Thursday, 6 September 2012

Chilli Time

Here is this years batch of Spitfire Sauce - I usually have enough to make over 100 jars which I sell locally but due to lack of polytunnel this year, my chilli production has been seriously reduced. However, there are approximately 250 big red cayenne peppers in this batch - seeds'n'all

I still have a heap of Jalapeno Peppers which will be used to make a batch of Hurricane Sauce, which is also a hot chilli sauce but is more of a slow burn at the back of the throat compared to the instant hit of the Spitfire Sauce.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Alness Show 2012

Well, I managed to get some exhibits together for Alness Show and benched the on Saturday morning before heading off to work. In all I benched 9 exhibits and came away with 5 red cards and 3 blue ones, so I was very pleased, especially as these were basically the last of my show veg for the year. I got red cards for my Peas (which I was very pleased to win and even more pleased at the comments on how good they were from much more experienced growers than myself),

Runner Beans, (though there were a couple of iffy ones on my board if I do say so myself)

 Broad Beans,

 Potatoes (white)

and long beetroot.- which i somehow managed to miss taking a photo of.

I also won a red card for Sweet Peas (which I entered and staged on behalf of Scotsburn Garden - see my other blog). That's our entry at the rear (12 blooms)

I got blue cards for my parsnips (I did manage to get three that were okay), my potatoes (coloured) and my cauliflower.
There were some excellent exhibits at this show, just a few of which you can see below


Friday, 31 August 2012

Fangs for the memory

I'm off to Alness Show tomorrow so this evening I went to pull the last barrel of parsnips to try and get a set of three. Can you imagine how I felt when the first and third ones I pulled came out looking like this ?

Thankfully the other three gave me a set - not the best but they'll look okay on the bench.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Strawberry Glut

My mate Simon has a lot of strawberries in his p/tunnel and I got a call saying to come and help myself as he had too many ! So yesterday evening I went over with the girls to p[ick a few. Well the girls abandoned me in favour of playing with the Wii, so I picked two large bowls - approx 8lbs.
And tonight I have made a large batch of "no cook" strawberry jam and started two batches of Strawberry Gin which should be ready for the festive season.

Simon and Yvonne made this a coule of years ago and it was delish so a quick search on Googlr and up popped the recipe - dead simple - sugar, strawbs and cheap gin

Monday, 20 August 2012

Tain Horticultural Show 2012

Well, the show I started three years ago continues to get bigger and better, and in spite of the atrocious growing season, not only were entries up in both the veg and flower categories, our new photo competition proved a great success.

I did well too - in spite of not showing in as many categories, I still managed 13 x 1st, 2 x 2nd and 2 x 3rd, winning three trophies along the way. Here are some pics of the show with info on each, - first off some general shots just before judging started

These next two photos are of the winning sweet peas, exhibited by Sally Durham whose garden at Scotsburn is the subject of my other blog

The winning vase of Perennials from John Ross, Rogart

George Pirie's Begonia which won both Best Pot Plant and Best in Show titles....

My winning collection of potatoes - from the top - Kestrel, BlueBelle, Sherine, Amour......

and coloured tatties, variety Amour......

Winning Peas, variety Show Perfection

Winning Broad Beans, variety Heathfield

Winning Onion from sets and Red Onions

Ian Coghill from Caithness was rewarded with Best Veg Exhibit for these Kelsae onions

My Blanch Leeks, variety Pendle Improved

Winning Potatoes (White) variety Sherine

and winning French Beans, variety Prince

And in Any Other Veg - my winning Parsnips, variety Pinnacle, and second placed Long Beet.

And finally, a pic of all the trophy winners at this years show.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Tattie Time

With the local show only a week ago, I took the time today to go through my show tatties and try and get some sort of order  before I make my final selection and washand clean them on Thursday night in preparation for the bench.
I cut the shaws (haulms if you live in the south) off last week and the bags have been left for a week to help the skins to set on the tatties.
Anyway, as I was emptying the bags, any really small tubers were put to one side and this is what I was left with to consider....

From top to bottom we have BlueBelle, Kestrel, Casablanca, Sherine and Amour. The BlueBelle and Casablanca struggled to produce a reasonable number of suitable sized tubers but the rest were okay, and in addition the BlueBelle were the only variety to show any trace of scab. The star performer was Sherine. Anyway, aftre a further selection process, I arrived at my final numbers to choose from on Thursday night. I need a set of 4 white,a set of 4 coloured, and a collection, comprising 4 tubers each of 4 different varieties. This last concerns me a bit as to get an even set for the collection I may have to reduce tuber size from what I would like them to be but it is better to have a smaller better matched set than a collection where the tubers are of different sizes.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sutherland Show 2012

Sutherland Show took place yesterday and was blessed with the first good day of sun we have had in quite a while. I wnt over in the morning and although I had little of my own to bench in the Flower Show, with the help of a couple of the gardens I work in, I managed to take a few exhibits along. As a result, I came away with some cards which was a real bonus. I also caught up with some friends who I haven't seen since last years show season and that is always the best part. As you would imagine, the weather (or lack of good weather to be precise) was the main talking point, with quite a few veg showers bemoaning the poor size of their leeks and onions compared to other seasons. Anyway, here are a few pics I took on the day, with captions where appropriate....

