Leafyleith's Blog

June 11, 2010

New Best Friend

Filed under: Gardening Year 2 — by leafyleith @ 2:15 pm
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Wow. I think Cat War may have come to an end. And all thanks to this little fellow…

I was a bit sceptical because I’d read mixed reports on the internet about the success of these things, but as soon as the Mega Sonic Cat Repeller was in place the cats seemed to disappear. It’s absolutely amazing.

The pack said it can take up to a fortnight to have an effect. I thought it was just a coincidence but there were no signs of any cats from the moment it went out. Then a couple started appearing again and I thought it was too good to be true, but it turned out the batteries had run out. So I think this may actually work.

And long may it continue because tonight I returned home and there were a whole family of fluffy little chicks having a flying lesson from their parents. We hardly ever get birds at Leafyleith. The cats will have a field-day if they spot them, so have replaced the batteries and My New Best Friend is back in its place.

And into the bargain yellow slugs seem to congregate in the silver cylinder. Bonus!

June 9, 2010

Flower power

Filed under: Gardening Year 2 — by leafyleith @ 9:06 pm
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Ah, it’s been a while… but please don’t think work has ground to a halt at Leafyleith. Flowers have been my focus of late.

Am delighted with these alliums. I planted a selection last autumn out in the front garden. These are ‘Purple Sensation’.  They’re a beautiful violet colour and really tall – about 1 metre high. And there are 10 in a row, growing along the hedge. They’ve all come up at different heights so it looks a bit like a Mexican wave.

They were all fluffy and lovely when I took these pics but sadly, they’ve only lasted a few weeks. The flowers are already fading but there are a few more on the way. I planted about 60 bulbs of four different varieties – Purple Sensation, Christophii, Sphaerocephalon and Caeruleum.

One tip with alliums: because they’re a member of the onion family their leaves are quite ugly and lie around the ground so plant some kind of shrubby plant at their base to disguise this. I planted lavender but they are still very small. Next year am sure it will be lovely.

Other flowers that I’m growing from seed:

  • Calendula – Indian Prince
  • Sunflower – Ruby Sunset
  • Nigella – Miss Jekyll
  • Sweet peas – Tall mixed and Blue Velvet

The sweet peas have been a big disappointment and slow to take. Not sure what’s gone wrong but they are spindly and only about 5 cm tall, so I am not holding out much hope for them.

Same with the sunflowers. I put them in about three weeks ago and only one has appeared – perhaps the birds or mice got them. So have started a second batch in the growhouse.

The rhododendron is in full bloom at the moment. Honeysuckle, jasmine, mock orange and geranium plants are also on their way. We just need a bit more sun to make it happen.

April 12, 2010

Raised bed gardening

Filed under: Gardening Year 2 — by leafyleith @ 10:46 am
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Two tonnes of soil and horse manure delivered? Check.
Soil and manure carried through house? Check. (Thanks JB, Neil and Mel.)
Raised bed built and filled? Check.
Seeds sown? Check.

Raised bed gardening is go at Leafyleith.

Many (mainly JB, Neil and Mel) have asked about the merits of raised beds, so I am hoping for a good harvest this year to prove that raised bed gardening really works.

And what a transformation, don’t you think?

It’s been a glorious weekend – 18 degrees for the last couple of days – which has been rather welcome and a bit unheard of in these parts at this time of year.

I’ve probably been a bit premature but I couldn’t resist sowing a few seeds, just to test out the new arrival.

So down the far end, I’ve sown radish, rocket and lettuce (Lollo Rosso and an Italian mixed leaf selection), just a couple of rows of each, but the sunshine on Leith is set to continue for the rest of the week, so hopefully they will germinate.

Meanwhile, Cat War continues… The chicken wire is working a treat, however they are now using the flower bed on the other side. And they don’t even have the decency to dig a hole.

March 28, 2010

Commando Cat

Filed under: Gardening Year 2 — by leafyleith @ 3:02 pm
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I was feeling rather inspired last week. Spring has sprung, I thought. So I got my seeds out and started planning for the new raised bed.

I started sowing sweet peas, calendula and nigella for my summer pots and window boxes. And I began hardening off my delphiniums and cleaned the copper rings which will protect them from slugs and snails.

And then this happened.

This is Princes Street, Edinburgh at 6pm at the end of March. It’s just not right. And now I’ve just seen a weather forecast and it says it’s going to SNOW.

