Achiltibuie Garden Blog


Achiltibuie Garden Blog


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Busy time at the Garden

It has been quite a busy time for us with lots of visitors to the garden - we have noticed that most are stocking up on fresh produce before they leave the growing house!

We were an unusual venue for the Macmillan Cancer Support world's largest coffee morning. As our community enjoy events which include all ages it was decided the best time would be on Saturday afternoon, rather than the Friday morning. Due to our limited seating area, it was advertised as a "picnic" and people were encouraged to bring their own cups and chairs.

The afternoon was a great success with people wandering around the growing house and outdoor garden whilst enjoying coffee, delicious home baking and good company. Di decided to have a competition to guess the number of tomatoes in the jar. The winner was guessed 88 - there were 87. Lots of photos were taken and we hope to upload them soon. At the last count there was a fantastic £250 raised.

Yesterday we welcomed the children from the primary 1, 2 and 3 and pre school who came along to see what we grow and to sow some seeds in hanging baskets. They had great fun and are looking forward to watching their seeds grow into edible plants.

We are still open for visitors - from the 5th October we will open until the end of the month on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1pm - 4pm.

During October we are offering a discount of 10% on all orders by using the discount code 1010 - this can be done in the discount box of the online shopping bag or by quoting it to us when placing an order.

Another film crew are due to arrive in Coigach in a few weeks time - small scale compared to the Eagle of the Ninth but still exciting.

I am heading away on holiday for a few weeks and I'm sure there will be quite a change in the garden by the time I get back.

29th September

Monday, 13 September 2010

It's raining again!

What a miserable, wet day it is here in Coigach - although we had gales last week we had some lovely days but today, it feels as if winter isn't that far away. On a more positive note, it means our rain water butts will be full!

With winter in mind, Di has gone up to the garden to start sowing seeds for the winter including varieties of winter lettuce and short day length spinach. It is also an ideal opportunity to get 2011 growing started with spring onions and spring cabbage. During August, like many gardeners, we had problems with small caterpillars and slugs chomping away on our delicious salads so it's time to sow more Chinese mustard, mizuna and pak choi.

On Friday Alison, Di and I were speakers at the National Trust for Scotland's annual conference for head and first gardeners. We were asked to speak about Achiltibuie Garden - a sustainable business. This was the first time we have given such a presentation and we were happy with how it all went. Those present made us most welcome - certainly helped the nerves! The NTS are trying to find alternatives to using peat and our Gold growing medium certainly fits the bill.

We were followed by Ray Cox, who is a full-time professional photographer, specialising in photographing the gardens and plants of Scotland. The previous evening he had come along to the garden to take photos - we are really looking forward to seeing them as his work is absolutely stunning.

Yesterday Di and I were delighted to welcome a group of Belgians to the Garden. They enjoyed learning about hydroponics, how we use renewable energy, seeing the amazing squashes in our raised beds, the outdoor garden - not to mention tasting tomatoes, herbs and strawberries.

I am working on our Facebook page - a few teething troubles but hopefully getting that sorted out. Are you on Facebook? If so why not become a friend of Achiltibuie Garden.

Happy gardening


Friday, 3 September 2010

September sunshine

I don't think I have ever written a blog on such a beautiful day and on my way to work this morning I wished I had had more time to stop and enjoy the scenery. The Summer Isles have as much "wow" factor as Halong Bay, in Vietnam, and this morning Jules had a group of sea kayakers paddling in the bay in Altandhu. Oh how lovely it would have been to be with them!

We are absolutely delighted that we finally received planning consent for our new visitor centre. By mid October the diggers will arrive on site - we will need to get some hard hats and hi-vis jackets! Mmm, wonder if we can get Alison's mum to put logos on them?

Margaret has been busy designing aprons and bags for us - Di has been using her bag and has had a few order enquiries. Once happy with sizes etc I think she plans to go into production!

Our summer hasn't been great at all and at one point it felt as if we should get some more water butts connected to harvest all that rain! Wish we had as they are almost empty due to a combination of heat and the plants being so huge and thirsty! Despite the weather we have welcomed lots of visitors to the growing house. With so much growing in hydroponics and soil there has been lots to see. Many are amazed at how we manage to grow so much without being connected to mains electricity and water.

Di has done us proud with providing fantastic produce for selling to the local shops, hotel, cafe and to visitors to the growing house. This summer Lizzie and Richard, on Tanera, have been using our produce for Tanera nights restaurant evenings, guests on residential courses and during the day in the cafe. Alison and I have been catering for Jules's guests and they have loved the range of produce, including the Arran Victory potatoes - a fantastic potato that makes wonderful mash (and chips!). As well as our tasty salads and herbs our produce has included peas, potatoes, beans, courgettes, cucumbers, cabbage, kale, strawberries and flavour packed tomatoes.

Next Friday we are guest speakers at the National Trust of Scotland's Head Gardeners Conference. We have been invited to make a presentation about the Sustainability of Achiltibuie Garden. It will be a new experience for us and will have to have a crash course in powerpoint I think! On the Sunday we have a group of Belgian visitors coming to look round the growing house - they wanted to come despite there being no visitor centre.

We are introducing a Loyalty Scheme for our customers - collect one leaf everytime you spend £10 in a single transaction (excluding P&P). Once you have ten leaves we will treat the Loyalty card as a £5 voucher redeemable against your next purchase.

Achiltibuie Garden is to be one of the venues for Macmillan Cancer Support's World's Largest Coffee Morning - a day late due to give more people the chance to come along. Collette (one of my fellow charity walkers) is organising it and needed an alternative venue as our community hall is not available that day. It will be a challenge as we have no mains electricity, so camping stoves to ready I think.

On that note, I think it's time for a cuppa!

Bye from sunny Coigach.