Wednesday, 13 November 2019

GARDENING FOR KIDS


             GARDENING FOR KIDS             

When you reach a certain age you are able to look back to your childhood and compare it to today’s kids growing up in a technological age. We all played outdoors as there was no television, no phones and no-one had heard about paedophiles so
Watering the pumpkins
outdoor activities for kids was safe. We also lived in a time when there were very few cars so we played football in the streets and ice hockey in winter and got extremely annoyed when some rich bloke with a car drove up the street and disturbed our game. I have a vivid memory looking down St.
Sophie picking the redcurrants
Fillans Road during the seven weeks holiday and feeling great to see over fifty kids all playing on the streets. Living in St. Mary’s in the early sixties we had fields and woods to play in and often walked up to the Sidlaw Hills as I needed to know what lay beyond those hills. My only knowledge of Scotland came from reading the Broons and Black Bob. We learned to climb trees, roast potatoes on a bonfire and holidays were a bus trip to the Trossachs with a tent, or a day on the sands at Broughty Ferry.
Life has moved on, we now all have cars so streets are out of bounds, open spaces are plentiful, but devoid of kids as parents are not too happy to set them free. However kids now have mobile phones, play stations, television and holidays abroad, so no need to venture outdoors. Very few houses come with any garden as space is needed for the cars and to save work garden space is covered over with slabs, sets, gravel and tarmac. Many people live in flats so kids never see where their food comes from. I never forget a few years ago when one of the kids was playing on the allotment next to mine. I had a cracking crop of strawberries so picked a large one and offered it the wee fellow. He ran off in a panic to his mum, “That man wanted me to put THIS into my mouth!!!”
He never knew that strawberries in a packet on a supermarket shelf had at one time been grown outdoors in the ground.
This case is not isolated and it is now recognised that the kids of today need educating with gardening
Erica waters the spring flowers
to let them see where food comes from, together with the benefits of fresh food free from chemicals. Many schools, such as Kingspark School in Dundee are creating garden plots to grow food and other plants for education. Allotment sites are also very helpful as we can all encourage our kids to do a bit of planting and looking after their wee bit of garden. It helps if you can interest them in growing something that will catch attention, like a huge pumpkin or a tall sunflower.
Another long term plan is to get them to sow the seeds from the core of an apple after they have eaten it. They grow quite easily on a windowsill, but then need potting up and planting outside in spring. As these young plants are juvenile, they won’t bear fruits till they become adult after about fifteen years. You can get round this problem by grafting a shoot onto the young apple seedling using a shoot of Discovery, Fiesta, Red Devil or others. Plenty information on grafting on the internet, but it is a task for the adults as you
Sophie and Anna top and tail the gooseberries
need a very sharp knife. It is quite simple and the grafts grow readily and will fruit in a couple of years.
Sowing annual flowers from seed is another wee job for the kids, then they can learn how to thin and in hot weather they can water the young plants, but when you give kids the hose stand well back as a wee bit of fun is inevitable.
Harvesting crops such onions, then after drying them out they can pleat them up for drying. Picking peas, beans and sweet corn is also interesting as is picking raspberries and strawberries, though crop weights seem to shrink on the journey home much to the amusement of the young labour force.
Chrysanthemum stools boxed up

Wee jobs to do this week

Early outdoor chrysanthemums will now have finished flowering, though the season was late and some were still in bloom in November. Cut back all growth leaving about six inches of stem, then attach a label to each stem before digging up and replanting into boxes. These can be over wintered in a cold greenhouse or frame. However it is best to start each season with fresh stock taken from cuttings in spring in the greenhouse.

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Monday, 4 November 2019

TOP FRUIT


                                                             TOP FRUIT


The harvesting season of the top fruit trees now begins in mid September. It used to start in August when my outdoor peaches ripened, but the Scottish climate was more than they could handle. They are successful in a greenhouse, but mine is just
Anna picks apple Discovery
not big enough for tomatoes, grapes, peppers and bedding plants as well as a peach. I tried Peregrine but peach leaf curl disease was rampant and just about completely defoliated the tree. I never got more than two peaches. Peregrine got dug out and replaced with Avalon Pride said to show strong
Peach Avalon Pride
resistance to this disease, and though peach leaf curl was less rampant, it was still a problem and this variety was poor to flower so I only ever got one peach each year, so it has now been dug out. The next tree to fruit had always been the Oslin (Arbroath Pippin) which is ready in August. However it is very prone to brown rot, and in this year of continual rainfall all summer the whole crop was affected, so a bit of summer pruning was carried out, and the Oslin is no more, but I will graft the remaining stumps next year with a new variety. September is when the early apple Discovery is ready to pick. There was an excellent crop, but the wet and sunless summer created an apple with less flavour
Apple Fiesta
and sweetness. My late variety Red Devil, had just about given up hope for a decent autumn and started to fall off the tree in September, a good month ahead of normal. However it is a good keeper so it is now in store. Apple Fiesta is a biennial cropper and last year was its off year so this year there is a good crop ready to harvest in mid to late October. Red Falstaff has been a very poor cropper this year, but although it is not known as a biennial bearer and gave us a great crop last year, maybe it is just having a wee rest from cropping. Our Bramley cooking apple usually stays on the tree till the end of October, but this year a lot of apples have been falling off since
Apple Oslin the Arbroath Pippin
early October, though we have suffered a lot of gales and heavy rainfall. Some of those fruits still on the tree are massive and looks like we will have a great crop to store and keep us supplied with a great cooking apple right through the winter.
We had a huge plum Victoria which was always laded down with very heavy crops every year but sadly this forty year old tree suffered from an attack of silver leaf disease which killed it, so it was chopped down and its replacement is growing well but as yet has still to establish and start fruiting. With a bit of luck it will have a few fruits on its branches next year. Up on City Road allotments the leaf curling plum aphid arrived in swarms and totally defoliated a few trees, so there
Pear Concorde
was no crop this year, but the trees later on survived and put out fresh leaves. The overwintering eggs on the tree can be killed with a winter oil applied November to February. In spring give the trees an insecticidal spray at bud burst when the aphids hatch and start to feed on the young shoots and before the new leaves begin to curl up and give them protection.
Apples in store
Pear trees this year are all giving very good crops. My first to ripen up was Beurre Hardy then Beth but Concorde, Christie and Conference stayed on the trees for a few more weeks. No sign this year of any damage from codlin moth in the fruits or the dreaded stony pit virus. There was a lot of damage last year, but now the trees all have healthy fruit. The Christie pear is not an attractive shape or colour, but it has large fruits and has a great flavour. However it does not store well, whereas Concorde and Conference store for longer. We use pears cut up and added to breakfast cereals, mixed with apple and banana in desserts with custard. Surplus fruits can be cored, and cut up and lightly poached then put in the freezer for use later on in compote, sauces and many other recipes. They are a great companion to Bramley apples in numerous dishes.

Wee jobs to do this week

Pink cuttings now well rooted
Border pinks that were propagated from cuttings of non flowering shoots taken in early August rooted in a couple of months and then got potted up. Some of these are now ready to plant out into their permanent positions. Choose a sunny border with well drained soil such as at the top of a wall and close to patios and paths so you can enjoy the strong scent as well as the flowers.

END