Tag Archives: gardens

Mr Mac has a new toy!

My attention was caught recently by a magazine flyer advertising a lightweight garden tiller. If the marketing was to be believed, this piece of equipment would revolutionise gardening life. It would do everything except bring you a chilled glass of wine while you lay in a hammock watching it do all the work.

I waved it under Mr Mac’s nose and after some humming and hawing and Google research he decided that it might not be such a bad idea given the state of our soil, the number of vegetable beds and borders (soon to be increased) and the amount of landscaping in this year’s garden plan.

But for Mr Mac it was to be none of this namby pamby lightweight nonsense. Oh no! Off he went to the agricultural machinery shop (I’m sure there is another name for it!) and on Friday last week, our garden saviour was delivered.

Life changing!

Life changing!

So despite the single figure, coldest Easter weekend on record temperatures, we set about seeing just how life changing this piece of kit was going to be. First of all the empty veg bed……

This is the veg bed before.

This is the veg bed before.

An action shot!

An action shot!

The result after 25 minutes!

The result after 25 minutes!

Impressive I think you’ll agree. Mr Mac was now a man on a mission to rotivate anything that did not move but as there was not anything else ready, he decided to try it on the compost.

Now I am ashamed to admit that our compost bins have been badly neglected since last summer and all three bays were full and needing turned. Mr Mac attacked them with the tiller, churned it all up and I (because Mr Mac had put his back out by this point) turned it all to be left with one bay of finest useable compost, one bay “in progress” and one empty. All in all this took us a couple of hours but mainly due to the fact that (a) there was so much and (b) I’m a girl!

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Now while this was also very successful, Mr Mac has decided that to make the compost break down even faster (and hence transform our lives beyond recognition!) he really needs to get a shredder.

Boys and their toys!

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And we’re off……

For some reason this year I have been putting off getting started with anything, mainly due to the weather but partly because I know once it starts it is going to be non-stop until next winter! However, I had a word with myself and took a big deep breath……

Last Sunday I planted some flower seeds and sat them on a tray in the dining room covered with a plastic cloche (for paw protection!). Within 2 days the Malva seeds have germinated, closely followed by the Cosmos Purity.

Cosmos Purity seeds

Out in the greenhouse, the lettuce leaf seeds I planted two weeks ago have now germinated but no sign of the peas yet. The garlic is now ready to be planted outside but it will probably be a few weeks before we will be able to do that as the ground is still covered in snow and will be too hard to plant.

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Today we finally planted the First Early potatoes. We bought them weeks ago and they have been lying in the garage in the dark, not on a sunny windowsill to chit! However, no harm done and plenty of growth on each seed potato.

We decided to go for the same variety as last year called “Foremost”. Last year we grew them in tubs inside the greenhouse and the yield was superb. They were perfect for salads and we were eating them between June and August. Due to the main crop potatoes suffering from blight last year, these were the only potatoes we had!

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We have planted some in tubs again but also put some in compost bags. Enough soil to bury the seed potatoes and then just wait for them start growing and keep covering them with soil.

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A few weeks ago our garden got trashed by sheep that escaped from the field next door. They took a fancy to my winter flowering pansies and ate the lot. I had grown them from seed since June 2012 so I was devastated. It also left me with lots of empty pots, too late to plant spring bulbs and too early for summer bedding.

However, a trip to the garden centre to see what I could replace them with led me to the bargain of the year so far. In a quiet little corner where the bargain bucket is we found trays of primulas reduced to 75p for six. So we bought all of them.

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Then we saw a pile of terracotta pots, originally £15 but reduced, then reduced again to only £2.99! So we bought nine of them!

So after a little bit of dead-heading we now have three little pots of sunshine on our doorstep. Bah humbug and mint sauce!

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il giardinaggio per gli avvocati italiani (or gardening for Italian lawyers – I think!)

After our disastrous summer, Mr Mac and I took ourselves off to Italy last month to catch some late summer sun……and we were not disappointed. This was our third trip to Italy, our second to Ravello and my first as a gardener.

 
From previous holidays my lasting memory was tomatoes. Big fat ripe juicy sweet tasty tomatoes everywhere. When I think about it, that is probably why tomatoes are my most precious crop. But our wishy washy Scottish summers cannot compete with the sunshine and heat of Naples and the intensity and sweetness of flavour they bring. A simple insalata pomodoro can make you smile all day!

This time, having spent all year scrutinising my own garden, I was immediately draw to all things green and vegetative. What struck me the most was how every square inch of ground is given up to growing fruit and vegetables.

 

These vegetables were being grown in the ground at a hairpin bend in the road!

 

 

Ravello sits 375 metres above sea level. Check the view from town down to the sea. Almost vertical but look at all the terraces filled with produce.

Even the hotels were getting in on the act and making a big deal about growing their own fruit and veg. This is the garden for the Hotel Villa Maria.

This did backfire on us though. On our first day we were treated to a delicious antipasti of figs with parma ham. Every day after that when we asked for figs we were told, “figgies finish”. The hotel’s fig tree was empty. However, on our last evening our waiter gave a conspiratorial wink when we gave our order, he disappeared for ten minutes and then returned with a plate full of juicy ripe figs. He nicked them from a neighbour’s garden!

As so much ground is given over to growing fruit and vegetables there are not many flowers in gardens. Other than Villa Rufulo and Villa Cimbrone where there are cultivated beds of roses and dahlias, most of the flowers we saw were wild. A perfect example can be seen in this bush growing wild.

And remember my blue wall project I tried this year? A trellis full of blue sweet peas and morning glory…well these morning glory climbers at the side of a road were slightly more successful than mine!

One feature of almost every garden was these trumpet flowers in yellow and peach….absolutely stunning.

Cyclamen were also growing in abundance under every tree. A far cry from the potted up versions currently being sold in our supermarkets and garden centres.

Finally, it would appear to be law that to be eligible to collect olives you must have a minimum age of 80! It was scary how many old couples with a combined age of 160 we saw climbing trees.

Arrivaderci!