Monday, 26 September 2016

PLANT A FEW SPRING BULBS



PLANT A FEW SPRING BULBS

As summer gives way to autumn, now is the time to skip thoughts of winter and start to plan for the spring garden displays. Hopefully notes were taken last spring as the weather was in our favour and bulbs from snowdrops to crocus and then daffodils to tulips had their best show for years. It was relatively dry and warm without being too hot so the spring display lasted for weeks, but as always although we meander around enjoying the colourful flowers, we always find areas for improvement.
In my case some areas of crocus were fantastic, but the drifts can be enlarged into new areas. One large rhododendron got too big so will be removed and replaced with dwarf azaleas and underplanted with crocus. This will give more colour for a few years till eventually the azaleas take over, and the crocus can be shifted to a new home.
John planting a few tulip bulbs
Another area with a palm tree, Cordyline australis reaching for the sky, is now ripe for an under planting of bulbs as the older leaves around the base are withering and will be removed. This palm sits adjacent to a large drift of yellow flowered saxifrage at its best in March, so I will plant a drift of early flowering tulip Scarlet Baby to add a touch of red alongside the yellow saxifrage. As this display has its day it is followed by another show elsewhere as my yellow Doronicums come into flower in April. These were under planted last year with some deep purple Triumph tulips Negrita, but I will add to the show with another triumph tulip Ile de France, a blood red colour. Hopefully they will all flower at the same time; at least that is the plan.
Apeldoorn and Golden Apeldoorn tulips
The tallest tulips with the largest size of flowers have always been the Darwin Hybrids with the red Apeldoorn and yellow Golden Apeldoorn the two most spectacular for a dazzling display. I have a drift of these in several locations, but will buy more to make the drifts larger and create an impressive flower power border.
Tulip Abba
Flower tubs around patios and entrance door ways get planted up with wallflowers, polyanthus and pansies. Good tulips to go with my Golden Monarch wallflower are the Fosteriana type Red Emperor and the pure white Purissima. When warm humid spring weather coincides with the flowering of Purissima the scent is brilliant, but it is not guaranteed. I purchased a whole range of scented tulips last autumn, and not one lived up to the catalogue description, but maybe the weather was to blame; who knows.
For tubs planted up with low growing polyanthus, myosotis or pansies I use crocus in between otherwise the tulips would
Tulip Monsella
compete for space, and some will get a planting of hyacinths for colour and scent that is guaranteed.
Even in these times of mild winters we still like to see the first signs of spring, and this is usually when the snowdrops appear, which with our unpredictable climate can be anytime from late December onwards. Snowdrops are followed on with the aconites flowering in February to March.
Other less prominent bulbs but always very welcome are the blue flowered Anemone blanda and the Chionodoxa, Glory of the Snows. Every garden should find space for these beauties.
Anna picking the last Rhubarb
Drifts of daffodils and narcissus fill the gap between the early bulbs and the tulips so they allow the show to continue without any breaks.
Two colourful favourites with blue flowers are the grape hyacinth and bluebells, but use carefully as they can be very invasive and will want to take over the whole garden.

Wee jobs to do this week

It is still possible to take another picking of rhubarb, but as the growing season is just about over only pick a few leaves so there is plenty of foliage left to build up strength in the crowns for the next year. Rhubarb has now come back into fashion, as health conscious people realise just how healthy this product is. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and proteins. It can be used fresh in pies, stews, crumbles and mixed with saskatoons or blackcurrants for a delicious jam, and any surplus can be frozen for future use.