Top Tray won by Wattie McBeath from The Doll

And I got a second for this vase (alright I used a bucket !) of garden flowers - all from Scotsburn Garden, the subject of my other blog, where I work on Tuesdays.

Castle Garden July

Thought I'd post pics of  some of the things growing at Ballone Castle in the courtyard garden at the moment.
First offhere are the grapes growing in the greenhouse. Both vines are heavy with grapes and I've already thinned the bunches out once and cut back extraneous foliage - the next step will be the thinning of the actual bunches themselves

Outside we have some pretty impressive cardoon thistles that are between 7 and 8 ft tall and almost ready to produce their lovely purple flowers

And some striking red lilies...

And not to be outdone, the Rambling Rector Rose is giving it loads.....

As are the Floribunda roses......

As I was at Sutherland Show yesterday, I was working at the castle today. I trimmed the hedges in the courtyard garden and then picked in the region of 30 litres (don't ask me what weight but heavy enough) of goosegogs from 5 bushes -- there are another 5 green goosegog bushes to pick
 and four red goosegog bushes too.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Slow Slow Quick Quick Slow

Well actully it more like slow slow, slow slow , slow ! I spent this evening pottering about with the veg, so I thought I'd put up another post to let you know how things are progressing,
First off I lifted my Garlic this evening. It's not he best but as it for kitchen  use it will be more than sufficient. It is now on a rack on the greenhouse floor to dry off. The variety is Thermidor and it cost me next to nothng for three large bulbs on E Bay last Autumn. I might try one of the better known varieties next year but we'll see how this variety tastes first.

I also extended the collars on my leeks - they now have a full 18" collar on them - this will last them til they are required for our local show on 18th August.

I weeded my onion sets and lifted any that were poor or had bolted -this has left me with only those below plus another 6 for showing so I hope they start to get a move on and bulb up soon

I am checking my first sowing of caulies every couple of days now - I have caulies tucked waway in all sorts of places, including two that are growing in the Victorian chimney pots that were rescued from the roof when we moved here.

Finally, curiosity got the better of me and I took a look at one bag of each of my 5 varieties of tatties. Casablanca, Sherine and BlueBelle had very small tubers which worries me slightly, but the Kestrel and Amour were better -here they are after a quick rinse under the tap - nice and clean, no sign of scab, just needing a bit more time....

Broad Beans are starting to form, as  are the Fench Beans, tomatoes going well, beetroot quite a bit behind last year, peas in flower, runner beans climbing up their supports well, Kelasae onions very slow to start bulbing up in any meaningful way,  and stump and long carrots are slow too. Parsnips seem to thriving if the top grpwth is anything to go by as are the long beet...

More to come from me on Sunday after our first local show up here - Sutherland County Show.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Veg and other stuff

Been really busy recently but still managed to get a bit of time to do some bits and pieces in the garden, so I thought I should update the blog with some piccies of what I've been up to and how some of the veg are doing (or not doing for that matter !)
First off is the non-veg side of things.  I have finished putting the kids summerhouse together and all that I need now is some dry weather to get it painted (apparently, according to my 4 year old daughter, "Aqua" is the in colour, so "Aqua" it has to be !!

Also awaiting a break in the weather is the decking which I threw together last Saturday night which still needs to be stained.

On the veg front, I am quite happy with how my Pendle leeks are doing. They have been outside for most of the season, in 25 litre tubs filled with JBA's Leek and Onion Compost and have really moved in the last month or so. They have 16" collars on them and are 7" in diameter currently.

However my Kelsae onions have been slow to start bulbing up and my Hercules and Centurion onion sets are still putting on green growth and showing very little incilation to bulb up at all !
The Cabbages and Caulies are looking nice and green and no signs of any pest damage (touch wood !), the peas have produced their first flowers, the French Beans  have started to flower (in 5litre pots in the greenhouse), the Cedrico toms have set their first fruits, and the Parsnips have a top growth of about 2ft

However, my carrots (both long and stump) are still slow, although they have come on a bit.... but not enough. And the same can be said for my Pablo beetroot - miles behind where I was with this last year. I am also happy with the size of the top groth on my long beet but the centre ribs of the leaves are looking more orangey red than dark red and this is something I will have to google or seek advice abuot on the NVS Forum as I have little or next to no knowledge about these plants. Anyway, will get some more piccies this week and give a fuller pictirial update then.