Allotment chores on a pleasant day.

A pleasant day to get on with the allotment chores. The strawberries are over so the netting was taken off and put over the area that had grown the shallots and has now been sown with buckwheat as a green manure. This should give the seed a chance to germinate without being eaten by the pigeons and pheasants.

The onions are a good size and they were eased out of the soil just a little to break the roots. This will encourage them to die down and begin the drying out process.

Last week the comfrey bed was very thoroughly weeded and cleared and the compost area tidied up. And weeding everywhere is a regular job.

We dug up the first of the potatoes today variety Sharpe’s Express and picked the first heads of the brokali – the cross between Chinese broccoli and calabrese. There are still plenty of broad beans and peas. The current row of peas for picking are sugarsnap.

There is plenty of fruit to pick. It is now a pleasure to pick the gooseberries now they are growing as cordons.

Picking the cordon gooseberries

There are also raspberries, brambles, loganberries and tayberries.

Saskatoon berries

The saskatoon has done very well since its move earlier in the year and for the first time has an excellent crop of berries. They look like blueberries but have a sharper taste.

Plenty of Discovery apples to come

Jobs for next week

  • Tie in the new shoots of the soft fruit
  • Cut off the old leaves on the strawberries and feed
  • Feed all the fruit and veg
  • Thin the apples

Allotment Open Day Sunday 20 August 2pm-4pm  With a summer fruit pruning workshop taken by George Anderson

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wildflower meadows

These come in great  variety depending on the soil, situation and whether things  have been sown or planted  or just allowed to develop naturally. All have a base of permanent grass and need at least one cut and lift in late summer or autumn to stop bushes and eventually tree seedlings taking over. This one has had some sowing

as the greater knapweed now so prominent  is not common  on the East Lothian coast. It is part of the Scottish Ornithologists  Club garden  at Aberlady. A Caley outing  visited  there   a few years back but it is open free of charge seven days a week.

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Green over gravel 

Guest blog from Caley member John Gordon  With approaching forty years  in the horticultural industry I now give myself more time to appreciate and enjoy plants; the training I got at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh must have rubbed off. I always remember the advice of my lecturer and now honorary Caley president George Anderson  “Work hard, play hard”.  The primary focus in my garden is composing attractive ornamental plant combinations which if successful I often copy to clients’ gardens.

With a view to recording my gardening efforts, achievements and more than the occasional mistake I was drawn to writing a blog.  Finding blogging fun I applied for membership of the Garden Media Guild.  Being a probationary member I have access to a full member who mentors me.  My mentor complimented me on my gardening knowledge but concluded that my blog lacked focus. “What people want are short bits of news that are easy to read and understand, News they can use”. I had become increasingly aware of how many people are covering their garden with labour saving gravel, a useful product but all too often overused. I decided to focus my blog on encouraging people to choose green over gravel and invest in their plant heritage, to create personalised, enjoyable and satisfying low maintenance gardens with year round colour and interest. The blog is called The Temperate Gardener, and my aim is to regularly post bite sized, liberally illustrated articles useful to the amateur gardener. Recent examples have included easy ground cover, architectural plants, patio pots, a water feature from a barrel, succession planting and transplanting at the wrong time of year.   Plants are a wonderful investment, among the few things that go up in value as they mature. They will not only reward you with their beauty but help you in keeping weeds down, maintaining the garden for you.

John Gordon

You can follow John’s blog at https://thetemperategardener.blog/  He is happy to offer advice anyone thinking of starting their own blog.

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A rainy day at the Allotment

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All the rain that the ground desperately need seemed to be falling last Thursday, but two brave souls ventured out to check that the netting over the fruit was secure and all was well, as indeed it was. We removed the tops of the broad beans to stop them being a habitat for black fly and were tempted to stay a pick a few strawberries and raspberries. Despite being new canes, the variety ‘Glen Dee’ has produced an excellent crop, all a good size. Because they were wet it was difficult to judge the flavour against our favourite, ‘Glen Ample’, but there will be plenty of fruit to come to give us the chance to compare.

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We picked pods from Tom’s show peas and nipped out the tops to encourage side shoots to develop. There is plenty of rhubarb as well, so a good picking of that and some lettuces before we fled.

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Jobs for next week; 

Weed the comfrey bed and compost area.
Clear the artichokes from the rhubarb.
Weeding.
Check netting is secure and well weighted down.
Harvesting.

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Rain & warmth – a plant’s best friends.

June 28 Potatoes

The rain and warm temperatures of the past days have brought on some plants particularly well, such as the courgettes and sweetcorn, but the purple Milan turnips have gone to seed. The dry weather earlier in the season won’t have helped with this.

The remainder of the soft fruit was netted today, including putting up the netting over the fruit cage. It normally seems to be a windy day when we do this, but today we didn’t have that problem and the netting unrolled like a dream. The redcurrants were starting to be stripped by the birds and the blackbird had found the raspberries so it was definitely time it was done.

June 28 Stripped Redcurrants

Did some succession sowing of carrots by putting in another two rows of ‘Sugarsnax’ and filled in the gaps of the previous rows, and we also sowed more of the dwarf French beans. The remainder of the winter brassicas were planted out and it was good to see that the leeks were looking better and standing upright.

It was time to lift the shallots – sow on the shortest day, lift on the longest. There was a good crop and hopefully some good enough for entering in the Dalkeith show. These will now be dried off in a sunny place.

June 28 Shallots

Tom’s show peas are growing well so it is now time to nip out the tops to encourage side shoots. It is also time to nip out the tops of the broad beans to help prevent black fly.

We are beginning to crop other veg and fruit; the broad beans are at their best being small and tender, the warm dry weather is giving good strawberry pickings and the salad crops are ready too. And we still have plenty of rhubarb.

A couple of weeks ago we did a trial planting of the squashes and a courgette on the dung heap to see how the heat would help plant growth. A large hole was dug out and filled with soil to protect the roots from the dung but the plants were looking poorly so we took them out and planted them elsewhere. The growing conditions were probably too rich, especially since the dung was only a few months old.

Even though there has been some rain, there has not been enough and we need to keep watering.  Fruit and veg are mostly water and they need to be kept growing and fruiting.  Newly planted bushes especially need to be kept well-watered for the first year.

Jobs for next week

Nip out the tops of the broad beans.
Sow green manure where shallots have been lifted.
Weed comfrey bed and elsewhere.
Keep the hoe going.
Watering!

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Making words with plants

Making words and designs  from plants fascinates  the public as it’s something few people do in their own gardens. The most famous  example  is  Edinburgh’s floral  clock which is known worldwide. In North Berwick  East Lothian council gardeners annually   commemorate a local organisation this time  Rotary. Most bedding plants don’t work as they are too tall or floppy.  The words use Pyrethrum Golden Moss and other parts use succulents such as Echeverias  and Senecios. Incorporating some coloured sand reduces  the number  of plants needed and helps access for maintenance. However  you have to watch as a local cat sees it as a giant litter tray!

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Prolonging the pallets

The two North Berwick pallets re-erected  in the town’s High Street after Gardening Scotland closed. They will stay there until the end of the summer and be part of the town’s presentation to the Britain in Bloom judges  in August.  It also means local people who did not get to the show can see them .

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