 END

Monday, 19 September 2016

A HEALTHY SCOTTISH DIET



A HEALTHY SCOTTISH DIET

There was a time when everyone had a garden or allotment to grow food, as money was tight and a packet of seed could go a long way. Being almost self sufficient saved a fortune, but we were never fully aware of the health benefits at that time. As wage levels rose and working hours decreased we found ourselves with time to spare so the range of leisure pursuits grew to satisfy this demand. Unfortunately gardening became a bit out of fashion as space was needed to park a car or two, and most of our food was available in supermarkets, much of which was ready to eat so less time was needed in the kitchen.
Anna picks a feast of summer berries
Nothing stays the same for long, as knowledge through travel, television, the internet and magazines broadens our horizons. Manual labour is being lost through technology, so slowly the nation is getting less fit and putting on a wee bit of weight. This has been recognized as we now get bombarded with ways to keep fit and eat healthy food, and programmes on cooking are now a major industry. As we are still in summer many folk will have been abroad on holiday and looking for a break from the kitchen, so salads will be high on the menu, and even when you go out for a meal we tend towards the Mediterranean diet as it is quick and tasty and has a great reputation as a healthy way to dine.  It includes plenty of fresh salads, ripe tomatoes, olive oil dressings and a range of fruit in season, plus nuts for variety and oily fish high in omega 3 oils.
Early salads under tunnels
Looking back over the years, I have come to realize that I have been unconsciously on this diet for a fair time, but thought it was a Scottish diet, not Mediterranean. In younger days our true Scottish diet did have a fair bit of fish suppers, and chips appeared on a daily basis to accompany the pies, bridies, mince, beef burgers and sausages (we liked to have variety,) but as we did a fair bit of manual labour and in our spare time we were always active so gaining weight was never a problem. Today we may not be quite so active, but with more knowledge on good foods and superfoods combined with a great cook in the kitchen the diet has evolved. The first changes happened a long time ago when a TV show highlighted what gastronomic delights from the abattoir went into various meat products, so sausages, mince, beef burgers got dropped, and pies and bridies became a low priority. Then a surgeon attending my art classes had done a study on the affects of sugar on humans and gave me his thoughts. I immediately stopped taking sugar in coffee and tea and even omitted my spoonful of honey in my porridge. My weight went down by ten pounds within one year. Chips were next on the endangered list when I accidentally set the chip pan on fire. The kitchen is no place for a man with artistic and gardening skills. However I soon found that chips could be replaced with salad potatoes (Casa Blanca is a favourite) and baked potatoes from the larger Sarpo Mira and Amour spuds, and now we have been exposed to so many other exotic food dishes the Scottish chip is becoming a rarity.
John picks early apple Discovery
Having a garden, a greenhouse and allotment means that with a wee bit of forward planning you can have fresh fruit, vegetables and even salads just about all year round. A good range of nuts (unfortunately not home grown) are now added to many dishes, such as walnuts with our salads and I mix ground almonds, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and walnuts into my muesli in the morning as well as adding at least three different fruits. This is seasonal fruit though at present I have autumn raspberries, perpetual strawberries, blueberries and ripe figs to last through till late autumn.
To replace our fish suppers we have now turned to trout as it just needs 2 minutes each side to cook on a pan with some Scottish rapeseed oil rich in Omega 3 oils, and served with beetroot, French beans and some salad potatoes.

Clover green manure
Wee jobs to do this week

Late blight and a wee bit of blackleg caused potato foliage to wither away sooner than intended so the last of the crop of Sarpo Mira has been lifted. There is still time to use this land for a green manure crop to grow through autumn and be ready to dig in during winter. This helps to break up the soil and add humus.

