raspberryfool: (Gardening)
I'm sorry about the negative tone of my previous post; I think Im was letting certain negative things get to me. Don't worry though, I'm not on an angst trip or about to jump off a bridge. Anyway time to step outside into the garden. What a strange, cold spring it's been. It still seems like March with the forsythia, daffodils and flowering currants only just coming into bloom, and the rhubarb is pushing forth at least a fornight later than usual. Oh yes, the cold has certainly taken its toll!

But what's this? The mercury has risen above ten degrees in the past few days and it's time to take account of garden activites so far this year. In a burst of activity in mid-march I planted potatoes in West of the Plum Tree. This year's main variety is Desiree, a red-skinned spud which is described as "good all-rounder". I had some small Estima and Maris Piper tubers left over from last year's crop and I've planted those too.

The mangetuout and sugar snap peas I planted out in Midsummer patch* during late February's hopeful warmth have mostly survived the arctic blast, though some were bent and broken by the snow, even though the panes of glass I placed around them for protection kept most of the snow away from them. I'll be planting more to replace them, and to provide a successional crop. The garlic bulbs in Strawberry have grown nicely despite the cold, firmly dispelling the myth that 'you can't grow garlic in England'.

Cutting the grass for the first time didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped. The old push mower is great for smoothing out the awkward clumps, and the blades don't break like those in the Flymo. Bout it takes a long time and the rain has delayed things for a few days. I suppose I can use the time to clean and oil the thing!

Inside the house, my windowsills are filled with hopeful tomato seedlings, mostly about four inches high and having their second leaves. I've transplanted some to their own pots but I ran out of compost so I'll be doing the remainder today. Some seeds have refused to germinate; my stock of seeds must be getting old and I'll have to replace them one way or another. Leeks are germinating in a seed tray and French beans are planted in another. The new season's plants are a hopeful sign of a busy and interesting garden year.

*I name my vegetable patches for the purposes of this journal: Lawn, Strawberry, West of the Plum Tree, Midsummer, Bonfire and Raspberry. There used to be one called Mint but I've grassed that over. One day i'll get around to posting a diagram!
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raspberryfool: (Gardening)
After a month or so of garden inactivity, in which I've really missed it, I finally got outside and did something. It wasn't much, just lighting the bonfire - which promtly went out - and taking a few cuttings from the flowering currant bushes with their fresh green spikes of bud getting ready to burst open. I plan to complete a hedge along the south side of my garden.

My old neighbour - Mrs. Edwards - planted it when my sisiter and I were children. I remember sliding undernerath the hedge into her garden on my belly - and subsequently being yelled at! She planted privet near the house, then flowering currant, winter jasmine, frostythia and dog rose, but she didn't plant all the way to the fence at the bottom, probably because of the two beautiful old Bramley apple trees. Those trees are long gone now - except from my memories - and the hedge line peters out about 20 feet clear of the eastern boundary fence. But the years and the neglect too their toll and a few winters ago I decided to sort it all out. I pruned everything hard back and cleared out all the dead wood. I also tied some of the young, flexible stems into horizontal positions to resemble a traditional hedge, which seems to have worked quite well.

alt
Flowering currant and forsythia in my garden


I think its about time to dig out the feral strawberry plants and complete this rather lovely flowering hedge - which looks especially good around March to April when the flowers are all out together. Even now in the depths of winter, the winter jasmine brings a welcome splash of colour to the garden. I took about seven new shoots from last year's growth and snipped them just above a pair of buds, potted then into general purpose compost and placed them on my windowsill. Hopefully in a few months time they'll have started putting out new growth, and I can get this hedge line sorted out!

And so, as thje snow falls I'm reminded that there's only a few weeks til Imbolc. I want this year to be a positive one with lots of goings-on in the garden, and in other areas of my life. I know it's easier said than done, but really I need to mentally kick myself up the arse, blow off the cobwebs and get some stuff happening, so here's to an inspiring, energetic and wonderful gardenining year for all!

What are your garden plans for this year?
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Now we're into October and the weather is a huge contrast to last year's Mediterranean interlude, and we cannot be far from the first frost. I've picked the last of the French beans for drying and removed the canes, dug out the pumpkin, courgette and melon vines, taken down the tomato tents and sent their residents to Camp Bonfire. I picked 3 - 4 lbs of green tomatoes, most of which will probably end up in chutney. Here's a picture of last year's crop - happy days!

