Tag Archives: gooseberry bushes

Summer – Phew What A Scorcher!

Well after the poor weather reported in the last post things have taken a much warmer turn. We’ve had temperatures over 25degC the last few days and exceeding 30degC yesterday and today. The prospect for the rest of the week s for temperatures between 25 and 30. All this means that is is far too hot to work in the garden during the middle of the day and afternoon and of course there is plenty of watering to do!

Nevertheless it all has to be done and the good thing is of course that we are in the period of maximum daylight at the moment so working in the garden is possible until just about 10pm (and of course from about 5am if necessary).

The flowers are looking good as a result, but keeping the climbing and dwarf beans well watered has been quite tricky. The bonus point about the good weather is that it has brought on some serious harvesting with some of the crops, most notably the strawberries as you can see:

The strawberry bed and fruit

One of the strawberry harvests (since had one with over a kilo of fruit!)

Elsewhere the mangetout peas are producing and we’ve been eating them in salads and steaming them with other veg for hot meals:

Mangetout peas waiting to be harvested – note the ‘eye protection’ on top of the cane.

The climbing beans had one ore two almost ready to be picked, but the plants themselves still look a bit scrawny and in fact one of the the original plantings had to be replaced with the more recent sowing as it clearly was not going to amount to anything even though it was still alive – just!

Climbing Beans – overview plus Cucumber plant

Climbing Beans – almost ready for picking

What were baby cucumbers a couple of weeks ago have suddenly become the size they should be picked!

Cucumber – should be pick I think

The dwarf/french beans seem to be hardly growing much, though all bar one are surviving:

French/dwarf beans – compare with the last post – not much change

The tomatoes in the greenhouse meanwhile are coming along nicely with fruit on all the plants:

Tomatoes in the greenhouse

The bush style plants near the kitchen seem to be doing ok with a mass of foliage and flowers:

‘Tumbling Tom’ plants growing well

On top of all this I had to hastily get the mesh cover over the redcurrant bushes at the end of last week as the redcurrants were ripening rapidly. If I don’t get them covered in time the birds will have them!

Ripening redcurrants – protected!

Plus the gooseberries aren’t far off being ready

Ripening gooseberries

I’ve also planted some more mangetout pea seedlings since starting this post yesterday and harvested a foot-long cucumber. I’ve also harvested a large enough quantity of mangetout peas to warrant blanching and freezing (too much for us to eat just now) and over 1lb of strawberries! This means we’ve probably harvested around 2 kilos of strawberries altogether – pretty good really.

In top of all the above had been the routine maintenance of course, mowing the lawn, cutting the hedges and weeding of course. The rainy period followed by sunshine has just encouraged growth of course. So it’s a pretty continuous process – once I’ve cut all the hedges etc. it’s about time to start again. Also, the hedge cutting in the ‘flower’ end of the garden right now is more tricky than ever as all the border plants, which grow right up to the hedges, have to be protected while cutting – it’s a real nightmare.


No trail camera results really since last post and no real changes in the birds arriving at the feeding points. I have seen some baby blackbirds being fed by their parents on the lawn though and I suspect the robins may have a second brood (or a different nest  judging by the noise coming from the hedge on one side.

One squirrel made into the garden and has been taken on holiday…..


Update With Pictures

A big update with pictures to bring things more or less up to date.

All things in no particular order :

Tomatoes – the ones near the kitchen are doing ok – there are four in the container, but the two I grew from seed (tumbling tom) are well behind the two I bought (sweet ‘n neat – bush type & ‘orange zinger’ a cherry tomato type) – the latter being a main step type see below:

Tomatoes outside the kitchen - the tall one if the 'orange zinger' with fruit already set

Tomatoes outside the kitchen – the tall one if the ‘orange zinger’ with fruit already set

Outside the greenhouse two growbags have the later germinators (marmande and 2 x pomororo) and they are still relatively small but the RH bag (2 x pomodoro & giulietta) are now big with well developed fruit (see below)

Well developed plants outside the greenhouse

Well developed plants outside the greenhouse

Inside the greenhouse, all the plants bar one have been ‘stopped’ as they have got enough trusses or have reached the roof and several have fruit but not ripening yet (see below). They are at the point where watering with tomorite is now a regular job. There is more of a mixture of types – ailsa craig, marmande, pomodoro and giulietta. The odd mixture is a result of the rather peculiar germination record this year (lots of pomodoro for instance).

Full size omatoes in the greenhouse

Full size omatoes in the greenhouse

Greenhouse tomatoes developing well

Greenhouse tomatoes developing well

The pepper plants in the greenhouse again were late germinators and only one – a sweet pepper (gourmet) is growing well but still yet to produce flowers. All the others, mostly chilli type (prairie fire), are still rather small and only a couple have been repotted into big pots yet.

Not much else in the greenhouse apart form some house flower cuttings and a set of helianthemums waiting to go out into the garden.

Elsewhere the garlic plants have all collapsed (weather) though they don’t actually look to be ready yet:

Garlic bed - but are they ready?