 END

Monday, 12 September 2016

EXOTIC GARDENING



EXOTIC GARDENING

The gardens we create are very much an extension of our personality, and if you have been around for a year or two you will see massive changes in what we grow. Gone are the days when the ornamental border was mainly geraniums, antirrhinums, marigolds and asters with an edge of alyssum and lobelia and vegetables were mainly potatoes, turnips, swedes, peas, cabbages, lettuce and radish. Exposure to foreign holidays and the influx of immigrants of all nationalities bringing over their own variety of food has widened our gardening horizons, and as we all love to experiment with something new, the range of plants grown continues to expand.
Cordyline australis
When my horticultural career moves took me to the south of England I discovered runner beans, leeks, courgettes and pumpkins, and thought I was really innovative, but life (and gardening) moves on so now the range continues to grow. We have heard so much about climate change and global warming that we in Scotland tend to think of it more as an opportunity than a disaster. We have always had our share of rain, but now we get warm rain and often into winter instead of snow so plants previously considered too tender for our climate are being given a trial. Provided the weather behaves itself these tender plants can give us many years of service, but however there is always that one off rogue year like 2010 when winter returned with a vengeance, temperatures plummeted and the deep snow lasted for months. The following spring most gardens had lost a lot of tender plants, such as outdoor fuchsias, Cordyline palms, date palms, Agapanthus, and my special Leptospermum Red Damask. Plants have a very strong will to survive so I never give up on them. The Cordyline palm died down to ground level but then new shoots emerged two years later. It is now ten foot tall with five main stems. Agapanthus and some Canna crowns all died out so they got chopped up and added to the compost heap. The Cannas came back into life a year later and the Agapanthus three years later. Bad winters seem a distant memory so we continue to try out a few exotics and keep our fingers crossed. Next spring I may even have another go at growing the date palm as it makes a great specimen plant.
Peach Peregrine
Up at City Road allotments our plot holders are quite keen to try their hand at a few exotics, so sweet potatoes, Oca, sweet corn, Cape Gooseberries, Goji berry, Honey berry and Kiwis can all be seen somewhere. Success of these new crops often depends on getting a decent summer  with sunshine and warmth, a wee bit less rainfall and then a good warm dry autumn like we always got way back in tattie picking days.
My own garden experiments continue with figs, peaches, cherries and grapes.
Figs are my success story as one bush will give me well over a hundred figs ripened over several weeks so there is never any glut of crop. Picked as soon as the fruit droops and given one or two days to ripen indoors they are just perfect. So far I have picked 35 in August.
Cherry Cherokee is now cropping with enough fruit for both me and the blackbird, though the main pest of blackfly on the shoots requires an insecticide spray in early summer to control it.
Grape Rondo
Peaches can ripen up outdoors in Scotland if grown on a warm south facing wall or fence, but the peach leaf curl disease can be devastating so I am now trying partially tolerant Avalon Pride.
Grapes outdoors and in the greenhouse still depend on good weather. My Seigerrebe grape was ready in mid August, so I have one demijohn brewing away quietly. This variety has loads of bunches which require thinning, but the grapes are small, though they are very sweet with a strong Muscat flavour. Outdoors only Regent and Rondo have a good crop and Rondo is ripening up now, but my Brant still gives over a hundred small bunches of black sweet juicy ripe grapes in October.

Wee jobs to do this week
Onions drying off

Lift onions that should now be ready for drying off before getting cleaned up prior to storing. They are best laid out on a hard surface above ground level in full sun so the foliage can dry off and let the bulbs ripen up. It can take about two to three weeks before they are ready for roping or removing all the dried leaves and storing them in nets.
 