Here's some tomatoes I ate last year!


cut for waffle )

What's left in the ground? The leeks in 'Bonfire' have done well, but the cauliflowers in 'West' have been rather pathetic and have only provided tiny curds with well-spaced out florets. Perhaps they don't like heavy clay soils - oh well, I'll chalk that one up to experience! I had some decent plums this year, though these were a month late - and the meagre grape harvest will probably be left for the birds to enjoy. There's some autumn raspberries too; a real treat on a gloomy old day!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
And so the wheel turns to autumn and harvest time. cut for boringness )
raspberryfool: (Default)
In the mild November afternoon, I dismantled the cover that had protected my tomato plants, keeping out the worst of the blight, or more specifically, the moisture that allows it to spread and ruin my plants. These 'tomato tents' are now firmly-established summertime fixtures in my garden. My plants had blight spots all right, but were mostly green and healthy when I removed their roof of polythene sheeting. Some plants even had hopeful flowers blooming amongst the green leaves! But they would only have survived until the first heavy frost, which could arrive any night now, and the green tomatoes hanging hopefully from the vines wouldn't have a hope of ripening in the gloom of winter, so out of their warm earth they came! I now have a couple of pounds of green tomatoes to use up. Chutney anyone?

Tomato tent 2010

I burnt the bonfire on Samhain; the mass of privet wood, holly clippings, raspberry and bramble canes and moss and other garden detritus went up rather quickly. That's another two plots cleared of their summer inhabitants! The only annuals left in the ground are the leeks and a few hardy French bean vines, which I'll be removing forthwith.

The raspberry canes are fruiting well, and I even saw a ripening strawberry, which shows just how mild it's been here, but that's not what brings these plants into flower. It's photoperiodism. Strawberry and raspberry are short-day plants, which respond to the increasing length on darkness and probably think its spring! So its the day-length that brings them into flower, but the warmth probably helps the fruits to develop and ripen.* Ain't nature wonderful?

So now it's time to clear the garden for winter. The lawns and hedges need a final trim, the grapevine leaves look resplendent as they change from green to soft yellows and glowing reds and the plum, lilac and maple leaves will need raking up. And I haven't even brought in the non-hardy geraniums as its been so mild; they look so much nicer in the garden but I don't want to lose some of them - that's another job for the weekend.

Now it's time to curl up with a warm seed catalogue and decide what to plant next year. Oh yes, it's all go in the garden!

*Don't say I never teaches you nuffink!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Autumn is a sad time in the garden. The lovely, fragrant fruitfulness is mostly past and the plum tree is already shedding its crop of leaves upon the grass. Yet, my tomato plants are still on the go, producing a goodly crop after a slow and late start. I'm particularly impressed with the 'Gold Medal' this year; last week I pick what must be my heaviest tomato yet; a 15 1/2 oz beauty that almost dwarfed my hand. There are others still ripening; I wonder whether they'll be quite that weight! The other varieties are doing nicely too; 'Gardener's Delight' have a full, rich tomato soup taste, and the 'Sunstream' produce fruits that, when ripened fully, have a distictive flavour of strawberry. Here's hoping they'll make it to Samahin intact and blight-free!

The grapevine in my garden has done me proud this year, producing many bunches of luscious purple grapes, uo to the size of large blackcurrants. Usually, they're quite acidic and take a little getting used to eating. This year, however, they've been pleasantly sweet and juicy, making my fingers sticky as I munch them. There aren't enough, alas, to consider pressing to make a vintage Chateau Raspberryfool Rouge 2011; i doubt I'd manage a bottle of juice! But they're very pleasant eating, and walking barefoot up the garden whilst scoffing them felt very deacdent, especially during that lovely, warm Indian summer we've enjoyed. Talking of grapes, I've been given a white dessert-grape cutting and I need somewhere to plant it out for next spring!

