Tuesday, May 31, 2011

There is a certain amount to be said about knitting, none of it of much interest. I’ll stick with vegetable-growing today.

The weather was – and has been – chilly, showery, blowy. “Unsettled”, the forecasters call it. I think it will improve soon:

A wet and windy May
Fills the hay ricks with hay.

There’s a piece of rustic lore for you.

As a result of the cold, there hasn’t been much action in the garden. The soil is in beautiful condition, not too wet, not too dry, ready for action when we get some warm. And, another plus, there has been no frost – it would show on the potato foliage and the apple blossom, and both are fine. Although I didn’t like the sound of last night’s forecast, when we were back in Edinburgh.

So I sort of got started on the Stout System (=mulch everywhere).

I put in some little artichoke plants (I can dream), mulched them with very well-rotted manure, and then covered with long grass cut from around the cultivated bit. There’s lots, and it needs cutting. (We have a strimmer but are both rather afraid of it – I cut on my knees with garden shears.) The Stout System gives me an incentive which makes light work of an otherwise tedious task, so that’s a plus.

The bought-in lettuces from last time are also visible.

Broad beans from the first sowing are making good progress, despite the chill. They were growing in a green sea of chick weed, a relatively small and harmless member of the weed family. So I didn’t pull it out – I smothered it with compost

and then with grass and we’ll see what the chick weed makes of that.

I don’t like Stout’s idea of just flinging kitchen waste on the garden, uncomposted. It sounds as if compost-making is a complicated operation in CT. It’s easy, in Strathardle. I have a bin the county council gave me some years ago – I wish I had made a note of when. They were trying to reduce the amount of rubbish I put out for them to collect.

I put stuff in at the top, and take compost out from a door at the bottom. Sometimes I stir with a garden fork. When Greek Helen is here in the summer, she sometimes tears up cardboard and adds it, and stirs again. I’ll go on with that system. The level is pretty low at the moment.

The fun will start in the fall. I want to begin with a serious layer of manure – Stout says her soil is wonderful because hay has rotted down for 15 years. I don’t have 15 years. Grandchildren will be here soon, and I hope to put them to work wheelbarrow’ing manure from the big heap (we have permission) in the adjacent field. It’s heavy work and they’re not terribly enthusiastic.

Then will come a layer of all the stuff that’s been growing this year –bean stalks and rhubarb leaves and potato halm. Finally, some of the ferns that grow along the burn. I thought they were bracken. My husband says not. But there are lots and lots. They’ll make a great mulch. And we’ll see what things are like in the spring. It will be an interesting change from bare earth covered with weeds and looking as if it’s been out of cultivation for several seasons.


  1. What has been most enjoyable for us using a similar system is that the garden is ready to plant in the spring. If it ever warms up enough, I may get the tomatoes in, and have one or two by September.

  2. I don't even have my own compost bin here, alas. It all goes in the municipal bin and gets collected every week. I could have my own bin but so far it hasn't been worth doing that, partly because the access to the garden is convoluted.

  3. Carrie J12:31 AM

    I enjoy your garden and knitting posts very much. I am a new reader/lurker. I've been intrigued by the photo of your house. Mine is also stone with a stone side room and summer hearth, built by Scottish immigrants to my area (northern New York, US) in the 1830s. There were four brothers Rutherford.