I love eating fruit and veg, which is why for the past few years I’ve tried to grow some of my favourites. I’ve had great success with courgettes and this year is no exception. In the last couple of years I’ve managed to produce scraggy looking mange tout plants, bearing very few pods. I gave them one last chance this year, in a different part of the garden. Success! I’ve picked more than I had in the entire last few seasons and more flowers in evidence!
I like adding garlic to my cooking so I bought some properly prepared bulbs which I planted back in October, along with some shallots. Here are some of the fruits of my labours – they’ve had 10 months of tlc and this is the best some of them could do for me! However I am pretty proud of my garlic plaiting and I’ve used some of the shallots in a chicken casserole I cooked today – surely I must be entitled to call myself a domestic goddess.
I’m hoping my tomato crop will be better than last year – I’ve got lots of plants and many flowers that are now revealing tiny green fruits – so . Last year the crop was feeble and they ended up getting blight – there’s still time …
The mini apple trees I inherited from my Dad both look healthy – one has produced plenty of apples. I’ve had to pick some off to give the remainder the chance to grow to a decent size – that’s what the professionals advise anyway. Nature is supposed to do some of this for you, but it seems to have been caught napping in my garden. There were as many as 6 bunched together – apparently you should only leave a maximum of 2. I couldn’t bring myself to be that ruthless so I’ve compromised at 3 – I hope I didn’t pick off the wrong ones. The other apple tree has, if nothing else, been consistent in only producing one fruit, and that was stolen by a squirrel last night. I wouldn’t mind but it’s eyes were clearly bigger than it’s stomach – it’s left most of it!
The strawberries I’ve picked have been delicious – much nicer than the supermarket ones, but small quantities – 8 to date to be precise – but there are more flowers. I’m seriously thinking of giving up on raspberries and blackcurrants. Blackcurrant Ben Sarek is frequently recommended for growing in pots. The label says “Both vigorous and high yielding, producing heavy crops of very large glossy black fruits”. It goes on to refer to the “heavily laden branches”. Well, once again Ben’s failed to perform for me in spectacular style – below is my entire crop – there’s no sign of any more flowers so, no hope! It’s a similar story where my patio raspberry bush Ruby Beauty is concerned. “Easy to grow producing an abundance of fruit with a traditional raspberry flavour” it says – well Ruby’s failed to impress – to date I’ve had 12 – admittedly they were delicious and thankfully tasted of raspberry. There are another 10 ripening – I’ve got net over them to stop the birds tucking in before I do. What am I doing wrong? They were planted in John Innes No 3, pruned according to the instructions, mulched, watered and fed – they’re so ungrateful.
I had a modicum of success with broccoli last year- first time of trying. So far this year I’ve had lots of healthy looking leaves but no sign of anything resembling broccoli you could eat. I went away for 24 hours to see Tom Jones perform in Scarborough (he was amazing by the way – did you know he’s 82?). Anyway on my return I found devastation on a major scale. I’d had the broccoli plants netted but they were bursting out at the seams so I removed it. The plan was to install a netted frame around them – but I wasn’t quick enough. I painstakingly picked off all the plump caterpillars waddling round on what was left of the plants, and chucked them over the back fence – in the circumstances very charitable don’t you think? I figured either birds would eat them or they might hatch into moths or butterflies. There were also some unhatched eggs which I admit I squished with great glee – looking at what’s left of the plants I’m not hopeful.
A week ago everything in the garden was looking a bit limp on account of no rain and tropical temperatures – my 5 water butts were empty. I’ve bought a 6th which Grumbling Rose connected last weekend. Thanks to my keen powers of observation and grasp of physics I noticed he’d installed the feed pipe at an uphill angle. I gently pointed out there would be no hope of overflow from it’s neighbour. A few adjustments were made along with some muttering I couldn’t quite make out. Thankfully that evening there was a downpour of biblical proportions, so now they’re all full – just in time for the hosepipe ban that’ll probably be imposed after next week’s heatwave.
Read this with interest as a fledgling soft fruit grower. I had half a dozen gooseberries nil blackcurrants, nil redcurrants and five apples on one of my two Keswick Codlins. Lots of Damsons though on my three year old tree and a good crop of quince. Always appreciate a musical reference too, Tom Jones definitely a super-ager.
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