Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A thoroughly good session. The weather was open throughout, and Sunday and Monday were beautiful early spring days. I got much more done than I had assigned myself – all eight stations are ready for courgettes; all the soft fruit is pruned, not just the raspberries. A place is ready for the strawberries. Some – not much – general forking-over has been done. I bought a soil-testing kit and discovered

that I needed lime, big-time. (Not surprising – we’re in rhododendron country.) So I limed:

The general impression, wouldn’t you say? is that it has been under cultivation some time recently. It doesn’t always look that way, in February. The table-cloth covers my so-called raised bed.

I consulted my books on the subject of potato-planting. Hessayon suggests planting them under black polythene, but mentions the slug problem. Arthur Simons (I think it was) in The Vegetable Grower’s Handbook says it’s all right to plant them with a trowel. Maybe I’ll try, at least with the first ones, a half-way house: scrape out a slightly sunken path with the front edge of the spade, and then plant with a trowel, or bulb-planter if I can find it. We used to have one.

In general, I feel encouraged to believe that I can, after all, carry on for one more season, especially if we get enough Perthshire time in April and May. My husband was stingy with that commodity last year. I’ll continue extending the permanent planting – those strawberries, and I think I’ll have another go at Good King Henry (a perennial vegetable). I am happy to report that the sorrel I grew from seed last year – clearly an early starter – is alive and well and keen to get going.

The deer (identified by droppings) have been in and polished off the kale. I was surprised that they hadn’t done it before our January visit. Stumps about an inch high remain. I have left them, in hopes of some spring leaves.

And the snowdrops are out, in abundance. We’ve been building up our collection in recent years, and are rather pleased with the result, of which the picture shows but a small part.

Very little knitting. Maybe I should take that sweater with me to CT in July. The happy, idle days of the Christmas holiday were certainly a great boost to Ketki’s sweater, same yarn, same pattern. Do they let you take circular needles on airplanes these days? I’ve never tried anything more aggressive than wooden sock needles.

I’ve got the new Games programme – the knitting categories this year are “child’s cardigan” and “knitted hat” – and I don’t have to enter both classes. So I should have plenty of time to finish the centre of the Princess and make at least a good start on the top edging, before laying her aside again.

Row 29 of the 11th centre repeat of the Princess done.


  1. I believe that knitting needles of any sort are not allowed at all on any flights going to/from the EU. I know, at least, that they are strictly verboten on my Swiss Air flights to Delhi (via Zurich) next week. Instead, I've ordered a copy of "A Suitable Boy" to read. I reckon nearly 1500 pages should keep me well occupied.

  2. How about the Fish Hat from the (latest?) Knitty for your Games entry?

    Should be good for a giggle, anyway :)

  3. I knit on Swissair in Jan 2009 - Canada-Zurich both ways, and Zurich-Southern Africa both ways.
    I took small wood sock needles, and the sock was sometimes on and sometimes off the needles depending on how many security checks I had to go through. No trouble at all!
    I have taken (bamboo) circular needles or straights on flights between Canada and China in November 2008, also without any incident.
    However A Suitable Boy is a great book ...

  4. Anonymous1:52 PM

    A friend of mine got her long circular needle (for magic loop) confiscated at the Paris airport on an air france flight to New York- however they did let her transfer the sock to dpns and take it on like that.

    Love the snowdrops. I remember when I was first a student at Wellesley, (freshly from California, and having never exprienced a New England winter) when I saw the first snowdrops coming up and blooming despite the cold. They cheered me much. (Its still a frozen tundra here in Oberlin. We have had an unusually snowy winter.)

  5. Anonymous2:01 PM

    Regarding the circular knitting needles, my experience has been that they were no problem flying from Fargo to London on Northwest but I couldn't use them flying from London back per Gatwick security. My best advice is check the latest regulations closer to when you will be flying. They secondarily depend on the airline you are flying: if it's a US one they will be no trouble but some EU ones still "forbid" them. Whether or not they actually will do anything to you if you get them past security and use them is another story...what airline are you flying?

  6. Anonymous2:07 PM

    Your photo of the snowdrops is absolutely beautiful. I want to touch them. I think whether or not you can take needles with you depends on the security people and not the airline. I was told by Continental that I could take knitting needles but the gal that say them on the x-ray said no. And she had the final word - refusing to read the letter from the airline.
    Ron in Mexico

  7. Anonymous3:17 PM

    I have knit constantly many times backwards and forwards between the Pacific West Coast and Schipol (I can't sleep on planes) on both KLM and North West with no problems at all.

  8. Jean - when there in 2007 and flying from US to Heathrow, then from Heathrow to Paris, then Paris to Prague, I had no problems with the knitting. Spare needles need to be in the luggage, but as long as there was knitting-in-progress on them, they were OK. I did have one security person ask me to use them (what? like the knitting could be a decoy?)

    Another suggestion is to have the sweater with you, but in your checked-in luggage, and start a smaller project - a scarf say, on bamboo circular needles. Also take along an envelope with the required postage in case you run in with any unreasonable security person. This way you can mail your project back to yourself rather than abandon it at the airport. Most of the time, the person making the call is not an employee of a specific airline, but some employee of the security firm used by the airport.

  9. Anonymous10:12 PM

    I have been planting my potatoes individually with a trowel for quite a few years. When they come through, I just top the plants with whatever I have to hand - compost, partly rotted leaves or shredded shrub prunings. If using the latter I also add some chicken manure pellets. I get quite a good crop even in my very light soil. I'm prepared to cut a few corners as I get older if I can still have freshly dug potatoes.

  10. Anonymous2:31 AM

    i'm just back from a flight by KLM from Amsterdam to the USA - with one set of dp bamboo needles (3mm) and one set of dp wooden needles (4mm) - no problem at all!
    but, british security might have a different view on this matter.

    i did not see any tulip bulbs at Schiphol, i'm afraid, but this was February.