END

Monday, 5 September 2016

CUT FLOWER FOR LATE SUMMER



CUT FLOWER FOR LATE SUMMER

At this time of year especially after a good growing summer, the garden is so full of flowers that we can happily take plenty of cut flower for the house without reducing the floral impact of our flower borders. It is nice to have flowers in the home all year round and there is plenty of pot plants around both for foliage and flowers, but we tend to supplement this with a few cut flowers from the garden. To be honest it is hard to resist cutting some flowers to enjoy them around our homes. In early summer there may not be a huge surplus of blooms to choose from but in August and September we are spoilt for choice.
Lily Stargazer
As a gardener I like to create a great floral impact and not wishing to lose this by cutting flowers for the house I use space on my allotment to grow plants specifically for cut flowers. Thus I have my dahlia collection, spray chrysanthemums, sweet peas, gladioli and now this year my oriental lilies. I have only recently seen the benefit of these when a few stems broken off after the early August gales found their way into some vases and suddenly the house was filled with an exotic perfume for a fortnight. However it will be next year before I get the chance to increase my stock of lilies with some purchase of new bulbs in the autumn.
Scented sweet peas
Sweet peas have been available from early summer as the warm weather in May got them off to a great start. I grow mine up a six foot support of weldmesh, and let them grow at will. This gives plenty of flowers for display as well as cut blooms, but if I just wanted cut flowers then I would train them as single stem cordons and remove all sideshoots and tendrils. Growth would be supplemented by feeding fortnightly and before planting the area would get double dug in winter incorporating plenty of compost. Sweet peas are gross feeders and respond to well rotted compost, manures and fertilizer.
Vase of gladioli
Gladioli are grown on my allotment plot in a double row in good soil where the corms are planted at least four inches deep, then they are usually self supporting in a normal year, but the August gales put that to the test. Every year I add a few extra corms to increase the range of colours. In late summer the plants get dug up and dried off so the corms can be stored safely over winter. The small bulbils removed during the cleaning up stage before storing are usually discarded unless they are a decent size. However if you want to increase stock of some favourites these bulbils can be retained and sown thickly like peas in a six inch wide row to grow and bulk up. They will become flowering size in two to three years.
Chrysanthemum Pennine Ice
Chrysanthemums make great cut flowers and last a fair time in a vase, and they flower over several weeks from August till October in a good year depending on variety. Spray varieties make excellent cut flower stems with impact but if you want bigger heads then go for decoratives and grow one flower per stem by disbudding leaving the top bud only to grow and flower. There are numerous varieties available so keep trying out new ones to find your own personal favourites. One of mine is Pennine Ice, a white spray that always impresses with its purity.
Dahlias provide a brilliant splash of colour in any border and there is always plenty of flowers for cutting for the home. We all have different preferences and mine has always been the cactus shaped flowers as they are not too big so stand up well on the bushes.

Wee jobs to do this week

Most summer strawberries have finished fruiting so now is a good time to cut off the old leaves and remove the straw, both of which can go on the compost heap. Strawberries can be cropped for two or three seasons then they should be discarded. If the rows have plenty of healthy runners then these can be used to start a new strawberry patch on a fresh area of soil that has been well manured and is weed free. Otherwise buy in new runners especially if you wish to try a different variety.

 END

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

EXOTIC SCENTS



EXOTIC SCENTS

August has been a fantastic month for scented garden plants. The home has been blessed with the exotic scents of oriental lilies. They had been planted in several locations beside the patio and front entrance to be enjoyed by ourselves and visitors with their huge flowers and strong perfume. However, although it has been a warm and sunny month you can’t expect everything in the garden to be rosy all the time so along came our Scottish gales to bring us back down to earth. Unfortunately my tub of lily Chelsea suffered a few losses as the gales snapped a few stems off at ground level. A similar fate befell the very tall Japanese Golden Ray lilies,
Oriental lily Casa Blanca
but this proved to be a blessing in disguise as these were taken indoors without too much damage and continued to blossom in vases for the next few weeks, filling the house with a fantastic perfume. Everyone has been so impressed that I have made a note to buy a lot more lilies in autumn for both flower power and that exotic scent.
Although our garden is now fairly mature it is never complete as we keep finding new plants to try out, then others get discarded if they have out grown their space to make room for the newcomers.
We walk the garden at every opportunity while the sun shines to enjoy the flowers and make plans for future improvements. We have become aware that scented plants rate highly in our planting schemes. There are scented plants available to cover every month from January to December.
Scented sweet peas
In winter the Viburnum fragrans has its day followed by other Viburnums in spring, and of course if you grow herbs for the kitchen there is plenty of scented foliage around with Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme and Mint. As spring appears the Lilac can be a stunner, and most daffodils and narcissi are also very scented especially the Jonquills and Cheerfulness varieties. Last autumn I purchased a whole range of scented tulips as described in bulb catalogues as I had been very impressed with the scented white tulip Purissima. Maybe they need the right combination of sunshine, warmth and moist atmosphere, but I could not pick up any scent worth noting. However in spring the hyacinths will not disappoint, and I always replant the bulbs from tubs to some border between deciduous shrubs as they will grow and flower every year.
Clove scented pinks
Summer is the time when we spend more days around the garden enjoying numerous scents from the honeysuckle to the border carnations and pinks. These are not always easy to grow in Scotland as they prefer a drier climate with well drained soil, but I found an ideal spot at the top of a south facing wall in full sun. Border carnations and pinks are ideal for cut flower for the home and add some clove scents.
Sweet peas are another must for cut flower and although they may be short lived, they always seem to produce a continuous supply of blossoms if you keep them dead headed.
Two plants with great scent for tubs and summer borders are the blue petunias and the Brugmansia, also known as the Angels Trumpet. The Brugmansia is pollinated by a night flying moth so its scent is strongest in late evenings after a warm summer’s day.
Roses remain high on my list of scented plants for the garden, but they are not as popular today as they were in the past as many are prone to blackspot, rust and mildew, and many chemicals used to control diseases are no longer available. Only answer is to seek out those with strong healthy foliage, but make sure the rose has good scent. I still grow the white Margaret Merrill and red E H Morse for perfect scented blooms though both can be troubled with disease.
Pot of rooted Fuchsia cuttings

