Monday 31 May 2010

Bank Holiday Plot Update

Thought it was time to get back to basics. Here's the state of play today:


Beans, now released from their experimental duties:

More beans and behind them peas. They look a mess because the twiggy supports are a mess

The view from the end. Behind the rhubarb, all you can see of the early leeks (to the right) is the holes. They're not as big as Matron's but believe me they are there - soon to be joined by the late (Musselburgh) leeks.

Last but not least, as I've been working on this today, is the brassica patch. Not much to look at yet, but the defences are up so transplanting can start.

Now bad news. I've bought in six different varieties of tomato (which in a couple of wet grobags have been anchoring down my plastic "walk in" green/Wendy house ) . Of the six one has been causing me concern:

Today I steeled myself and chopped the offending plant down. It looks like blight, to me. If the rest go the same way I won't be growing tomatoes again. (I last grew them about 15 years ago)

Now something almost miraculous. Here's a picture of our apple tree. About four years ago we squished our Christmas mistletoe berries over the bark of our apple tree, more in hope than in expectation. We watched. Nothing happened. Lo and behold I was spending part of my bank holiday removing the under/over growth from our back lot when I spotted these non characteristic apple leaves - Cue the Allelujah Chorus...

Here's Edinburgh Castle and the Firth of Forth just discernable in the background, taken while walking the dog this weekend:

Last of all. I'm throwing away my "instant" pH tester. It's been telling me the soil is acid, no matter how much lime I've put on it. This week I finally got around to doing the chemical test for the first time ever. The result looks pretty clear to me!

Boy going back to work is going to be boring tomorrow.

Friday 28 May 2010

Flower Show

Missed the coverage from Chelsea last night - busy planting out onions, leeks and fennel. Despite the rain and hail I whipped out the camera to take this low light snap of a neighbour's rhubarb array. How can you resist that???

Here's another favourite!

Monday 24 May 2010

Pead Off

Do you know I thought I'd planted all the beans I was going to this year. But I've got a load of pea beans and I need to get some to germinate this year rather than wait another year only to find they weren't viable. So I've soaked the one's I have in water for 24 hrs and then drained them - rinsing them several times a day. The ones that sprouted I've sown in potting compost which I will keep on the dry side this time.

Let's see if it works this time! I wouldn't normally bother but this is a "heritage" variety and I'd like to see if I couldn't keep it going.

On the subject of failure (hate to dwell on it, but how else am I going to learn) my early start on the brassicas this year turned out to be a waste of effort. The red cabbage on the right was sown on 21st March in modules on a windowsill. The red cabbage on the left was sown outdoors (and covered with fleece). Despite its later start the outdoor grown seedlings are so much better!

In fact the whole tray was a bit of a disappointment - except for the parsley and lettuce which I transplanted - hence the empty tray.

So my efforts with starting brassica early indoors have convinced me not to try it again.


The cells are too small (although no roots were showing through the drainage holes)

The temperature was too hot

there wasn't enough light

The potting compost was too rich for them.

I overwatered them

They got a shock when they got put outdoors

I should have potted them up or planted them out sooner

All in all its too much of a waste of time. I'm going to avoid this experience next year.

This was the starting point (in reverse order):

All (brassicas) for nought.

For the record

Time spent last weekend 4.5 hrs

This weekend 4.5 hrs

On the plus side - No money spent!

Monday 17 May 2010

Get Down and Boogie

Today I analysed my bean experiment results. Which scar orientation scored highest?

It's DOWN!!!

The "score" is like a school sports day. The winner gets 8 points, second 7,down to 1 for last place (but 0 for non finishers). If there's a dead heat for any positions the points allocated for each tied position are shared equally amongst the tied competitors. There were some non starters. All the pea beans failed(!) so my trial sample was down from 88 to 80. Six of those remaining failed. I've adjusted the average score for each orientation group to remove failures (as these might be down to other factors).

Still the Downs are the clear winners. In fact two of each other group failed, but none from Downs. So either Downs are clear winners, or less emphatic winners but less likely two fail. My view is that I have two reasons to sow my beans scar side down in future.

And in case you would like more detail here are the results in full (but needing magnification - just click on the picture)

Hope you enjoyed my little experiment. It was fun, but I'm relieved its over - and produced a result. (Anyone who knows enough about statistical significance is welcome to pick up the analysis for me.)

Saturday 15 May 2010

Love a duck

... or 5 ducklings. New arrivals on the canal this week:

I've added a couple of comparison pictures taken today to the "It's not Rocket Science" entry. I'll be doing the analysis of the results soon.

It's such a lovely morning I got a bit snap happy today.

Do you know what this is?

Answer: Pasque Flower (Latin name Pulsatilla) Credit to Izzy and Mojo!

When the sun shines walking the dog feels like a walk in the park

Thursday 13 May 2010

Jack Frost and the Beanstalk

Like everyone I've been contending with the nip of frost lately. Yesterday there was snow on the hills outside Edinburgh (The Pentlands) until the afternoon! I've mounded my spuds and covered my coriander with fleece. But back at home I've lost faith in my plastic "mini"/"walk in" greenhouses and have been carting trays of seedlings indoors overnight. One or two beans have gone a bit yellow at the edges but they're still comming on strong despite the day/night temperature variation under plastic. Maybe this weekend will be the turn...

In the meantime the keen eyed among you will spot a new link I've added (rather apositely in the Links section) to a highly commendable site: Tracey, aside fom being a model horticulturalist, clearly has a "dot com" web capability and an admirable enthusiasm for have-a-go science, however banal. I am complemented that she's featured my Quixotic escapade on her site. Have a look!

And to shake of the frosty gloom

Here's some spring flowers in the wild today:

Sunday 9 May 2010

As Returning Officer ....

...for the constituency of Mal's Greenhouse I hereby declare that the winner is...

Oh take a look yourself:

Here's a count of some of the ballot papers:

And here's the happy candidates.

And just in case you haven't got it yet, The parties standing are:

BLDF - Barlotti
PL - Painted Lady
SE - Scarlet Emporer

Other candidates participating are from:

PB - Pea Bean
DFB - Dwarf French Bean
DRKB - Dwarf Red Kidney Bean

Their showing hasn't been very good so far.

The votes are not all in yet so a result cannot be declared on the main issue about orientation, but the first ward to return a result is Scarlet Emporer, and the first of those to emerge was orientation "down".

I promise to give a more sober statistical analysis once the results are all in.

Thursday 6 May 2010

State of Emergence

I'd like to report an incident

Let me take down the details

Runner Bean Scarlet Emporer is the quickest off the mark.

You'd think it was easy to tell when a seed had emerged? Well, I've discovered beans grumble for a bit before they erupt.

Then they stick their necks out

before lifting their head.

Spot the dilemma:

So, I've decided that (for the purposes of this experiment) a bean seed has only "emerged" once the first two leaves have lifted above the soil level.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Swifts Arrive in Edinburgh

Sorry, you can't see them in the pic - They're too fast for me to capture "on film". I heard them yesterday but dismissed the idea. Today I saw half a dozen skimming the pond. Summer must have arrived! All the same we are forecast a groundfrost tonight so I'm busy moving seedtrays indoors overnight. Just maybe the swifts know something...

I've chalked up two hours at the plot and £10 on sundries. I've learnt (rather too late) that I should be recording a running total as I go along because otherwise I'll have to trawl through a year of my posts...