Bumbling bees

Wildlife-friendly gardening is what it’s supposed to be all about. So I felt so guilty when I dug up two ground-nesting bees while lifting some potatoes from a particularly overgrown corner of the garden. Luckily it was a very warm day, and after recovering their senses they buzzed off for a forage amongst the nastertiums and marigolds, before hopefully settling down again. I’m not a bee expert but think they are Bombus lapidarius (Red-tailed bumbe bee) and Bombus terrestris (Buff-tailed bumble bee)






Still, there was a good harvest of red and purple potatoes from this relatively shady corner of the garden.


Website for the West Braes ScotLAND centre

West Braes websiteMost of the visitors to the garden come via the Scotland’s Gardens open day every 2 years – which is great, as it’s bringing over 15o gardeners, most of whom have never heard of Permaculture before. Hopefully a few of them will go back a little the wiser for their visit.

However, having just come back from the Scottish Permaculture gathering, I realise I really should be doing more to promote myself as a ScotLAND centre to permaculturists. It may be a small garden, but it’s got nearly as many permaculture features as larger centres, and is perhaps on a scale more relevent to those people who  are not lucky enough to have a few acres. So I’ve set up a separate site specifically for the West Braes ScotLAND centre, at www.westbraes.wordpress.com/

Looking on the bright side of the foul weather….

It’s been wild, wet and windy here – but that does mean perfect conditions for grabbing seaweed for the garden – a rough, high tide to bring it well up the shore (in reality, onto the street…) and then a nice lot of rain to wash some of the salt and debris off it. And the added benefit of cleaning up the street a wee bit for those that live down by the harbourside!


Glorious Grapes

2015-08-30 16.17.07Well, I’m amazed – I got carried away and bought a grape vine from the local garden centre on a whim, just after I got the new greenhouse 2 years ago – and here it is with loads of fruit! Not to mention giving an exotic feel to the greenhouse – and hopefully a little natural shade for the tomatoes. Sadly I seem to have misplaced the ticket telling me what variety it was – I’m sure I put it in a ‘safe place’!

Radio Scotland comes to visit


2015-07-08-16.59.53.jpgOne thing leads to another… and as a result of the Pittenweem Gardens open day, BBC Radio Scotland contacted the organiser, looking for people with ‘interesting’ vegetable plots to interview as part of their weekly “Kitchen Garden” show (Thursdays, 1:30pm).

Can’t let an opportunity to promote Permaculture pass by, so with great trepidation I got back in touch with them and volunteered. Hopefully they will be able to condense my rather nervous ramblings into something coherent for their show on Thurs 23rd July. Thankfully the whole episode is not about my garden, it will just be a 5 minute interlude while the main show focuses on the delights of Culross Palace garden.  2013-July-19-7828.jpgMy biggest challenge was responding to the question “Describe your garden” without risking getting a raid from the drugs squad by mentioning on national radio that it is a sea of “Opium” poppies! Programme available on iplayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b062mtbg

Open Gardens 2015

2015-06-21 12.50.47How quickly two years comes around – it’s Pittenweem Gardens Open day time again, and all around Pittenweem, gardeners are bemoaning the cold spring holding the plants back – does anyone ever have a garden looking like they’d like it to for an open day!

2015-06-21 14.23.03It wasn’t until the night before that I realised (after yet again pleading with my Kale seedlings to grow a bit more….) that the event was also 10 days earlier than in 2013 – on the 21st instead of the end of June in 2013 – and that makes all the difference.

 I was finding it very difficult to resist the urge to ‘tidy up’ the garden to make it look more ‘conventional’ before reminding myself that people are coming to see it because it is different! I did clear the paths out far more than I would do normally, but just to make it easy for that number of people to move around.

2015-06-21 11.28.40

Talking Comfrey…

In the end, the weather was great, we had 150 visitors to our garden, with 198 visitors in total to the 12 gardens that were open, raising just over £1,500 for local and Scotland’s Garden scheme charities. The open gardens events are a great way to spread the Permaculture word beyond the normal cirle of interested people into the wider gardening community. And in the ethos of “Fair Shares” a whole new generation of ‘Walking Onions’ managed to hitch a lift to many other gardens across Scotland. The open day two years ago formed one of my Permaculture Diploma designs – Link to Design for garden Open Day

Early Beans

Having a so2015-06-09 13.21.38rt through my seed box over the winter,  I thought I’d better check that the saved broad bean seeds from a couple of years ago were still viable before giving my surplus away to friends. Only problem was, having got these poor wee beans to grow in the middle of December, it was too c2015-06-09 13.21.29old to plant them out, and I didn’t have the heart to consign them to the compost heap – so just popped them in the greenhouse. I thought they’d end up too hot as soon as the sun started to appear in the spring, but very soon the greenhouse was buzzing with bumblebees who somehow had managed to find their colourful pink flowers, and we then had a treat of some delicious, early (for Scotland) broad beans in June.