March has been kind this year, and veterans and volunteers have made the most of these conditions to finish digging over the beds and borders in preparation for planting. Seed sowing continues and the greenhouses are overflowing with broad beans, lettuce, leeks, courgettes, melons and bedding. Rocket and land cress sown into covered troughs, on the terrace have germinated. Tomatoes are growing well and will soon be ready for potting into large pots. Space is at a premium at this time of year, however makeshift staging erected in the Stovehouse will give room to move plants on and make room for more seed trays.
The quiet garden is alive with colour, oriental hellebores nod prettily in the wind surrounded by a mass of spring Primula, daffodils and hyacinth. Everyone is hoping that the duck will once again take up residence on the wall to lay her eggs. No sign of her yet, however a pair of Mallards were seen walking along the top of the hedge one morning on their way to the pond. Our wildlife garden is progressing too with a 4 star hibernation box in situ and many visitors to the bird table.
The veterans have been cooking up some soups in the kitchen using leeks, parsley and salad from the garden and comparing the taste of home grown produce to that bought in the shops. It is good to see different faces venturing into the kitchen too. We were delighted to receive awards for the marmalade entered into the world marmalade competition with a silver for the man-made category and a merit for chilli marmalade in the citrus with interesting additions category. With some useful advice on how to improve the recipe they will be going for gold next year!
Pamela, accompanied by two veterans, delivered some “taster” salad bags to a Su Casa, a cafe in Ayr, the visit went well and we are awaiting feedback. Several poppy beds have been prepared ready to plant up with produce for the café later in the year.
In the Stovehouse, woodwork projects this month include planters for the garden, a wheel barrow, as well as bird tables, bird boxes and ladybird shelters. We continue to be indebted to our woodwork volunteers whose patience, expertise and encouragement are invaluable. In this month’s Bonsai demonstration Ian and Peter showed the veterans how to repot the little trees into bonsai dishes donated last month, we now just need to keep them watered. Restoration work continues in the unfinished sections of the Stovehouse, undercoat has been applied and it is almost ready for the glaziers.
Progress in the Stovehouse was accelerated this month with the help of The University of Glasgow and Strathclyde air cadet squadron who volunteered over two days. We would like to thank them for their hard work and endless enthusiasm stripping wood, painting, digging the Stovehouse border and weeding around the pond. Thanks also to Shug for keeping their energy levels up with homemade lentil and ham soup. The poultry shop customers continue to support Gardening Leave and we are very grateful for donations for plants and produce each week. We would also like to thank Mary Devlin for the table at Prestwick South Church spring fete, Margaret for volunteering to help with this event, and the parishioners who supported our stall.
There was great excitement this month when a big box of seeds arrived from Suttons Seeds. We are very grateful to Suttons Seeds for their kind donation of seeds for Auchincruive, Chelsea and Dundee sites, Erskine still have plenty. These have now been sorted and a parcel is en route for Chelsea. Here at Auchincruive we will begin sowing this coming week.
Finally, the trout season opened officially on the 15th March and we look forward to trout on the barbecue in the coming months……
Victoria and Pamela