Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Safely back, very tired.

But what a post awaited me! The Summer IK, Ruth Stout’s “Gardening Without Work” – you didn’t tell me she was Rex Stout’s sister; AND “Knit One, Knit All”. Talk about cups running over.

I’ll start in Strathardle, though.

My first impression was deep disappointment (as often). Then I pulled myself together. First of all, we had been away only 10 days, not 2 ½ weeks as I mistakenly thought. Secondly, all my little seedlings are there, and doing nicely, although still miniscule, except for lettuce. Slugs? despite the nematodes? I sowed some more.

Peas lead the way:

These are an early pea called “Oskar” from the Real Seed Company. I have also planted mange touts, as always – this year, a new variety called “Kennedy” (promising) from T&M. I ever search for, and ever fail to find, the taste of the snow peas my father grew in his Victory Garden in Detroit. But I always get a good crop over several weeks. Who’s complaining? Peas like cool, damp weather, the Strathardle norm.

Here are the Mara des Bois strawberries, covered with flowers:

And here, the tout ensemble:

The plastic water bottles protect the runner beans I have been growing here in Edinburgh. It’s a bit soon to plant them out, but they are too big to hold back. They seemed very happy after four nights in Perthshire. They had been thoroughly hardened-off on the doorstep here. The bottles are meant to protect them from rabbits – you will remember that Robin Lane Fox said the other day in the Financial Times that wildlife don’t bother runner beans, but our rabbits may have let their subscription lapse – and also from a touch of frost, if it occurs. Maybe this will be the year when there is no frost at all from mid-May to early September? Maybe.

We read recently in a letter to the Telegraph – it is the sort of thing their letter-writers write about – that teabags soaked in Jeyes Fluid deter pests. We can’t remember now, which pests. But here is the experiment in progress:

We have just learned that the Beijing Mileses will be with us at the end of June and in early July. That’s going to be too soon for my own lettuce – especially as it hasn’t come up – so I bought a tray of plants in Blairgowrie last weekend. Above you see three of them, fully accessible to rabbits except for the impregnated teabags. I planted them on Sunday, they were still there yesterday morning. Watch this space.

We had more sorrel soup, and I have brought rhubarb back. I am keeping a list, this year, of what we actually manage to eat from my efforts, starting with a spectacularly good artichoke soup in February.


  1. Welcome back - thanks for the garden photos.
    Toronto's long winter is really slowing everything down. Cherry trees were one full month later than last year. Not sure if it is yet safe to plant vegetables, despite the impending May 2-4 weekend.

  2. Like Lisa we are a month behind. North America has had a very long winter. We did plant potatoes, I just couldn't wait. I don't think we'll get frost, but it has been in the 40's at night still. Welcome back, I must now see if I can find Knit One, Knit All for myself.

  3. Welcome home, and I enjoyed the garden report. Here in Atlanta it's in the 40's also after a string of 90's.

  4. I have to admit to some jealousy when I read that you have your copy of Knit One, Knit All already. I am still anxiously waiting for mine. It will be interesting to see if the tea bag are successful. I am wondering what Jeyes fluid is though?

  5. Garden is looking good! I have to be a rotter and confess that I have been eating our Mara des Bois strawberries for a couple of weeks now - but Sir has them in hanging baskets in the greenhouse. Does that count as cheating?

  6. Anonymous2:59 PM

    Kristie is polite - I was just thinking "what the heck is Jeyes Fluid?"
    From somewhere I got the idea that tea might be good for houseplants, so I drop my used teabags on the pots in the kitchen windowsill. And now I can't recall where I heard that suggestion....
    Beverly near Yosemite, where temps in the 40's (F) at night in May are quite unusual - we had a fire in the woodstove last night

  7. Some of the old hands at our allotments use Jeyes Fluid as a permanent weedkiller on areas they don't plan to cultivate again, such as path edges. It certainly smells powerful.

  8. Here on Cape Cod, the trees are not yet in full bloom. It is never safe to plant before Memorial Day. We do get a fabulous fall, through. I got quite a chuckle of the bunnies reading their pink Financial Times. I put my lettuce in containers on the railings of my back porch.