I am starting to get busy outside, and I love it. Every year I long for spring and when it comes, it never disappoints. The smell of the earth. The feeling of energy returning to the whole world around me, from the birds to the flush of shy green on the trees.



The poly tunnels have been cleaned out, and all the beds laced with well rotted compost. I have also created a couple of out door beds, including one for a new experiment, growing tea.


There is a back story to this. A year or so ago, we had a visit from a lovely bloke called Tim, who runs a magnificent gardening project over in Edinburgh. Tim looked at our typical west of Scotland landscape, dotted with rhododendron bushes and said ‘you have ideal conditions for growing tea’. We expressed surprise, but Tim told us that tea is a camellia (Camellia Sinesis to be precise) and loves acid soils and high rainfall. It just so happened that one of our other friends, Ali, was present and she and I started to dream about a local community connection project, involving tea. What better way of symbolising connection is there, after all?


Since then, the organisation that we were both part of through which this idea could develop (South Cowal Development Company) has been busy with other things, but the idea has not gone away. I bought some cheap plants on ebay, and tried to nurture them in the poly tunnel last year, but they are not very happy, so I decided it was time to get them outside;


I am determined to make as much use of our land as possible, and I read something recently about tapping birch trees for their sap;



The next task was to turn the sap into syrup. Cue a LOT of boiling!



The fist lot made a tiny bit of very think syrup because I over boiled it. The next one I boiled less, and the result was sweet, runny syrup, which is like a smoky- tangy version of maple syrup. I am going to make some flapjack with it!


It is easy and fun to collect sap- and there are lots of things you can do with it- check this out.




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