Leafyleith's Blog

October 3, 2011

Post-summer update

I didn’t plan to have no updates all summer, but it’s happened. I’ve been busy though. So, just a quick summary of what’s been going on.

The summer was pretty crap, weather-wise. Not a lot of sustained sunshine – probably about four weeks of solid sun… (including 20+ temperatures during the last week of September).  Anyway, it seemed to take ages to get anything to grow and some plants have been better than others.

The carrots, courgettes and parsnips have done well. I’ve also grown fennel, but it bolted and I think I sowed it too early (beginning of May), so next year I’ll hold off for a few weeks. Rocket and salad leaves were good.

I was exasperated by the beetroot. I tried three times to grow it and it failed to germinate. It eventually made an appearance after I soaked the seed and sowed it in June. Must remember this next year.

Another fail were the runner beans which kept getting eaten alive by slugs or snails, so eventually I gave up…

So that’s a quick run down of the last five months! Better luck next year, I think.

May 15, 2011

And we’re back!

So, where was I? It’s been a while, we’ve got a bit of catching up to do.

Last summer saw a few successes and a few failings. Successfully managed to grow some lovely carrots, pak choi and courgettes in the new raised bed. Failed miserably on the beetroot, sweetcorn and sunflower front. Not sure what happened there, because they were fine the previous year.

And we got a new little Daisy here at Leafyleith. She was the best seedling of all last summer.

This is the main reason why it’s been quiet on the posting front. But the Gaffer and I have been quite busy getting the garden back into shape and ready for year 3 of Leafyleith.

So far, the following seeds have been sown:

  • Beetroot – just in
  • Runner beans – been in for a few weeks, so far no show
  • Dwarf beans – just in
  • French onions – through
  • Parsnips – through
  • Carrots – through
  • Basil – no show, so have re-sown
  • Salad leaves – sporadic, so have re-sown
  • Courgette – just in
  • Fennel – just in
  • Sunflowers – just in (am starting them off in pots in the growhouse, because of last year’s failing)

For some reason I was a bit surprised that the fennel seeds look just like the ones you cook with. Not sure why this surprised me, but it did. Does this mean I could have just sown the ones I have in the kitchen?

September 13, 2010

Dwarf bean glut

Filed under: Gardening Year 2 — by leafyleith @ 11:11 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

A few weeks ago if you’d asked me what I thought of dwarf beans, I’d have been quite derogatory.

I wasn’t impressed by the spindly, little plants. They didn’t look like they were making much effort and I thought I’d wasted my time on them.

Boy, was I wrong. I am truly amazed by the abundance of produce from six plants. They are tiny – less than 30cm tall – but I’ve had so many beans off them I am having to give them away.

I’ve grown a variety called Purple Queen. It has lovely lilac flowers that produce a dark purple bean which turns green when cooked. And the more you pick, the more they come up with the goods. They are still going strong.

My favourite recipe has been a variation on Salad Nicoise using smoked mackerel instead of tuna. It’s delicious.

Anyway, I’m not sure I’ll grow dwarf beans again next year. I prefer the visual impact of the taller varieties in the garden, so I’ll probably opt for a purple variety of runner bean. But if you’ve got a lack of space or fancy growing some veg in pots, then dwarf beans should be top of your list.

August 8, 2010

Harvesting courgettes

Filed under: Gardening Year 2 — by leafyleith @ 5:50 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

At long last things are happening at Leafyleith. My two courgette plants are producing an abundance of fruit.

You can see below that I’ve left some of these a bit too long and they’ve become marrow like. They should really be picked with the courgettes are still quite small and the packet suggested picking when they’re 5cm wide.

The plants are quite large and sprawling. I made the mistake of planting too many plants in a tub last year, so I’ve allowed plenty of space in the raised bed and they’ve made the most of it.

I went for a round variety of courgette – Eight Ball – and this week I picked a few and made this easy courgette soup recipe that I found online. I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter – no chives or oregano in mine and I substituted creme fraiche for the cream.  But the general idea was there and very tasty it was too.

It won’t be long before I’m making this soup again, judging by the number of courgettes in the pipeline…

July 20, 2010

Slow gardening

Filed under: Gardening Year 2 — by leafyleith @ 12:01 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Is it just me or does everything seem a bit slow this year?

Had a look back at last year and by now the hydrangea and flame-flower were in full bloom. The hydrangea has flowers coming but they are still green and the flame-flower is a fraction of last year’s size, so am putting this down to the harsh winter.

Not sure what’s going on elsewhere.

We had great weather during May and June, but all the seeds that I’ve sown seem really slow. The sunflowers and sweet peas have been rubbish, whereas last year I had great success with them.