The French beans produced an excellent crop this year, providing many-a-meal with some sweet, green beans. I'd left lots of pods to mature for seeds, and I harvested these before taking out one of the pyramids. The warm weather has encouraged two plants to produce their tiny, mauve and very lovely flowers, so a late bean bonus is on the way. Into the space i've transplanted the leeks I'd scattered around the garden. These haven't done half as well as their counterparts in West...; I can't quite understand why. Perhaps they'll thrive now that I've moved them - who knows?

And so it's into the annual autumnal clean-up; digging out weeds, cutting back and cutting down. I'm going to reduce the width of an old privet hedge that runs along my northern boundary; having reduced the height of the front hedges, I can see the lawn coming back to life. Hopefully taking out the back hedge will have the same effect. It'll also give me piles of firewood for my Samahin bonfire!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
With autumn comes the main harvest of the year, and this year I'm fairly pleased with mine. After a ropey, larvae-infested start, the plums have been really good. I've been cooking, eating raw and giving lots away, and I made some chutney with 3lb of them. My neigbour gave me some pears (yay), I scavenged some beautiful Bramley apples (there's something very special about a ripe, hand-sized Bramley!) and some small but very tasty eaters, picked up from a street after the recent storms. A hatfull of crab-apples were thrown in for good measure.

My grapes are almost ready to harvest. I won't have enough to make more than a few glasses of wine, so I'll give some away and eat the rest. Thanks to the dry summer it looks like being another 'vintage' crop, so I'm sure the blackbirds and thrushes will be delighted!

The tomatoes are now on-stream; there's no sign of blight yet. The shelters I built sustained a lot of damage in the wind - presumable the polythene deteriorates in sunshine - but fortunately I found enough material to re-cover the worst one. I've been picking the cherry types - Gardener's Delight and Black Cherry - since last week. The larger types, Gold Medal and Lettuce Leaf look good too and they're colouring up now; Gold Medal has fruits the size of a Bramley!

My Sunstream tomato grow-out is yielding interesting results too. All seven plants are providing useful, tasty 'mini-plum' tomatoes, but the genetic variations are quite marked. One plant is growing fruits shaped like a miniature red pepper, one's fruit is bullet-shaped and one has tiny hairs all over the fruits. All have thick walls and less juice that a typical cherry type. I'll probably save seeds from two of the plants for the F3 generation. Much fun!

The French climbing beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears have been providing lovely fresh pods, but I'm dedicating the remaining beans to seed production. I don't think there'll be many more flowers this year.

My leeks - or some of them - are doing nicely too, growing around the aforementioned bean poles. Some, elsewhere in the garden, are still tiny and won't produce anything useful now, but I'll move them once the beans are out.

I gave up on my marrow/courgette, pumpkin and butternut squash plants; they provided nothing more than a tiny fruit and a tasty treat for the slugs and snails! Perhaps the weather conditions weren't ideal or perhaps my seeds are duff. Whatever the cause, I ripped the plants up and sadly consigned them to the compost bin. I can now dig their patch and rest it for the winter.

So, the rest of the year will be dedicated to reaping the precious harvest, tidying things up and bedding down for the long, cold months ahead whilst planning what I'll be growing next year!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
It feels like a very short time since I dug the trenches and covered those egg-sized tubers with sun-warmed earth and hoped the emerging shoots wouldn't get frozen by a sneaky May frost. The wheel turns, and today, the first day after the full Harvest Moon, was potato harvesting day. I'd actually harvested some tubers last month because their foliage had died, but most of them remained under the good soil. Potaoes are supposed to store well when harvested under a waning moon, and today just about counts. So I dug deeply into the best soil in the garden, and revealed those beautiful white tubers. The Estima had actually performed very well. A lot were tiny but a reasonable proportion were lovely mashers and bakers.

Because it's a 'second early' variety, 'Estima' matures around late July to mid-August, meaning it will mostly escape the potato-growers' number one enemy, Phytophthora infestans, or Potato Late Blight, to you and me. Blight can be devastating and it caused the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840's, so the dry summer has really done spud growers a favour. Blight also infects tomato plants, and mine are just a few feet away from the 'Midsummer' patch, which is another good reason for harvesting early.

The total haul, which I had to measure on the bathroom scales, is around 24 lbs of top spuds - not bad for £1.99 and a little effort! I lit a post-harvest bonfire to clear away the garden rubbish, cleanse the ground and make some fertile ash to spread around the garden.

