Tom is away, working in Ireland at the moment. I really miss him, but I am distracting myself by working very hard on my YOKES, and am enjoying pottering in the garden in my spare moments.


I cannot use a spade (I have tried, and I just fall over), and we knew there was going to be a limit to what I could feasibly do this Spring in the garden in Tom’s absence. But with a couple of raised beds, a plastic lean-to, and many containers, I’m not doing so bad.


I brought salad leaves on in the lean-to, planted them out in a raised bed and have been amazed at how well they are doing. I don’t want to speak too soon, but as yet they have remained mercifully unmolested by pests – the raised beds have a protective cordon of bark and copper tape, which has proved an effective slug deterrant. More remarkably, perhaps, the deer and rabbits have not yet taken the opportunity to chow down on my tasty crops. There are certainly rabbits and hares in abundance in our environs (I enjoy seeing the hares if I’m out on an early morning walk) but so far, there have been surprisingly few in our garden. My neighbours (who inform me that we are usually overrun with bunnies by this point in the Spring) think that Jesus (our cat) has something to do with it. He has been seen out on the prowl in the early hours, and kindly leaves headless rodents on my doorstep, as well as those of my neighbours, from time to time. If the rabbits are concerned that they or their offspring might meet the same fate, it is all to the good. But I have no idea how he is seeing off the deer.

Meanwhile, in my containers, the beans are doing their bean-thing. . .


.. . the cabbages are looking cabbage-y . . .


. . . beetroot is sprouting . . .


. . .and some tatties, which my dad and I planted rather late a couple of weeks ago, are starting to appear.


There will be fruit too – raspberries and strawberries.


. . . and there are tiny gooseberries on the tiny gooseberry bush!


Yesterday I took the squash and courgettes from the lean-to and planted them out in 10 litre pots to see how they do.


If I see a spare space in a container I pop in a petunia. . .


. . .and the back of the garden has presented me with other, unexpected floral delights.


But what I seem to have most of are tomatoes. I started growing them from seed in the bathroom several months ago and their flowers and trusses are now starting to appear.


The lean-to is now taken up with eight very vigorous tomato plants, and I have probably twice that number rotating in and around the house. My mum ventured yesterday evening that I might have grown too many tomatoes.

What do you think?


Please to note the housemartin, to the right of the photo, on its way to its nest under our eaves. Their nests are beautifully compact and sturdy and I love to hear them chit-chattering above my head when I’m sitting outside knitting at the back of the house. Last year, when the housemartins had finished with their nests, a few were occupied by late broods of swallows. Will that happen again this year?

Every day, in one way or another, I am grateful to be living here.

68 thoughts on “Pottering

  1. What a treat to read about your garden today. I am interested to hear about copper tape – not sure if they have that over here in Western Australia – I have slugs by the bucketful! I love the tomatoes in pots too. I have just sewn some spinach, radish and lettuce in polystyrene vegetable boxes – I used the compost from my Bokashi bucket mixed with ordinary potting mix so we shall see. It’s an experiment. Enjoy your time in the garden – many people never use a spade at all as they use the no dig technique… Also those Yokes are sparkling away waiting for their turn in the big world. Can’t wait…..

    1. Hi Lydia, Try the Digger’s Club in Victoria for the copper tape (diggers.com.au). I always wondered if it actually worked, so I was pleased to hear Kate’s confirmation!

      1. We have a problem with slugs indoors – the floor has dropped slightly and made a tiny gap below the skirting board; they are attracted by the cat biscuits. I have put down copper tape (ordered online from DIggers), but have seen them crossing it with my own eyes. So it doesn’t work indoors. I haven’t tried it on the outdoor pots yet.

    2. You can get copper slug and snail tape from Diggers online, from victoria, but I’m sure I’ve seen it at Bunnings as well if you have a local one. (Beer traps work well here (SA) and iron chelate based snail pellets are recommended by Josh Byrne.)