On the veg front all I’ve harvested is rocket, lettuce and pak choi.

The courgettes are on their way – lots of flowers, but the recent
torrential rain and lack of sun is hindering their development.

I had great plans for the new raised bed too. But my original sowing of beetroot failed to show, the bean plants are more Tom Thumb than dwarf and the spring onions look like blades of grass.

Anyway, fingers crossed that the sun comes back out in Scotland, although I heard on the radio that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day, that it will rain for 40 days. Wonderful.

April 12, 2010

Raised bed gardening

Filed under: Gardening Year 2 — by leafyleith @ 10:46 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

September 21, 2009

Clean up time

Filed under: Gardening Year 1 — by leafyleith @ 5:15 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

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

July 1, 2009

No slacking

Filed under: Gardening Year 1 — by leafyleith @ 7:56 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The lack of posts in June may have given the impression that there’s been a bit of slacking going on at Leafyleith. No, no, no.

While I have been out gallivanting quite a bit – St Paul Cap de Joux, France; Manchester, England; Dunfermline in the Motherland – I have been quite busy researching gardens in these locations. In some cases getting some hints and tips, and in other cases spreading the word of the power of planting.

Anyway, while I’ve been on tour, the sun has been out and the vegetables and flowers have been hard at work. Great results on the flower growth front.

tropaeseum speciosum

I cannot recommend highly enough Tropaeolum Speciosum (AKA Flame Flower or Flame Thrower as Shed and Lawn Man seems to call it).

It has the prettiest leaves and dainty red flowers, with lots more on the way. Everyone comments on it. It’s my favourite thing in the garden so far (apart from my hammock).

That pic is actually two plants that I put in last year and I thought they were goners because they initially lost their leaves and only grew about 5cms, but what a result this year. So I’ve invested in another one for up at the deck.

hydrangea

The blooms on the inherited hydrangea and the  honeysuckle I planted last year are also on their way. The jasmine has done it’s bit already and it smelled superb. It has flowered but seems to have taken on a growth spurt, so am hoping a few more are on their way.

I didn’t think much had happened on the veg front and I must admit I am getting a bit impatient with progress, but I just had a quick look at previous photos and the sugar-snap peas and mangetout are coming on a treat with flowers out this week. I presume flowers are a good sign?

mangetout and sugarsnaps

Runner beans and butternut squash are also growing, but the star of the show is the courgette.

courgettes in tub

As you can see, I made another novice gardener error by planting too many in that tub. On hindsight, I really should have planted just four seeds in there, because they all germinated and are doing brilliantly. ‘Note To Self’ for next year. So have transplanted a couple into the garden where the radishes were, and passed on one to my neighbour (who seemed most impressed that I’d grown them from seed). Courgette plant to a good home, anyone?

pakchoi

Another quick developer is the pak choi and rocket. I planted these seeds a couple of weeks ago and look what’s happened already. Although I am a wee bit anxious about them because there seem to a flurry of butterfly type creatures which I think might be Cabbage Whitefly. So I need to deal with them pretty urgently.

Don’t want to harp on about it, but space is tight and successional planting is not really possible at Leafyleith. So I’ve put my name down for an allotment. There’s a bit of a wait here in Edinburgh, so if I haven’t developed arthritis in four years time, I should be able to start successional planting and growing lots, lots more…

June 9, 2009

Read any good books lately?

Filed under: Gardening Year 1 — by leafyleith @ 10:39 pm
Tags: , , ,

malaga-garlic

Today, I bought the River Cottage Handbook No.4 Veg Patch. Written by the Head Gardener at River Cottage, it’s brilliant for someone who is new to the veg patch. It’s simple, with good photography, veg A-Z, info on how and when to plant, tips on composting and the added bonus of some recipes courtesy of Hugh F-W. And it’s modern, published in 2009.

A few weeks ago, I bought Dr. Hessayon’s Veg and Herb Expert. Now don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent book. His books are Gardening Bibles. But it’s slightly dated: there are explanatory notes about eating garlic and dire warnings about chillies (DO NOT eat raw, not even a tiny piece, unless it’s part of your heritage). Made me laugh. 

I am actually growing garlic. And it seems to be coming along nicely. Although I did read in Veg Patch that you should remove the leaves to stop them flowering and encourage the bulbs to plump up. If I can be bothered, I might carry out an experiment and remove the leaves on some plants and leave some others growing freely.

The weather has been good, but that pic isn’t of Leafyleith, it’s garlic growing in the slightly warmer Malaga sun. If only…

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.