Spring is Sprung

29 April 2024
To be a successful gardener

To be a successful gardener, it is important to be an optimist. You have to believe that every seed you plant will grow into the most stunningly beautiful cabbage or cornflower and when you plant spring bulbs, surely only an optimist would believe that they will endure 5 or 6 months of ice and frost before growing up, undaunted, into a pot of glowing tulips or daffodils as required for a specific date or Easter display.

Likewise, when planting trees you have to believe that they will grow to a specific height and width, flower at a specific time and always give you autumn colour ‘as it said on the packet’ when they were purchased.

The gardener cannot take the credit for such success as it is our trusty plants and bulbs that always perform regardless of any weather anomalies, so, whilst this is possibly the coldest and wettest Spring for some time, our daffodils are flowering, the tulips are in bloom and the cherry blossom is floating around Clementina’s Garden.

Cherry Blossom
Tattie grow bags

We have just dealt out our tattie-growing bags for this year’s Grow-at-home project. We give out sixty grow-bags, some compost and second-early potatoes, usually Charlotte, for people to grow the vegetables at home. The heavy-duty bags are extremely durable and can be re-used for several years after the initial growing project, part of the attraction of the project – we save carbon emissions by growing our own food at home, and we can re-use the bags to save on manufacturing and landfill impacts.

Kilsyth, then in Stirlingshire, was the site of the first commercially grown potatoes, in 1739, by Robert Graham of Tamrawer. In his first experiment to try and establish whether potatoes could be profitably grown as a crop, he planted half an acre in an open field on Neilston Croft. People came from far and wide to witness his success and the growing of potatoes spread rapidly.  

“In the year 1762, (he) planted one peck of potatoes with the dibble, and in October following raised from the same peck sixteen bolls and a half boll, or 264 pecks.” 

The Statistical Account of the Parish of Kilsyth.

Robert introduced the potato to Scottish agriculture and Scottish farmers now produce in excess of 950,000 tonnes of that important vegetable. A feat to be celebrated.

Potatoe bags
​First Cut of 2024

Last week we carried out our first cut of the grass, 2024. Despite the chilly night-time temperatures, we had no option but to get cutting as in some places the grass was racing ahead and was already quite long. We ended up with four large, builder’s bags full of cuttings but this is a real treasure trove for us. People often worry about their grass cuttings, whether they can be composted or spread over plants, put in the bin or thrown over the hedge. We make full use of them. The grass cuttings can be thinly spread across the surface of newly-weeded fruit or vegetable beds as a mulch, to help prevent weed regrowth and trap any residual moisture in the soil – especially important when we have long dry spells.

However, you must be careful not to put the fresh cuttings up against the plant stems as they can burn the tender material as they begin to wilt and heat up. Grass-cuttings can be added to the compost heap in thin layers mixed in with brown material, twigs and shredded cardboard or you can dig them into your vegetable patches to help enrich the soil with organic matter. If your grass is not too long when cutting, you can leave the cuttings on your lawn as a mulch to feed the hungry grass. If you have sprayed your lawn with fertiliser or moss killer then it is best to put any grass-cuttings into your dustbin.

However, you may be participating in ‘No Mow May’ and waiting to see what beautiful native wildflowers are about to pop up in your lawn. If you are lucky it might look like this.

Bluebell in grass

Photos and text are by Margaret

Margaret is the Head gardener and leads the Gardening team.


Catherine Bradley.<br />

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