Garlic bed – but are they ready?

The mangetout on the other hand are ready and producing plenty of pods – I added two new rows in the last week or so to keep production going.

Mangetout - now producing

Mangetout – now producing

The dwarf beans are growing ok (?) after initial attacks by pigeons, but are yet to produce flowers.

Dwarf beans

Dwarf beans

Climbing beans

Climbing beans

The climbing beans are flowering and I can see there are at least two types but I don’t know what types they are. I just hope they produce well unlike the ones I grew last year.

I have one cucumber plant growing well under the glass – a ‘mini’ I bought as germination of the cucumber seeds was poor – the one plant that I did grow from seed is now in ‘special care’ as it was attacked by slugs. Two courgettes did germinate (‘atena’, the yellow one) though and both plants are under the glass and we have had one small courgette already with more to come soon.

'Mini' cucumber

‘Mini’ cucumber with courgette flowers beyond

The broad beans however are a bit of a disaster area. Poor germination from the ones planted in the ground in the first place but even the ones produced in the greenhouse are not producing pods. They are tried and tested varieties I’ve grown before as well (the sutton and aguadulce) we haven’t had a meal from them yet. Some sutton plants don’t have a single bean pod or flower on them for instance.

Broad bean plants

Broad bean plants

One bed I’ve planted up with salad crops only a couple of weeks ago has seedlings through, but it is netted to keep away the pigeons. It’s a mixture of salad leaves, lettuce, turnip and radish.

Salad crops

Salad crops

The carrots have been a problem. The first sowing was all eaten by slugs?, the second by slugs & pigeons and the third only a few have survived!

The fruit is doing well despite the weather though. The redcurrants are ready and protected by netting so a picking session is in prospect (we had enough for jam last year) and the gooseberries can’t be far behind.

Gooseberries - ready?

Gooseberries – ready?

Ripe redcurrants

Ripe redcurrants

The raspberries have started to ripen so a few have been ready enough to eat already. There are lots on the canes ready to ripen as well

Ripe raspberries

Ripe raspberries

The strawberries which were supposed to produce fruit in succession according to the variety instead seem to have produced some fruit at least all at once! Most eaten now though…

Strawberry plants - with straw!

Strawberry plants – with straw!

That’s all on the growing


The trail camera out for a couple of months showed two hedgehogs together and a different fox but no return of the badger.

No squirrels for a few weeks then one appeared this morning.

Harvesting Stuff

As well as harvesting I’ve finally chopped the remaining broad bean plants down. I’ve left some stem just in case they shoot and produce some more beans as I have no plans to plant anything else in the space just now.

The harvesting has been both fruit and vegetables. We’ve had one lot of the ‘Hurst Green Shart’ peas the other day, and they seemed pretty good. The tomatoes have started to produce as well:

First Tomatoes - small ones and many more to come...

First Tomatoes – small ones and many more to come…

Also gooseberries – and there are more to come of theses as well:

Gooseberries - a mix of two types

Gooseberries – a mix of two types

we’ve already eaten the gooseberries, using one of Delia’s recipes ‘Gooseberry Yoghurt Fool‘ very good it was too.

There are some climbing and dwarf beans as well – and it looks like the garlic is ready to be dug up now. The courgettes won’t be long I think, and I’ve already harvested another couple of cucumbers – so it all points to lots of salads in the next few weeks – despite the weather.


Now I mention the weather, it has been pretty grotty over the last couple of weeks with a weather pattern more like spring or autumn with a succession of low pressure systems passing over so we’ve had rain, wind and only the sporadic sunny days – no real summer at all. It’s still in that state and shows no sign of changing!


The trail cameras are now deployed at he bottom of the garden but I haven’t retrieved them yet – news next post perhaps.

The squirrel baffle is working – although I did see the squirrel avoiding it by jumping from on top of the ‘squirrel cage’ – so I had to move it further away.

The birds have lost interest in the dried mealworms at the moment but the greenfinches are gobbling up the sunflower hearts.

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.




Growbags are Go!

The rapid growth of the tomato seedlings forced me to get them into the growbags – so six have gone in (out of 9 places available), three Ailsa Craig and three of small varieties (2 x zuchero & 1 x sweet ‘n neat). I’ve arranged the bags slighly differently this year – see below:

Growbags & Tomatoes

Growbags & Tomatoes

Further action in the greenhouse includes the germination of the two pots of mangetout peas, and the emergence of three climbing bean seedlings. Also, the last lot of tomatoes seeds I planted (some Italian pomodoro) have produced at least one seedling. They will have to go into the growbags in the greenhouse as I suspect they won’t produce too well in our climate outside. Meanwhile, the remaining tomato seedlings are just about big enough to go into growbags or containers outside – but the weather is still a bit tricky, we had an air frost the last couple of nights for instance, so deciding the right moment is the thing.

The greenhouse is still festooned with perennial flower seedlings which I’m gradually repotting and moving out ready for planting in the garden – but there many more to got. I’ve had two sessions of thinning out violas and pansie from a tray full into matrix trays as well, and more to go.

