Catching up at home

misty dogs
Misty Isle dogs

It’s been a few weeks since I got back and I’ve not done a lot.  Skye has been doing ‘misty isle’ again, just this last day or so turning colder and brighter.  The tree field does have some autumn colour.  Particularly down by the pond where it is a bit sheltered, the birch and willow have a few more leaves holding on.  There is a lovely clumping grass turning a golden shade by the pedestrian gate to the river.

golden grass
Golden grass

While the winds in the north we should have some fine weather, but I need to tuck some fleece or similar round the tea bushes to protect them from the winter cold.  We actually had our first frost this weekend, which was a bit of a surprise.  The green manures I sowed in the orchard just before the holiday have been a resounding failure.  The field beans were eaten by crows, no sign of the vetch or clover, and the remaining fodder radish is going to be too small and sparse to create any coverage!  I should have sown about a month earlier….I do have a nice crop of grass and buttercups coming, so I guess I’ll just have to sheet mulch in the spring, but this will kill off the desireable seeds I put in as well.

orchard green manure not
Failed green manure

The tea garden extension is still looking quite green and lush.  I’ll tidy this up a bit when we get some frosts, since I’ll need to think about harvesting the outside yacon, oca and mashua then.  The oca has had some tiny yellow flowers, rather bashed by the wet winds.

oca flowers oct 2018
Yellow Oca flowers

Neither the oca or mashua really like the exposed position.  Of the mixed selection of plants that went in, the self seeding kale has done well, and I have a few nice looking carrots along the edge.  The fodder radish has some good size roots, so I may pull some of these over the winter.  I think there will still be enough to give coverage.  Phacelia and borage are still blooming lovely!  In the original tea garden unfortunately I have a lawn of grass growing under the blackcurrant bushes, I’ll try mulching that in the spring also.  The himalayan strawberries had a second flush of flowers, but none have set this time.

fodder radish
Fodder radish – big roots!

The experimental sheet mulching with combined paper and cardboard has not been a  great success.  I think that the cardboard really does need two layers.  It seems to have disintegrated more quickly, and then does not keep the newspapers protected.  I do have some more cardboard, and have re-mulched the bit by the tea garden, I’ll need to try and do the orchard as well whilst we’ve got this nice weather.  The cardboard alone double layers have also suffered a bit, but some of this is definately dog damage, so I still think this is the better way to go.

tea garden failed mulch
Failed mulch (including dog damage)

7 thoughts on “Catching up at home

    1. I don’t know either – but will tell you when I find out! First time of growing them. They seem to be happy so far, slightly damaged by the early frosts – they don’t make tubers till late in the year, so I’ll wait as long as possible before digging them. The flowers are quite sweet and a bit shy. It’s interesting that only the outside plant flowered, not the two in the polytunnel.

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      1. I’ve tried oca just plain boiled, roasted, and added to stir fries, all are ok though I prefer roasted, I haven’t yet tried in soups but I can imagine they would add a bit more flavour to the mix,
        I’ve only grown them outside, the bees and other polinators like the flowers,
        I hope you get a good crop, I always leave mine until the foliage has completely died back and leave most until after Christmas, in my soil like potatoes they seem to keep alright and they make a nice ‘new’ veg for the new year,
        my yacon are still green in the mini poly, the mashua are not undercover and foliage has gone from most of them, so would you recommend I dig them up soon?

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      2. Thanks for the suggestions Frances, I’ll have to see how many I have before deciding how to try them. They still seem quite happy if a little windswept (especially today 50mph). Leave the yacon as long as you dare, till the foliage had died right back, they will be OK under a light frost, but could get damaged in a heavy frost, and will probably rot in the ground outside (although overwintered last year in my polytunnel). The mashua is more cold hardy and has survived for me outside, depends on what is easiest for you. They won’t grow any more if the foliage has died back, but won’t come to too much harm as long as we don’t get several inches of frost.

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      3. thanks Nancy, as the yacon is in the mini poly greenhouse it has some protection from any frost we might get and also from rain, the ground is not so wet in there, I’ll have a look at the mashua next time I get into the garden, Frances

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    1. They both go away over time. the newspaper has more of a tendency to blow away being smaller sheets (unless its gone a bit papier-mache). Both need weighing down. I think the double layer of cardboard lasts longer because the top layer of cardboard stays drier, so rots more slowly. Generally a few stones on the corners and edges does the trick on the cardboard, I usually use spoilt hay or other organic mulch on the paper, to help it degrade – it actully lasts remarkably well in soil – think peat bog! Obviously the generally damp soil here is not that well aerated.


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