Wee jobs to do this week

Late summer is a good time to propagate some shrubs with matured shoots such as indoor and outdoor fuchsias. Take shoots four inches long, removing the lower leaves and dibble in around the edges of a pot containing well drained compost. Keep them shaded and well watered and they should be well rooted by the end of autumn when they can get potted up and overwintered in a cool greenhouse.

 END

Thursday, 25 August 2016

HORTICULTURAL EDUCATION



HORTICULTURAL EDUCATION

Gardening and horticulture can be very rewarding both for pleasure, stimulation and also as a great career. We may start off as an apprentice gardener, groundsman, propagator, forester, grower or scientist as horticulture has numerous branches and although the starting point may come with low wages, there is no upper limit to where you want to go. If you just love gardening there are plenty of opportunities for good gardening skills, but if you also want a career then look around to find the path to suit your interests.
RHS Gardens at Wisley
Horticulture today is much more technical and advanced than when I was learning the trade, and there is a lot more information around to help young students choose appropriate directions of career. Gardening was always about learning how to grow good plants, keeping up to date with new varieties, keeping up to date with new technology, and no matter what results we got, we always planned to do better the next year. The internet is a massive help to keep up with the changing world in horticulture, but in my case it had not been invented when I was going through my five year apprenticeship way back in the mists of time. However at that time there was plenty of older well trained gardeners around to advise and guide us in the way of good and proper gardening, and the Dundee Parks manager kept moving us around every nine months so we gained plenty variety of every aspect of
Training starts at an early age
gardening, groundsmanship, forestry, propagation and even a short spell working with the landscape architects. Our day release classes where we got both practical and theoretical training was combined with visits to other horticultural places of interest. These included Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, Inverewe Gardens and the Scottish Crops Research Institute. I was so impressed with the science of horticultural research, that I had a career change, and then enjoyed two years of research at the James Hutton Institute that has had a lasting effect on my gardening activities. I continue today to carry out research into new varieties of plants for our Scottish climate enhanced by global warming. However I had always been flexible so my scientific research ended when I tried a short spell as a teacher of rural science, but then an urge to work on a commercial fruit farm took me down south to Pulborough in West Sussex growing apples, blackcurrants and strawberries. Then it was a year out in full time studies at Essex Institute of Agriculture at Writtle to get my National Diploma before returning as fruit farm manager in Hereford. Two years later I decided to get back into Parks work in Dudley, then as my career advanced in management I went to Darlington for eight years before returning to Scotland to Livingston as a deputy manager in Landscaping and Forestry.
When I started off on my horticultural career I had very little idea of the range of opportunities that existed, but slowly with travelling around the country in the pursuit of furthering my career I have become aware of the extent of horticulture.
A qualified gardener is a great place to start, but forestry, science, plant breeding, floristry, landscape architecture, groundsman and propagator are all great careers as well as lecturers, reporters for gardening magazines, garden designers and growers of fruit, vegetables and ornamental plants. With further studies at the horticultural colleges all around the country managerial positions open up at botanical gardens, landscape companies, parks departments, garden centres, fruit and vegetable farms and plant nurseries. In this area, horticultural career advice can be sought from Dundee College, Elmwood College and Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. Today the internet is a great source of information and this link www.growcareers.info is a good place to start.

