Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The Root of All Evil

Some bright ideas don't work.  A couple of years ago I decided to plant up a couple of horseradish thongs in plastic drainpipes each 3ft long ans sunk vertically into the ground.  The purpose was

a) to grow singularly  thick long roots, and

b) to prevent the roots spreading in all directions, as they tend to do when left to their own devices.

Last weekend I decided to dig out one of the pipes. It was quite an effort as the base was embedded in clay.

Having pursuaded the ground to give up it's captive after a 15 minute tussle ending in a vacuous squelch I then had to knock out the contents:


a) No stout root just a tangle of spaghetti.

b) Backache (which a week later has got worse not better).

Moral:  Some bright ideas just don't work!

Excavation starts:

How long?

 Not so impressive harvest:

Psst - Want to see the water table?

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Edinburgh Finances Run on Tram Lines

This week Edinburgh Council have declared that there is a £20,000 shortfall in the rental income for their Allotments.  To bridge the funding gap they have proposed any or all of the following:

  • ·         Rental increases of 10% per annum until the gap is bridged.
  • ·         Withdrawal of rubbish collection and pest control.
  • ·         Restriction of the current reduced rate to over 60 year olds and benefit claimants.
In  fact over half of allotment holders currently qualify for the discount – We are, a lot of us, old or unemployed/low waged.

Also this week Edinburgh Council have declared that they will underwrite the next phase of the Edinburgh Tram  Project to the tune of £144,000,000.  As yesterday’s Evening News  quotes Council leader Andrew Burns  “If the decision was to go ahead, the project can be funded without any impact on the short, medium or long-term revenue budget for the council.” (stress added by me)

Edinburgh Allotment budget is 101,000 and the rental income is £80,000.  So why all the fuss about the missing £20,000 that the Allotment subsidy costs?

If the Council were as committed to Allotments as they are to the Tram EXTENSION they could cover the cost of the current allotments until the year 3440 (at zero rent). If they froze rents at current levels they could afford to do so for 5 times as many years - over 7 milenia!

Edinburgh Council not only INSIST that allotments pay for themselves, net of the subsidy they have trumpeted in the past,  the current consultation contains the statement that  Their fees should also make a contribution to the development of future sites so that the allotment service becomes self-sustaining.” (stress added by me)

The sources for these seemingly outlandish assertions of mine are:


My message to City of Edinburgh Council:


Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Red Tide

It's that time of year again. Be it sunset:

or sunrise:

Red is in the ascendance:

Blueberries turn red

It's getting a bit nippy and the greens are reacting

or giving up the ghost

We're white, but we used to be green

Hope you had a good 2015 - Autumn is here !

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Oh What a Tangled Web

The dry spell of weather has been ideal perfect for drying off the onions and garlic I harvested a couple of weeks ago - that and the new greenhouse facility.

Onions I now have confidence that I have mastered a rudimentary system for stringing, but garlic is another matter.  It should be a simple three strand plait, but somehow it invariably turns into  a  tangled web.  The difficult bit is locking in the bulbs where they should stay. No sooner have you finished than they flop all over the place. It doesn't help that the instructive video I watched on U Tube declared that it was a simple task, nay even a peasant's task.  It was notable that the commentator was not actually carrying out the task in question.

Here's my take on it:

Not so bad... until you hang them up:

On to the onions:

 All strung up:

It will be another year before I get another shot at it.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Peas Please Me...and Beans Too

Sometimes a crop is more welcome because you didn't expect them to come to much.  This year's peas is a case in point

The runner beans are great too, but the quantity a bit overwhelming!

Thursday, 10 September 2015


Last week I was posting about elephant garlic.  Today I spotted this exotic visitor in our garden:

A bit of internet searching and it is identified as an Elphant Hawk Moth Caterpillar.   Pretty exotic, And the moths themselves are fairly dramatic.  I'll have to keep an eyeout for them.

Also on the large size now is the Runner Bean stand.  Cropping is two weeks in and some of them are whoppers.

Not large yet, but getting that way, the cucurbits. The yellow courgettes have been the star so far, but there are Butternut Squashes, Kabocha, and Sharks Fin Melon on the way.

And just for the record here's the leek patch. One of the areas without weed supressant fabric I'm rather pleased with the results of my hand weeding last weekend.  In the foreground are potatoes, and beyond the leeks are drying bean Canadian Wonder, alongside the leeks a row of peas which will be ready to pick this weekend. The fruit cage behind is just about ready to have the nets off as soon as the last raspberries have been picked.  It's been a great sof fruit year!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Boys From The Black Stuff

Today I peeled back the "black stuff" or weed suppressant fabric (WSF) and dug up the elephant garlic.

