Monday, 25 April 2011


It's nearly the end of April. How did that happen? I turn my back for a minute and Spring has sprung and I didn't even notice. So, I thought I had better have a look at whats been happening behind said back before I miss it altogether. The tulips have popped out and are blazing away in the sun and I'll soon have to deadhead the daffs. the garden is well green again and burgeoning with growth. It always amazes me how there is nothing but bare bones one minute and then there is this eruption of colour. Amazing.

Here's some pics


I have lots of pots full of tulips but I get fed up waiting for them to die down so that I can use the pots again for summer bedding. So what I do is, when I get my bulbs in Autumn I plant them up into aquatic baskets. Then I leave them till the pots are empty then just put the filled aquatic basket into the pot and fill in the sides if there are large gaps between the aquatic basket and the sides of the pot. You can see the aquatic pot in the pic on the left. When the tulips are past their best they are simply lifted out and put somewhere out of the way to die down and I have an empty pot to fill with the summer display.Cunning eh.! I also have a spare pot or two behind the greenhouse that I slot into the borders once they are in flower to fill gaps.

I haven't been wasting my time at the allotment either, I have been pushing ahead to try and be more organised and get everthing in place so I know what I'm planting where. I usually plant by instinct, if it feel right, do it, but because I now have a blog and read other peoples I have noticed that some veg bloggers have PLANS! I would love to have a plan, I have tried and I am still trying. It won't work for me but I try.

What I have been doing is sowing, big style. I have sown far too many as per usual, far too many for my small plot. I don't like to throw any away so I'll probably give some to friends and squeeze the rest in somewhere. I think I will  sell some at a boot sale someday if a friend would give me a hand (Lynda?) hint hint! I just put that in to check if my friend is reading my blog. Tee Hee! I have emptied 2 huge compost bins and have riddled the good stuff into 27 bags. Changed the soil in the greenhouse ready for the tomatoes and cucumbers, painting seats in the garden and have nearly finished the lottie bench.

So what have I got in the greenhouse, no space, that's what.


Well there was this character just having a look at the lettuce ( a likely tale.) I don't kill them,drown them, poison them or crush them underboot. Why? Because they don't nibble my hostas and I have never lost a seedling to snails ever. Why? see second sentence.

chervil and spinach

sweet million, yellow stuffer, sungold tomatoes

baby lettuce, spinach and dill


And my mouse plant, Arisarum proboscideum. Climbing beans, dwarf beans, 20 varieties of lettuce,3 varieties of cucumber,various annuals,courgettes, pumpkins,mouse melons, basella, etc. I will put a full list in of all I am growing next time, just for my records.

I have tried for the first time ever - capillary matting. WOW it's brilliant, why have I never used it before now? I don't need to water all the time when it's really hot, the difference in the root system of the plants is impressive. I lined gro bags trays with the matting and put the trays on the greenhouse staging. It works a treat. I post some pics next time .

On the allotment the new path is done and the mountain of manure has been moved. the carrots are sown and the peas, tatties and broad beans have been planted. I planted strawberries this year for the first time. We'll see how that goes. I need to look for an arch of some kind because I am growing a climbing gourgette and a mini turban climbing squash.

new path  

We were going to extend the path to the boundary but I thought it was going to be too handy as a shortcut to others' plots.

I put a fleece barrier around the peas to keep the pigeons off. Pesky pigeons! Although in the garden I have devised a strategy to keep them away from the bird feeders. Another post brewing.

The Sutton

I've just noticed the herb bed behind the broad beans, must sort that out.
Remember the lily beatles? I gathered them up nearly every day and took them to the beach which is just a 2 minute walk from my house but a long walk for a beetle and I haven't seen any around for about a week. Success. This is where they live now.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Sow Busy

I have been so busy trying to organise the allotment and garden that I haven't had a chance to do my blog but I always have time to read other peoples. I always think that if I get a head start then it should be plain sailing through the growing season. so with that in mind I set forth to top up my supplies of compost, fertilisers, labels,and trays and everything was going swimmingly UNTIL my husbands' old car basically blew up so plan B was brought into operation.We took my car, picked up the supplies and some wood for the allotment.When it was all piled in, he closed the boot, and a plank got pushed through the windscreen. EEK! We were careless and carless all in a few hours. So the allotment will have to wait until one car is replaced and the other repaired. Not a huge problem but a blasted inconvenience.

