Reflecting On A Year Of Gardening Adventures

Guest post by Kevin Jameson

Hi. I’m Kevin Jameson, an allotment gardener for nearly 30 years together with my lovely wife Angela. I’ve been interested in gardening all my life thanks to my Mum. She’s 90 and is still as keen as ever. Once you have the bug it seldom leaves you.

We try to garden in a sustainable way using organic methods. Mostly with very good results and a steady supply of produce but as any seasoned gardener will say, you never stop learning. That’s part of the joy of it. I’m very pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to the blog and share some of our gardening experiences with you.

The End Of Another Year In The Garden

If someone was to ask me when does the growing season end, I would probably say that, for me anyway, it never ends but just gets a bit quieter in the winter. However, if you wish to draw a line, then use the winter solstice as your marker. Daylight and temperature both being important factors in stimulating plant growth.

We’ve had a pretty good gardening year on the whole. The vegetable crops have been generally reasonable although weather conditions have been challenging at times. More on that to come.

As a big fan of beans, I tried a new type this year. The Greek gigantes bean. It’s fair to say that the climate in Scotland is not really comparable to the mountains of Greece. At least at the moment. While the beans did make tall healthy vines, there weren’t many ripe pods by the end of the summer. Just enough for a delicious stew and some to keep and try again next year. The eternal optimist maybe but I’m already looking forward to the days becoming longer, the whole process starting to speed up again and most of all, the new challenges to come.

Yet More Weird Weather

It’s been another year of weather extremes. Not just in these parts but across our whole planet. Here, we had a very chilly spring which set back the bees and young plants, followed by a prolonged warm dry spell that turned into a drought. Once again, our allotment stock of stored water almost ran out. (There is no piped supply).

This was followed by a cool and wet summer. I had never seen so many slugs before. Then a lovely sunny, warm September helped to rescue the situation and brought out red admiral butterflies flitting around the garden in record numbers. As if to celebrate the event.

The year rounded off on a soggy note with over two months of almost constant rainfall along with Storm Babet. Our rain gauge recorded over 350mm of water. Probably two to three times what might be called normal.

Up Close To Nature In Our Gardens

Our allotment in the middle of Dundee is in a great spot. Near the top of Law Hill on a fairly steep slope, it looks over the City Centre, the River Tay and bridges and across the hills and countryside of Fife. It is also a haven for wildlife, particularly birds. There is woodland just behind and also two small ponds on the allotment with lots of frogs. Apart from interesting birds like bullfinches, warblers and long tailed tits that visit, there are plenty of voles, field mice and foxes around. Last week I found a field mouse nest in one of my boots in the shed.

Up there, last month, I had an almost magical encounter with two tiny goldcrests. Britain’s smallest bird. They came so close. Both carefully inspecting me for two minutes. I could almost have touched them.

However, saving the best until last. My most unusual and thrilling wildlife experience of the year was a brief glimpse of a woodcock in our garden. A woodland bird and perfectly camouflaged, it soon disappeared. Merging with the leaves under the hedge. What a privilege to have visitor like that. In a wee garden in the middle of a small town in 2023.

All in all, it’s been a good year and fun telling you a bit about it too. Good luck and good gardening in 2024. Whatever the weather!

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