Tag Archives: blackcurrants

Summer is on the Blink!

We seem to be in almost a winter weather pattern with lows coming across the UK one after another. So we may have a day or so of sunny weather then rain. It’s been so bad that I only finally was able to mow the (still wet!) lawn this evening after more than a couple of trying to do it when the grass was dry. I finally cracked this evening when I was rain forecast more or less for the rest of the week.

6 days later

Since then we’ve had a shower or more almost every day and the grass is growing like mad!

The vegetables are growing well though and I’m harvesting plenty of climbing beans, together with the french/dwarf beans (almost finished now though). Only a few mangetout peas at the moment although I have one new seedling to plant out (only one out of four came up!). I’ve sown a couple more pots full today.

Climbing beans – note the different varieties

The tomatoes are producing well, especially the small ‘sugar plum’ types but some of the larger ones just ripening now.

Some of the current crop of tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomato plants outside the greenhouse – these are ‘Marmande’

We’ve had plenty of cucumbers as well although just at the moment there aren’t any new ones ready but the courgettes are producing and as usual if I’m not careful picking them while they are small we’ll have a glut.

Baby courgettes – they need watching!

 

One unfortunate side effect of all the rainy days is that I haven’t yet harvested the garlic even though they are ready, but they really need a chance to dry out once I’ve dug them up.

The broad bean plants are still there just in case the flowers on them just now actually produce some beans… unlikely but you never know.

Over the last couple of weeks I have harvested all of the blackcurrants and gooseberries (some of which were immediately cooked into gooseberry ‘cobbler’). The raspberries are just about over, but the blueberry bushes are full of ripe berries – and the birds haven’t found them yet! There are a few strawberry flowers so there may be a late crop. The brambles are ready now as well – I’ve had a few already with my breakfasts.

Some of the blackcurrants and gooseberries

 

 

I’ll close this now and add more in a couple of days….

 

 

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Harvesting Now Fruit & Veg

Both vegetables and fruit are producing just now and the weather has been genuinely summery with temperatures in the upper 20’s for most of the last week.

The fruit harvest has been red currants a couple of weeks ago over 1.5 pounds, and currently raspberries, close to a pound now in the freezer and the bushes are still producing.

Raspberries

Raspberries

The gooseberry bushes have berries on that look to be ripe now – and since starting this blog I’ve picked them Over 2lb of the red berries and about half a pound of green ones.

Red gooseberries  - nice and sweet

Red gooseberries – nice and sweet

Green berries - not as many of these

Green berries – not as many of these

and the blackcurrants are close to being ready.

Blackcurrants - not quite ready

Blackcurrants – not quite ready

The strawberry plants are just producing a new set of flowers so it will be a while before any more strawberries. Some of the blueberries look to be ripening, though it doesn’t look like there will be as many as last year.

Meanwhile I’m harvesting climbing beans, and one of the varieties is producing yellow beans (don’t know the name as it was a pack of ‘mixed’ varieties)

Yellowish climbing beans - they are quite tasty though

Yellowish climbing beans – they are quite tasty though

The ‘dwarf’ beans are just at the point of producing, there are tiny beans at the moment but it won’t be long…

The broad beans have been pretty poor in contrast, we’ve only had a couple of helpings of beans and several plants didn’t produce a single pod.. I can only blame the weather, no idea what caused the problem apart from that as the plants seem healthy enough.

The mangetout have been producing for over a month now and are still producing, mainly because I have planted new rows at intervals.

Mangetout  ready for picking

Mangetout ready for picking

Also the courgettes are now producing pleant – I’m trying to pick them while small to avoid the usual glut – but i’m sure we’ll eventually be overwhelmed….

Small courgettes

Small courgettes

and I’ve already picked a cucumber:

Cucumber - a few days before being picked

Cucumber – a few days before being picked

Plus tomatoes are beginning to ripen – just the small ones at the moment but it won’t be long before some of the larger varieties are ready

Ripening tomatoes

Ripening tomatoes

The salad crops I planted a while ago haven’t been terrifically successful – the radish are ok but the salad leaves and lettuce rows are rather sparse, but there may be some leaves worth harvesting.

I’ve now dug up the garlic bulbs and they are just drying on the bed but they don’t look to be as good as last year but perfectly acceptable.

So that’s the harvesting situation just now..

I’ve Bin Plantin!

Yes, progress at last. Weather is still all over the place with rain, wind, some sun and this morning a frost (first for a while) and temperatures varying from 0 to +13degC in the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, I was finally prompted into action by a bit of sunshine and planted a whole raised bed with broad beans. I should have planted some last autumn really but  somehow I missed that opportunity. Two varieties – ‘aquadulce’ and ‘the sutton’ – about half the bed each. Planted, as usual, much closer than recommended but who has the space they want you to use? This is more space dedicated to broad beans than usual but I do have more beds to fill!

The garlic plated a couple of weeks ago is now just producing shoots although I notice the tops of some have been nibbled – I suspect pigeons!  The strawberry plants are now coming on – apart from a few (see bottom LH corner of pic below) – I will be talking to the supplier about them!:

Strawberry plantlets mostly growing now

Strawberry plantlets mostly growing now

Just today I’ve had to cut the holly hedge on one side of the garden – which has been growing regardless of the time of the year, plus I’ve pruned some of the blackcurrant bushes – though there are still more to do….