On the greenhouse front it is still full to the brim with overwintering plants which have now been re potted or topdressed and are zooming into growth with the added protection but they will need to be put outside soon and then I'll get the greenhouse cleaned, hoovered and polished. Oh yes I do.

The Greenhouse

 I'm glad to say my Podophyllum spotty Dotty has survived as has a Trillium which I had discovered hadn't been planted last year.

 Some of the perennials have been divided and potted up, root cuttings of herbs and tender tubers have had similar treatment. In the Autumn I usually bring in some tubers of Tropaeolum tuberosum and tricolorum because they are not reliably hardy in this area and I would hate to lose them. My bargain daffs are potted up and are destined to be planted in grass at the bottom of the garden. After clearing up a border and mulching with manure I had a dander around the garden having a look at the Hellebores and decided to put their lovely faces on the blog so that I can remember what I have and maybe, well definitely, buy some other varieties.

What I did notice when I was clearing up the borders was lily beetles hiding in some leaves around my Liliums! I was absolutely horrified, I have never seen these beasties before but know the devastation they can cause to Liliums. I didn't think we had them in Scotland, and having asked around no one else in the area has seen them either. I don't spray chemicals and try not to kill any living creature in the garden or allotment, preferring nature to create it's own balance without my interference so I am at a loss about what to do. I am a woman of many Lilium so this is bad news. I decided to dig up some martagon and pardalinum and pot them up as insurance. I got some clay pots from the garage and noticed they were full of peanuts, strange thinks me, then I realised a little garage mouse had been collecting the birds' peanuts and had stashed them in the pots and I should add in my wellies as well. I also came across my tiny clay pots which are very old they came form my fathers family who owned a nursery. That's where my gardening obsession comes from. I love these small pots.

Lots of seeds have been sown and squeezed into the greenhouse -
Peas Kelvedon Wonder and Golden Sweet with their blue flowers
Tomatoes - Sweet Million, Yellow Stuffer, Sungold, Yellow Pear
Cucumbers - Rocky, Bali
Parsley, Chervil, Verbena, 
I treated myself to a new graphite pencil for my labels as this was one of my new year resolutions - every pot should have a label. Talking about labels I bought some from Wilkinsons that I'll use for my herb bed, fabby slate ones which were as cheap as chips and a waxy white pencil to write the names on but then I discovered paint pens so I might have to buy one of these as well.

And some colour at last
My Camellia has her lippy on.
Crocus Sieberi-forgot I had these
 Magnolia fluffy buds

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Let There be Veg

And so it begins, albeit slowly, the sowing, the pricking out,potting on,hoping, praying, building up to a frenzy of activity when every waking moment is taken up with all things allotment. Am I organised and ready for the adventure? In a word no. My greenhouse is still full to the brim of tender plants and with the cold weather I haven't the heart to put them outside so there is no space for me let alone any veg although I have squeezed some into corners and my potatoes are chitting in the dining room.

Charlotte at the front and bonnie at the back
I am determined that this is not going to be the case next year, although I recall saying that last year. I'm just an avid plant collector and can't resist a bargain. If only I had more space.
Some of my tenders will go into the garden, some in pots and I would like some on the allotment to attract beneficial insects and for colour. I'm really into colour this year I think it must be because it has been such a grey winter. So colour will be the theme on my lottie this year, a bit of a colour fest. I have even gone so far as too paint my plant labels and canes. I'm going to paint my bench as well if I can make up my mind on the colour. I'll post pictures when they are all done. It should certainly brighten things up.

OK. First things first before I get completely carried away. Here are some photos of the plot as it is now so you can picture the scene and follow my progress.

You can see the bench in the picture above, next time it might be blue, berry or barbie pink. My plot is fairly narrow with half as raised beds which are on a no dig system and the other half  is open beds which are dug occasionally. That huge pile of manure is still to be moved, the tarpaulin blew off and it's now really wet. I might put any spare in compost bins for next year. We used to have grass paths but they were too much to maintain so we are putting a path in if it would just stop raining.

What's on the go?