Thank you, Mother Earth, for your bounty; and thank you, Father Sun, for your light and warmth. Happy Harvest all!
raspberryfool: (Decorating)
This week, work has returned to its previous lull. I'd been hoping to grab more regular shifts but that doesn't look likely now, and rumours of the firm I was pimping for's impending demise don't bode well. So i'll keep looking for something permanent and non-agency in my limited skills range.

In between bouts of idleness I've been finishing off the tiling in the kitchen. The windowsill now looks much better than the ungrouted, crazed and lifting mess that I removed. I've plastered around the base of the tiles and I need to fill a large area directly above the sill where I removed some dodgy-looking cement. It wasn't that bad really and took some bashing to get off, so I could have left in in situ. Ah well, what's a little more work matter eh? :-) My next job is to drill holes in two tiles so i can screw the water taps back into the wall securely; that'll be fun because I'll need to set some rawplugs in cement and they must align perfectly with the taps' mounting holes. I wonder how many of these houses still have descending water pipes in the kitchen - not many I'll guess!

Outside the back door, I had fun last night cutting back the hedge between the gardens that had sent new shoots high above my head. These need removing before the winter, when the go woody, so out come the loppers and off they came. My neighbour, a nice Vientnamese fellow, surprised me and lent me his pair of loner, meatier loppes which made short work of the acsending shoots. The grapevine had even gone mad, sending runners into the sky. When I'd finished, my neighbour handed me an opened bottle of Carlsberg Extra - what a nice guy! :-)

My potato plants have been looking sad for a while, and yesterday i thought 'twas time to harvest those where the foliage had died. They're a 'second early' variety called 'Estima', so the timing is about right. My trowel discovered plenty of tubers, some having a decent size and some smaller ones that are ideal as new potatoes. The 'Maris Piper' volunteers from last year didn't fare as well, producing small tubers gnarled and pockmarled with Common Scab diease. They're still edible though, and were very tasty steamed with a little mint.

Another reason for harvest is that I need to remove dead and dying potato foliage. I've been hearing reports of Late Blight appearing which, although south of London, is enough to start me implementing my blight strategy. My tomato plants, although under cover, are still vulnerable and although they'll succumb eventually, the potato foliage will provide an ideal springboard for the spores.

I havested some whitecurrants which I'm surprised the birds haven't gobbled yet. Next door's cherries seem to have distracted them and I've a large crop waiting to be picked. Whitecurrant jam ahoy!
raspberryfool: (Default)
I've been picking raspberries for the last few weeks now. I've made raspberry and blackcurrant jam and given away loads of fruit, and there's still loads on the canes. Most of last week I wasn't able to pick any, so the birds have had them to themselves.

The gooseberries have provided a good harvest too; I picked 1 ¾ lbs from the three bushes, which I mixed with two handfulls of next door's sour cherries and made about 2 lbs of jam. Cherry and gooseberry work really well together.

My tomato plants, which seemed as though they'd never get beyond six inches, are now mostly around three feet high, some reaching the ceilings of their tents. Most now have flowers open and some of those, particularly the cherries, have tiny green pea-sized fruit set. My mysterious potato-leaved plant is also in flower, with those big, showy blossoms with open stamens. I can hardly wait to see what fruit it produces; I'd put money on beefsteak - some of its leaves dwarf my hands! I still have a few tomato plants in pots, that I'd intended as give-aways, and I'm loathe to throw them into the compost. So I may plant them in the ground or find some larger pots. I think they've earned the right to thrive and produce fruit.

I've harvested a few new potatoes, which I enjoyed steamed with mint. Most of the potato plants are looking rather sad now, turning yellow and keeling over. This probably means they're ready to harvest but I'll leave them in the underground larder for a little while longer.

The French beans - Cherokee Trail of Tears - and the leeks I planted are all doing well. The beans have beautiful purple flowers, which contrast nicely with the lush green foliage. The rain has done these a real favour and they're climbing their poles at an impressive pace. The leeks too are bulking out nicely. I've left a couple of last year's crop of leeks to flower and I'm hoping they'll produce some useful seeds for future crops, and to give some away.

Finally, the orange day-lilies have given a tremendous display this year. These grow beneath a flat roof and benefit hugely from run-off rainwater from the roof. They really bring a lot of colour and cheer to an otherwise drab area of the garden.