Another upset are these bleeding cats. There are five regular visitors: Monster Cat, Cagney & Lacey, Scabby Doo and Minging Fluffball Siamese. And at least another three that appear every now and again. They really make my blood boil because they use the veg bed as a giant cat litter tray. It’s truly disgusting.

I have tried lots of things to deter them:

  • citrus peel
  • cat shoo plants
  • cayenne pepper
  • lavender
  • half empty plastic bottles of water
  • throwing glasses of water at them (quite satisfying, but worried a person might be standing over the other side of the wall)
  • chicken wire

The chicken wire is a recent purchase. I’ve covered the veg patch in it. There is nothing in the veg patch at the moment because it will soon be converted into a raised bed, but I thought if I can stop them crapping in it with the chicken wire, they may take the hint and move off elsewhere.

That was my theory.  But a couple of hours after unrolling my new weapon I looked out and Lacey was using it like some kind of Commando Cat, pacing up and down between the holes, like it was in training to go to Afghanistan. Quite funny, really.

I’ve been thinking about getting one of these sonic cat deterrent monitor thingies, but they are about fifty quid and seem to get mixed reports.

If anyone has any suggestions of how to deal with these blighters, I’d love to hear it. Please don’t bother with the dog suggestions though.

February 25, 2010

Ramblings

Filed under: Gardening Year 2 — by leafyleith @ 1:06 pm

It’s pouring. If you’re a Fair Weather Gardener what can you do when it’s raining but plan ahead? So that’s what I’m doing today.

I’d planned to go out and tidy up a bit – weeds are beginning to emerge – but stuff it, a bit of online seed and plant shopping is in order.

This is Rosa Veilchenblau. She’s a rambler and likes a bit of shade, so since we have an east facing front then I’m going to try her out there. Hopefully, she’ll grow up the front wall of the house and then I’ll coax her around the window. Country cottage feel in Leith.

I am not a huge fan of roses. In fact I’ve been trying to murder one out the back for over a year. But I like the sound of Rosa Veilchenblau. She has a rich orange scent and NO thorns. And apparently the flowers can appear almost blue on occasions. I have a bluey/purpley theme going on out front (lavenders, alliums, echinops and – fingers crossed – delphiniums). I don’t like thorns. I like a fragrance. Me and Rosa V were made for each other.

January 9, 2010

2010: a gardening odyssey

Filed under: Gardening Year 2 — by leafyleith @ 6:35 pm
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I’ve been in hibernation for some time now, but I thought a review of my first year of gardening might jog my memory for moving things on in 2010.

Things I learned:

  1. You don’t need to adhere to the seed packet instructions too much when it comes to measurements, but DO leave at least a hoe’s width between rows just so you can keep the weeds down and not break your back in the process. I didn’t do this and wish I had
  2. Don’t be too enthusiastic with your sowing… you don’t need to sow the full seed packet in one go
  3. Successional planting is the key, so that everything isn’t ready at the same time
  4. Don’t believe the weather forecasters if they tell you it’s going to rain. I went off on holiday for a week after being promised rainfall, and came back to a withered up mess. If you are going away for a prolonged period, ask some kindly person to check on your plants
  5. And finally, don’t think people are weird just because they’re not interested in gardening and plants. Well you can think it, but probably best just to keep it to yourself

So that was Gardening Year One. Roll on Gardening Year Two. It’s going to be a busy year.

So far, I’ve got some seed catalogues to flick through, plans for a raised bed (and hopefully some ‘volunteers’ to cart the soil for it through the house), some new pots to fill and some dead delphiniums to try and revive.

Oh and while the weather is so chilly, I’ve been trying to help out Blackbird and Robin with some suet coconut shells, meal-worms and a delicious selection of seeds. Don’t forget our feathered friends during these temperature challenged times.

September 21, 2009

Clean up time

Filed under: Gardening Year 1 — by leafyleith @ 5:15 pm
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It’s getting very autumnal here at Leafyleith. The veg patches are looking very bare and sorry for themselves. I’ve cleared the spots where the peas and pak choi were. Some of the runner beans are still in production along with tomatoes, but everything else is long gone and the butternut squash didn’t even make an appearance. Wee bit too chilly and perhaps a bit neglected?

pink-cyclamen-sep09

The sweet peas are well and truly dead. The marigolds are dying off. The geraniums are still in full swing but am not sure how long they’ll last, so I’ve been trying to inject some cheer and splashed out on some cyclamens and polyanthus last weekend.

flower-pots-sept09

It’s also been the first week that we’ve had no rain for as long as I can remember, so last weekend was spent scrubbing the deck and now it’s stained and ready for winter. Been meaning to do it all summer, but the incessant rain meant it just didn’t happen.

allium-bulbs

And I’ve just planted a load of allium bulbs out in the front garden, so hopefully they’ll put on a good display come spring – although I seem to be recall planting some alliums in the same spot last year and they didn’t make an appearance. It’s right in front of a privet hedge which could be zapping all the goodness from the soil. Or perhaps the mice got them? There are about 60 bulbs out the front, so the mice are in for a bit of feast this year.

