Sunday 29 May 2011

Asian Greens and Wind and Shed

 I'm trying to find something other than the wind to talk about, but it has been the theme of this past month now. It is interfering with all the usual tasks at this time of the year.

To make matters worse I finally bought a shed to replace my old broken greenhouse/shed.  This should be a winter job but, hell, I saw an offer I couldn't refuse, and it is my birthday   -  in a few weeks time...

My 20 year old shed doesn't look too bad from this angle, despite the 'contingency woodpile' in front of it:
Old Shed
But from this angle:

Shed and a half
  (That's the new shed flat pack resting inside the shell)

Back to wind.  I planted out about 30 dwarf beans two weeks ago. After one week under fleece we had one calm day at the weekend - and I foolishly took the fleece off to harden the plants up.  This weekend they looked like this  (or worse). The wind took off the first two true leaves of every plant.  This one looks like it will recover with the new growth. Quite a number have given up the ghost. Fortunately  I've got plenty still sheltered at home to fill in the gaps.

Wind damaged bean

Back at home, and desperate to plant SOMETHING out I planted up two big tubs we have out front. Only the wind out front was worse than at the back.

Shrouded Tubs

At the (relatively) sheltered back, where my brick raised beds are, the salads bed is burgeoning. Its time to pick the radishes and 'asian greens' to make room for new sowings.  Here's the the 'asian greens' which are all wonderfully architectural, succulant, peppery, textural, piquant, fresh and otherwise unobtainable :

Asian Greens


Green Mustard

Bok/Pak Choi


Red Mustard
And here's a bowlful of joy :

Yum Yum

p.s. Just sorry that some of my pictures have reverted to their original orientation when uploaded.  Blogger appears to be playing up something rotten lately, being logged on already when I sign in and then refusing to post my comments even on my own blog (sorry for resulting lack of response to comments) and by now all our personal details are probably in the hands of the internet pirates somewhere in cyberspace.  Hope they like veg!

Monday 23 May 2011

Blowin in the Wind

I was moaning about the wind a couple of posts ago  Today my plastic greenhouse got shredded. Here's some pictures from around Edinburgh today:

Bend with the breeze

The Meadows


Tree down

Words fail me.  Except to say that perhaps it was a bad idea to leave my shed half dismanted this weekend.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Bye Bye Bay Tree

..Bay Tree Bye Bye.  (A version of the Four Seasons' classic recorded by the Bay City Rollers)

Is it serious? I'm afraid so!

This bay has been a stalwart over the years, but last winter was too much for it.  I feel guilty for leaving it outside now. I cut it back and repotted it in the best terracotta  pot, but have now recognised the futility of trying to resucitate it.  I'll be kinder to the next one.

It's not all doom and gloom on the herb front: I divided the herb bed up like noughts and crosses (tic tac toe)with potting compost for the lines sown with chives and parsley. Each square has been sown with different seeds, which are now coming through.

Square foot herb bed - with rose petals blown in

Rosemary cutting
The one exception to the seed rule was rosemary. I plonked 5 twigs into the ground in the hope that at least one would take root. It looks like they all have. Several are flowering.

Why do they come two to a seed pod?

Pretty enough to grow just for appearances

Summer Savory
 Ready for those beans.

The salad bed is taking off too.

so it's not all doom and gloom. 

p.s. After a day of respite the strong winds are back. I hope all is well with my defences at the plot.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Rough Winds DO Shake the Darling Buds of May

but which buds would Shakespear have been referring to?

I have a feeling these wouldn't have been around in his day:

Redcurrant (unripe)

But maybe these would?

Elderflower in bud
 At any rate we've had wind bad for a week in Edinburgh and I'm fed up with it. Whereas I expected a break from zipping up the two plastic greenhouses as the weather got warmer instead I'm leaving them zipped up all day as well as night to protect the plants from the wind!  My beans (all 130+)  have outgrown their pots and need to be planted out, so what to do?  Here's my solution:

Like shipes in the night
 As you can see the whole plot is beginning to look like a badly run laundry. In the distance there's a tunnel of dwarf beans and the other white mounds are thrip nets over carrots.

Runner beans all aboard

Even hardy old rhubarb is protesting about chill winds:

Rhubarb in shock

The only protection my peas are getting though is from the birds.  The picture doesn't really show the wide gauge pea netting strung between the posts (although the nearest, earliest, row has a more robust chicken wire tunnel). That's six rows now, three presprouted in toilet rolls and three sown direct today - Mangetout, Petit Pois and "ordinary" Kelvdon Wonder.

A proliferation of peas

The only protection for spuds  is mounding. After the frost two weeks ago more have emerged. 

Mounded potatoes

 And to end my weekend roundup on a cheery note, our local pair of swans have a new brood:

New arrivals (1 day old)

Saturday 14 May 2011

Embarrassing Brassica Admission

I was so organised this year. I prepared the seedbed properly and labelled each row. As you can see I made a frame so that I could protect the seedlings with fleece on cold nights.  The problem?  I got a bit carried away with multi-coloured supposedly indellible pens, and the white stick labels you see are now all unreadable.

The red cabbage I can make out - the rest....

Monday 9 May 2011

There are no wrong answers...

Here are my test results....

The top grid is my daily tally of emerged beans.

The bottom grid is the points awarded:
 7 points for earliest appearance of leaves clear of soil level,
6 for the next day,
5 for the next day....

... down to 1 point for emerging on day 7.

No points for appearing more than a week after the first bean.

My hypothesis?

Sideways planted beans would score less points than those planted with the scar (helum) pointing down.

The result:

If anything the opposite was true.

Conclusion:  the differences I recorded last year was down to chance variation.

At least I will get to eat my results as well as my pride!

You've bean rummbled!

You're a has bean, Mal

Saturday 7 May 2011

Everything's coming up... Beans?

Here are some happy beans. They are part of an experiment but they are none the wiser. If only they knew. They should be looking at those innocuous labels...

...and that sinister board

Experimental results will follow soon.

And from the wild, what can trump these hawthorn flowers?

(There are miles of hawthorn hedgerow along the Union Canal  between Edinburgh and Falkirk. Just now it looks amazing)

Wednesday 4 May 2011

It's Official

..the PM is an allotment supporter

Today's PM Question Time

Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op): "More than 100 years ago, Parliament legislated to make sure that local authorities provided allotments. Healthy local food is a very good part of good British values. Why therefore are the Prime Minister’s Government scrapping the obligation on local authorities to provide allotments?"

The Prime Minister: "I was as concerned as the hon. Gentleman when I read that report. I immediately checked, and found that that is not the case. It is extremely important that allotments are made available. Many Members will find that when they ask about that in their constituencies there are massive queues for allotments, as many people want to grow their own vegetables and food and understand more about where food comes from. It is a great movement, and it has my full support. "

Source Hansard:

Thanks to everyone who signed the online petition.

You know there are Council and Scottish Parliament elections afoot: - The man is telling his candidates - Just rememember there are votes in allotments (but not really commiting to anything in the process.)  Oh, politicians make my skin crawl.

Here's something else I spotted today. It really cheered me up: