November news from The Garden
I mentioned in my last blog that there was great buzz in the community with filming for Eagle of The Ninth happening here. I have to say I greatly admire all those who were involved as they remained upbeat throughout despite the horrendous rain and cold they all endured.
In true west coast tradition we decided to throw a ceilidh for all those involved with the film and it was truly one of the best nights we have enjoyed in our community hall since it was built 10 years ago. A great mix of people from the local community and EO9 enjoyed good music, singing and dancing - even the stars of the film, Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell (famous for his role as Billy Elliot) joined in the Eightsome Reels and Strip the Willows.
We welcomed a group of visitors, from Denmark, to the Garden at the beginning of October and they thoroughly enjoyed seeing so much produce being grown in hydroponics, using renewable energy to power the pumps. Infact the tour guide has decided to include us in their new tours for 2010, even though we cannot guarantee when the visitor centre will be open.
At the end of October we felt it was time to close the growing houses on a regular basis as the daylight hours have reduced and by the nature of growing many of the plants have come to their natural end. (Not quite as they will all be added to our compost bin). The number of visitors to the area has dropped off but we are happy to show people around by prior arrangement.
This season has seen a big increase in the amount of fresh produce we have supplied to our local shops - Achiltibuie and Polbain Stores. Chris Firth-Bernard, Michelin star chef, delighted diners at The Summer Isles Hotel with the inclusion of fresh, locally grown hydroponic produce in his menues.
Di managed to have a break in October - no, not a well earned holiday but an injury to her left wrist. This has not deterred her at all and although we knew about the benefits of using hydroponic growing, for people with mobility problems, it was re-inforced by first "hand" experience. All the winter lettuces she had sown needed to be transplanted from our Gold growing medium into net pots filled with hydroton.
At home I failed to sow any winter lettuce but continued to harvest my tomatoes and made lots of tomato sauce, using my hydroponic grown chillies, and garlic and onions from the Garden. Now I have lots of handy little tubs filled with the sauce, in my deep freeze, and they are so useful as bases for quick meals and homemade pizzas!
The fencing of our vegetable garden and fruit cage will start shortly -and more apple trees have been ordered. The next area to be planned will be the ornamental garden so I feel a trip to some good garden centres coming on! We already had some shrubs, from Cottage Garden Nursery, but need so many more... As we cannot plant them yet Di has built a little turf walled garden to protect them. A grant from The Moidart Trust has made it possible for us to establish our outdoor gardens and fruit orchard. The grant also funded our bespoke shed, from Dundonnel Timber.
The Achiltibuie Garden will soon have their first mail order catalogue. Alison and I have relooked at our products and should have the first design ideas to look at next week.