Tag Archives: strawberries

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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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…..

Almost Finished Harvesting

Now that Autumn is officially here things are winding down in the garden of course and harvesting of produce is running down – apart from the tomatoes that is!

Tomatoes outside the kitchen

Tomatoes outside the kitchen – notice how some have split and aren’t really much use now

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse - pomodoro

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse – pomodoro

The pomodoro seem rather more prone than others to various ailments as you can see. Still they are good for making tomato sauce for pasta..

I must admit I haven’t been doing a lot in the garden over the last few weeks, partly because I’ve been busy with other things, but also apart from the harvesting it is the time of year when most of the work is tidying up and pulling stuff out of the ground or pruning rather than planting.

That said I do have a collection of ‘spring flowering’ plants in the greenhouse which I need to put in place before too long and I have some bulbs to plant so it’s not going to be all tidying…..

The climbing beans are past the point of being collected though there are plenty of pods still on the vines. I may save some of them for next year – but I’m not sure if they are F1 hybrids. Anyway, I think I have some left in the packet…. They were better than the variety from last year, though one of the vines that grew purple coloured pods produced very few pods. As the beans are a mixture it will just be pot luck next year unless the saved beans germinate….. The dwarf beans are also past their best and I don’t think there are any worth picking now.

Climbing Beans - past their best

Climbing Beans – past their best

The mangetout peas lasted until the other day and I didn’t get round to planting any more during the last few weeks.

Mangetout ready for picking

Mangetout ready for picking – since eaten!

The courgette plants as usual were far too fecund from two plants. Even though the variety produced yellow courgettes and were easier to spot some still managed to hide until they were massive – so I’m sorry to say some went straight to compost. Well there were plenty of other small ones to eat and there is only so much that can be done with courgette….

One of the smaller courgettes....

One of the smaller courgettes….

We also had just enough cucumbers – there were two plants, one bought as a seedling and one from seed. The bought plant, grown under the ‘door’, produced several cumbers and the died a few weeks ago for no apparent reason. Meanwhile the plant grown from seed, which I planted  in a container, barely survived attacks from slugs and pigeons and had to be protected under plastic for a few weeks. Eventually though it thrived and produced a couple of cucumbers, and is still alive though may not produce any more but we’ll see.

Sweet peppers in the greenhouse - the big one is turning red now

Sweet peppers in the greenhouse –

The peppers in the greenhouse are doing ok. The sweet peppers have fairly chunky peppers and the chilli variety plants have quite a few peppers, but not yet ripening apart from a plant in the kitchen.

The raspberries I planted produced until a couple of weeks ago – enough to keep me with some for breakfasts and for some to be frozen. The ones growing in the hedge near the greenhouse are producing just now – I had about a dozen with my breakfast this morning.

There is still the odd strawberry ripening – if I can get to them before the slugs or birds they are a handy addition to my breakfast.

A couple of the strawberrie

A couple of the strawberries

Meanwhile the grapes in the greenhouse are just about ready. The plan is to produce grape juice this year, I just need to get the bits and pieces together ready.

Bunches of ripe grapes - I've picked them just this evening to make grape juice

Bunches of ripe grapes – I’ve picked them just this evening to make grape juice

There is a big chunk of work coming up dealing with the hedges though – especially when the brambles have finally stopped producing (I’m still hoping to harvest some more) but most haven’t been properly cut since late spring and some have really grown.

Some of the remaining brambles

Some of the remaining brambles – there are better ones elsewhere though

I must get round to digging up the potatoes as well – the tops have died back almost completely.

Wildlife

The trail cam deployed recently on the lawn showed two hedgehogs together and a young hedgehog has been wandering around in daylight as well – and it is small enough to get through the protection cage around the ground feeding station so the camera caught it inside a couple of times.

There have been ‘visitations’ of greenfinches to the feeder with sunflower seeds a few times recently and they can empty it in a couple of days. It also rather annoys the great tits who can’t get near the seeds for the greenfinches and they regard the feeder as theirs normally.

I have seen a squirrel around the garden a couple of times but not round the bird feeders as yet so it is safe – for now….

 

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.

Weather Improving – Risking Planting

After the period of poor weather there was an interlude of sunny days – but luckily I held off from some planting having seen the weather forecast…

So over the weekend we had low temperatures, almost frosty nights again, but now it has warmed up a bit and we have had a sunny day today.

With the sun as encouragement I tried to catch up with some of the sowing and planting jobs that had been pending. My back now tells me I did quite a lot in the garden today!

