an invasion of musical instruments, bikes, camping equipment, bags of laundry and random pairs of shoes this weekend. And that is a good thing, because it means that my lovely young people are around, filling the house with youthful noise and clutter and emptying the fridge. They are particularly good at helping to cook and eat their way through the fruit and vegetable gluts. This evening they helped to eat a feast from the garden, including a giant lettuce, with nasturtium garnish:
An enormous pan of onion soup, with added herbs and Swiss chard:
And the first broad bean guacamole of the summer:
They’ll be in and out over the summer, bringing friends and more musicians, who last year helped me eat my giant marrows – for more on that see here
Fortunately the marrows have just got going:
and in a few weeks should be big enough to feed my musicians.
Been away for a wee holiday, enjoying the great outdoors, lots of walking, wildlife and dipping my toes in water, history, art, literature and gardens. But I’ll leave writing about that for another day. The main thing is coming home to find that the cats have survived and the vegetables are flourishing
The allotment is groaning in onions and strawberries and there is promise of lots more to come:
These are the tomatoes and cucumbers in pots in the new seed palace. There are lots more in the ground. The cucumbers are doing beautifully in the cucumber frame, although a couple of monsters managed to breach the defences round the cucumbers the other day:
One of the joys of growing your own vegetables is sharing them with other people. Over the last few days I’ve delivered strawberries and raspberries to two generations of family members and served up garden salad, home made onion quiche, onion soup and new potatoes to several more – let the gluts begin.
Lots happening in the garden and the allotment just now. The back hedge is still growing happily. You may remember that last year I promised flowers and bees, butterflies, bunnies and possibly unicorns – see here Well we have the bees and the butterflies and the flowers. I haven’t seen any bunnies or unicorns yet, but we do have flowers:
and a rather a splendid cat, adorning the the space where the conifers used to be:
I’m sure the unicorns will come in due course. Meanwhile the peas are beginning to flower:
Those are the Norli peas and the stunning Carouby de Mausaune. Even more exciting, the Salmon pink heritage peas, which I saved seed from last year, are about to produce their astonishing pink flowers which bunch together at the top of the plant:
Chelsea has taken an interest in the peas and particularly in the strings holding them up. Here she is lurking behind the pea stakes, ready to pounce:
Down at the allotment, the peas are not doing so well. They were started rather later and they are struggling in the battle of the slugs and snails. But I am ever optimistic. We did a great grass cutting and weeding today and were rewarded with the wonderful onions, here hanging up to dry in the kitchen:
and the first allotment strawberries, which will not keep long before they are demolished:
I didn’t get much gardening done this weekend: housework, walking thousands of steps round Edinburgh and visiting relatives took up too much time, which was, mostly, not a bad thing.
However I did get out for a couple of hours this evening and moved the pea glut onwards. The peas have germinated beautifully in their pots in the seed palace. So I planted them all out with various anti-slug and anti-cat devices.
There are four varieties here: Carouby de Mausaune, Pea Prussian Blue, Sugar pea ‘Norli’ red flowered ‘Grijs’ and the heritage ‘Salmon Pink’.
Pictures from previous years (apart from Prussian Blue which is new to me this year) to see how they should turn out if all goes well:
I have a few more waiting in the seed house to go to the allotment so we should have a decent glut this year, as well as the glorious flowers.
Meanwhile, we had our first, and probably only radishes in a salad:
These are the beautiful, if unproductive radish purple plum, grown from last year’s seed
It’s still too cold to move the tomatoes and cucumbers out to the seed house but at least I feel that the vegetable season is seriously underway.
I’ve been on the hunt for a new bay tree since losing the last one to the dratted vine weevils
I found one in a pot in my local DIY store
But being from a DIY store rather than a proper garden centre, it had not one but, I think I counted, sixteen plants crammed into this tiny pot.
I hate waste , so I planted one rooted cutting in the herb bed in the front garden, where it looks a little out of place but hopefully will grow tall and strong, and the others all in individual pots. They won’t survive in pots in my garden as the evil weevils will seek them out to destroy but I’ll pass them on at a plant sale some time soon.
Meanwhile, I have been working up this year’s pea glut:
In another attempt to deal with waste, I plant these in cardboard coffee cups. I plant these in the garden where the cardboard rots away, sometimes leaving a film of plastic which I then dispose of. I know we should’t buy these at all but sometimes they are hard to avoid and I try and give them a second lease of life by bringing them home and filling them with peas. The labels, you will note, are also repurposed – cut from a plastic food carton and lasting for several years.
I’ve also sown a few pea seeds straight in the ground – it will be race to see which do best in the battle against snails and other pests.
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:
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:
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.