Harvests

28/6/11 04:08
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
The strawberries have peaked and I'm picking less than I was last week. It's been a fantastic crop though, with plenty more to come. The plants are now sending out runners in a bid to propogate themselves. Placing a stone and a little soil on the runners helps them to root and the new plants to develop a good root system.

Today I've been picking raspberries and blackcurrants for jamming. This year I wasn't planning to make as much jam as I usually do. Since I don't have a freezer now, and there are only so many willing recipients of my harvests, I could just leave the fruit to the birds, snails and anything else that might enjoy them. But nah! Into the pot they'll go, accompanied by the gooseberries I picked at the weekend.

I've been asked for raspberry canes, so I've dug out and potted some errant canes, hoping they'll root before I give them away. I've also moved a large cane into the area decimated by the allotment plant poisoner, which I'm hoping will re-populate that area with canes so I can free up some growing space. I've also shielded it with some bubble-wrap, and a note saying "Up Yours, Plant Poisoner. No Love, the Raspberries" Childish, I know, but it makes me feel better!

Whitecurrants are hanging like tiny jewels on the bush, so they'll be the next thing to jam. Like their black relatives they take ages to prepare and I usually spend hours removing the stalks. Whitecurrant jam is rather like gooseberry, but with less acid and a subtler flavour. I might even try making jelly from them this year - I have a lot of time on my hands now.
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
The strawberries have been ripening early this year; I picked the first few ripe fruits in the last week of May, at least a fortnight ahead of schedule. Now, the fruits are ripening fast and I have to compete with the birds and slugs for their bounty. But the pickings have been good this year, helped along by the sunshine and a little - very welcome - recent rain. Yesterday I made about 2 lbs of strawberry and raspberry jam.More garden waffle under the cut )

Finally, I'm considering making this a full-time garden blog; since I don't have a life I may as well write about the garden. I'll update when something happens and I might even start taking some pictures. Any objections? Would anyone rather read my usual pointless waffle? Answers on a postcard to...

Facebook friends, I'm very much alive, well and lurking over there, but I haven't been posting due to inertia. Thanks for staying with me, everyone, I'll be back when something happens!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Well my life is about as boring as it gets, so I won't bore you with the details. So what's happening in the garden?

This weekend I planted out most of the tomato plants that made it past first true leaf status and into tomato adolescence. My four main varieties, Gardener's Delight, Black Cherry, Lettuce Leaf and Gold medal are now in 'Strawberry', bedding down under their nice new tomato tent aka polyshelter. This will, I hope, keep out blight and other water-bourne nasties and allow the plants plenty of sunlight and fresh air. But we'll see...

The experimental plants, taken from 'Sunstream' by Ezra Zaden via Tesco, will go in their own tomato tent, probably in 'Bonfire' hwere garlic is currently growing. Since this is an F2 generation, I'll be keeping notes and referring back when deciding which ones get to stay and which get evicted from the next generation. It's kinda like 'X-Factor' with tomatoes!

I also planted out the curcubits - betternut squash and marrow/courgette - into 'Raspberry', and French beans into 'West of the Plum Tree'. None of the pumpkin seeds I planted germinated; perhaps I have duff seeds or tainted compost. Either way I'm disappointed.

The potatoes are looking really healthy this year, and a few have flowers on. Hopefully this will indicate some nice big tubers, but let's not put chickens in baskets before they've hatched etc...

Oh, I started picking strawberries last week too - at least a fortnight ahead of schedule. The warm, dry spring has really pushed these along. I expect the raspberries will be early too, and the bumble bees have been having a great time with the raspberry flowers. I've seen a few honey bees around the garden too this year - there must be a new hive nearby. If you want bumble bees in your garden, plant raspberry canes!
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raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Most of my activity recently has been in the front garden, where I've been cutting the privet hedges back severely. They'd become rather thick and matted, obscuring light and making the small front garden feel very enclosed. I've now removed both sides of the roadside hedge, leaving just the top leaves to allow the plants to photosynthesise. Next month I'll remove six inches, to bring the hedge level with the gateposts.

