Nothing much

The weather again hasn’t been kind recently.  Not really out of the ordinary; just unrelenting rain and wind, with not enough let up to get much done.  It’s not true that I’ve been doing nothing, and I probably haven’t achieved nothing, it’s just that I seem to have finished nothing!  The days are getting longer however.  I always feel that by Valentine’s day the worst of the winter is over.

ramp up
Ramp up hump

Outside I still haven’t completed the path round the hump.  Nearly there however, and the gradient of the ramp down has been improved by some of the turf that I have dug out of the widened path.  I have also made a bit of a ramp half way round as an alternative route down (although again this is not finished!).

I have a number of spruce and pine seedlings to bulk up the windbreaks and make some new windbreaks in the sparse area of ash.  Hopefully they will be surviving OK in the bag they are in at present, since they have been in there rather longer than I had intended.  The soil is rather claggy to be planting in as yet, although I have dug quite a few square holes in preparation.  I am also relocating some of the self seeded hazels that have planted themselves in less than desirable positions.  I have been making a little thicket of them on the lower south side of the main track loop.  This spot used to go by the unfortunate name of poo corner, since that was where Dougie usually felt inclined to relieve himself during a quick outing in the tree field.  It now has the alternate name of Harry’s corner, since we buried our cat Harris there recently.  He had a very quick illness, not we believe related to his ear condition, some sort of thrombosis that caused paralysis of the back legs.  He died probably of heart failure at the vets a day later.  Apparently it is often misdiagnosed in towns as traffic accidents, since the cats one minute are fine and the next are dragging their rear legs.  Anyway, now Harris has a hazel tree on his grave.

tree holes
Holes for windbreak improvements at top of tree field (baby monkey puzzle at left)

I have also started making holes along the main trackway.  I noticed the piles of cut grass that still were sitting along the track sides from last year, and it occurred to me that if I planted more berry bushes along there I could just rake up the grass and mulch them, rather than carting the grass to mulch somewhere else.  I’ve got some gooseberry and black currant cuttings that can be relocated, or I can strike some new ones this year still.

mulch mounds
Mulch spots along trackway

I received the seeds from the HPS seed scheme, and some from the Agroforestry Research Trust at the end of February, and organised them: ones to sow in spring, ones to sow straight away and ones that needed some stratification.  So some have been put away, some sown in pots outside or in the polytunnel and some have been placed in bags with damp tissue in the fridge to get a chilling.  Probably these could also have been sown outside mind you, since it is almost the same temperature out there as in the fridge!  Already some of my apple seeds have germinated in the fridge: saved from some UK grown russets and rather delicious cooking apples grown near Carlisle.  I’ll have to transfer those seeds from the fridge to pots outside as soon as possible to give them proper growing conditions.  I also noticed that some damson seeds I sowed from fruit eighteen months ago are now germinating in the polytunnel.  Although another job not finished, it’s nice to make a start on growing trees that may produce fruit for us in ten years or so!

seed sprouts
Sprouting apple seeds

I indulgently bought myself some plants that were not on my essentials list this year.  I found on ebay a seller of different Yacon varieties, who also had a different Mashua and Colocasia edulis as well as Apios americana and different tigernuts.  Well it seemed worth getting a few if I was going to get any!  They seem nice little tubers anyhow.  I have potted them all up in the polytunnel for the moment (except the tigernut which will want warmer conditions), and have also replanted a number of the Yacons I grew myself last year in one of the polytunnel beds.

new crops
New varieties

Unfortunately I’ve lost quite a few of my oca tubers to mice!  They had been sitting in a basket on the sittingroom windowsill, and I noticed this week the basket was somewhat emptier than it had been last time I looked.  Underneath the basket was a pile of tuber shavings!  I guess they liked the juiciness of the tubers, since they don’t seem to have eaten that much, just chewed them all up.  Some of the tubers were probably as big as the mice!  Luckily they didn’t find the different coloured tubers in their bags, so I quickly have planted four tubers to a pot in the polytunnel.  I selected four large and four small of the red tubers from Frances to see if that makes any difference to the plant yield.  It may take more than one generation to see a difference, if any, from selecting for tuber size.

I have also been digging up the kiwi vine: another nice indoor job, of which more later.  It will also soon be time to start sowing tomato and pepper seeds.  I think I have some seed compost left, but I am out of the multipurpose compost and will have to get some more for planting out seedlings and potting on.  Another trip to Portree looms I guess.