Broad Beans The Sutton
I plant my broad beans in poly pots in a mixture if multi compost and soil based seed compost. some of the plot holders plant their broad beans in the Autumn but I find doing it this way they are the first to crop in the site. When I plant them out I water them in with seaweed feed. I reuse the poly pots every year and when they break I use them as drainage at the bottom of pots. Might paint these boxes too, just a thought!

Picasso Shallots
I use modules for the shallots and onions in a mixture of multi compost and John Innes No 1. this year I'm  growing Picasso and Vigarmor.


I'll try to squeeze in some dahlias, I love the dark red and some pink to lighten the mood.  Arabian Night and Mr Optimist. I am usually able to leave the Dahlias in the ground over winter in the garden but not this year, I think I have lost the lot. Lots to do but managed to take some pics.

Oh and I nearly forgot, the best bargain I got this week was 2kg of daffodils for 8p, now where will I put them?

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Stash

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe....., I'm presuming you know the rest. Well, I sort of know how she felt, but instead of too many children, I have too many seeds. Is that possible? I think it might be because it's more to organise, sow, look after and cherish and then there's the space. I knew I had a problem when I now have to store my stash in a large pine chest instead of the usual Roses chocolate tin. Some people buy clothes, shoes, handbags, but it's seeds that float my boat. All shapes, all colours, full of promise given the right conditions.

Here is my Stash          

 The Flower Box

The Month by Month Box 
Basket 1

Basket 2
Salad Tin

Having shown all, well maybe not all, I feel I have stood up at an addition group and admitted my weakness for seeds. Am I alone in my obsession? I have a sneaking suspicion I am not.
At least they are organised at last and with Spring around the corner, my seeds and I are ready to rock 'n roll.

Here are some newbies I am trying this year.

What do you think?  What's new in your stash?


Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Simple Sprout

I feel I've been deprived of the pleasure of growing all winter long and now have itchy fingers. So, I thought I would try my itchy fingers at growing sprouts and micro-greens. After suffering one virus infection after another I need all the vitamins and minerals I can get and these are crammed full of all things healthy.


Basically sprouts are immature veg and they are intensely flavoured, all shapes, colours, textures and Fresh, Fresh, Fresh! What would usually take place underground, we can now see through the glass jars, the magical moment of germination.

I ordered my seed form Living Foods of St Ives, mung beans, aduki beans and brown lentils. I would advise buying seed that is sold as suitable for sprouting as some seed sold for garden use may be coated in fungicides and wouldn't be safe to eat and some beans, such as kidney beans are toxic if not cooked. Play safe, do your research or buy from a reputable company. 

There are lots of equipment out there specifically designed for sprouting from teired sprouters to sprouting bags. It's your choice. I just stick to the basics and use what I already have. Recycled jars, rubber bands and muslin or mesh for the top of the jars. I used netting that was left over from a craft project and it worked pretty well although it wouldn't be suitable for small seeds, which I think are better grown in trays ( more on that later) and I also thought it looked quite funky!

Lets Grow!

Collect your jars, rubber bands and mesh and seeds together and put a couple of tablespoons of beans into a jar. 

You can use more seed but bear in mind they EXPAND!

Fill with water and fix your mesh or muslin and secure with a rubber band. Leave to soak for 8-12 hours somewhere out of direct sunlight. I like to leave them overnight in the kitchen.

After the soaking time, drain off the water and rinse well by repeatedly filling the jar with fresh water and rinse again. Then leave the jar at an angle to drain thoroughly. I like to sit the jar on it's side on a small plate to allow the excess water to drain.Too much moisture can cause your beans to rot, which is not a good way to go and you'll know if the rot sets in because they smell Yuk! 
I, then cover the jars with a towel to keep out light and aid germination but I understand that some sprouters don't bother and still get good results.

Rinse your sprouts with fresh water twice a day and drain well. (I keep mine near the kitchen sink to remind me.) Do this for about 3-6 days. When I see signs of germination I remove the towel that I used to keep out light, but still keep them out of direct sunlight. Once the sprouts are about 1 inch long they should be ready to use. I usually try them to see if they are ready, if not, continue rinsing and draining for another day or so. Store them in the fridge in a plastic box with a piece of absorbant paper in the bottom.


Next post Microgreens.