Friday, May 11, 2018

Double Red

I've just put my sweetcorn plants into the ground. It seems early, but they got to a size that demanded transplant. Two varieties this year, 'Supersweet Mama' and 'Double Red' from Real Seeds. These look interesting with the red pigmentation extending right down into the roots. I have noticed (though haven't researched) that pests generally seem less interested in red varieties. The slugs will demolish all the green lettuce and leave the red for later. Same with the cabbage white and even the pigeons when it comes to brassicas.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Tiny, Darting Things

The weather spiked again this past weekend, reaching 27° with not a cloud in sight. Unless you happened to be in the Shetland Isles, which sits up there in the top of the map looking like Al Capp's Joe Btfsplk.
Beetroot seedlings are now about an inch high and potato growth has just become apparent. Below, another sample from the bog/fen/swamp (hey swampy) ...

There amongst the tadpoles are a crustacean/amphipod, a couple of nematodes(?) perhaps, and about a thousand other tiny, darting things.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Friday, May 04, 2018

Squash 2018

The line-up for this season - Green Hubbard, Patisson Orange, Queensland Blue, Cream of the Crop, Chirimen, Blue Banana, Anna Swartz (Hubbard) and Gourd Gigantique! This photo is already one week old, they now have true leaves and demand to be potted on. Then I need to find space enough in the garden for their exuberance.
And here is the last of last year's just roasted.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hairy-Footed Flower Bee

Temperature today hit 24° and will reach 25° tomorrow. Suddenly it's summer. The Hairy-footed Flower bee has been busy in the rosemary bush. Anthophora plumipes is all black with an exceptionally long tongue and doesn't sit still for a portrait so she is a bit blurry (whereas the rosemary is sharply in focus).
And I just saw the first Himmelblaue Bläuling of the season flitting around the back of the garden. On the downside, this sunny weather brings out Homo cretinicus in great numbers. Next door must sun bathe with a transistor radio that broadcasts, presumably, out of a hole torn in the space time continuum. I kid you not, while I had my tea I heard 'Like a Rhinestone Cowboy' followed by 'Daydream Believer' by the Fab Four - no, not That Fab Four, a much more fabulous foursome - The Monkees.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Need Money?

Monday I noticed this mass of glibber in the concrete bunker filled with stagnant water that we euphemistically refer to as 'the pond'. Of course, it is a heap of frog's eggs and in a few weeks I guess I shall see several hundred (?) tiny tadpoles swimming around. Unless something eats them.
I will post updates. (These posts are a bit like the buses, nothing for months and then two in the space of 2 days.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Spring 2018

This feels like a proper spring - gradual warming and lots of rain. Saturday I harvested and cooked the first rhubarb of the season. And there are lots of fresh young nettles for my porridge. The lettuce seeds I sowed after arriving back from our hibernation on March 14th are now ready for planting out. Cabbage seedlings are potted on and tomatoes are 3 or 4 inches high. Yesterday I started trays of amaranth, sunflowers, sweet corn and popping corn, a few cucumbers and zucchini.
Higglety and Pigglety are laying about 10 eggs a week between them (well, under them). I was thinking that when they outlive their usefulness, stuffed they would make a fine pair of ornaments for the mantle...

Monday, December 25, 2017

... and in the Weather

Temperatures today have been 'Orangers' and in the greenhouse there are some lemons ready to pick!

Oca Harvest

I have started to unearth my oca tubers as last week's frost has downed the foliage. I'm quite pleased with the size this year, some really decent specimens. Though the scarlet ones with white eyes are never as big as the bicolour, there are SO pretty!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Mushroom Magic

I have drilled 300 holes in some oak logs and then plugged each one with a mushroom mycelium covered dowel.
Now, I just wait a year and, hey presto, out will pop hundreds of shitake mushrooms!

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Curiouser and curiouser

Once upon a time I had the idea of having a corner of the garden inspired by Alice-in-Wonderland with a huge chair surrounded by oversized plants - sunflowers and dahlias for example - to make one feel they had just taken a sip from the bottle labelled 'Drink Me'.
Maybe that time has come, while sorting my new seed packets I have noticed a bit of a theme...

As always, click the pic to biggen. Or nibble a bit of the small cake with the words 'Eat Me' beautifully marked in currants.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Squash 2017

Well, the crop of 2017 (minus two Canada Crooknecks that we've already eaten) doesn't exactly make my chest swell with pride. Though the Violina Rugosa front and centre is a fine thing.
Still, there's always next year ...

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Popcorn Harvest

It's been a good summer for corn - mind you, never enough sweet corn to really satisfy as I can't spare that much space. But we've this Dakota Black popcorn for the long winter nights in front of the idiot box. And it tastes remarkably better than anything you get at the cinema. Because popcorn makers buy by weight and sell by volume, industry research is all about achieving the biggest flakes, never mind the taste just add more butter and salt.