Just to illustrate further the way things are growing here are the daffodils in my lawn – they have been in full flower for more than a week now (compare with last post):

Lovely daffodils!

Lovely daffodils! Now fully out

Wildlife

The trailcam at the bottom of the garden has revealed that at least one hedgehog is still active thanks to the warm winter. Also I’ve spotted a different fox from our regular visitor – which is easily recognisable by having a very thin tail, not very brush-like. The new one has a proper ‘brush’, the the ‘thin tail’ one is still around.

Clearing Up Started

Yes, finally I managed to spend a bit of time in the garden clearing up.

I know the broad beans were finished a long time ago, but I did leave the roots and a short stem in to see if they would produce a second crop, which sometimes happens. Well, they didn’t so I had to tackle the job of clearing up all the string and canes plus pulling the roots up. Interestingly, the roots of the ‘De Monica’ had a tap root up to 6″ long in some cases, quite different from ‘The Sutton’ and other varieties I’ve grown.

At the same time I cleared away all the pea plants from the bed near the greenhouse, most of the plants were dead in any case.

So at the end of it all I had three beds clear. No real plans for them as yet, except that the one which had the peas I’ll probably plant a green manure crop – I think I still have some seed.

One bed clear -not the tomatoes still ripening behind

One bed clear (ex broad bean) – note the tomatoes still ripening behind

Speaking of seed, it won’t be long before I have to start thinking about next years crops – already the online nurseries are sending me offers for spring plants….

Still haven’t finished picking the blackcurrants though, nor started tackling the brambles – still a good excuse just now, it’s raining….

Still plenty of tomatoes – had to make a batch of tomato sauce yesterday to consume several pounds, and even more were taken to Belgium the other day but that’s another story.

 

Tomato & Courgette Armageddon Is Upon Us!

The glut has started – a slow build-up but now we have more courgettes and tomatoes than we can eat already and it looks like it is only going to get worse. The tomatoes I expected, after there are too many plants but there are only two courgette plants but they are a variety with yellow coloured courgettes so they can’t hide as easily – and I am harvesting them early as well.

Tomatoes and yellow Courgettes

Tomatoes and yellow Courgettes

This of course not to mention the cucumber, which we are just keeping up with, the climbing and ‘dwarf’ beans which we aren’t – there are a load to be harvested just now. The blueberries, still being harvested, the blackcurrants I’ve just started harvesting and there are loads!

Blackcurrants - from half a bush!

Blackcurrants – from half a bush!

Climbing beans waiting to be harvested

Climbing beans waiting to be harvested

Also, I’ve only dig up a couple of rows of potatoes so there are plenty more of them to come.

Potato plants - how many potatoes underneath?

Potato plants – how many potatoes underneath?

Apart from the harvesting needed fortunately the weather has settled down a bit at least for a few days, so much so that I had to use the hosepipe on the garden the other day and may well need to tonight!

And oh yes – the carrots are ready as well…..

The only harvesting complete is the garlic – all up, dry, and hanging in our utility room now.

I’m still suffering a bit from ‘open garden’ depression and haven’t been able to get down to planting some more salad leaves since the last lot was attacked by caterpillars (cabbage white I suspect) and has gone to the compost heap.

Wildlife

Speaking of caterpillars, I’ve only seen one small batch on the nettles this year and they moved so rapidly out of sight that I couldn’t identify them.

The birds have been eating the sunflower seeds, mostly greenfinches I think with a few great tits but the odd house sparrow has appeared on the feeders nearest the kitchen as well.

Butterflies are more in evidence now the weather is a bit more sunny, many peacock butterflies on the buddleia (I counted 5 at once the other day) a few comma and many small whites as well as the odd ‘small brown jobs’ that haven’t hung around long enough or have kept their wings closed (very annoying).

That’s all for now – I may have to sit down and ‘top and tail’ the blackcurrants as it looks like they will be going straight to the freezer…..

So What has Been Happening With The Veg?

Well they have been growing and I’ve been cropping – but not all and not all successfully.

First, the broad beans are finished now, the last beans were harvested today and some of them too old to use but all needed peeling before uses (they are going to be used later this week). they have been pretty good and have produced a reasonable crop. Cant’t really say that the De Monica produced better than the Aguadulce, both seemed pretty good.

Broad Beans - all picked and waiting for the chop, with Garlic in front ready to harvest

Broad Beans – all picked and waiting for the chop, with Garlic in front ready to harvest

The mangetout peas are also almost finished (although there is a small number of plants I planted after the others in the beans bed still not flowering yet). and they have also produced well, still a few pods to come though I think.

The climbing beans are producing now (we had some today) but not really well and they still are pretty reluctant to climb properly. Even allowing for the poor weather early on after they were planted it’s still pretty disappointing- so I don’t think I’ll grow the variety (Fasold)again and will return to the previous variety (Blue Lake) grown over previous years.

