Monday, 30 April 2012

Castle Garden update

Another update from one of my work gardens. This is Ballone Castle which is where I spend my Saturdays. Although the weather has been pretty crap, there always seems to be plenty to keep me occupied.
Pictured below are the raised beds which were constructed for Lachie's parents. One thing to note is that nothing, and I mean nothing is ever straight forward here. "We'll build a couple of raised beds for my mum and dad" he said. No bother, nice and easy, 8 lengths of timber, some long screws, a pile of manure, some topsoil and Bob's your Uncle I thought. - NO!
Lachie drew up a rough plan of what he wanted and here is the result. Two beds, shaped like an abstract thistle leaf (this matches a lot of the design features in both the castle itself, and his parents house at the back of the castle.

These have still to be planted up but are filled with well rotted horse manure with some really nice topsoil - planting to commence soon (weather dependent of course!)
With the weather being really good this weekend, I managed to get the tatties planted. These are not in the veg patch at the castle but in a veg plot at the farm at the end of the track. There are two first earlies, Arran Pilot and Swift, and the maincrop is Desiree.

Back at the castle, the greenhouse is beginning to fill up with veg seeds of all sorts as well as a lot of sweet peas.

The greenhouse is also home to two grapevines, one white and one black, and these are really starting to motor on now

And not to be outdone, the fig tree is also bursting with fresh growth - hopefully we'll get a nice crop again.

The greenhouse is situated against one wall of the Courtyard Garden, which when viewed from above (ie from the castle), is laid out in a pictish / celtic design (copied from a local standing stone) with the pattern being formed by Laurel, Escallonia and Olearia hedges. These also form a lot of small beds which are home to a lot of bulbs and perennials. It is also home to a dozen aple trees and about 24 gooseberry bushes. (they like gooseberries a lot)

Next job is to finish preparing the veg plot which is on the foreshore below the castle. I managed to spray off a goodly area where I shall be planting a rosa rugosa hedge as well as a decorative hedge of Globe Artichokes, and sprayed the pathways and also the stone wall (built from stones dug out of the veg patch - more on this when it is in a reasonable photographic state !!


Thursday, 19 April 2012

My Thursday Garden

Continuing my update on the various gardens I look after, here is a short bit about the garden I look after on a Thursday each week. It's at Mounteagle Estate, near Fearn - see link for holiday cottage lets!
It has been pretty wet this week as the following photo shows - this is a trench I opened in prparation for planting first early tatties, but as you can see, the tubers don't need chits, they need water wings !

The owners have just had a wood pellet burner installed to trun the hot water and central heating for the two letting houses and the big house and this entailed a tracked digger going through the garden and digging a track for the pipework. As you can see, this made a bit of a mess at the bottom of the fruit and veg area.

This will be levelled, raked etc and resown with grass but again, we are at the mercy of the weather, and it hasn't been kind. However, the onion sets are in - 50 each of Red Baron, Centurion F1 and Stuttgarter Giant. In addition I have got the root bed sown with 3 rows of Parnip Gladiator, 7 rows of Autumn King 2 and 7 rows of Early Nantes 5.

In the fruit cage, I have tidied up the strawberry beds and planted a load of runners to replace the three year old plants.

I have also managed to get the greenhouse cleared and eadied for this years tomatoes.

Normally, there would be a lot of seed trays in here by now but there is an ongoing rodent problem, which cost over 100 very young sweet peas their lives , so any seeds are now the potting shed.
Elsewhere in the garden, the pear tree is in blossom......

And the apple tree isn't too far behind it.....

And to finish, here are some general views of the garden - the tall tree is a Euchryphia, which looks as though it will be putting on a tremendous display this year if the number of young buds I can see is anything to go by.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Christmas Tree update

Yes, I know it's only April, but today I had my first full day in the forest for ages. Lesley had two foresters in for two weeks and they crown lifted all the Spruce in the largest paddock. However, they did not cut down any scrub or any other trees that would either
1. interfere with the growth of the Nordmann pine christmas trees or
2. iinterfere with the harvesting of the said trees
Nor did they spread the Spruce branches round the bases of the christmas trees - they said it would take too long - no shit Sherlock, that's the slowest part of the operaion. Anyway, having had a good look at their work, I too have decided that it would be too time consuming to spread the already cut branches out so I just set about clearing and scrub from the christmas trees, removing any double leaders and clearing any scrub or self seeded trees from the access avenues between the rows. The first picture shows an avenue with scrub intact. By scrub I am referring to all sorts - gorse, alder, willow, self seeded spruce, self seeded pine and even some sycamore which have been planted but have sent out either branches or new growth in the wrong direction.

After clearing, this is what it looks like from bottom to top

As well as that, today, as Lesley was away, I fed her horses. She had 5 warmbloods but one is off to a trial home down in England-shire, but here are the two remaining youngsters - ain't they pretty!
First up is Rosetti......

Followed by Jas....

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Well, it's been a while since I last posted so I thought it was time for an update. It's been very busy at the various gardens that I work in and I'll try and update you on these next weekend but ths entry will just cover my own stuff.
Despite the horrible weather, snow, sleet, a lot of hailstones, cold winds, frost etc, my show parsnips(variety Pinnacle) are just beginning to set their first true leaves

My long carrots (New Red Intermediate Reselected) are also just showing

And the first of the Long Beet are making an appearance

Elsewhere, I have my Hercules onion sets planted out. I have these in one of my beds alongside my garlic, as well as another 6 in a box filled with JBA's leek/onion compost.

I also "found" an Elephant Garlic growing beside my onion set box, so it was lucky it wasn'y buried under a barrel or the set box !

In the greenhouse, I have potted on my cabbage Liberator into 3" pots. I transplant the seedlings from the cell pack into the pots and more or less plant it so that only the leaves are above the level of the compost - this gives a sturdier plant awith less chance of a twisted stalk later in life.

My Cedrico tomatoes are starting to gropw away now - in fact since taking this photo this morning, they too have been potted on into 3" pots, again planted deep as the young plants will produce more roots under the compost making for stronger sturdier plants in later life.

The Basket of Fire Chillies that I am growing for the Gardening Club class at the local show are doing well, and will be distributed for members to grow on at home next month.

I have started sowing 4 cauliflowers, variety Raleigh, at weekly intervals and the first 4 have now germinated. this is slightly earlier than advised by Jim Pearson at the NVS Scottish Branch seminar but the growing season up here is shorter and I hope to have some for a couple of early shows.too.

I have also sown some Savoy Cabbage - a variety called Tundra that I have grown before  and some Kale called Winterbor. I last grew this variety when I was running a veg box scheme and it performed really well and stood through really hard winters

And lastly, in the greenhouse, the leeks that I was sent by Helen V of the NVS all the way from Hampshire, are growing well and are now in 5 litre pots filled with JBA's leek / onion compost.

Jobs for the coming week inclide planting out my eating onion sets (Stuttgarter Giant and Centurion) the first sowing of Beetroot Pablo, and of Frank Taylor's Broad Beans, and starting to get my potatoes sorted and planted into their polypots, I am using JBA's ready mixed potato compost this year - here's hoping that the label that Iain has put on the bags is accurate !!

That's it for now, though I'm sure as the weather improves, I'll have more to update - including hopefully the germination of my stumps.