Out in the garden, the first row of broad beans is flowering now (see below). The potatoes I planted in the containers haven’t come through yet – but I’m sure they will appear soon.

Broad Bean in Flower

Broad Bean in Flower

Also, the carrots in a container are now outside and seemingly doing well:

Carrot Seedlings

Carrot Seedlings

The fruit bushes show the most advances – the redcurrant and whitecurrant are in flower now, but the blackcurrants are just getting into leaf. The new blackcurrants I bought are only just starting to show signs of action, as are the raspberry canes I planted recently, but they may be all ok hopefully. The first apple tree is about to flower, and two out of the three gooseberry bushes are in flower. The third bush is only just surviving and only one branch is in flower – so I may need to get a replacement – the two bushes don’t really produce enough themselves for a decent pie. The two new ‘trees’ I planted last year (a plum and apple) are now in leaf as well.

A major amount of my effort has been going into clearing up the ‘flower’ part of the garden ready to plant out all the perennials – so I’ve been fighting dandelions and other such. On top of which, I’ve had a major go at the hedge on the RH side, lowering it by about a foot – my arms still bear the scars – and now I have a new pile of cuttings to deal with.

Wildlife – still very few birds using the feeders, only the blackbirds appear when I put out crumbs. There is the odd blue tit, dunnock and robin but it’s really noticeable how few there are.

However, butteflies are more noticeable, I’ve seen orange-tips, more peacocks and the odd other unidentified type. We’ve had sunshine most of this week so that has encourged them I guess. Update (Thurs) I had to release two peacock butterflies from the greenhouse this morning!

No squirrels recently, but a large black cat has appeared a couple of times – need to get the cat scarers in action again.

Harvesting Produce

Yesterday I seemed to spend ages just harvesting – and there is more yet.

So I started with the broad beans, and found quite a few, some of which were quite old – but there were plenty enough for a meal. One disappointing aspect was that the dwarf Sutton plants seemed to produce few beans, whereas the long-pod (full height type)  seemed to be more productive.

After the broad beans, then the French beans, both dwarf and climbing – and again enough for a decent meal. The climbing beans are just starting to produce so it was the dwarf beans that produced the most.

The mangetout peas still had plenty to harvest, even after taking a load from them last week – and plenty enough to go with a meal tonight.

The courgettes – several of.

Fruit were the next target, and in particular gooseberries – mostly from one bush and a total of about 3lbs.

harvets of fruit and vegetables

The Harvest

The blackcurrants are ready now as well, but with about 7 bushes to go at, and all laden, it looks like a job for tomorrow and the days after.

Update – picked over 3lbs blackcurrants next day, made 7 jars jam already – more yet to pick!

Oh yes  I evicted 2 more squirrels this week.

Update (Tuesday) – 2 peacock and one comma butterflies on the buddleia today (which has just started to flower) at last – fed up with all the cabbage whites flying around and laying eggs all over the place.

Broad Beans To Eat 2

Here we are in a heatwave and of course everything in the garden seems to be ready to harvest at once. We are already eating broad beans (see pic below) and very tasty they are too – but now there are many pods ready so I think we’ll be giving some away this weekend, and maybe freezing some.

Broad Bean Harvest

First Harvest

The blackfly has spread a bit but only on one or two plants so far:

Blackfly on Broad Beans

Blackfly on Broad Beans

Simultaneously we have courgettes ready, mangetout peas and blackcurrants (we’ve already had the redcurrants and whitecurrants that the birds didn’t get) as well as gooseberries. Some serious harvesting in the next couple of days I think.

Elsewhere, the climbing French beans have baby beans (and blackfly as the pic below shows – I’ve blasted the blackfly this evening with the hosepipe) and I picked the first three tomatoes this evening (a ‘baby’ type). We’ve also had a few strawberries as well.

Climbing French Beans

First Climbing French Beans


As I’ve been busy inside, and the heat has made working in the garden uncomfortable (for those not in the UK, we’ve had temperatures between 25 and 30degC over the last week or so, and looks set to continue) – I’ve had to use the hosepipe in the garden most evenings for the last week. All a bit of a contrast with last years wet summer.

Unfortunately the weeds are growing well also so I’ll have to have a real go at sorting them out next week if I get time. My only excuse is that I have been taking photos of the weeds (wild flowers) for the blog (see this page here) so I’ve been letting them flower – really…


We had a tail-less dunnock around during the spring, and now a tail-less blackbird has appeared – both of them very trusting. I’m still haunted by a robin whenever I work in the garden. We have at least one wren in the garden and one has been singing like mad through the day and mostly staying out of sight as they do, but I did manage a photo recently as it decided to sing in plain view.

Wren in full song

Wren in full song

Noticeable absentees in the garden are butterflies, apart from some cabbage whites I’ve only seen a couple of other butterflies, and they didn’t hang about long enough to be identified. Also, I’ve only seen one honey bee so far.