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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Tatties planted!

I am so excited - finally there is something planted in the old walled garden after who knows how many years! Cathy came round today and helped me plant tatties (potatoes) - OK let's be honest, I helped Cathy plant my potatoes, with a lot of leaning on a fork on my part...... I only have a couple of small rows as I am a novice at vegetable growing, but it's a start. The variety were given to me by J, and apparently they are a British variety known as Pink Fir Apple potatoes (very nice as a salad potato).

Because the garden hasn't had anything growing in it except field grass and weeds, it needs some fertiliser, so the veggie patch has had seaweed dug through it. Hmmm maybe I'll get ready salted crisps out of my tatties?

I need to dig a bit more so that I also have some space for carrots and I have some strawberry plants to put in. I need to cover any seedlings with netting to stop the hens scratching the ground but once everything is established things should go OK. It worked OK with the flower border (which is on the other side of the stone dyke (wall) in the picture). The hens love fresh earth and new shoots. Once things have grown a few inches and bedded in the hens leave them alone, thankfully, and they are excellent at pest control!

I mentioned in a previous post the fact that this house was once home to TWO families. One couple with several children living upstairs, and another couple and a bundle of children living downstairs. And no it's not that big a house! So there were many mouths to feed and it is likely that the garden would have been full of vegetables. Farm and croft gardens were part of the food production process, so vegetables were what fed the family through all the seasons, with probably little room given over to flowers.

The garden hasn't been cultivated for many many years. Certainly not since the 1980s so there is a lot of work to do. Up to now it has been used as an emergency sheep pen during lambing season (April/May in Orkney), but I wanted to do something more with it this year.

It's going to have to be worked on in stages - I get overwhelmed thinking about it en-masse. The garden is 100 foot x 100 foot and thankfully the stone dyke is more or less intact all round. Though the gates and gate pillars have long gone (well except for two wobbly examples). The flagstone path down the centre still seems to be there under several inches of earth, so that will be dug back to see what state the flags are in. If they are broken I have a pile retrieved from the back of the house during renovation that could be laid in the garden.

As you can see there's lots of work to be done - machinery (NOT driven by me) will be used to clear some of the ground, help remove the large stones which have fallen off the wall, and level the ground. Then I'll probably have most of the garden laid to lawn (easy to control) with a border running round the edge - one border for veggies, and the other for shrubs, trees and perennials. It needs to be fairly low maintenance as I'm not fit enough to do much more than a little light digging and weeding. But I just LOVE working with the earth and seeing things grow. Can you tell I'm excited? Sad I know, but so *satisfying*! But the transformation isn't going to happen in a week- sigh. So for now I shall focus on digging over the earth a bit at a time and planting as I go along. It just feels great to have the garden coming to life again after all this time.


  1. Good luck with your garden. I usually manage to have a few perennials bloom, and sometimes plant a few herbs. I'm obviously NOT a gardner, but am definitely an appreciator.

    And thanks for the photos of your wonderful wall.

  2. I used to have a small "cottage" style garden when I lived South, but haven't gardened on this scale before! However there is plenty of space for experimentation. And I just love the wall - I want to take some photographic studies of it this summer - the different lichens are wonderful, together with the textures of the stone, and the workmanship that went into building it (around 1860).

  3. Pink Fir Apple are delicious - I hope you have a successful crop! Wonderful to see the old walled garden coming slowly to life again.

    We have just planted beans, lettuce, beetroot and mange-tout peas as well as re-roofing and re-constructing our newly donated shed which has pride of place at the corner of the allotment.

  4. Hi Wendy - I'm about to plant carrots, onions and lettuce. Got a bit more digging to do and also put some netting over the earth to stop hens having a feast before I get a chance. Glad your new shed is all sorted out now. Do you have wine in a cooler in the corner?! Oh and tell M. that the forget-me-nots have spread and are just coming into flower. I'm delighted!

  5. I just love the wall. And you have begun - your own tatties, and I can tell you the variety is delish and Scotland is meant to be the place for perfect tattie planting.
    A big project but eating your own veg is worth the work I think.