For my birthday S. bought me a rechargeable reciprocating saw.  I am hoping that it will be robust enough to use for most of the coppicing work.  A chainsaw would be a little daunting, and using a hand saw is slow work!  It has been too windy to think about cutting trees down (although it will soon be too late as the trees start to grow!), but I have christened the saw by cutting up the pile of coppiced trunks that were cut last year and have been drying up by the house.  I’m pretty pleased with it.  The battery pack it takes is the same as S’s tools he used on the cars, so that should be convenient.  It did seem to chew through the reserves when I used it, although that was probably more intensive work than the more thoughtful process of cutting trees down.

new toys
New toy tool

On another happy note, my windowsill orchid seems to have enjoyed it’s holiday outside last year so much that it has put up the first flower spike in ten years!  It did try when we first moved up here, but unfortunately I didn’t realise there was a flower spike, divided the plant and the flowers all dropped off.  This time it seem quite content to look out the window.  I must remember to holiday it outside again during the summers – it definitely looked greener and plumper than before.

not a stick
Indoor Orchid flowers



16 thoughts on “Nothing much

    1. Thanks – I’m based on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. I’ve been here twelve years now. Although I do grow food this tends to be more experimental – perennial and rediscovered foraged foods. Hence most of my seeds need some sort of pretreatment for germination. Some never germinate, but I’m always learning.

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      1. I guessed you may be in Skye because of your name. The nature looks stunning. My mum’s ancestors the McCords clan originated from Skye.
        Always good to experiment…I vaguely remember having a couple of seeds in the fridge…but what they are I can’t remember! I once tried a Canadian maple in the fridge but it must have been too warm 😉

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      2. There are so many Skye descendants over the world. Mine apparently don’t come from anywhere north of Birmingham (UK) however. I chose to live here rather than having been born here.
        We are blessed with wonderful views – at a cost of wonderful winds!
        I tried growing red maple here (I thought it would do better for me than sugar maple) but I don’t think any survived the first year….

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      3. I am from Norfolk but am wondering whether to move to Scotland in the near future. We had family camping holidays there and I remember the wild, beautiful nature. On one holiday we camped by a stream and had a small boat, the insects were huge!

        I expect the (original) Skye inhabitants are friendly people. Some of that friendliness has left my county, we are overtaken by all kinds of people because of the lure of Great Yarmouth and needing to fill the empty guest houses. I live not far away in a village. Sometimes different blood adds something positive and other times it brings their dissatisfaction with them.


      4. Living somewhere is very different from taking a holiday there! Many people born here have to move away for careers since there are fewer opportunities. Incomers change the community, raise house prices, and then move away again. It can make some of the locals a little stand-offish for a while. People are people wherever you are….Wwe wouldn’t go back, but often people move away after just a few years. Either the weather, distance from family, friends or amenities are harder to deal with than expected. The scenery is spectacular and unforgiving. I always say living here comes as a package!

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      5. I can no longer work due to chronic illness but I’d like to remain in Britain – I was an expat for almost 11 years in Germany and I mainly enjoyed living and working there. We’ve had a lot of Londoners move to Norfolk and that raised our house prices in Norfolk. We’ve had people from all over the country and Poland and Portugal move here that makes it interesting … but newcomers anyway need to respect the settled people . While in Germany I met several who never bothered learning German while living there and that is rude. And there’s those who never want to contribute anything towards society but they like to take.

        I was wondering whether a polycarbonate greenhouse would work for you? Or are the winds too strong? It sounds like a battle mending your tunnel. (I’ve had a couple of those polytunnels but the coastal Norfolk winds are harsh, my last one is completely shredded from the neighbour’s overhanging tree). All the best xo

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      6. There’s always a cost/size trade off with garden structures. The polytunnels ard remarkably durable unless something starts a tear. Harry contributed to the shortening of thd lifetime of this one, buf my repairs are holding up. There are relatively new curved structures called polycrubs, which my neighbour has one of but they don’t last forever. A new cover isn’t that expensive and, installed properly and not shredded by cats should last 8 years or so….

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  1. One of my orchids has flowered for the first time in ages, too.
    I am sorry your cat has died; my mother’s cat suddenly lost the use of his back legs and had to be put down a couple of years ago. We never found out what the matter was but from reading this post it seems it might have been thrombosis.
    I have so many trees in pots waiting to be planted and there never seems to be the right time or weather to do it.

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    1. Well, the orchid always looks OK other than not flowering. I’m convinced the holiday outside was what did the trick.
      Harry was an odd little soul. We think he was a bit simple – absolutely no sense of fear. Both the cats had special needs. Lou-Lou is completely opposite – we thought he was deaf and blind for the first 9 months, since he never acknowledged us except to swear. He’s mellowed a bit now and doesn’t tend to curse so much!

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