Thursday 15 July 2010

What a difference....6 weeks makes



The view from the end:


and here's a closer view of the leeks and fennel (because I weeded them)

Saturday 10 July 2010

Next Year's Strawberries

Weather too wet and unpredictable to go to the plot today. So here's what I've been up to, out the back:

It's been a second bumper year for strawberries this year. 4 weeks of picking and now they are at an end. The whole patch comes from two plants - both Honeoye. Early and with a sharpness, they suit us well, but now the challenge is to extend the season. This spring I bought three plants. I was after late strawberry Florence, but the garden centre only had one so I also bought another late one Judibell and then a mid season Cambridge Favourite. These were planted in pride of place in the border at home. When they started to develop fruit I removed it all and any further flowers too. As a result they grew green and lush - and produced a crop of strong runners. So today, during the lighter rain, I buried a few pots and anchored down the plantlets that have started up. A couple had taken root already. so I let them be. Perhaps rather greedily I have allowed for 6 offspring for each plant. Any further runners have been removed. Once I'm happy the new plants are viable on their own I'll cut the runners and then remove the whole lot to the plot. and replace all but a dozen in my current patch. 21 plants for the price of 3, provided you are happy to wait a year. Following comments from people who have seen their strawberries mix themselves up I plan to be very rigid about where I let these kids run in future. All being well we should have strawberries over a much longer period. It'll be interesting to see how they compare.

Sunday 4 July 2010

It's raining - Yipee!

I've already been soaked this morning (while collecting bricks for my new raised beds) so I've had to accept defeat and stay at home! The rain is doing the gardening for me. But what to do? It's an opportunity to write a book review that I have had in mind for some weeks, since my birthday washed up this self selected present. (Somehow during the growing season it doesn't seem right go on about winter activities like reading, but I've been itching to post this entry.)

I have from time to time scouted around for more information on seed varieties and histories of imported plants (like potatoes and tomatoes) and found it hard to come by. For the former seed catalogues have been the only real source (although some books like How it All Began In the Garden have some tit bits). For the latter internet articles can be found (Anna Pavorda's book "The Naming of Names" is a noteworthy introduction to the general topic.)

I've noticed that seed catalogues offer the old trusty varieties at a considerable discount to the rest. Either they are more popular or else they are "out of copyright" I reckoned. But how old are they? Well Christopher Stocks has applied a bit of critical research to the history of each fruit and vegetable and goes one to detail the first known reference to each of these trusty types and many more. All in one neat little volume. I have grown quite a few of these oblivious to their pedigree. How different it feels sowing a row of seed when you are fully aware of who developed it and who it is named after, and where and when. Webb's Wonder, Glaskin's Perpetual, Cox's Orange Pippin, all have a new dimension when you know a bit about Webb, Glaskin and Cox, and their role in a bygone age of fruit and vegetable fanatacism. I feel the author has done me personally a great service for carrying out this research and publishing it and I wholeheartedly recomment the book to anyone interested in growing fruit and veg. (It's now in paperback at £8.99 ).

ps Don't be put off by the title as, with only a few exceptions necessary to explain the pedigree of current varities, by intention all varieties listed can be obtained in 2010.

Saturday 3 July 2010