  2. It certainly seems a stunning location Kate. How wonderful to see all of your garden grow, I’m reminded of reading your post around the time you gave up your allotment and feel like cheering that you are able to enjoy growing and tending once more. Great too that the weather is being kind to us up here in the north whilst you busy yourself when Tom’s away, makes such a difference to be able to go outdoors x

  3. Actually, you seem to be doing quite a bit of gardening after all. What lovely close-up photos of your starts and flowers! I have not heard of the bard and copper tape as slug deterrant. I wonder if it is sold over here. I have a number of things started in my small garden, but I never seem to remember to start seeds indoors soon enough. Looking forward to YOKES!

  4. The pics of gooseberries brought memories of summering in Idaho with my grandmother. She would send us out with buckets to fill with gooseberries. We always got gooseberry pie with ice cream the next day :)

  5. We planted lettuce in tubs this year, too. Unfortunately the slugs seem to be undeterred by the climb up the outside. I’ll have to try your bark/copper combo.

    You can never have enough tomatoes – as long as you have time and energy to do something with them when they all ripen at once. If you have an AGA you can do 10 hour tomatoes which I can guarantee you will love. And they last for ages.

    You might not be able to wield a spade but it doesn’t seem to be stopping you from gardening. Everything looks great.

  6. The pots of plants outside your door look so inviting. Your tomatoes look tempting–maybe I should go to the store today for some tomato plants!!
    I’m happy to hear that Jesus is earning his keep. You hadn’t mentioned him for quite a while and I was worried about him!!

  7. I have spent the weekend pulling up the last of my crop poor and getting the garden ready for winter do hope yours does well .I agree you can never have too many tomatoes good luck with your vegies

  8. Alison’s quite right about the no-dig technique – the idea is to leave the soil as undisturbed as possible. Your veggies look brilliant. I’m having some success with growing salads in old baskets this year – the slugs and snails (of which there are a plethora in our wet spring) don’t seem to like climbing them.

  9. How lovely! In my personal opinion, practicalities of space aside, you can never have too many tomatoes! Homegrown ones are sooo much tastier than the watery shop bought variety and as well as being eaten fresh there’s always chutney and delicious puree, to be frozen and brought out for pizza or whatever, whenever you need a taste of summer. Mind you, that’s quite a few! It sounds like you’re doing fabulously with fruit and veg, not just ok. Your photo of the cabbage is beautiful, and what a GORGEOUS shade of bluey green. Those irises are fab, too; I have them in my garden as well. That reminds me, I must pot up my gooseberry…Jen

  10. Tell your Mum -it is not possible to grow too many tomatoes – because there are always people like me who adore homegrown ones, but just cannot do gardening. But we are happy to barter other skills for a bag of delicious crimson globes. I have shortened trousers, baked biscuits, and babysat in exchange for toms in the past – to mutual satisfaction of everyone involved! weekend blessings xx

  11. Lovely! I am going to do more in containers at my home as the weeds apparently have more time to spend in the garden than me!. Agree with the others about the tomatoes, and thank you for the wonderful photos.

  12. There is no such thing as too many tomatoes! I cut mine into chunks and slow roast them for 4 hours at 200 degrees. Put them into freezer bags and into the freezer and I have tomatoes all winter. They are yummy!

    1. That DOES work! (Use the cheapest nastiest beer though – they don’t need anything expensive!)

      Too many tomatoes is an oxymoron. They preserve beautifully, and are so amazing in the depths of winter. It’s like eating sunshine!

  13. You can never have too many tomatoes ;-)

    If you really have to many in autumn, just pop them straight into the freezer as they are, and take them out over the winter to make soups or sauces.

  14. I wish I has green fingers, or more accurately, the inclination. My mother’s garden always overflowed with plants and my dad’s garden is always in full bloom and sprouting good things. Mine… a derelict plot of badly cut grass and dying herbs…. oh dear.

    Can’t WAIT for Yokes.(no pressure) xxx

  15. I agree that there are never too many tomatoes. We currently have none. This has to be remedied, and as of today we are past the frost date, which is good. The hail season lasts another while–but if we wait for that to get over, nothing will happen in the garden! Lovely to see your photos.

  16. Grateful indeed ! Your garden looks promising, and you can be sure Bruce is doing his part, having his scent deter the deer, maybe the rabbits too. I so much enjoyed this post… I can somehow see myself in it, for days are my own , just me & Emma and the woods and the wild-life. I am frothing at the bit to see you workspace :) xx

  17. I’ve found that raw, unwashed wool is a good deterrent for snails, slugs and even gophers. I use the skirtings from fleece for spinning to border the plants and stuff it down the gopher holes. Looks strange but it’s a nice wool blanket like mulch.