Here's the scene on lifting the fabric:

and here's crop drying out in the greenhouse. 

I had been worried about white rot given the wet summer we have had.  About three had succumbed to some extent but there are plenty of healthy bulbs for storage.

All these came from a single clove I bought 3 years ago.  It cost me £1. After one year I had six cloves all of which were replanted providing me with 2 dozen seed cloves for this year. No shortage of seed cloves for next year!

I would say that the WSF has boosted the yield.  I didn't miss the weeding - there was plenty left to do in other areas!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Gaga Gargoyles

 Prompted by Jo@ awholeplotoflove, I've dusted off my holiday snaps from Normandy (Already seems like a long time ago!).  Here's the cheeky chappy I was reminded of:
Cheeky Gargoyle

 He's on the roof of the Gendarmerie on the mont at Mont St Michel. Far left in the picture below.

Mont St Michel

There were lots of gargoyles in Normandy, many exhibiting distinctly fierce characterstics. These were on the Palais de Justice in Rouen:

Palais de Justice Rouen

And these appeared to be guarding the Cathedral at Bayeux:

The Cathedral at Rouen had so many appendages it was impossible to capture them all:

Last of all I can't omit this chap, who although not a gargoyle was doing a good job representing all ponies pressed into service on the traditional pressoirs of Normandy.  I'm sure they got there share of apples too after mushing them up for cidre/calvados production.  The mill is planted up with flowers now, but someone had decided to create an homage to the tradition.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Traffic Light Gardening

Today's harvest was red amber and green.

I just couldn't resist!

For the record, I picked the last of the broad beans (what a lot from a sinle row sown in April) and the first of the runner beans today.  now how long will it be to the first frost?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Lindisfarne, Jekyll & Dried Onions

Last weekend we visited Lindisfarne  

Not far from the Castle is another national treasure: A walled garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll

The centre of the garden was a square bed of sedum surrounded by silver leaved plants.  I've never seen this plant being given such a prominant role. The effect was stunning and provided a contrast to the swathes of vibrant colour in the peripheral borders.

Back home it was time to bring the onions in 

 to dry off in the greenhouse.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Blue is the Colour

This punnet of blueberries would retail at 99p in a supermarket.  I value them more because they have taken five years to grow!

If you don't believe that then go to the following link:

This year has been a bumper for other soft fruit too:

But the blueberries take pride of place.

There are plenty more to come...

...before autumn.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Baguette Baguette Baguette

Since returning from our holiday in Normandy I have been making a concerted effort to nail the baguette.  

The nearest town (Tinchebray) had a supermarket but still retained 4 boulangeries along its high street.  Despite our expectations the standard baguette was a bit of a let down.  To make matters worse the "pain complet" was also light and airy and not a proper wholemeal loaf, more a generic British supermarket loaf.  Then we realised that if you kept your eyes and ears open for "method traditionnel"or "pain au levain" there were good quality breads available.

To help me perfect my baguette on my return I added a couple of items to my batterie de cuisine.  I already had the metal baguette tray on the right but (after seeing one in use on holiday) I now have acquired a linen "couche".  It's just a thick cloth that you ruck up to make bed for the loaves when rising.

I've also tooled up with implements for slashing the loaf.  Lames or grignettes:  I'm onto my third and still not really happy about the results. It's really quite a knack to slash the bread without deflating it.   The aerosol is for spraying the loaf with water to help crust formation.

The results?  Well the two in the metal trays were suitably long and thin and crusty on top.  The ones rested in the couche were gloriously irregular but light and crustier underneath (They were slid onto a hot heavy duty metal roasting tray).

Here's an interesting loaf we came accross in France.  It's a brioche dough made into a full sized loaf. I love the decoration.

Now that's a professional loaf.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Spot the Difference

Digital cameras are wonderful things for recording wildlife - and allowing identification at leisure. The following picture was snapped at la Roche d’Oëtre, in the Suisse Normande area of Normandy about 10 days ago.

I had every confidence that I would identify it on my return home. But before I had done so another allotment blogger (take a bow, Sue) just happened to post a butterfly post:

Sue's post

Serendipity or what:?

It is well camouflaged  - Can you see it in this pic?

The main thing la Roche d’Oëtre is famous for is the head shaped rock.  Can you see it?

or maybe this is it:

Not so sure.  All the same it was a tranquil spot, with some nice wildlife.

Always remember to observe the local bye laws: