raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
St. Valentine's Day 2015 saw the first, and hopefully not the last, Seedy Saturday Northampton. I was semi-involved with the planning and I designed the publicity poster which, for better or worse, used that particular day as a focal point. With a big, red heart placed right in the visual centre, its message was, "If you love gardening, come and see us".

Seedyposter small

That morning, I arrived to help the proper organisers prepare the venue. A pop-up café would be selling lunches, cakes, tea and coffee. The seed swap tables, arranged in a square at the back of the venue, were covered in the £1,000 of seed packets donated by large seed companies. There were also smaller quantities of home-grown seeds donated by amateur gardeners like me. My donations were packets of three varieties of tomato seeds and two varieties of peas. I picked up some runner beans called "Moonlight", some French beans called "Kingston Gold" and some Russian Yellow Plum tomatoes.

There was a nice community feel to the event. Around the seed tables, a small group of stallholders were selling various wares and promoting organisations.

I was in charge of the small theatre, where several short talks were to be given. My own talk was a short introduction to seed saving; it seemed to be well received - at least nobody threw any rotten tomatoes at me. I spent most of the event in there, emerging to chase speakers and shout - usually ineffectively - that a talk was about to begin.

The event seemed to work well; lots of people came and most of the seeds - including those I'd donated - were snapped up. The café, and donations for seeds, raised over £700 towards a more permanent pop-up café that will serve food diverted from landfill disposal. I'd had visions of the "nightmare scenario" in which nobody showed up, but all seems to bode well for next year's event, which I hope will be larger, but we'll see!
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.
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...