During July we finally managed to get the growing houses open to the public 3 afternoons a week. With 3 raised growing beds, growing benches filled with hydroponics, hanging baskets with tomatoes and salads we weren't sure if there would be enough in the growing house for visitors to see. As summer progressed further hydroponic growing systems were added - 3 floating rafts for lettuce production and our ground level system for tomatoes and cucumbers. Visitors have been so impressed by what we have achieved in such a short time and are looking forward to following developments at The Garden.
An outdoor vegetable growing area was laid out but the temporary fencing has meant that the geese have managed to get in a few times. Never mind we are soon to get our permanent fencing erected - including a fruit cage.
Sales of our fresh produce have gone from strength to strength, with visitors being able to buy produce picked freshly for them. People love being able to choose their own produce instead of having to buy prepacked items.
Our 2 local shops - Achiltibuie and Polbain Stores have kept Di sowing as the demand for our fresh salad bags have increased in 2009. In addition they are also taking our seasonal produce which has proved to be popular with their customers.
Alison and I have been catering - for a kayaking holiday group and a local wedding. We have enjoyed sourcing and using local produce in our menues to show just what is available locally.
We have found out we were successful in our application to the Scottish Rural Development Programme for our marketing programme. The next stage of this will be the design, print and distribution of our new colour catalogue.
Allan has been working on the designs for the new visitor centre and with thanks to Iain and Peter we should be ready to submit our application for funding to the SRDP by the end of the month.
At home I have continued to grow some salads for The Garden and have had the best crop of tomatoes ever. This morning I headed out to the tunnel and picked a large bowlful before breakfast! (see photo in the gallery). Stuart's tomatoes in the barrel worked but weren't quite as successful as they might have been. We think there wasn't enough oxygen in the water and they did not put on the same growth as their fellow Alicantes in Gold in pyramid pots. I think there should have been more nutrients as well but I don't have a EC meter and just put in feed as and when.
The "supermarket" chilli plants have done really well in the system and we are about to take them indoors as the night time temperatures have dropped and we don't want to loose them.
The next job will be to clear out the bean and cucumber plants and sow some winter lettuce seeds. Di has already started to sow along at The Garden.
The Eagle of the Ninth, a major blockbuster based on the novel by Rosemary Suttcliffe is being filmed here and quite a few local people have been cast as extras, with filming starting next week.
Sadly we lost one of our geese, Aelia, passed away on the 5th September but Marius has not been on his own as Di had taken this year's goslings up to The Garden early in the summer and he has them for company.