7 April 2011


I garden organically. It's because I believe in beneficial planting and in a fairly "live and let live" approach (or, as it's also known, the "oh, can I really be bothered doing that?" approach). It works quite well, but it does mean that when I do knuckle down and weed, it's fingertip weeding that gets done which is time consuming and difficult at times.

I don't mind weeding, it's one of those jobs that you can really see a difference when you do it and makes the place look neater and more organised. In the allotment there's a wide range of weeds to cope with, but the one that really, really does my head in, is the grass. It is just impossible to eradicate. The roots run so deep and so far that no matter how deeply you dig, and how "rooty" the clump you haul out, you're not even scratching the surface. I swear, if there was a nuclear explosion, in addition to the cockroaches, grass would still be thriving. The allotment holder on the other side of us sprayed his plot with weedkiller last year (yeah, thanks for that), and he had I think a blissful week of hiatus between the dead grass and the new stuff coming up. So hauling up grass is a full-time job at the allotment.

It's a job that needs done, but I admit to feeling guilty at un-housing the ladybirds who shelter in the clumps of grass. And there were a lot of them today. I've ended up leaving a patch of ground wild, just so they have somewhere to shelter. I really want to make sure they hang around - they were terrific last year at keeping the aphids etc down.

We "bracketed" the allotment work with a visit to Craigies Farm Shop at South Queensferry and a visit to the new Dobbies Garden World in Livingston.

We'd heard great things about Craigies from friends, and have an order in for mutton, so thought we'd go and see. It was great - very well laid out, with a field full of free-range hens, an orchard, couple of (frankly enormous) pigs (thankfully sound asleep) and some cows. The shop has a great butchery bit full of Puddledub pork and beef, and a terrific deli. So we bought some pork stir fry, stroganoff meatballs, venison salami, free-range chicken liver pate, and some boar, cheese and tomato sausages. Delish.

Dobbies in Livingston is brand new and was absolutely heaving. Much bigger than the one we usually go to in Stirling, it certainly has a much wider range, and is much more geared towards the whole home-furnishings thing with furniture and - strangely - wall-mounted fires.
I think though I prefer the one in Stirling. Call me parochial, and a bit of a bumpkin, but I love the location of it and the fact that you're closer to hills.

Back at the ranch, I found the bag with seeds-to-be-sown in April which I had lost. I've searched high and low for the last fortnight and, whaddya know, as soon as I asked out loud, I find them a minute later. Handily "tidied" in a bag I was going to take with me to the allotment and then didn't take...

I also bought some peppermint essential oil and soaked some cotton wool pads with it, and scattered them about the garden where the mice seem to be. I'll let you know how that goes,

Tommorrow I am therefore going to start sowing April stuff: chamomile, courgette, kale, beetroot, etc. Looking forward to it :-)

In the garden it

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