August 31, 2009

Keep smiling

Filed under: Gardening Year 1 — by leafyleith @ 10:26 pm
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Happy Toms

Despite the washout summer Leafyleith has been quite productive this month. I think it has rained almost every day for July and August – so much for the warm, hot summer the forecasters promised.

As you can see, the tomatoes have been quite fruitful.  But I did have a bit of a disaster earlier in the month. I went off for a holiday and didn’t bother getting anyone to water the plants. I don’t know why I believed it, but the forecast said it was going to rain all week, so on return everything was rather withered and one of the tomato plants had completely collapsed.

Anyway, I made some Green Tomato Chutney which was quite tasty for a first attempt and some Italian Courgette Soup with the courgette glut – delicious.

Other highlights this month have been the flowers.

Dead chuffed with my sunflowers, which made a rapid transformation in about 3 weeks. From this:

sunflowers-july2209

To this:

sunflower-aug09

I’m definitely going to do them again next year. Along with sweetpeas and marigolds.

Looking back at these photos, it’s hard to believe that that was just a couple of weeks ago. It’s now getting colder and darker earlier at night which is a bit of a bummer. I fear that’s it for this year. Fingers crossed for a crisp, sunny autumn.

July 23, 2009

Ground control to Major Tom

Filed under: Gardening Year 1 — by leafyleith @ 5:12 pm
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I’ve been attempting to grow some tomatoes in my wee grow-house and they are looking rather good. Even if I do say so myself. My dad is an expert tomato grower, so am hoping there’s something in the genes.

tomatoes-july09

This isn’t my handiwork. I got these a few weeks ago, so they were already quite established. When the fruit is there you need to keep them well watered and feed every second watering with Tomorite.

Now I just need some sunshine to ripen them up. And a bit of sunshine on my chilli peppers wouldn’t go amiss either.

chillies-july09

July 22, 2009

How Not To Garden

You know that programme ‘What Not To Wear’? Well, tonight you’ve tuned in to an episode of ‘How Not To Garden’.

After 40 days and 40 nights of rain – slight exaggeration, but there’s no chance of a drought here in Edinburgh – the plants have gone berserk.

All the books say courgettes are easy peasy and they’re not lying. However, courgettes are the main item on the ‘How Not To Garden’ agenda.

I’ve been growing some in a tub and unfortunately mine are growing under battery conditions.

courgette-flowers

Please don’t report me to the Courgette Protection League. I really didn’t know what I was doing. Next year, I must remember only two plants to a tub.

The flowers are absolutely amazing. I’d planned to make some tempura fritter thingies with them, but it’s been raining so much I haven’t got around to it. You’re supposed to pick the flowers on a sunny day, so they are open and ready to stuff.

I also read that you should pick the male flowers to eat. You can tell the difference because the female flowers have a courgette attached and the males are on a stalk.  I seem to have a self-sufficient female colony because the males are only now appearing. My ladies seem to have courgettes already developing… how did that happen?!

Just so you can see that I’m not all bad, here’s how a courgette should be treated. They like space to spread out,  so the fruits can form properly.

courgettes-in-garden

The thing is, I’m not that bothered about the battery ones because I think they’ll be tastier if they’re small and M&S charge a small fortune for those baby ones. Although, I ate one of mine the other day and it was incredibly bitter, so maybe I’m in for a big disappointment.

Other disappointments of late:

  • rocket and pak choi bolting because I didn’t pick them in time (been eating out a lot lately)
  • butternut squash and beetroot also living in battery conditions and
  • sugar snap pea plants being eaten alive by god knows what

Actually, now that I come to think of it, the rest of my gardening antics have actually been quite successful.

Shed & Lawn Man and myself enjoyed a lovely sugar-snap and mangetout pesto pasta dish the other night. I’ve only got about 15 plants on the go, but they have been quite productive so far.

mangetout-pods-july09

And the runner-beans are also coming on a treat as well. Look at the flowers on these, so I’ll be harvesting soon if the sun decides to make a reappearance.  So I’ll leave you on that happy note.

runner-bean-flowers

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