Life in the Highlands

Hello and thank you for looking at my Blog...i hope you enjoy my site. I'm pretty new to this but hope to keep it all updated with the progress of my garden. I've really enjoyed being able to start everything from scratch and the hard work has been worthwhile. I hope you enjoy seeing my progress too! Feel free to leave comments it's always nice to get feedback.

Monday, April 23, 2007

End of April 2007

I was well chuffed today when i checked my tatties, some where through the ground and showing life. The soil still looks dry but when i dig down there is moisture further down, it has been showery this week so that's helped a bit too and the seeds are romping away now. My carrots and beetroot have now germinated too BUT what made my day was settling down to weed the asparagus bed and noticing that there are yet more spears showing through, green and purple. They look a bit thin but then i expect that this is because it's their first season. Hopefully as time goes on they will become thicker and more of them.

As you can see from the picture the Berry bushes are in full leaf, i've underplanted these with Lavender Hidcote, to make a fragrant addition to the beds. Did you know that Lavender softens the tartness of acidic fruits? Even just a few drops of cooking essence added to a saucepan of stewed fruit can make a big difference to the taste.

I lifted some strawberry plants today to reduce the size of the strawberry bed and started adding the grass mulch to the remaining strawbs. I dug over the area and took all the runners out that were there and was pleased to see that all the manure and compost had done the soil structure some good. By reducing the size of the strawberry bed it allows me an extra bed so i can do a four bed rotation, much better. Whilst clearing the bed i noticed that the strawberries are already putting out flowers and one or two were in flower. This is a whole month earlier than last year.

In this newly cleared space, I'm going to plant corn, beans and squashes, commonly known as three sisters. In a three sisters planting, the three partners benefit one another. Corn provides support for beans. Beans, like other legumes, have bacteria living on their roots that help them to absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form that plants can use. Corn requires a lot of nitrogen to grow. The large, prickly squash leaves hide the soil, preventing weed growth. The three sisters also complement each other nutritionally. Corn supplies carbohydrates and a variety of important amino acids. Beans have protein, including two essential amino acids that corn lacks. Squash contributes vitamin A. Squash seeds also contain quality fats that corn and beans lack. Anyway this is my first attempt at Three Sisters so i'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Besides clearing away strawberries, i've also sown more seeds. Swedes and turnip. The turnip is a bit early usually being sown in May but everything seems to be a month ahead so i thought i'd give it a try. If it works i'll be harvesting early, if not, i'll be sowing more seeds. My soil is excellent for turnip, like other Brassicas, turnip grows best in a moderately deep loam, fertile and slightly acid soil. Turnip does not do well in soils that are of high clay texture, wet or poorly drained. For good root growth turnip needs a loose, well aerated soil, for this reason i tend to sow my seed on the top of a drill (similar to when tatties are earthed up) as this is the only way i've been successful in growing turnip and swede.

In readiness for the rest of the brassicas i've raked level the bed and cleared any weeds that were there. I plant my brassicas in the bed that onions were in the year before. The reason for this is that i've found they like the soil being that much firmer. I just dig a hole and drop my brassicas in and then firm around them.

Remember the Impatien seedlings i pricked out into trays, just look at them now. Almost ready for putting into small pots. They have fair picked up speed in the last week or two. Even as seedlings they are easy to look after, just plenty of light and make sure the compost is moist.

These will look nice in tubs come the summer and remember to jam them in. If you want your impatiens to grow taller, space them quite close together, about six inches apart, but if you want them to spread out more, plant them at least eight inches to one foot apart. Also they are one of the few plants that will do well in shade and flower their socks off. In actual fact too much sun stunts their growth with smaller leaves and not many flowers.

In the ornamental garden the Chives are already putting out flowers and are a particular favourite of mine. I will split the plant up later in the year and spread around the garden as the clump is getting quite a size. It would make nice edging in the veggie garden and give me some herbs to harvest.

The garden is really gathering pace and the growth spurt is on. Some of the earlier stuff is in flower and it's a real time of change, with the best still to come, i for one can hardly wait.

Happy Gardening!

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Blogger Alyssa said...

Hi Ziggy, I'm really awed by the huge amount of knowledge you have - particulary about vegetables. This was a very instructional read for me! Love it! The strawberry bed looks like out of a gardening magazine and makes me want to try some.. I've read that Native Americans had planted these 3 vegetables as companions, but never heard it called Three Sisters. It is a wonderful and somewhat (to me) touching, name. And thank you for the nutritional side of the Sisters also. What do you do with all the turnips and swedes (are those rhutabagas?) - keep them over winter? I've heard of swedes used as animal feed in the pioneer days here. The impatiens look healthy and hardy. I jam them into my window boxes - sometimes a few inches apart - and they grow nearly two feet high! Wonderful plants. You know, my chives (which are in my perennial garden) reseed all over the place. The soil is very loose - maybe that's why. But yes, they are so pretty in bloom and the bees love them. Things here are beginning to nearly fly out of the ground - something new everyday. Wish I could spend everyday outside! Have a fun week, Alyssa P.S. Does "well chuffed" mean you were really pleased? (I tell people at work that I'm learning some Scottish words when I read your blog!)