The first load of wood went onto the bonfire in 'West of Plum Tree', which went with a 'whoosh' when I lit it. It scorched the plum tree and the rose bush, which I'm hoping will recover their leaves within a few weeks. Still, the clay soil was well-baked, leaving a lovely large pile of ash for spreading around the garden. The next lot is now accumulating in 'Strawberry', hopefully the strawberry plants won't suffer the same fate.

A visit to the garden centre procured a bag of half-priced, and well-chitted, seed potatoes. I planted these straight away, filling the enlarged 'Midsummer' plot and the standby 'Mint' plot, which I'd planned to retire and grass over. I'd obviously failed to harvest some of last year's crop, evidenced by the 'volunteer' plants pushing through in 'Strawberry'. These also went to 'Mint' - I saw no reason to throw them away.

The leeks in 'Raspberry' and garlic in 'Bonfire' are looking good; the leeks are excellent steamed; the only problem is that soil gets trapped between the leaves.

Indoors, I've planted tomatoes (five varieties), marrow/courgette, pumpkin (didn't germinate!) and butternut squash. For the front garden, I've got sunflowers and hollyhocks to grow in sandy soil against a west-facing wall. My sister gave me a load of zonal geranium plants to add to those that fill the windowsills at the moment - I'm running out of space.

The lilac and flowering currants put on a really good show this year, as did the bulbs, and the wallflowers now brighten the garden with their yellows, oranges and dark red blooms. So the gardening year is well underway, and I'm looking forward to making the front garden as decorative as the back. I'd also like some rain, so I don't have to water everything so often!
raspberryfool: (Default)
And so, an update! I'm getting really slack at updating my LJ, but there's not been a great deal to write about. Garden activity is gearing up though, so here's what's going on in my back paddock...

I've been digging out dandelions again, the things just get everywhere. They spread in on the wind from the neighbouring gardens which are infested with them. Simply ripping the heads off isn't enough, and digging the roots out of the grass often ends with half a root in my hand. The smaller ones come out easily though, and I'm hoping this is enough to keep their numbers in check.

A few weeks ago I cleared the strawberry beds of weeds, as far as I could. There seems to be more grass, primrose and violets than strawberry plants these days, something which I'll have to fix. The primroses can stay though - they do look lovely at this time of year.

I bought some seed potatoes, can't remember the variety but they're second earlies. They were pre-chitted (sprouted) and were half-price. I've planted them in the 'Midsummer' patch, where i grew tomatoes last year. I also found a handful of 'volunteers' in last year's potato patch, which will be beans and leeks this year, so I dug them out and moved them to the small patch that I was planning to grass over.

Inside, I've planted leeks, pumpkin, butternut squash, marrow and tomato. The tomato seeds have mostly germinated and are looking good, including the one that germinated last November. the latter is now two feet tall and ready to plant out. Unfortunately, the weather won't be ready for another month! Today I'll be planting French beans. I use old plastic meat trays, which are ideal for germinating a large quantity of seeds in a small quantity of compost.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to evict an errant wasp from my bedroom. Zzzzzzz...
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Starting with the fruits, here's this year's review of garden delights and disasters;

cut for those who don't care. )

Next time: Veggie review (including tomatoes and curcubits - yes, I *know* they're fruits.)
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
As I noted in my last entry, last week saw the first frost of the autmun; a chilling reminder that winter is never very far away. If the sunny, balmy autumn weather had lulled me into a false sense of security - at least garden-wise - the frosty mornings were a sudden wake-up call. Thus, I set to the task of dismantling my poly-shelters - erected to protect my tomato plants from the dreaded blight - and to return the 'Midsummer' and 'Bonfire' plots to their naked, weed-free state.

First of all, I removed my chilli pepper plants for over-wintering. These have now grown into small tree-like plants which I've carefully uprooted, placed into large pots with potting compost and placed on windowsills around the house.

It's best to remove the poly-shelters on a still day, otherwise the polythene sheets will be found wrapped around the neighbours' trees or strung around telephone wires out of reach and all hope of recovery! The polythene on the small shelter survived the summer intact but the large sheet over 'Midsummer' became ripped along a fold, allowing blight-spreading rainwater to pour through. There are also small scratches over the top where I'm certain the local avian population assembled to feast upon next door's juicy, ripe cherries. So next year, I'll make smaller constructions and put bird-scaring devices - like CDs and used food tins - in place.