The first job was to bet some more beans and peas planted, Firstly because I need to keep planting peas to keep them cropping, secondly I hadn’t planted any french/dwarf beans yet, and thirdly not knowing anything about the cropping of the ‘mixed’ climbing beans I thought it would be good to have a few more available. So I planted a pot of ‘oregano sugar pod’ and another of ‘sweet horizon’ – 4 peas in each. Then a pot of dwarf beans – tendergreen’? and a pot of the climbing beans.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are now staked and even in flower in some cases:

Greenhouse tomatoes – all staked now

 

Also I’ve taken one growbag outside the greenhouse:

Tomatoes now outside

Tomatoes now outside

Also, I’ve planted the two replacement plants (both bush type small fruiting types) I had to buy in the container by the kitchen – the remaining tomato plants are struggling on but looks like they will survive:

Tow new, two struggling...

Tow new, two struggling…

Many of the strawberry plants are now in flower, they are supposed to produce fruit in stages depending on the variety – so we’ll see.

Update – 18th May

Yesterday I planted out the climbing beans – they had been outside hardening for a couple of days but were just too large to keep in their pots:

Now they are in the garden

Now they are in the garden

Also, I replaced two of the three tomatoes that didn’t survive in the growbag outside the greenhouse with ‘pomodoro’ variety plants.

I also re-sowed the carrot container with two varieties ‘tendersnax’ and ‘nantes 2 frubund’.

Stop Press

After a few dry days it’s raining today – but welcome light rain.

 

Been Away – Bad Weather

I went away for a few days having planted some tomatoes outside, three in a grow bag outside the greenhouse, and four in the container near the kitchen. Plus I had a row of marigolds on one of the borders, I thought protected by slug pellets.

While I was away the weather was distinctly unkind, cold (my greenhouse thermometer registered -1degC as a minimum) and wet. As I result when I got back, all the marigolds had gone, and the three tomatoes in the growbag, with only two of the tomatoes near the kitchen surviving – just. Added to that was an entire tray full of ‘busy lizzies’ outside waiting to be planted that were no more! Plus the cucumber plant under the ‘door’ cover had died, and the two courgette plantlings planted in the same bed are looking pretty unwell.

However, other plants did manage to survive, and all the seedlings in the greenhouse did seem to be ok. So the broad beans, which were just coming up in pots before I went away, were big enough to be planted out. I manage to get that done a couple of days ago and now all the gaps in the bed of broad beans are now filled – see below:

The 'Broad Bean' bed - now full

The ‘Broad Bean’ bed – now full

It does lead me to the conclusion that in future I will plant broad beans either in the autumn in the ground or in pots in the greenhouse in the spring and not in the ground in the early part of the year – the results of which were not good.

The mangetout peas also survived ok, even the tiny ones I had planted just before going away – in fact I’ve had to add some canes as support to the first couple of rows since I took the picture below.

Mangetout peas (Oregon Sugar Snap)

Mangetout peas (Oregon Sugar Snap)

The strawberries are also flourishing, and one variety is in flower already:

Srawberries doing well

Strawberries doing well

Unfortunately the variety in flower was the one where only two out of the original four survived – but next year hopefully there will be more.

Inside the greenhouse I had planted up not just the three growbags intended to stay in there but also one that would go outside eventually. All have survived, though one or two don’t look entirely 100% healthy, it looks as though they will make it.

Growbags full of tomatoes in the greenhouse - the LH one will be going outside soon

Growbags full of tomatoes in the greenhouse – the LH one will be going outside soon

The climbing beans (from a pack of ‘mixed’ varieties) are just about big enough to plant out, and I’ve prepared the bed the are to go in with the addition of some of my compost. Also, the additional cucumber and courgette seedlings in the greenhouse are ready to plant out.

As a result of the losses though I have been forced to buy a couple of tomato plants (small fruit types) and another cucumber to fill in the gaps. The tomatoes I have already planted in the container near the kitchen. Also purchased were some replacement marigolds (big enough to survive hopefully) and some plants ready for the hanging baskets.

None of the carrots have appeared so I’ve change the compost and will be reseeding as soon as I get chance. The salad leaves in a container survived though – and we had some for out tea yesterday along with some rocket leaves from plants that survived over the winter.

I note the blueberry bushes are in flower now, as are the red and white currants.

Elsewhere, the garlic is doing well and the spinach is mostly thriving, as you can see from the pic below:

Spinach - mostly ok though at row ends not so good (I do have some spares though)

Spinach – mostly ok though at row ends not so good (I do have some spares though)

In the flower beds the perennials are starting to show well now, those that have survived, and some of the bedding plants have survived the slugs & snails at least.

Wildlife

Only thing to report is a squirrel that turned up this morning, but although I had the trail cam watching the main part of the garden, only pigeons turned up while I was away – although it actually looked as if it was probably the same pigeon every day!

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.