Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lots of vegetable-gardening, lots of rabbits, not much knitting…

Where to start?

Here’s my square-foot garden. Ted's interested, anyway.

It doesn’t look much like this, but it’s not a total failure, either. I blame a cold, wet May for much of the poor germination. I have filled the gaps in some squares, and re-sown others from scratch. The new seeds came up almost as soon as they hit the soil.

Rabbits had been tunnelling in to the fenced part of my garden. I tried blocking the mouth of the tunnel with stones, and found each morning that the stones had been disdainfully tossed aside. So I dug the tunnel back a few feet. I stopped when it began to go deeper (and when exhaustion supervened), and blocked the mouth with stones again. We never did find the other end of it.

Success! The stones were undisturbed the next morning. Joy turned to despair when my husband spotted a pair of young rabbits a couple of hours later, having a nice time giggling among my vegetables. I had succeeded only in shutting the rabbits in. He shot one of them. That evening, the other one was still there.

We tried to persuade it to take up a position from which it, too, could be shot, but it wasn’t interested. The next morning it was gone, as was half of the pea crop and most of the little runner bean plants just emerging into the light. So there must still be a rabbit-way in and out. But no one came back, in the remaining days we were there. I replanted the peas, although expert advice and my own notes from earlier years agree that it’s too late.

I love the solstice light. Maybe one day I’ll experience it in Lerwick, but for now, Strathardle is pretty good. We have got to spend the last week of this month in London looking at art, but I think I see a window of opportunity to get back to Strathardle for one night next week, at the solstice itself. We could eat spinach by then, I’m sure, from the squares in the middle column above.

Anyway, OK, knitting

I finished the second shoulder strap on Ketki’s gansey, picked up sleeve stitches, decreased the gusset away and am trudging down the arm. My notes clearly said to pick up 56 stitches on each side, but I couldn’t cover the ground with that few. I tried counting the completed sleeve, and it seemed, after repeated re-counts, to have 64 stitches on each side. Odd. So I picked up 64.

Last night, back at the ranch, I got Sam’s feet attached, and am ribbing his belly. I had a nice time wool-gathering on his behalf. The resulting generous handful yielded its dirt readily when soaked in a solution of washing-up liquid, and feels deliciously silky although the Scottish Blackface is supposed to be good for nothing but carpet-backing. It was awfully clever of someone a long time ago to conceive the idea of spinning such stuff.


  1. Anonymous10:07 AM

    This is bonus time of year with the lovely lighting. Memories of my week in Mull in 2004 and in Orkney 2006 not long after the solstice. Keep your camera handy!

  2. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Is there a less drastic way of controlling the wild rabbits? I've been reading a little bit on the internet about using plants, e.g. catnip for one, to deter the rabbits.

  3. Rabbits will not be deterred. We haven't yet resorted to shooting them (though the BF wants to shoot our moles), but I have given up on planting peas and we have additional fences around plants that provide great temptation (broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts). Lately, they've taken a liking to our tomato plants, a situation that has me considering rabbit stew.

  4. Hi Jean

    Just to let you know that I have finished the Amedro christening shawl which you recommended a few months ago. I stashed it out of the way until my maternity leave started so I could concentrate on it, and it's currently blocking in the spare room, with 1 week to go before due date! I am so pleased with it - it is absolutely gorgeous!! Of course, I can see a couple of errors, but no one else can. (Mother in law has just been for a visit and was mightily impressed, but then she's a spinner rather than a knitter!)

    I'm now slightly annoyed that I've been bitten by the Shetland lace bug just before the one time in my life I will have no time to pursue it...

    Thanks again - will try to sort out a picture on my current website-in-limbo

  5. The rabbits are making me think of Beatrice Potter.
    Hope the garden gets a respite from the bunny munchers. I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's new book Animal, Vegetable,'s nonfiction about eating locally and rasing one's own food. There's a lot of gardening in it that you might enjoy.

  6. Valerie, you're not the only one who thought of Miss Potter. In my case, it was a very specific thought, from The Fierce Bad Rabbit:

    This is a man with a gun...


    Jean, will you be serving it up in a pie?

  7. I haven't had rabbit pie in a long time! I hope you can deter them from your plot. the Gansey looks so nice in that colour.

  8. Anonymous4:59 AM

    We have groundhogs and groundhoglets to compete with the rabbits...and the deer. Last year, we even tried explosives to blow the groundhogs' doorways shut, hopefully with them inside, but to no avail. The only way I've been able to salvage any type of garden produce is to produce it on my porch in containers and hope my lily-livered Laborador appears scary enough. She doesn't deter the deer. They enjoyed the lillies while she lay blissfully napping at the bottom of the bank below them. At least rabbit can be halfway cooked decently. Groundhog is nasty.

  9. Anonymous12:16 PM

    The gansey looks quite lovely!