    If I were closer, I would definitely barter for tomatoes!

  18. My Italian partner, who eats pasta with tomato for lunch nearly every day of his life, would definitely agree that you can never have too many tomatoes. (I never liked tomatoes much when I was younger, which is probably because ours were always imported and flavourless, though I am coming around!). I wish I had your green thumb, as gardening is a lovely skill to have. What a lovely home you have!

  19. w.r.t. slugs we’re trying a barrier of crushed egg shells and coffee grounds – both of which are an abundant by-product in our house. Seems to be working so far but it has been a very dry spring here in NE Scotland.

  20. After many battles against slugs using coffee grounds, generously sprinkled around the plant stems or salt sparingly sprinkled there (deterrents), the best solution I found is to use organic food-grade diatomaceous earth (the ground up powdery remains of hard shelled aquatic diatoms), dusted on the soil under your plants. The powder gets into the slugs’ bodies, causes a “disturbance in the Force” and, in a few days, no more slugs! One other, perhaps more fitting technique for knitters that I haven’t tried yet, but will, involves twisting unwashed, unspun, lanolin-rich wool around a well-loved plant and daring the slimers to get past it. Apparently, they dislike the very same textures that sing to us. Good luck!

  21. omydarling:::you did it again

    the photographs of your plants are as lovely as the your knitty things——
    Let summer begin!!!

    x x x x x x x x x x

  22. Your photos are just lovely. I get up feeling kind of soso and then see your posting – now all is right with the world.

  23. I agree about the tomatoes, you can never ever have too many! I can most of them and dehydrate the rest with a tiny bit olive oil and herbs, they taste like summer all winter long!

    By the way, I also get a lot of dead (or half dead) rodents brought to me, a whole lot, sometimes while I’m working in the garden or happily knitting outside… Sigh…

  24. There’s a River Cottage book of preserves that includes a recipe for roasted tomato passata. We make a big batch each summer, and look forward to special pasta sauce through rainy winter months. If you try it, invest in a mouli. Sieving lots of tomatoes is no fun.

  25. Your garden is spectacular. As for slugs and snails, I have successfully mixed yeast with sugar & water. They are attracted to this. Certainly less expensive than beer. Also I use broken egg shells because slugs & snails do not like to walk on the jagged edges. Both of these methods have worked. We have hosta and this is a favorite of both slugs & snails. Once I started to use the eggshells, my hostaa plants began to thrive and the unsavory creatures left them alone.

  26. About the tomatoes………last year I had a glut as every single seed I planted grew. To make matters worse I had to go away for a month around harvesting time! My landlady very kindly volunteered to just pick and bag and deep freeze. I have never tasted such amazing tomato sauce-skins and all. Absolutely wonderful, so fear not the glut!!!!

  27. That garden is a total treat!! Thank you for taking the time to document it for ‘us’ :)
    And of course Jesus has to earn his keep!! He’s in mouse heaven :) Still waiting for you to tell us how he got his name………….I have a theory but who knows?

  28. Just a note on freezing whole tomatoes when you have a glut, take out the core before you freeze them. Removing the core from defrosted tomatoes is a messy job (the first year I planted 15 tomato plants!). Once they’re defrosted, the skins will slip off relatively easily.

    I also roast lots of half tomatoes sometimes with salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil and then freeze them. I add them to sauces and casseroles of all kinds over the year.

    Btw. have you ever grown courgettes or summer squash before? You will be surprised at how many each pland produces. My neighbors pretend they’re not home when they see me coming.

  29. I wish you hadn’t added “(our cat)” – I was very amused by my momentary misconception that you have neighbours you believe your garden is rodent-free by divine intervention.

  30. Your home is lovely, very beautiful and inviting, and I’m sure Tom can’t wait to be back at home with you.

    One year (1988) I had to research green tomato recipes as the freezer was already full of bags of tomatoes waiting to become sauce and soup. Luckily, Canadian Living Magazine did a feature on green tomatoes for the Fall issue of their cookbook special. I made green tomato chutney, green tomato mincemeat, and there was a wonderful casserole side dish of sliced green tomatoes layered with a sprinkle of flour, dots of butter and a sprinkle of allspice and dry mustard. It baked to a nice slightly gooey consistency and was deliciously piquant. Darn it – I going to have to start growing tomatoes again!

