Suspending Belief

March 20, 2022

It’s been a busy week last week helping my parents get their house in order to be put on the market as they make the move to Bigtown (if you’ve ever wondered why estate agents’ house listings never include a photograph of at least one room, I can confirm that that’s the room where all the stuff is that has been tidied away into, and if you’re reading this, Mum, I hope you find everything you need before the move…). Today, safely back home, and with the sun shining and, unusually, a gap in the work schedule, I had a couple of hours to get on with Project Maybe Don’t Completely Neglect Your Own Garden This Year.

First up: getting peas, mangetout and sweetpeas planted and hung in a place of safety away from the mice. Hopefully the string will hold otherwise it will likely not end well. It would be fairly typical of my gardening efforts to have spent a lot of time and trouble protecting my legumes from mice only to have them plummet to their doom the minute they germinate.

seed modules suspended from the greenhouse roof

Then I spent some time either (A) lovingly potting on the few tiny Erigeron karvinskianus (Mexican fleabane) seedlings to survive overwintering or (B) lovingly potting on some random weeds – although in some quarters Mexican fleabane is a weed, so it’s possible the answer is both (see also Buddleia, which people tend as cherished garden plants around here, and which grows out of abandoned buildings in London).

planted seed trays and pots

Either way – whether it all ends in triumph, or disaster, time will tell, but having spent the afternoon happily gardening in a sunny greenhouse, I feel like I’ve already won anyway.

Or at least I did until I read this post from Belgian Waffle and became intensely jealous of the Irish census and this genius question. We’ve nothing so exciting in ours, which I also dutifully did this afternoon (they invited us to fill it in a couple of weeks ago but it seemed to me to be tempting fate to fill it in in advance of the actual census day).


Swee’Pea

January 12, 2020

drowned field

I suppose I should know by now that winter in Scotland means a choice between reasonably mild but wet and windy weather, or sunny and sparkly but bitterly cold weather. Yesterday was the former,* but today – through some bureaucratic error – it was both reasonably mild (above freezing, anyway) and sunny. For January, this counts as a miracle, especially as I’m not buried in work for once.

That meant only one thing – into the garden (I did suggest a bike ride but my suggestion was spurned). The problem is, while it might have been fine and mild today, we’ve got at least another 3 months of potential frost, snow, gales and rain (well, technically speaking, 12 months recurring of rain) and there isn’t really much you can usefully be doing in the garden at this time of the year, unless you’re of the tidying-up persuasion which I’m not for both ecological and can’t-be-arsedness reasons. I’ve mulched all the beds that need mulching and cut back all the growth that means cutting back, and the rest of the garden would be happier if I just left it alone to get on with things.

I believe this is what January plantings of sweet peas are for: scratching the gardening itch without compacting wet soil, destroying overwintering spots for wildlife, or encouraging tender shoots to sprout too early. I even had some sweet pea seeds because I took a last-minute trip to the garden centre to pick up a gift before Christmas and made the mistake of wandering into the seed department just to have a quick look at what was there and not buy anything (if anyone has actually managed this feat, please do go ahead and let me know how in the comments).

sweet pea planting materials

And so a pleasant morning in the greenhouse ensued. I don’t think I’ve ever grown them before, at least not in Scotland, so I was a little sceptical about planting them now but it seems worth a shot. I didn’t have the requisite number of toilet roll inners due to some over-efficient recycling, but we have plenty of newspaper and I bodged together some paper pots by rolling them round an old spice jar. According to some sections of the internet I was supposed to have soaked the seed overnight but I googled until I found some advice that said you didn’t need to bother, and then I split the difference and soaked them while I made and filled the pots (you all do this, right?). Twenty-four pots have been filled and planted and are on the utility room windowsill. I don’t actually have anywhere to put any sweet peas if they emerge, but I’m sure that a space will be found; for now they have done the job for which they were intended and any actual plants will be a bonus. Especially as tomorrow brings our next weather warning, and winter is all set to resume.

planted sweetpeas

* I did actually venture out for the paper in the rain, once the wind had died down a bit. Looking at the floodwater in the fields along the way, I did briefly consider that a better blogger than me would extend her trip by a few miles on the way home to check out the ford, and then I came to my senses. Fortunately, a local pal is made of sterner stuff: