Tag Archives: redcurrants

Now we have drought!

Since my last post we’ve had almost a month of sunshine and no rain. Nice to have good weather at first and did help get the plants going after the poor spring, but now it has become rather annoying. It’s too hot to work in the garden after mid-morning and it never really cools down. To make things worse it has been a period of intense preparation for our ‘Open Gardens’ weekend recently so I needed to spend a great deal of time not just getting things ready, but thanks to the weather, I needed to spend a lot of time watering as well.

Anyway, although the Open Gardens has been and gone (with several hundred visitors over 2 days) I’m busy harvesting as well as watering.

So, how are the vegetable coming on I hear you say. Well I’ve managed to keep them watered well enough and many are now producing.

So here is a fairly complete description of the current veg situation.

The garlic, which were of two types, spring sown and autumn sown has survived  (bed 9) and rather oddly the spring sown variety was ready first and so already harvested  This variety has only produced small bulbs, they are all hanging in our outhouse now ready for use but so far not used so I don’t know about their flavour. The autumn sown variety is certainly ready, I just haven’t had time to do it yet so we’ll see….

Garlic harvest

Meanwhile I’ve put one of the courgette plants (atena variety) into the space left by the garlic plus a sweet pepper plant since I had several I needed to locate somewhere and it will act as an experiment like some of the others to see it they produce – with weather as it is I would have thought there was not excuse!

Atena Courgette in the foreground, garlic to the right and cucumbers plus courgette & cornichon above (see below)

Taking the bed next to the garlic (bed 11), the strawberries have produced a decent crop around 2 weeks ago but the dry weather has really affected them, despite watering, little or no fruit is to be found now and not many flowers.

Next is the bed connected to the strawberries, nearer the greenhouse (bed 10). This has a courgette (Green Griller), cucmber (Baby), a squash (F1 Hunter) and a ‘cornichon’ (small cucumbers, Vert de Paris) as well as the collection of dwarf and cannellini beans that finally germinated. The are just starting to produce. The courgette has already produced a couple, and the cucumber. The cornichon not quite and the squash has yet to flower.

Beans, courgette, cucumber & squash

Next to that bed is a bed of broad beans, in front of the greenhouse (bed 7). These are almost finished and we’ve had quite a few pods, in fact I’ve picked some today but some plants have been affected by blackfly, but not enough to be a big problem. They are a mixture of ‘Aquadulce’ and ‘De Monica’ but no real difference in the pods that I cansee.

Broad beans

Finally, on that side of the path is the ‘cold frame’ bed (i.e. covered with a glass door, bed 8). That has 2 cucumbers (? bought & Baby), cornichon (Vert de Paris) and a courgette (?, bought). I’ve had a couple of cucumber from the ? variety, likewise from the ? courgette. Also, the ‘baby’ cucumber has been producing (yes we have too many cucumbers just now!, and the courgette glut is about to hit….).

In the greenhouse I have 5 tomato plants in growbags, 5 pepper plants (one in a growbag, the others in pots. There is also a cucumber plant (mini F1, bought plant) trained up a cane, which I suspect has more or less finished producing after growing 3 cucumbers. The tomato plants are Alicante (x2), Cocktail (small fruit type, bought) and San Marzano (x2, large fruit, Italian type). The peppers are all plants bought in when I thought none of mine would germinate, Capino (x4) and Bell Boy. The peppers seem to be doing well with peppers on at least three of them, and the tomatoes all have plenty of fruit and should be ripening soon.

Greenhouse tomatoes with the pepper plant in the grow-bag nearest

On the other side of the main path, starting near the flower section, is a ‘salad’ bed (bed 1) with a couple of rows of ‘cut and come’ salad leaves (now probably past their best), some Lollo Rosso lettuce (bought as seedlings) and a row of pak choi just getting big enough to use. There is a row of mixed salad lettuce just coming through and a row of salad leaves that seems to have  mostly failed to germinate!

Salad bed with pigeon scaring CDs – there should be a row of seedlings nearest but the weather has meant poor germination

Next to that is a bed of mangetout peas (bed 2), some of which (Sugar Snap) were bought as seedlings when mine didn’t seem to be germinating. The others and a mixture of Oregon Sugar Snap and Sweet Horizon grown from seed. They have been producing for a couple of weeks now and are a very welcome addition to our meals.

Mangetout Peas

The next bed has a squash (F1 Hunter) and a courgette plant (Atena) (bed 3). However, the courgette has been severely got at, I suspect by pigeons and I have put some netting round it today. Part of the bed is occupied by pots of tulips and other bulbs ‘resting’.

Here is a harvest collected yesterday from cucumbers, courgette (Green Griller , Atena plus unknown) and broad beans

Harvest courgettes, cucumbers & broad beans

Beyond the blackcurrant bushes – the berries just getting ripe at the moment – is a bed with beans (bed 4), ‘fine’ beans (bought as seedlings, again when when mine weren’t germinating) and climbing beans (some ‘various’, and blue lake). The fine beans have been producing for a couple of weeks and the climbing beans have just started producing.

