Slow painting

Monday 27 July 2009

Back garden harvest

Years of attack by snails have reduced the range of fruit and veg I'm willing to risk in our small back garden. Lettuces disappear overnight, no matter what defences I put up.

Here's what's growing at home this summer. The blueberries above are 'Nui', and are doing well in their first year. Our soil isn't particularly acidic, but I've added sawdust and water when I remember with ericaceous feed. The variety below is 'Bluecrop', not doing so well in its second year. I think I need to increase the acid feeding regime. Somehow it can be more difficult to look after plants that are right outside the back door than those at the allotment.

I've seen a few bounteous shots of blueberries recently on North American blogs, and they've reminded me that blueberries are one of our great treats when we cross the Atlantic (which isn't as often as we'd like). Big bags of blueberries and cherries are what we make for on our first shopping expedition. Here we have measly 4 ounce punnets imported from Poland for 'only' £1.99.

The Alpine strawberries are enjoying this year's damp summer. I remember now that I ordered half a dozen of the 'Baron Solemacher' variety for the allotment some months back. I assume that they'll be delivered in the autumn.

The feathery stuff beside the strawberries are a mystery at the moment. It may be dill, or it may be love-in-a-mist. I daresay I'll find out soon.

Courgettes 'Black Forest' are doing surprisingly well for their shady situation, although some leaves are suffering snail attack.

Sunday 26 July 2009


And then it rained. And rained again. The black finger coming out of the middle of the cloud is pointing down at our plot, just over the hill from this adjacent allotment site. We haven't been to the plot all week: with a combination of torrential downpours and my daughter's French exchange partner visiting just now, we've grabbed the chance of any good weather to get out and about in town and further afield. Mushy strawberries will be awaiting us, I'm sure. But I'm not stressed about it. We're enjoying what we're doing just now, and the one thing we said when we took the plot on was that we weren't going to let it become a millstone rather than an enjoyment.

In the meantime, the build-a-ball frame kit has arrived, much more quickly than promised. It feels good to be armed against the pigeons.

Sunday 19 July 2009

Brassica cage (at last)

After a week of rain the sun shone today. Next week's forecast is for rain again, so we put in a long session at the allotment. The most pressing task was to construct a brassica cage. I had given in last week and and ordered a build-a-ball cage, but it won't be delivered for another 2 weeks. Meantime my first batch of purple sprouting broccoli was hitting its head against the fleece tunnel - you can just see it beyond the onions in the shot above. So ingenuity was called for, and the children's old climbing frame turned out to be just the thing. Husband and daughter are here manouevering it into position. We tried out all our stock of netting, but none of it was big enough to drape over the frame and attach securely on all sides. Work was therefore suspended for a trip to Homebase. One thing led to another, and it was mid evening before we returned to the plot for the netting ceremony.

I popped in the second row of broccoli plants recently arrived from Delfland Nurseries, seen in the foreground with their little anti-cabbage butterfly collars, and we then pinned and pegged the netting in place. Although we bought the biggest size Homebase offered, we had to cut in in half to cover the whole frame down to the ground. Clothes pegs came in handy to join the two halves of the netting together.

Once my posh build-a-ball frame arrives, we'll use the climbing frame set-up to cover the blackcurrants for next year's crop.

I've just noticed that the first shot shows our pitiful garlic crop. It's the yellow straggly stuff at the front of the picture. This was the first time I've grown spring planted garlic, and probably the last if I get my act together to order the winter variety in the next few weeks.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day July

I dashed between thundery showers to take these shots. It seems as if we've had our week of summer, and it's all looking rather like a re-run of last year's soggy July and August. The combination of sun and showers does mean that there's lots of green at the moment, and with temperatures in the high teens we're not too badly off as far as Scottish summers go.

The morning glory above is proving good value, brightening up the front doorstep.

Next to it is my miracle of a summer cactus. This hardy specimen gets left outside all year, through frost and snow, and blooms in fiery profusion each July.

At the other side of the door is a pot of nicotiana, which gives out a sweet fragrance as dusk falls (around 11 pm still, tho the glorious light nights will start to wane by the end of the month).

Shamefully, I've forgotten the names of these three hardy geraniums. I must start writing these things down. I always think I'll remember, and then I never do.

One plant I do remember the name of, because I posted about it, is my new hyssop 'Black Adder'. This has lived up to its promise in attracting bees, and I find myself impatient for next year when it will have even more blooms.

Planted at the same time, and also in the hope of attracting bees, was this bergamot 'Croftway Pink'. However, I've yet to see a bee near it. If I'm honest, it's a bit for my taste. I need to pair it with something that will tone it down a bit, but it's in a border where we plan to put in a new boundary fence, so I'm holding back on putting anything else there until that job's completed.

Finally, another of my nameless purchases, this pink hydrangea with lovely coppery leaves. Both flowers and leaves change colour through a palette of copper and bronze as the season goes on. I may not remember the name, but I know that I got it from Burncoose Nursery down in Cornwall, right down at the southern tip of England where palm trees grow.

I've taken a blogging break for a few weeks, but I'm looking forward to catching up on what's growing elsewhere, starting with Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens.

Tuesday 14 July 2009


I'd never thought of onions in terms of juice before. The papery brown skins of shop-bought onions are all about storage, about lasting through the winter in a dessicated sort of way. But weeding between the rows this week, down on my hands and knees, I was overwhelmed by the juiciness of onions. Thick, succulent tubular leaves, squeaking against each other as I moved them to reach the weeds. Swelling pearly globes of the onions themselves. Just now they seem more like a fruit than a vegetable.