Ar Bruidair Autumn update

Ladies & Gents, we have received our first ever complaint about the blog. Well when I say complaint it was more of a disappointed observation about how little activity there has been on here recently.

But let it not be said that we don’t listen… so here is the Ar Bruidair Autumn update.

The seasons are changing, we’ve gone from the – ha ha ha I was going to say summer, the couple of weeks of nice weather, to a bit of a nip in the air and the sobering fact that I’ve had to put the heating on while typing this update. Autumn and cold weather, wind and rain are always a bit sad so lets cheer ourselves up with the thought that Christmas in our new house is just around the corner and I have the joy of picking kittens out of the Christmas tree to look forward to!

So what has been happening since our last posts, well mostly eating.

One of the great pleasures to be had has been reaping the rewards of all of our hard work and eating lots of lovely veggies and salad as well obviously as looking at all the lovely flowers. So here are some little smiles we’d like to share.

1. Tomatoes.

wpid-IMAG1009-150x150wpid-IMAG1028-1We were giving them away we had so many.

We have three cherry tomato plants, two of which were giving us enough tomatoes on a daily basis for two lunches and two dinners.  We ate an awful lot of  a pasta dish called summer garden pasta which is basically spaghetti with lots of cherry tomatoes and lots and lots of garlic and some basil.

We also have two plum tomato plants which gave us enough for two big pots of pasta and meatball sauce and some Spanish chicken. Yum!


2. Pumpkins & Squash

wpid-IMAG0984-1-1-150x150The pumpkins and squashes were a bit of an experiment which we didn’t expect to work. And excitedly they did.

We didn’t get a lot, one or two from each plant, but given that we were told not to expect anything, I am really happy.

We did our lovely Baked Leeks and Pumpkin/Squash which you can get the recipe for on this blog.

It was so satisfying getting my little gardening knife out and cutting pumpkins from the plant. The only disappointment is that we didn’t get more. I’m about to brew some pumpkin beer and had to get pumpkin from a friend for it, I would have loved to make this using our own pumpkins.

3. Radishes

The radishes were the biggest event of the year I think.wpid-IMAG0911-1-150x150

Kate had never eaten radishes and was very dubious about it. They are now firmly one of her favourite veggies from the garden and we’ve just planted out third batch.

I just can’t keep up with the demand, she eats them in salads, in sandwiches, in curries in stir fries.


4. Carrots and Beetroot

wpid-IMAG0965-150x150The carrots and beetroot were two of my favourites this year. I love beetroot and the biggest issue for me was leaving them long enough to get bigger, I just wanted to be picking and eating them RIGHT NOW! I liked them roasted and we even blogged a recipe.wpid-IMAG0885

We have discovered though, that later on in the year the carrots were ravaged by what I think might have been carrot fly and we ended up throwing the last 15 or so in the bin.

To make up for this, I have another couple of batched going in the greenhouse just now (both carrot fly resistant).

What we did do which went down an absolute storm with friends and family, was we had a barbeque as a birthday celebration at the end of July and as part of the feast, we made a salad with all our own produce and a potato salad with out own potatoes.

Wow, what a fabulous night. The food was great and so was the beer, well obviously as it was our home brewed beer.

So that leads us onto potatoes I suppose.

5. Potatoes

Would you believe we only ate the last of them last night?

Like the tomatoes, the beetroots and the carrots, our own potatoes tasted so amazing, better than anything we’ve bought from the shops. So good in fact that I’ve planted some more and we will be pulling them up on Christmas morning for our Christmas dinner.

Now I have obviously missed out some of the fabulous foods, like the herbs and the salad and the spring onions, but I can’t finish up on veggies without mentioning our little blog celebrity, Colin.

IMAG0819The absolute star of our garden this year has to be the courgettes which we ate with almost every meal for months and then started leaving courgettes on other people’s desks at work to try to use them up.

We only had two plants but the amount of courgettes we got from them was amazing.

