Hitting the Big Time

November 20, 2015

Well, finally. After more than ten years of steady, even prolific blogging, someone has actually contacted me to offer me something to review that I would actually want. OK so it’s not the ‘waterproof in Scotland’ reviewing gig I’ve long been touting for (I note, with only a slight twinge of professional jealousy, that Lovely Bike is currently helping check whether things are ‘waterproof in Ireland‘ for Georgia in Dublin, but then again she manages to look entirely chic and soignée in their rainskirt whereas I look like a cross-dressing farmer so I can’t say I blame them) – but someone has actually read what I’ve written about my gardening and is still prepared to risk their heritage garlic bulbs to the tender mercy of the Weather Gods, Peter Rabbit and my own absent-mindedness so that I can review them. Thank you Marshalls Seeds … and watch this space.

With the garlic in the post, and my new found reputation as a pro-gardener at stake, I thought I’d better actually get up to the plot and try and retrieve the situation after what has been a season marked mainly by neglect. The good news is that the rabbits have either been eliminated or are on a diet because the purple sprouting broccoli is recovering from their attentions

purple-sprouting broccoli

I told you it was indestructible

and I even found two tiny surviving perpetual spinach plants; they won’t be much use on their own, but I didn’t have the heart to grub them up.

two surviving perpetual spinach plants

I suspect that for the rest of 2015 we’ll mainly be eating leeks and Red Winter kale though.

kale and leeks flourishing

Just occasionally, my somewhat slapdash approach to gardening pays off in unexpected ways – I was slow getting my second batch of salad in over the summer and had pretty much written it off in September, but the weather has been so mild, we’ve started picking it again. Not for much longer, I suspect, as the forecast for tonight is to reach freezing, but I have moved a few plants which I hadn’t got around to planting out and were still in modules (you may detect a theme here) into the greenhouse.

lettuce in November

Lettuce. In November. In Scotland. What is the world coming to?

Even so, I shall be sharpening up my act for this garlic and giving it my best shot so I can review it thoroughly. I’m sure you would expect nothing less…

Supermarket Salad: an Apology

August 27, 2013

Hmmm. I have long been slightly suspicious of the strange longevity of those bags of supermarket salad. Whatever their sell-by date, they have a way of sitting in the fridge for a week looking far more chipper than they’ve any right to be given that they’re basically dead leaves in a bag. I have been known to mutter about chlorine and gas and other unpleasant chemicals, and look forward to the summer when we could eat our lovely and entirely unadulterated salad leaves freshly picked from the garden.

And then with the other half having to go to work at some ungodly hour in the morning, and needing salad for his lunch, and me not being willing to go up to the garden in my dressing gown to pick it for him (I know, what kind of a wife am I?) we had to find some way of making the salad keep fresh for a bit longer after picking it. And that’s when we discovered that if you pick it and wash it and spin it and put it in a bag in the fridge with a bit of damp kitchen roll, home grown salad keeps for an unfeasibly long time as well and no chemicals* needed.

So there you go. Supermarket salad is innocent. They’ll be telling us there’s no horsemeat in our burgers next…

*Unless you count H2O.

This Could Get Interesting*

August 11, 2011

Reaching into the pocket of my fleece the other day when sowing the next batch of salad seeds, I found the seed packet almost empty – I’d carelessly put it in my pocket upside down. I had to scrabble around in the depths of my pocket to salvage what I could which means in a few weeks time we’ll either be eating no salad, very mixed salad, or whatever pocket fluff grows into given half a chance. Mutant garlic, probably.

Meanwhile, given the ongoing drenching rain, and the fact that the same pocket is often home to my trowel, gloves and other garden implements so there’s a fair bit of soil in there too, there’s every chance I’ll get a fine crop of babyleaf lettuce appearing in my fleece – handy for snacking on should I be caught short in an emergency. Food really doesn’t get much more local than that…

*In the very special sense of ‘interesting’ adjusted for being about vegetables.

Help!Send Rabbits!

July 21, 2010

Hungry ones.

Why we bothered chasing that rabbit out of the garden, I will never know. A week’s neglect has tipped the veg patch – which was the only part of it of more or less under control before – over the edge. Long days, warmth and plentiful rain means everything – everything – is growing faster than I can keep up. Peas, beans, salad – have I mentioned that we have a lot of salad? – potatoes, onions, and, of course, the weeds. Only the squash are sitting there looking pathetic. I’ve definitely got to think of a better use for the cold frame next year.

And talking of next year, I’ve been offered another plot on top of the ones I already have, as my landlord’s not keeping up with the garden either. It was that or grass it over, which seems a shame. I was thinking of being sensible and saying no, but then I thought hmmm, I could do maincrop potatoes and ordinary onions if I had more room, and I heard myself saying yes instead.

Maybe a goat’s not such a bad idea after all.

Diminishing Returns

May 21, 2010

Fellow compulsive spreadsheeters will be delighted to know that as of this week, last season’s vegetables have finally broken even, after the latest serving of broccoli. The broccoli is still going strong, but it’s getting a bit fractal: each time I cut a stalk, I leave two smaller sprouts on either side to grow up into new stalks, so each individual stalk is getting smaller and smaller, making picking it quite time consuming. Still, it is quite delicious, adjusted for being a vegetable.

Not only that, but the first crop of the 2010 season has just been picked:

Yep, a homeopathic quantity of salad worth all of 23p, according to the supermarket comparison site. Set against £50.01 expenditure so far, but hey, everyone’s got to start somewhere. This also means that we’re eating last season’s and this season’s vegetables at once which, I think, is pretty damn cool.

Also nothing’s died yet*. Although that, surely, is only a matter of time.

*except about 476 slugs.

Losing the Plot

September 14, 2009
plot in September

plot in September

Gardening’s all about little and often, and for too much of this summer I’ve been managing the ‘little’ part, but not been so good at the ‘often’.

baby gem squash

baby gem squash

Fortunately, some of it has just been getting on without me. It’s probably too late for this baby gem squash, but who knows, I might get lucky.

larry_the_leek salad_leaves

Larry the leek, sole survivor of the great leek massacre, is still hanging in there, and the salad leaves look almost good enough to eat

Cabbage White Caterpillar

Cabbage White Caterpillar

But it’s in the broccoli bed that the real trouble lurks

Before and after…
So far I’m picking them off by hand and ruthlessly squashing sorry, I was too squeamish for that, I’ve ruthlessly thrown them in the compost instead. With a few cabbage leaves for them to eat. It probably amounts to the same thing as far as the caterpillars are concerned, but it means I don’t have to deal with all the green blood.


Four days of diligent picking seem to have contained them a bit, although whether the plants will recover is another matter. And every time my back is turned, there’s a flutter of white as another butterfly comes around with another batch of eggs to make good the deficit.