The reluctant Climbing Beans

The reluctant Climbing Beans – note the amount of growth at the base

The ‘dwarf’ beans have been misbehaving as well – not being dwarf and pretending to be climbing beans so they have needed support – all a bit weird really – still they have produced a few beans.  (we had some today).

The 'Dwarf' Beans not being dwarf!

The ‘Dwarf’ Beans not being dwarf!

The peas (Hurst Longpod) are close to harvesting and the pods are filling out well so next weekend I think we’ll be having them.

The 'full size' peas

The ‘full size’ peas

The ‘climbing’ strawberries have finished their first crop but there are one or two new flowers so there may be more coming. While on the fruit, one of the raspberry canes planted last year which is supposed to be an autumn variety has been producing for the last couple of weeks, just enough to go with my breakfast cereal, and very nice too. Meanwhile, the blackcurrants are ripening up and looks like we may be harvesting next weekend.

Raspberries - great with my breakfast cereal

Raspberries – great with my breakfast cereal

The salad cops haven’t been as good. A container of salad leaves is currently being harvested and a row of radishes is also ready plus a row of lollo rosso lettuce is also ready. However, other crops like beetroot, leaf beet, and mini-celery have either failed or are struggling with a few plants. Partly this is down to pigeon damage and partly to failure to grow at all. As an example, tow rows of lettuce germinated but after a couple of weeks half of each row had gone as a result of pigeon or slug damage.

Lollo Rosso lettuce with

Lollo Rosso lettuce with radishes behind

Turnip, with Pak Choi behind and Calabrese at the back (plus plenty of weeds!)

Cos lettuce, Turnip, with Pak Choi behind and Calabrese at the back (plus plenty of weeds!)

The Courgettes are of course trying to overwhelm everything else – below is an example – there is a cucumber plant left of it (completely hidden)and the climber is a ‘cucamelon’ donated by my neighbour (who is growing one as well) growing as an experiment. I have harvested two cucumbers already though.

Courgette taking over!

Courgette taking over!

To finish off – one tomato (a ‘Gardeners Delight’) is just starting to turn (see below) – so soon we’ll be harvesting by the ton…..:

The first tomato to start ripening

The first tomato to start ripening

Wildlife

A rather annoying squirrel has been about which mostly ignores the peanuts I put out to entice it into the trap, and goes straight up the pole to the seed feeder – which it has almost destroyed. Drastic steps were needed – so I bought an anti-squirrel baffle to put on the pole – which I’m please to say has ‘baffled’ the squirrel (I watched the other morning go up the pole then wonder what to do next). So I’ve now got a new seed feeder in the hopes it will last longer.

The trail cam has been located on the lawn for a while recently and revealed a hedgehog wandering about and was itself knocked over by magpies – 3 of which appeared early in the morning looking for trouble – one marched up to the camera pecked the lens then jumped onto the top and knocked it over!

I noticed over the last couple of days at least one house-sparrow on the feeders which is encouraging, but I wish there were more. There have been greenfinches on the seed feeders as well recently and the usual tits, though most look pretty scruffy so I think they may be youngsters.

A few butterflies about, the buddleia bushes are just coming into flower so I expect to see a lot more butterflies soon.

 

The Last Bed Is In

Beds 9, 10 and the new one, 11, furthest away

Beds 9, 10 and the new one, 11, furthest away

Eleventh raised bed

Eleventh raised bed (more compost has now been added)

Yes, at last the last, and eleventh, raised bed is now in place and filled. This one I’ve filled with a mixture of compost from one of the compost bins, which seems to have a high soil content anyway, plus the contents of four grow bags from last season. Not sure what I’m going to grow in it yet – and I really need a plan for all of them written down, I’m just carrying vague thoughts of what is going where in my head at the moment.

The other aspect of getting all the beds in is to redo the ‘garden map’ and to number the beds in some logical way.

The other big task now, is to get the paths around and between the 6 beds on the ‘new side of the central path sorted out – which is going to be quite a bit of work I think.

Of course, getting the bed in place isn’t the only work that I’ve done, although not much else  outside in the garden, there have been developments in the greenhouse.

As I mentioned in the last post, more tomato seedlings have appeared now, and since then a couple more have appeared. No sign of any peppers yet though. Just today I potted on 9 ‘pomodoro’ tomato seedlings and both the cucumber seedlings.

I’ve also got four varieties of potato ‘chitting’, some are saved from last year (‘maya gold’ & ‘rooster’ – they are both well on) plus some ‘maris piper’ & ‘charlotte’, which I bought today, so they will be a week or two before being ready for planting. I finished potting on the marigolds the other day, so that’s two trays full.

I noticed today that some rocket seedlings have appeared in the bed in front of the kitchen, no sign of any coriander yet though.

Things are beginning to look very spring like in the garden, lots of leaves appearing on the blackcurrant bushes and on the gooseberry bushes.

Gooseberry leaves

Gooseberry leaves

The fruit trees are also getting close to having open buds as well.

Plum Tree buds breaking out

Plum Tree buds breaking out

Spring flowers have been making a show in the ‘wild’ part of the garden.

Primroses

Primroses