So going forward, our plans and ideas… well just now we’re starting to think about what we want to be growing for next year as well as learning about what the different season mean for the garden.

We also have some ideas for making things even more pretty, so watch this space.



The tattie harvest

wpid-IMAG0931-1An other exciting day here at Ar Bruidair as we turn out the tattie bags and enjoy our harvest. (For our friends in other parts like The Soulsby Farm. Tattie is what we call potato in Scotland. It comes from the gaelic buntata.)

We hadn’t originally intended to plant tatties as we don’t use them all that much, but our friend Luke gave us some of his chittings so we thought why not give it a go.

We planted up the Arran Victories which are a native Scottish variety and some Maris Pipers and wondered what would happen.

I should probably tell you about the fun of planting them… As I said, we hadn’t intended to plant any tatties so we hadn’t done any research. I stood in the garden for a good ten mins trying to work out which way up they went. Thank the Great Geek for smart phones, Google and a Wi-Fi signal that reaches my greenhouse.

Anyway once that was worked out, we planted them in the Tatties bags and waited.


You will have seen the growth of the plants through other blog posts and seen just how big the tattie plants got so the next photo of trying to turn them out should raise a small smile.


I decided that the best thing was to cut off the foliage and then turn the bags upside down. (Mostly cause these wasn’t a hope in hell that I’d be able to pick them up).

So what kind of harvest did we get?

Not a bad one… Two piles of tatties from two plants.









Remember that pumpkin?

IMAG0919Well here is a little update for you on the pumpkins… it’s getting bigger everyday and the plants have completely taken over both the greenhouse and our spare time. We have also got one little squash on the plant we have indoors and the squash plant in the greenhouse is starting to flower.

Yay! Pumpkin pie with our own pumpkins – I can’t wait.

The hard work is really paying off

A little walk around the garden this morning really showed how all the hard work we have put in has started to pay off.

It helps of course that it’s a sunny day and of course things always look great in the sunshine.

When we first planted our seeds back in March, I really and truly didn’t believe we would actually get any veggies out of it. I’d only ever tried tomatoes before and I got lots of flowers and only a handful of tomatoes which never ripened, so why should this be any different?

Well I can’t explain why but it just is. Looking around the garden today I am genuinely amazed.

We have potato plants which are almost as tall as I am. Which ok is not very tall but still. We have already got to the point of too many courgettes to eat and have started giving them away. We have radishes taking over the third bed, all different colours. There are carrots and beetroot which will be ready in a few weeks and most impressively… there are about nine pumpkins.


I am excited about the pumpkins as I have been told either I wouldn’t be able to grow any or I would only get a couple.

They are obviously small yet, but how pretty. We have just the recipe for these once they are ready.


IMAG0824-150x150The three raised beds we built are looking lush and green and I can wait till the carrots and beetroot are ready to eat. They are small just now, but the couple I taste tested were gorgeous.



The big thing today though was the potatoes. I never knew how pretty the flowers on potato plants were. They are little bursts of purple and really are a treat.


We’ll definitely update the blog once the beetroot and carrots are bigger but tonight I’m going to put the radishes to use.

Wish me luck.

Monster courgettes

IMAG0800We are struggling to keep up. Even after taking a couple of courgettes for mum and dad when we went to visit, we still had seven on the plant and look at the size of them!

It’s hard to use more than one per meal.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. When we planted the seeds at the beginning of the year, we really weren’t very hopeful… Now look at us.

Be careful what you plant…..

Well the garden is almost finished so this week we went along to Gardening Scotland and tried to force our way onto The Beechgrove Garden. It didn’t work, but we had loads of fun anyway and as usual we came home with loads of plants.


Our treat this week is our new chill out zone. We got some lovely chairs from Ikea and little matching footstools to finish our fabulous chill out zone next to the french windows. Somewhere to spark up the barbeque and drink some homemade beer of a sunny evening after a hard day in the garden.



