August has flown by and we have again been very busy here at Auchincruive. Harvesting continues with beetroot, runner beans, courgettes, chillies, tomatoes, herbs and salad bags delivered to Su Casa and the SRUC poultry shop on a weekly basis. Events during the month included Ayr Flower Show and Forces in the Field at Culzean.
We have sown spring cabbages this month for overwintering also pak choi, swede and lettuce in modules. Celeriac planted in the spring is starting to swell and should be ready to harvest next month. Our tomatoes have produced a great crop this year and continue to ripen in the warmth of the Stovehouse alongside chillies and aubergine.
Some of the harvest has made its way into our kitchen at Auchincruive, pea and ham soup, frittata with salad and macaroni cheese are just some of the delights we have enjoyed, prepared and served up by the veterans. As well as produce grown and harvested from the garden we have also foraged for brambles to make some delicious bramble and apple jam.
On this note we entered four jars of jam into the World Jampionships. Categories chosen and made in veteran/volunteer teams were ‘one jammy man’ for which we entered two kinds, blackcurrant and chilli. ‘Thinking outside the Jam’ resulted in a banana and rhubarb jam which is delicious in yoghurt, the final entry in the team effort category was strawberry and rhubarb . Competition could be fierce however we await results to be announced at the Dundee Flower Show.
Woodwork continues to be enjoyed in the Stovehouse with planters, wheelbarrows and card holders being made for the Ayr Flower Show. With high temperatures there was plenty of sweat and tears but thankfully no blood. A pallet garden display using the translucent flat seedheads from the honesty flower carefully mounted onto a backing board was made in the Stovehouse, transported to the site and assembled by a team of veterans working alongside Pamela and Alan. We would like to thank Robbie from ISS whose help with the transport was invaluable. This year we entered photographs, jams, runnerbeans, and a pallet garden into the completion. The stall was designed around Amicus Botanicus paintings of honesty, sweet peas, the VC poppy and forget- me- not set off by a fantastic display of vegetables harvested from the garden and put together by Heather and Sallie. A big thank you to all volunteers who helped, both at the event, in the preparations, and keeping the green houses watered at weekend. Jim Bell deserves a special mention for working tirelessly to collect signatures to promote our Honesty campaign.
The Forces in the Field event took place the following weekend and Alan, helped by a team of veterans and volunteers, manned a stall selling plants, woodwork and again raising awareness of the Honesty campaign collecting another 70 signatures.
Visitors to the garden included Brian Donohoe, an Ayrshire Labour MP and supporter of Gardening Leave.
Finally with all this going on we still found time to get into the garden and take part in two wildlife surveys. The Big Butterfly Count was enjoyable and we were surprised by the variety of butterflies in the garden and the subtle differences in patterns – if only they would keep still for a little longer. In a survey of wild flowers on a designated 1km path along the River Ayr and a woodland habitat we were again surprised by the diversity of flowers, taking pictures of the less common species to identify once back at the garden.
It just remains to wish Jimmy well with his course, we will miss his cheerfulness and enthusiasm and trust he will come back for a visit and show us the correct way to trim the willow fedge!
Until next month
Pamela & Victoria