    Thank you for your stories, your pictures and your knitting designs all of which always brighten my day.

  31. Be assured, there can never be such a thing as too many tomatoes.

    This said, I really want to take the opportunity to tell you, how much I love your blog! It is such a treat to read and I enjoy your texts and photos a lot, every bit of them.
    Thank you, Kate.

  32. How brilliant that you have made such progress. we have had to re-sow lots of stuff due to slug/ snail damage. I’m trying to embrace Alys Fowler’s attitude (Guardian this weekend), but it’s hard, very hard, especially when they chomp on the strawberries, demolish the emerging brassicas (we’re on the second sowing), and eat the climbing bean sprouts.

  33. With all due respect to your mother, one can never have too many tomatoes! Winter comes! If you don’t can them, just freeze them. OR send across the pond to me. :-)

  34. Beautiful garden, beautiful photography. I love all your pots. Your pansies are so cute in the washtub. They have such cheerful little faces. You just can’t help but smile at them!

  35. Everything looks lovely, and you are well ahead of me on your gardening! Drama in the goat barn set me back a week, and I’m working hard (but slowly) now to catch up.
    I have planted no tomatoes this year, though…they produced loads of flowers last year but very few fruits, and the hens got to some of those before they had a chance to ripen. Pinning my hopes on several varieties of squash this year. One can never have too many squash. They are like tomatoes that way… ;)

  36. You can never have too many tomatoes! I make gazpacho, tomato soup, salsa, pasta sauce, marinade them in Italian dressing with some cucumbers and onions…So many great things. I roast a lot of them with garlic and onions in the oven, cook them on the stove for a few hours, and then use the immersion blender on them a bit and can it. It’s a great sauce for later in the year, and tastes delicious.

  37. Such a beautiful garden, and so nice to hear that Jesus is on the job and well adjusted to the new digs.
    I don’t think there is any such thing as too many tomatoes.

  38. I love all your plants, pots, raised beds crammed with such tasty treats (except for the tomatoes, I don’t like them!)
    Have you seen herb gardens made from pallets – a good space saving way to grow them.

  39. It is so nice to see where you are when you kn it and write your patterns. I wonder do you have a special place where you sit in your house to knit. Do you have a craft room..or a speciall chair..do u sit at your dining table ..or is your knitting and projects spread throughout the house?
    PS. You can NEVER have too many tomatoes :)

  40. Your garden looks splendid! You don’t seem to be held back by not being able to use a spade at all..
    Can I ask where you got your beautiful raised beds from? the lip around the top is particularly pretty, most i’ve seen seem to be essentially planks of wood sideways, so quite narrow at the top.

  41. There’s no such thing as too many tomatoes! We used to have a house sparrow nest in the gutter joint above the kitchen window. I think they died of old age and I miss them. They were there for many years in a row and I enjoyed watching them dart out and back.

  42. I love seeing garden success photos! Your garden looks so lovely and healthy. I was also curious about the copper tape and hearing from some of your lovely readers in the comments that we can get it here in Australia as well.

  43. Hi Kate, your long and very lost cousin here..Mark..just got an email from your mum who’s filled me in..so impressed with your website and what you do and where you are and everything else, just amazing, such a lovely place and so harmonic..harmony is around me too but often shattered by screaming teenage girls..ahh but they are lovely too! I try to be creative these days like you, have a look at my website ..it keeps me busy. Hope you are well and those cold winds have been replaced by a generally more amenable wafting of drier warmer stuff!
    Take care
    Mark, Marion, Billy,Kate, Annabel & Lydia

  44. Dear Kate, I’m so glad you get to do so much in your lovely garden. There’s a tool that might be easier for you to use than a spade. It is called “grelinette” or “biogrif” in French, was invented in the 1960s, and people with stability or back issues swear by it. I’ll be happy to help with procuring one if necessary. (I’d link if I knew how to, but a quick search will provide plenty of sources). Congratulations!

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)