Wee jobs to do this week

Broad beans, runner beans and dwarf French beans will all now be ready for picking. The broad beans are harvested in one operation as soon as they mature, but the others are picked over a longer period and either used immediately or if bumper crops are picked the surplus can go into the freezer for use later on.

 End


Friday, 19 August 2016

SUMMER FLOWERS



SUMMER FLOWERS



Every year has a different story to tell in the garden as no two years are alike, and one year’s climate can affect plants over several years. Many plants require a good autumn to ripen up the summer’s growth to allow initiation of flower buds for flowering the following year. Similarly some plants also need a cold winter to set flower buds, so when things go well we get masses of flowers. However this can often weaken a plant so it can have an off year to give it a rest. Last year was cool and not all that sunny up north so plants had a quiet time.
Anna relaxing beside Rose Gertrude Jekyll
This year we have had a fair bit of sunshine, and constant warm weather coupled with ample rain so plants could put on plenty of growth. However there was enough sun to let these plant make up for last year’s poor weather and burst into a riot of colour. The spring display of flowering bulbs from snowdrops and crocus to daffodils and tulips was one of the best ever. This was quickly followed on with rhododendrons, azaleas, forsythia, ceanothus, iris and many other plants. The herbaceous border had a great time with oriental poppies quite outstanding, then the roses took over, especially those trained up south facing walls, as the sun heats up the brick and bathes the plants in warmth.
Cistus purpureus
Nearly all fruit crops are also having a bumper year. My Saskatoon bushes are yielding three times as much berries as last year, and all other soft fruits are at record levels. Apple trees have had to be thinned as the June drop did not remove enough fruitlets, and still the crop potential is looking brilliant. The freezer is bulging with fruit, so wine making is in full swing with fresh fruit going straight into fermentation buckets. Five kilos of fruit will give me three gallon of wine. Red currants are now bubbling away happily in four demijohns while five kilos of crushed Invicta gooseberries are fermenting in a bucket, and I have not yet started to pick my red Iona gooseberries.
Summer scents in the house are provided by a constant supply of sweet peas grown on the allotment to brighten it up and also supply cut flowers. Garden scents are more exotic as my oriental lilies come into flower. I have two borders heavily planted up with scented lilies and continue to buy in new varieties to try them out.
African marigolds
One border is mass planted with grape hyacinths flowering in early spring and smother out any weeds, but then tulips planted below the grape hyacinths flower later. When these all die down and the old leaves are cleared away the lilies take over for a summer scented display. As the lily bulbs do not have a lot of foliage Anna has utilised the space to sow some summer salad leaves.
Back on the allotment my gladioli and early flowering chrysanthemums are now starting to flower so there is plenty choice for cut flower for the house and still leave a great show on the plot. This is further enhanced with my flower border of roses, marigolds and Iceland poppies. Opium poppies gave a great display, but they are not repeat flowerers so they were removed once flowering finished and Californian poppies
Hydrangea Charme
have had their first flush and been cut back. They will have a second flush in late summer. Poppy Ladybird continues to flower all summer provided you remove all seed heads as soon as the flowers fall off.
I use Lavender and Shasta daisies as flowering ground cover, and summer is their peak time so we get impact, scent from the lavender and they are both good at smothering weeds.
From mid summer onwards my best shrubs are Fuchsia Mrs Popple and my new Hydrangea Charme, a white with a pink picotee edge looks great when caught in full sun.
 
