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Low carbon growing tipsParticipant diaries

Gardening ups and downs

By 22nd September 2020No Comments

You win some, you lose some…that seems to be the motto for our garden projects so far this year. Let’s start with a plus. I hope you agree that our pond, dug during the first week of lockdown, is looking well established. We have spotted a couple of frogs in the water. Was it wishful thinking? I haven’t been able to get a photo of one yet but things are definitely stirring in the depths that we didn’t put there! A friend has recommended a solar oxygenator and we think that will help wildlife. I made a little pile of logs near the pond for hibernating amphibians, so fingers crossed. I am really thrilled that our waterlily has flowered, after years of being stuck, in a sink, by the back fence.

On the down side, Peter, the PLANT community gardener, confirmed what we suspected – our tatties had blight. We may have contributed to the problem by watering them – during the very dry weather – on the leaves; spraying them, rather than wetting the ground around them. All we could do was cut back the leaves; wait a couple weeks for the spores to die out and then harvest the crop. They taste fine, and we are having chips with everything at the moment because we can’t store any of the tubers and, we will have to thoroughly clear out our tattie patch and make sure nothing, however small, is left in the ground. We will also be looking closely at the varieties we chose next year to make sure they are blight resistant.

We decided to prioritise growing vegetables in all our raised beds this year and that meant my usual cut flower border was reduced to a tiny area in the herb patch. What to grow that would still give me the joy of scent and colour indoors? It had to be sweet peas and although they required quite a bit of nurturing in the early stages, they have come good this month with vase after vase of flowers.

Finally, after a long wait, our worms have done their job and we are getting a good quantity of vermicompost. Another of our lockdown projects was setting up a wormery. This is definitely a win-win situation for organic gardening. In previous years we have visited a stable, forked manure into bags, taken them home and spread them over the garden. It was a very whiffy and labour-intensive business. Now, all we do is empty the liquid the worms produce – odourless – dilute with water and we have a natural fertiliser that has a high humus content and is full of beneficial micro-organisms. Keeping a wormery or shovelling horse er, manure – no contest!

I guess I’m not the first person to ponder that tending a garden is a bit of a metaphor for life. You reap what you sow; you learn to deal with things outside your control. And, perhaps one that is most apt for these times: to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. (I wish I’d thought of that but it was, apparently, Audrey Hepburn).


I grew up on a farm in the NE of Scotland so have always had a close affinity to land and growing my own food. As a family we ate only what was in season and preserved fruit and vegetables if there was a glut. I am still passionate about cutting air miles on the food I eat. I’m lucky to live close to the Tayport Community Garden and pop in regularly for advice and produce.

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