6:21 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I agree with the above comment :-) You are so organised with your planting! Our potatoes are still not showing but I have more seedlings coming up. Good luck.

2:29 AM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Thanks Alyssa, i must admit i never consider myself to have a 'huge amount of knowledge' i'm always learning. That said i've been interested in gardening since i was wee and in particular veggie gardening since i was about 10 and i was taken to my first allotment with my friend's folks. I just remember being so excited by all the produce that was growing. I'm a sponge when it comes to learning and probably could be considered a life long scholar, if i don't know something i set about finding out and then testing if and what works...always had an enquiring mind i suppose or some folks would say 'just plain nosey' :-). I love Turnips and Swedes (Rutabaga), the Turnips are ready quicker so they go into soups mostly. However, the Swedes stay in the ground over winter and i harvest as needed mostly for soups but also for my favourite mixed vegetable dish of carrots and Swede mashed! Lovely colour and with a bit of black pepper mixed in just scrummy. We're still boxing canny with the weather so another week and i'll be stuffing plants in all over the place. Booked a weeks holidays in May to just get at the garden. I do an hour a night in the week and as much as i can get away with at weekends. Tee hee 'well chuffed' does mean really may learn some Lincolnshire phrases too as i'm originally from Lincolnshire (England) but have lived in Scotland since my twenties so it's about 50/50 now in each country! Must admit though i never started making soup until i moved to the Highlands and they are great soup makers and my English relatives think i'm something akin to Ena Baxter (of Baxter's Soup fame).

2:30 AM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Thanks Chris. I'm not as organised as i much as i love my job it does get in the way of the gardening! Alas one day i will retire and god willing will be able to spend more time in the garden!

Hope everyone else is having a great start to the growing season!

2:34 AM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Alyssa forgot to mention that turnips roots are still used for forage for cattle and sheep up here, at the mo sheep are foraging in the fields for them. There has been some study done which found out that they were beneficial to the animals. It can be any brassicas but swedes and turnip seem popular....seems those Indians knew a thing or two!

2:39 AM  
Blogger lilymarlene said...

Love reading your blog!
Can I just warn you about that "three sisters" method. Don't do it if you want the sweetcorn fresh....only if you want to leave them until they are mature and you want them for grinding (as the Indians did!). The beans wrap their stems round and round the cobs and you can't harvest them without removing the bean stems. This is a fiddly business and I ended up breaking them, and got no beans in the end. I was really mad!
Carol Klein advocated using this way of planting on Grow Your Own Veg, but she failed to mention that the Indians harvest beans and corn when mature, for drying. She does mention this in the book though.
Can I advise therefore that you don't put all three together or that you do dwarf beans rather than pole beans?

9:22 AM  
Blogger Gardener Greg said...

Your gardens are looking great. You must spend all day working in your gardens. I love your photo's too.


4:27 PM  
Blogger Susie said...

I only have time for a quick hello and thank you for visiting me! I'll be back to read more about your gardens when time permits. You seem to know so much about plants!!

6:22 PM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Thanks for your nice comments. I had wondered about the taller varieties of beans and was discussing this with someone t'other day and had asked about dwarf varieties. I'll give that a go i think and see how it fares....i love to grow my runner beans up canes so that would work ok with dwarf variety.

Greg, I wish i did spend all day on the garden, it would be heaven. Unfortunately work gets in the way but at least i can get some time in at nights although not much but it all adds up. Then again what a great place to spend your evenings after working all day!

10:22 PM  
Blogger Kelli said...

I really enjoyed seeing pictures of your gardens, it sounds like you have lots of great plans for them!

5:47 AM  
Blogger "Early Bird" said...

How busy you are!
And what an infomative blog!
thanks for your visit to mine!

6:25 PM  
Blogger Susie Q said...

What a wonder you are! My father tried to teach ne all of the ways of gardening but I am still such a novice! I am in awe of your expertise! I will check back here often for inspiration, ideas and to "see your garden grow!"


12:31 AM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Thanks Susie G...what kind comments. I inherit my love of gardening from my father and paternal grandparents.

1:08 AM  
Blogger Favorite Apron said...

I recently planted my first asparagus and have yet to see it come up - am not sure what to expect.

I ran across the Madeline story last week - we haven't seen it on the news here in the US - it's very disturbing. My youngest is the same age as Madeline and I just can't bear to think about it.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Ziggywigs said...

Thanks Favourite Apron....i look forward to when i can harvest my first asparagus. I wasn't sure what to expect but then again the fun will start hopefully next's just put up a few spears this year and i've left it to develop.

2:13 AM  

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