Luke watering the tubs

Wee jobs to do this week

As the weather continues to be a bit damp, there is always a tendency for botrytis to form on older leaves of tomatoes. This can soon spread, so remove any diseased leaves or bits of leaves as soon as seen and keep the greenhouse well ventilated. Continue to remove any older leaves from the bottom of each cordon as soon as they begin to turn yellow.

 End


Monday, 8 August 2016

SUMMER HARVESTS



SUMMER HARVESTS

The summer harvest season is now in full swing with soft fruit and summer vegetables all ready to pick. My row of early potatoes Casa Blanca have all been lifted and will keep us supplied well into August. At first they were all salad sized potatoes but the last ones to be lifted were all baked potato size. Casa Blanca has thin smooth skin which only needs a wash and peeling is not needed. Other potatoes are growing quite well and so far there is no sign of blight though the weather has been quite wet.
John picks the summer crops
Cauliflower Aalsmeer was over wintered from last autumn and all matured at the same time so the whole crop was cut in the middle of July. Two people can only eat one cauliflower a week, so the rest all ended up in the freezer. Summer cabbages are not yet ready, but kale has grown quickly and is now ready for picking.
Pea Kelvedon Wonder was picked over two weeks in early to mid July for using straight away and some for the freezer. Another sowing of mid season pea Hurst Green Shaft will be ready in August and hopefully this will be followed by another sowing of fast growing Kelvedon Wonder now that spare land is available after lifting my Casa Blanca potatoes.
Cauliflower Aalsmeer
Lettuce, radish, spring onions and rocket has been available for many weeks as a fair bit got over wintered from an autumn sowing, then this year another early sowing was grown under low polythene tunnels. More salads have been sown on spare land after clearing off my pea crop and broad beans which all ripened in early August. Broad bean harvesting is a fair task first picking the pods, then lifting the spent plants to be chopped up for the compost heap. Then the beans have to be taken out of the pods. The task continues as the beans get the skins removed before bagging up for the freezer.
Turnip Golden Ball and Purple Top Milan have been ready since early July as I don’t mind lifting a few small turnips then leaving others to grow bigger as this gives us a longer season.
Onions are still in full growth and looking great, though the mild wet spell has seen some white rot fungus appear on a few plants. These get removed immediately and destroyed.
Onion Hytech ready to lift
This has been a great year for rhubarb which enjoys warm weather with plenty of moisture, i.e. your typical Scottish summer. There has been plenty of stewed rhubarb, crumble and loads available for the freezer to keep us supplied all winter.
Redcurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries have all been very heavy croppers this year, and although I have just started to pick my saskatoons, the potential crop looks huge.
It has even been a great year for my outdoor cherries which I managed to harvest without netting and our local blackbirds only had a few.
Bramble Helen ripened at the end of July this year, and looks like another bumper crop for picking.

City Road Allotment Gardens are open to the public for their Open Day on Sunday 7th August from 11am to 3pm.
Garden lovers are welcome to come along to our allotment site and see how we grow fruit, flowers and vegetables. Children welcome to see our plot holders kids perfecting their sunflowers and growing huge pumpkins. Our Café is open with fresh home baking and there is ample garden plants and produce, including jams and tablet for sale. Bring along your garden problems as there is sure to be someone with help or an answer.

Wee jobs to do this week

Moss has been a big problem on lawns this year due to the wet but mild summer. It can be killed by applying lawn sand or use sulphate of iron at a rate of one large spoonful in a watering can and water the lawn on a dry day. This kills the moss and turns it black so it then has to be removed by raking off with a springbok rake. The same chemical can be used to kill moss on paths.

END

Wednesday, 3 August 2016