So much to do so little time! Summertime is here, the daylight and the shop hours are longer…We seemed to skip straight from winter into summer here – usually spring is the nicest time on Skye, drier weather, (often warmest too!) no midgies and fewer tourists (we love them really!) I’ve been helped on my family research by my younger sisters and my mum coming for their holiday on Skye last week. A folder of old family documents and letters shed some fascinating insights into some of the Kent branches of the family. A few seem to have been soldiers and I’ve scanned in some of the documents to transcribe. One letter is from a soldier in Madras, India in 1832 describing the effects of a cholera outbreak and urging his brothers and sisters to stay home and not be tempted abroad. I haven’t placed him yet on the family tree, but he does seem to have survived to a ripe old age despite obviously in fear of his life at the time of his writing.
I thought I’d just review the winter and what has done well or poorly this year. Amongst my losses are my rock samphire plant (grown from seed – first winter), my sea beet (both an established plant that flowered last year but did not set seed and all of my seedlings in pots), some of my Camellia sinensis plants (small plants in the fruit garden – the ones in the tea garden are thriving), the unknown citrus in the polytunnel, my baby yacon seedlings, and a Luma apiculata that never made it out of it’s pot. Considering how cold the winter has been, not so much in intensity as in length, it could have been a lot worse.
A surprising survivor is a mashua plant that appears to have grown from a missed tuber in the fruit garden. I suppose since it can be grown as an ornamental perennial (think Ken Aslet) It shouldn’t be that surprising. I will leave this one and see how it does. I haven’t in the end planted any more mashua outside this year.
The apricot is doing well – I have now trained in seven shoots as described earlier, and they are needing tying in again. Unfortunately I did get one of the shoots slightly wrong – pinched out too many earlier on and was left with one that was growing at the wrong angle. I’m hoping it will straighten out as the plant grows.
I have grown a number of plants from seed this winter including what turned out to be Akebia triloba. This was grown from seed obtained via the facebook edimentals group from someone who ate the fruit in Japan, but we weren’t sure until the leaves appeared whether it was A. quinata or A. triloba. It should be hardy outside here, but will probably do better in the polytunnel. If the plants survive I’ll try both. I have also grown some passion fruit vines (still very tiny) Passiflora edulis and P. mollissima (I think). Some of my other seedlings have struggled in the hot weather we had a couple of weeks ago – the pots dried up very quickly and the tiny plants may not have made it. I had some martagon lily that I think have gone now, and some of my vetch seedlings have also gone. These include, annoyingly, the Astragalus crassicarpus (gound plum) that I was looking forwards to establishing in the tunnel. Luckily the single chilean hazelnut that germinated seems to be doing alright, and is now showing signs of sending up a second pair of leaves. This is better than the seeding I achieved last year which faded out at a single pair.
I was busy outside trying to get on top of the creeping buttercup before it took over everywhere again, but got distracted moving more soil down the hill to landscape the orchard area. This is nearly achieved, but more work to do on the south side of the trackway. Just at the moment the buttercups in the field are making a fine display with the pignuts, and remind me that we’d be poorer if we succeeded in eliminating weeds!