Tuesday, 21 May 2013

I'll be with you in...

...apple blossom time, although it's a bit late this year. This might be a good thing as there's plenty of blossom and plenty of insects about so things are looking good for an excellent harvest.

This is my James Grieve which is absolutely covered in flowers. For every one of the seven years we have been here this tree has given us a bumper harvest and is one I would recommend for anyone living in northern England or Scotland. 

Winter Gem is just coming into flower and should give us our first crop this year. This one is three years old and has had to put up with some pretty awful springs in its short life.

This is the unknown cooker. A monster of a tree which must be nearly 30 feet tall and was probably planted shortly after the house was built about 60 years ago. It has always been an erratic performer and I suspect is nearing the end of its useful life. It casts quite a lot of shade over the veg patch and I was going to cut it down and replace it last winter but never got round to it. A job for next winter I guess. Having worked in forestry for a number of years I have a bit of a thing for trees and don't like to destroy them for no reason but they are a crop like any other and when they stop producing they have to go. A good friend of mine is a sculptor/wood carver who makes lovely little boxes from fruit woods so nothing will be wasted. We'll get some excellent firewood and the small branches will be shredded...recycling at its best!

The Elstar and Egremont Russet are also flowering so it looks like cider making will be taking up some of my time in the autumn. We have plenty of wild crab apples growing round here and I can get apples from my neighbours who, for some odd reason, grow them but don't use them!!

Changing the subject slightly, the cherry tree is also festooned in blossom.

Now all I have to do is keep the birds off the cherries...not an easy task.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

bolted broccoli

Hardly surprising that my broccoli has given up the ghost and bolted. First it had to just sit in the cold soil waiting for spring, then it was battered by gale force winds and the final indignity was rain of monsoon intensity. Now it is just producing some pretty flowers for me! Thankfully I have some cabbage plants to replace them and will make another sowing of broccoli to slot in when space comes available.

On the up side I'm hoping for a decent crop of blackcurrants this year.

All four bushes are festooned like this so if we get some sunshine all should be well. I do hope so as I've invested in a fruit press and want to have a go at making real juice ice lollies.

Indoor strawberries are plumping up nicely and waiting for the sun like everything else.

Tree fruit have an abundance of blossom and there are some pollinating insects about although not as many as their should be at this time of year. The forecast is for it to warm up this week which will certainly help. 

I pricked out more celery seedlings today. If we get as much rain as last summer they should cope as celery is basically a water plant.We like it as a cooked vegetable, raw in salads and as a flavouring in soups so we should be able to make good use of plenty of plants, assuming I can find space for them all.

As last year I'll be growing my climbing beans up the privet hedge to maximize garden space. It worked really well and gave a good harvest despite the poor weather.

I got 100 percent germination from this lot and have another ten currently just poking their heads up. Thirty-five plants should provide us with plenty and when you add in the dwarf french and broad beans we'll be looking at a real bean feast!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

new potatoes

We had the first of the new potatoes today - nearly a fortnight later than the last two years but not surprising given the cold spring.

The variety is Home Guard and they tasted lovely but the yield was poor compared to my favourite Lady Christl. I suppose I really should leave them longer to bulk up but I just can't wait to get that first crop of the year and twelve weeks should have been enough for them.

I can hardly move in the greenhouse at the moment due to pots and trays of plants which should be potted up  into final positions or going outside. So long as this cool windy weather prevails I'm loathe to put out any more brassicas and lettuce only to see them ripped from the ground by gale force winds. By mid-May I should be well on the way to getting through the greenhouse potato crop and making the space available to the tomatoes and peppers, etc. but not this year.
greenhouse chaos!

This afternoon I managed to trip over and scatter a tray of lettuce seedlings which I'd just put down on the floor to make a space so I could prick out some celery. At least lettuce is a fast grower and easily replaced. The celery I'm trying this year is an F1 self-blanching type 'Loretta'. Because the seed is so small I just scatter it on the compost surface and end up with far too many young plants. I potted up sixteen which should be enough for us as we normally only pick a few sticks at a time, rather than cutting the whole plant.

One thing that does seem to enjoy this weather is radishes. I sow them regularly in any containers I have to hand and they just seem to grow away regardless.
Scarlet globe radishes happily growing in four inches of compost