Beans – ‘Fine’ beans round the edge and climbing beans in the middle. The labels were to help visitors

The last bed has potatoes in it (Desiree, bed 5 ), and I imagine the crop won’t be too good after the dry weather, despite my watering.

Across from the potatoes is my raised ‘tank’ with carrots, but a poor showing this year despite several sowings, the rhubarb, which is doing really well and has produced several pickings and a container with more garlic waiting to be harvested.

The next bed  has cauliflower and cabbage plants (bed 6), both bought in as seedlings. The dry weather has affected these as well I think with the cauliflowers just beginning to show now. On the end of this bed is a grow-bag with three sweet pepper plants.

Cabbage on the right, cauliflower on the right with pepper plants in the grow-bag

Outside the greenhouse are two grow-bags with tomatoes and one pepper plant. There is a mixture of tomato types all bought as seedlings apart from the Gardener’s Delight – F1 Shirley (largish fruit), Outdoor Girl (many small fruit), Totem (bush type),  and a Bell Boy pepper, which has heavily attacked by slugs to start with and is just about recovered. There is also another unknown bush type tomato in a container.

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse

Finally, near the kitchen is a container with three tomato plants – Tumbling Tom (bush), Sunbaby (small fruit) and Sweet Aperitif (small fruit), bought in as seedlings.

Last of all here are two berry harvests, redcurrants (around 2kg) harvested a couple of weeks ago) and just yesterday gooseberries (around 750g) from one of the two bushes (the other not quite ready):

Redcurrants

Gooseberries

Phew! that’s all for now folks…..

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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.

Wildlife

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

Wildlife

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.

We’ve Been Open!

Sorry for the delay in posting but the last few weeks have been rather busy preparing for our Open Days which happened last weekend. Altogether we had over 1,000 visitors through our garden during the weekend. What’s more they seemed to like it so that was very pleasing.

Just a couple of pictures of the event here:

Vegetable section with visitors

Vegetable section with visitors

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse - with signs for visitors

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse – with signs for visitors

 

Meanwhile the harvesting has had to go on – though I left lots on show for the visitors.  So after the Open Days I harvested pounds of mangetout peas and broad beans. plus lots of redcurrants (with some whitecurrants) as I’d remembered to net the bushes as they started to ripen:

Redcurrant and whitecurrant harvest

Redcurrant and whitecurrant harvest

Quite the best harvest of redcurrants I’ve had – and just tonight they’ve been converted to redcurrant jelly – very nice too.

Oh yes and I’ve harvested a cucumber.

That’s all for now – more when I have time…

Harvesting & Caterpillar News

We’ve actually had a decent bowl full of broad beans and mangetout peas eaten as salad (after cooking) the other day to share with other family members as part of a salad meal. On top of that my wife harvested a fair number of redcurrants – the first year we’ve managed to get to them before the birds….

Redcurrants (and a few whit currants) - even after having a load with breakfast!

Redcurrants (and a few whitecurrants) – even after having a load with breakfast!

All from one bush as well, although there are much fewer on a second bush, there are still more on the one they came from.

We have still been harvesting ‘cut and come again’ lettuce from the container outside the kitchen, but it has just about reached the end, plus the rocket in the bed by the kitchen has started to flower. Unfortunately the replacement salad plants, in a long container, aren’t quite ready yet so we’ve had to buy some lettuce, bad timing for the sowing, my fault.

The climbing French beans have just started to produce and most of the plants are in flower now, so harvesting soon I think.

I’ve now got two of the three courgette plants outside, one in the ‘protected’ bed and the other in a largish pot sunk into the raised bed outside the greenhouse (there is a cucumber at the other end, likewise in a pot). Also I’ve plated a number of mint varieties near the old pear tree – there was some mint before but it was rather mixed with a load of weed so I cleared most of it out. Now there is ‘red’, ‘swiss’ and ‘moroccan’ mint as well as plain garden mint in there alongside some ‘spearmint’ that was there already:

Mint plants

Mint plants

Elsewhere, everything is just growing fairly well as we’ve had pretty sunny weather over the last week or so – so much that I’ve had to get the hosepipe out to water a couple of evenings.

I’ve also planted several more perennials in the flower section of the garden – must post some photos…

Wildlife

To bring you up to date with the caterpillars – here’s what they look like now:

Caterpillars

Caterpillars

I’m pretty sure they are ‘peacock’ butterfly caterpillars – and I’ve counted seven separate batches of eggs that have hatched in the nettle patch – so there are literally hundreds of them squirming about currently – once they are a bit bigger they will spread out so I won’t see them much I guess. Anyway it’s good to know I’m doing my bit for the butterfly population.

Just a couple more pictures:

Robin on bird feeder

Robin on bird feeder

‘My’ friendly robin eating some ‘fat ball’ (the white bit at the back) which saves it from following me round I guess. I’ve only got to be working in the garden for a few minutes and it will appear next to me with a sort of ‘well then uncover some food’ attitude. It basically waits until I stand still (which I do deliberately to give it a chance) then it will hop right up to my feet if necessary checking for food – I guess it’s feeding chicks so it’s fairly desperate.

A picture from our ‘wild’ area – ox-eye daisies, always a delight this time of year:

oxeye_daisies