We also have some good news, we actually found some sucker, I mean really nice guy who was working on his garden, to buy the mono block. So goodbye big, ugly pile of mono block, hello getting our garden back.

The only thing being that we were so used to having the pile of bricks there that it looked so empty without it, but not to worry, our little visit to Gardening Scotland may have left our wallets empty, but it filled our garden with more lovely colourful flowers.

We put two planters where the mono block was and that has given us some gorgeous colour and  fun there.



The first planter has some gorgeous colour in it from some really striking poppies we bought, they are red with black spots and yes, you guessed it, they are called Ladybird Poppies.



IMAG0769-270x300The second planter has some variety in it, there are Bleeding Hearts, Dianthus, Gerbera and something with a funny name that Eli insists on calling dragon heads. (Aquilegia)

There be dragons….






We did learn a valuable lesson through our gardening adventure though, we learned to be really careful what you plant….

This week, we seem to have planted Catkins and the have produced fruit really quickly….












This is Penny and Parker who have come to join our family.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, we bought kittens.

The intention was only to buy one kitten, but when we when to buy it, we felt guilty leaving the other  behind.

They are sisters, 8 weeks old ( birthday is 4th April) and the are Tortoiseshell and white ( or Calico as they call this type of cat in the states).

Parker is mostly tortoiseshell on her back, with a little black patch on her eye and chin and Penny has more white. We are already seeing their distinct  little personalities, with Parker being the more adventurous of the two, but with Penny being the hungry little critter who likes her food.

They haven’t met Elmo yet, as we thought it was safer to have the vet check them out first and them let them settle in properly, but they will meet him next week and we will tell you all about it .




The pumpkins have started to flower, and so have the chillies… watch this space.


Our first harvest. (However small)

Big fanfare!

Last night, we ate from our own garden.

(Insert trumpet fanfare)

The weather seems to have turned a corner recently and the courgettes are producing fruit like it’s a fashion statement, so last night we sat out in our garden and ate courgettes which had grown on Colin (remember Colin?)

We cut them as ribbons and sautéed them with some garlic and served it with a tomato and mozzarella salad (using our own basil from the kitchen window ledge).


It’s not earth shattering I know, but it was super exciting for us.

I felt like a real gardener getting to cut the first courgette from the plant and getting to use my gardening knife which Kate had bought me for just this occasion.


So there we have it… Courgette and basil… Home grown.

From our garden (which is looking great)




Growing veggies is quite exciting

The garden is really coming alive now with both courgette plants flowering and what looks like courgettes on them and even the dwarf French beans I’d given up on seem to be starting to sprout.

The carrots now look like carrots, with their little feathery leaves and as Kate pointed out…

You can actually see the plants without standing over the raised beds now.


We also planted some radishes yesterday just for fun.

I’m worrying a little about the green house plants and the whole pollination thing. Obviously the bees and other insects don’t get much chance to do their job in there and I don’t seem to be very adapt with a cotton bud.

Fingers crossed.





Kate’s hard work

Well this bank holiday weekend has seen some cracking weather so Kate got out and did some tweaking to the back garden.

The big deal was our new picnic bench which meant on Saturday, we had a barbeque and subjected the eleven year old next door to some of our music.

Oh the joys of being the grown up.


We also planted some new flowers during the week, you can see them in the background. The hope is that they will climb and spread along the back fence screen and give some colour.

I took it easy this weekend and just did some greenhouse tweaking yesterday.

The courgette plants had outgrown their pots so I replanted those and did the same with the pumpkin plants too.

Just have to cross our fingers that it wasn’t too traumatic for them and they will still produce courgettes (and pumpkins).

Kate is working on her shed today, she’d replaced the frames on the windows as the wood was rotten, and she’s added some new shelves to help store my endless supplies of plant pots.

She also built me a fab stand for hanging baskets in the greenhouse, cause I have a couple of trailing tomato plants.