With the white poles and polythene sheeting now stored safely in the shed (ooh - aliteration!), I piled the garden waste, accumulated in a large heap below the plum tree, onto the 'midsummer' plot for a good autumn bonfire to mark Samhain, and the close of another (mostly) excellent growing season in the garden.
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
This morning was cold and bright. I left the house just after sunrise for work and noticed ice upon the grass. Cars had frozen windscreens, and here and there were patches of more tangible evidence of winter impending.

Last night I realised it was likely to freeze when the temperature suddenly dropped, even between the heavy showers of rain. So I dug out my chilli pepper plants, repotted them and brought them indoors. being in soil all summer, they've grown quite substantially taller and bushier, and still have a few chillies dangling from their branches. I think they're fantastic plants - even though the chillies were anything but hot this summer - and well worth overwintering. They look like Bonsai trees.

I also picked the remaining viable tomatoes, almost all of which are green. The plants survived the night, but tonight looks like being frostier, so I don't expect them to see tonight through. Nature has brought down her axe upon my plants and the tomato season. All good things, etc.

I'm not complaining, of course. It's been an excellent tomato-growing season.
raspberryfool: (Decorating)
I dug into the second row of March-planted Maris Piper potatoes today. I was hoping they'd be bigger than the ones I unearthed a few weeks ago, and surely I wasn't disappointed. But I wasn't that impressed either; they are consistently the size of, and slightly bigger than, hens' eggs. But the haulms died off a few weeks back, and I removed the remaining stalks, leaving just a little above the soil so I'd know where to dig, to ensure they didn't get blighted. I've read somewhere that tubers can increase in size even though the haulm is gone. The author was obviously lying!

I still have some surviving May-planted plants, whicvh I'll leave until late September before a trial-dig. My 'volunteers' in another bed are looking a picture of health; the dry summer has obviously knocked the blight for six as these, and my tomato plants, are blight-free and lovely. I wonder how long that state of affairs will last.

Meanwhile I've been raking moss from the back lawn again; this time I've sown fresh grass seed to replenish a small area. I expect every starling for miles will drop in for a free feed!
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Last weekebd, i harvested the first row of my Charlotte potatoes that I planted in March. The foliage had died down so i knew it was time to harvest them. The tubers ranged from the size of a pea to that of a hen's egg, and tasted absolutely great when I steamed them with mint and a litle salt. Also I picked the first of my 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' beans, which are green, spotted with purple, French beans. The plants have been doing really well, and have climbed the poles, showing off their lovely mauve flowers for the bees to polinate. I can't wait to taste the beans tonight, steamed of course.

I've been harvesting fruits too; the raspberries have suffered in the dry spell, some canes producing only tiny berries. There are plenty of full-sized fruits though, and I expect I'll be making raspberry jam pretty soon. The gooseberry, whitecurrant and blackcurrant bushes have produced excellent crops too; I have so many whitecurrants i don't know what to do with them all. The birds usually steal most of them, but haven't bothered this year. There are also next-door's sour cherries to make use of; the neighbours never use these and they hang in the tree until the birds gorge themselves.

My tomato plants are doing really well; I've picked a few 'Gardener's Delight' cherry toms already, and am eagerly awaiting the mass ripening. 'Gold Medal' and 'Lettuce Leaf' are doing well too; the former producing green fruits that hang on the plant like tiny Chinese lanterns. They're both larger varieties, so will take longer to reach full size and ripen. I picked my first corgette, which was huge and probably more akin to a marrow. I gave the first one away but will await reports of edibility eagerly.

My chillies have been ripening for a few weeks now, but boy was I disappointed when I harvested the first couple of fruits. There was no heat whatsoever, which is odd. It can't be genetic because these are second-year plants that have produced hot chillies before, so the problem must be environmental. I've read that one should stress the plants, withholding water until they become droopy.So I'll try this approach and see if I can't turn up the heat a little. Mind you, it could be a good way of havinjg a little joke with friends.

Finally, the leeks I planted in the spring are mostly doing well, although some have failed to grow and are still looking like tiny strands of grass. I won't be harvesting the leeks until winter-time so I hope they'll do something by then.

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raspberryfool

August 2017

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