Monday, September 11, 2017


I bagged a Beefsteak Fungus and some Chanterelles on our weekend walk. The latter so delicious I only remembered to record them with one bite to go. The fungus is more challenging or 'interesting', and possibly just a bit too glibbery texture-wise. I also collected enough sloes for a few bottles of gin and a bag full of rosebay willowherb foliage which I will ferment and dry to make 'Ivan Chai'.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cucumber Numbers

Here are half a dozen that need eating now. That's about 6 and a half feet of cucumber. And there are a dozen more near this size on the vines. And I've already eaten or given away at least another half dozen ...
I put 4 vines in the greenhouse and 2 outdoors. That's 4 feet of cucumber from each vine - so far. There are still more forming.
Now, I've got this recipe for cucumber sandwiches from an old book my mother gave me when I left home called 'New Dinners for All Occasions' by Elizabeth O. Hiller, 1920. "Pare 1 slender cucumber, cut in slices crosswise the thickness of a silver dollar. Marinate with French dressing. Let stand in a cold place 15 minutes. Shape thin slices of white bread in small rounds a trifle larger than the cucumber, spread with mayonnaise, cover half the slices with a slice of cucumber, cover with remaining halves, press edges and sprinkle top side with paprika."
If I make the thickness of a silver dollar to be roughly 1/8 inch, then these 6 will yield me 624 such sandwiches.
Note to self for next year: Get a pickling variety, a later variety that stores, and perhaps just 2 in the greenhouse.

An embarrassment of cucumbers

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Salade Niçoise

Hooray, beans are back on the menu. And these 'Early Risers' are so sweet and tender. I've written their praises before and I shall go on growing them forever. I can't keep up with all the lettuce which is starting to want to run to flower in this heat.
Still importing potatoes, olives and anchovies though.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Der Grosse Rasenstuck

All-night rain has filled the water butts again, soaked the earth and has made weeding quite pleasant. I thinned the carrots and did a final thinning of beets (lunch).
Meanwhile I have just finished reading Richard Mabey's terrific book 'Weeds', the story of outlaw plants - considered culturally, historically and botanically. It looks like there may indeed be fundamental gene complexes shared by many 'weed' species which predisposes them to fast growth and adaptability. So, John Ruskin wasn't far from the mark when he said
" A weed is a vegetable which has the innate disposition to get into the wrong place ... It is not its being venomous, or ugly, but its being impertinent - thrusting itself where it has no business, and hinders other people's business - that makes a weed of it."

"What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Monday, June 26, 2017


Due to my laissez faire method of gardening, I get many things self seeding. Chiefly amaranthus, lettuce, chard and nasturtium. Several generations on and possibly having crossed with some local pigweed, it's a joy to see the amaranthus emerge unbidden in plain green or wine red or a hotch-potch of dappled and infused intermediates.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hottest June

Here is what the weather looked like yesterday. Which prompted this lamentation on the MetOffice site ...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Solstice Stocktaking

On this, the hottest day of the year (so far) - 32° - a look at how things are progressing. I was late sowing - April 10th for tomatoes, courgettes, squash and cucumber. But even so, cucumbers are ready to cut now, courgettes just a few days away and black cherry tomatoes have formed and will ripen in another couple of weeks I guess. Early riser beans are 6 feet up the poles and charlotte potatoes are in bloom behind them. The corn is as high as a pygmy goat's eye and there is lettuce aplenty and still pickings of chard and kale from last year. No rain in sight so lots of watering to be done...

Saturday, June 10, 2017


A couple of new garden projects this year - a wildflower meadow and hugelkultur. Two weeks ago I constructed my first Hugel and have now begun to Kultur it. I achieved a height of about 3 feet and it's about 10 feet long. So, perhaps not as high as is optimal, and it will settle. Though I can add to it in the fall. I've started it off mostly with bush beans and a few cucumber and courgette. I will be adding some chard, spinach and nasturtiums soon and perennials later.
Anyway, Ta-Da!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Winter Projects

Before leaving for Canada I did a little garden DIY. I built a half-timbered mock-Tudor birdhouse and constructed a wattle containment for the 'hedgerow' that I'm trying to beat back control. Happy to report that a pair of Great tits have set up housekeeping in the nestbox and I hear a chorus of peeps from within every time an adult flies back with it's beak full. Impossible to get a photo of entry or exit - just a blur.

Monday, May 08, 2017


Just eating up the last of last year's squash. After a two and a half month winter sojourn on Toronto Island I've spent the past few weeks playing catch-up in the garden. Trays of seedlings are now coming along in the green house and most of the beds are weeded. Not so many weeds this spring due to the lack of rain, and I'm already siphoning grey water into the rain barrels. Oh, maybe it's too soon to start moaning about dry weather.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Higglety & Pigglety

I realize that I haven't even immortalized them here with a photo or description. My two Exchequer Leghorns who hatched June 5th along with two brothers that were later transported back to the farm. Here they are at a few weeks old and then again at three months.

Higglety's Egg

Higglety laid her first egg on Friday. Small and slightly pointy compared with Blanch's Grade A extra large. I guess Pigglety will start laying very soon as well.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


This past week I spent in New Brunswick where the leaf colour was 'mind-blowing'. I'm not sure I've ever seen quite such a spectacular display. Photos don't do it justice. It's more like wandering around in a Franklin Carmichael, Tom Thompson or A J Casson painting.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


... is gharsley.

Ogden Nash Further Reflection on Parsley

The parsnip, children, I repeat,
Is simply an anaemic beet.
Some people call the parsnip edible;
Myself, I find this claim incredible.

Ogden Nash The Parsnip

Celery, raw,
Develops the jaw.
But celery, stewed,
Is more quietly chewed.

Ogden Nash Celery

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Late Early Risers

"The most productive early pole bean I have ever grown. The huge long flat pods are produced at about the same time as the bush snaps are ready and continue producing all summer long. The long pods keep their excellent texture and flavour even when quite large. Highly recommended!"
From Heritage Harvest Seed
I concur. Started producing early July, these just picked September 17th.