Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Slug and Parsley

Here's a fun fact for you: slugs LOVE parsley, but leave lemon balm untouched. This morning I have attempted the rescue of 40 parsley seedlings. Their cotyledon have been badly mauled, but despite this their first true leaves were emerging. So I pricked them out into modules.

I've balanced the module tray on a big tin cup in a tray of water to frustrate the slugs and give the seedlings a chance of recovering. 

In front of them are lemon balm, also showing first true leaves, but nevertheless still tiny. Big enough to be pricked out this weekend. I want a lot of them, a patch 12x6ft, so 80 plants. It's a genuine therapeutic herb: Scholar gives almost 3000 hits of mentions of Melissa officinalis since 2018. We'll mostly use it for tea.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

This morning...

...I pricked out 40 sorrel seedlings. The 12 sunflowers have gone outside to harden off. The rest of the seedlings are still a couple of weeks away from pricking out, and I think the tomatoes might need another month before they can go in the ground.

I've been keeping gorse clippings to use as anti-slug and -snail barriers, but was disgusted to find a small slug hiding amongst the the clippings in their bucket, so maybe slugs can negotiate their way around the prickles, the wee bastards.

Getting the sunflowers outside leaves a space on the poly-tunnel table, so, probably tomorrow, I'll sow the rose seeds which have been stratifying in the fridge for 2 or 3 months now.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Common Sorrel II

As I said, 'germinating like mad'. What I've learned here, is that I needn't have bought a packet of 3000 seeds. 300 would have been enough. The question now is, do I prick them out into 1 or 2 trays of 40 modules? I'm thinking probably the latter, giving me a big old patch of 80 plants.

It's clearly a significant culinary plant, particularly in France, where, apparently, 'l'oseille' is an idiomatic term for money.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

"Latah" tomatoes.

Pronounced "lay-tar". I got these from the Real Seed Co., whose (false) assumption that they were Russian is understandable as they came from the Moscow campus of the University of Idaho. And they were selected for their tendency to ripen over the short growing season of a northern latitude. I am late in sowing them, but according to this site, planted out in late May, they were producing fruit a month later. We'll see.

It appears from this 2010 article that the University of Idaho has been working on short season tomatoes since the '70s. Ariel Agenbroad tells us she "gets a kick out" of producing tomatoes with names like Latah, which is the county in which the campus is situated. And so, let's see how it copes with a Glasgow polytunnel's climate.

Saturday, April 27, 2019


Above, how it looked when set up. The "instant-collapsible" table is now heavy laden with seed trays. Below, the max/now/min thermometer yesterday afternoon. With the door open, it drops quickly to something like the ambient temperature. And 5.6C, well, that's what the ambient temperature is at night. Whether or not to try growing anything over winter is not a pressing matter, but I did consider getting a rabbit in a hutch in there, which would warm it just enough. Or something. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Common Sorrel

Never mind the sorrel for now, the big news of course is the poly tunnel, which means I can begin to propagate from seed properly. I've sown a var. of tomato called 'Latah'; a var. of sunflower called 'china cat'; pipiche; wrinkled giant hyssop; and of course common sorrel. (I note that I grew french sorrel, back in the day, and recall it being one of the first plants I grew successfully.)

I've headlined with the sorrel because it's on my mind this evening. For reasons which I cannot fathom - I wasn't drunk or anything - I planted it in a seed tray without holes, the sort one uses as a base for trays with holes in. It's germinated like crazy, but as i found this evening it's hard to water, from above, without washing out the seedlings. I could buy a small watering can, with a rose, but then I won't make this mistake again, so that would be a waste. Instead I'll prick them out asap.

What with dogs and wood pigeons, I've succeeded in planting out nothing but green manures since I started this plot. The poly tunnel is a significant piece falling into place.

Thursday, January 24, 2019


Clearing ground and sowing winter field beans progresses slowly, as you'd expect given the time of year. I'm working my way down the middle western bed, going northwards.

I've had plenty to say about weed suppressing garden membrane in the past, but the realisation that I could cover maybe 40% of the plot for a couple of years, and thereby vastly diminish the weed problem, has lifted a great weight from my shoulders. That's the small SW bed, by the corner-shed, and the former midden area.

Two interrelated realisations: firstly, I'm gardening for the dogs, for bees, and eventually for chickens; so I need tough perennials and good pollinator plants. Secondly, this is a long haul: I can't get chickens just yet, and maybe not until I retire, which is eight or more years away. 

And I've recollected that I've always wanted to grow all manner of herbs, and that any plant whose name ends with -wort must be worth growing. Like sneezewort, which could be from a Harry Potter herbology lesson.

Finally, I can get a cheap polytunnel for £60 or thereabouts, so this year I can sow "indoors", pot on, and eventually plant out from July onwards.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Allotment Arc

Everyone must start with some degree of enthusiasm. Your name has been on a waiting list for several years. And here you are, with ground and weeds and a spade. Weeds, because no-one ever gets an allotment in good condition. The previous holder will have gotten slowly disillusioned, or bought a boat, or fell in love, and then let things slide. Weeds. Or as in my case, he had been struggling with health, bereavement and old age for some time. 

One starts to battle the weeds with fire and fury. Gradually you think it's taking shape, and in that shape you see problems deeper than weeds, like drainage. And the levels of the earth are all wrong. Wrestling in the mud. Eating like a horse, sleeping like a log. 

That was the first year. The second was excavations of old walls and stray bricks, the central path under a foot of earth. It's at this point that I didn't give up. Dad will recount numerous instances where he's seen fellas go mad, tearing into it. And then getting sick of it. But I carried on, and formed the insane plan of riddling every inch of earth to get the glass out, and keep the dogs safe. I spent the entire growing season of 2017, and riddled out maybe 5% of the growing area. 

2018 was not a good year. I just about kept the weeds in check. The path is choked, though, and will need re-laid to get rid of its patina of grass. Photography had gotten hold of me, the way a boat will, pushing gardening into a corner, not unpleasant, but rather a chore. It was a close thing. I joked about it several times, and thought about it much more: this is getting to be like hard work. 

But I've kept at it. And in the last few weeks I've realised I've gotten past the hump, the pain barrier, that point where people are mildly surprised and disappointed to hear one's given it up, but will admit, on second thoughts, yes, his heart wasn't in it any more. Past that this morning, I realised I'm moving slowly through the plot, clearing last year's weeds, slowly reclaiming what I did in in 2015/16. 

And the soil, you know, is lovely. Fat worms live there now. 

Friday, October 05, 2018

Llibertat: getting there...

The first time I've ever developed slide film in actual E6 chemistry. This one might be an actual print, though it's slightly wonky, it can be straightened. As soon as I looked at the first slides through the viewer, I fell in love with Ektachrome. It makes the best cross processed prints, and now I get the whole National Geographic thing. This was the last roll, long expired. But I'm expecting a new roll through the letter box any day now.