Friday, 31 July 2009


The raspberry canes really have done, so pruning began. All the canes that produced fruit get cut down to the ground, leaving the new shoots for next year's fruit. The big pile of prunings was quite a surprise. Now the bushes are much more open the weeds are clear too, so another day they need tackling.

Jean started another sweep to dig out the weeds. Nearly a quarter of the plot is now much more weed free. The wet weather has made a rush of weeds everywhere but the soft ground makes them easy to pull up. She harvested some spring onions. They are really superb, a great sized bulb and good stems.

I dug up some more beetroot. We are taking them a bit smaller than last year and they are smoother and sweeter as a consequence. The scheme of rolling sowing and planting is keeping the flow of ripe beetroot at about the right pace. So far it's all Bolthardy but the Cylindrical beetroot is coming along.

More weeding is still to come and half of the raspberries will be moving on to another plot so someone else can have the pleasure of this fruit.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

All good things ...

... must come to and end and so it is with our raspberries. Our bumper harvests look to have run their course, we took the nets off today so any berries left are for the birds. We picked another 250g of gooseberries, a few runner beans and a few mange touts. I'm much more impressed with mangetouts than with runner beans, so next year the runners will be off the list, mangetouts will be on, but grown a bit earlier and in greater number and maybe a few dwarf french beans as an alternative to th ever popular broad beans.

The red and white onions are both having their tops keel over so I've started pulling some more. We use a lot of onions so we just use them without much ado, but I'm going to try drying the next batch of white onions to keep them a bit longer. This seems very early according to people used to growing onions who expect them be in the ground until the end of August at least.

The next batch of garlic is also beginning to whither so that will be ready to pull up soon. Fresh garlic is just so different from the stuff in the shops with a mild, sweet and fresh taste.

Another courgette completed today's harvest. We planted a few winter cabbages which were left-over from Norman's planting. They should be ready by about December. I'll be able to prune all of the fruit bushes now and pull out the ones we don't want. Half of the raspberries will go to a good home. Once the strawberry runners are established I'll move them to a new spot too.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Variety is great

We planted a next batch of mangetouts to carry on after the first batch had finished. It seems we got it about right. We have had a batch of pods from the old plants that look completely spent and a couple of pods from the new batch, with many more flowers showing. I cut another lovely looking courgette that looks a perfect size. Again there are more coming. I picked nearly another half kilo of juicy gooseberries while Jean gathered another kilo of raspberries. I picked a few spring onions to try.

I took a look at the red onions. Some of them had bolted earlier in the year and produced flower stems. I cut off the flower stems when I noticed them, but I have been wondering if they would be good to eat. Today we found out - if they are firm they are fine. I don't think they would keep though, the root base looks a little soft. The yellow onions are beginning to wilt slightly, so they could be ready to lift and dry out soon. They look a good size so I hope they keep well. Onions have been a good thing to grow. They taste really good and are easy to grow with no real problems except cutting off any flower heads. We have had more success with spring onions too. Last year we got a few nice spring onions, but only a few. This year there are a lot more, they have nice little bulbs but the stems are a bit short. White Lisbon are supposed to have bulbs and stems so I need to find out more to see how to improve them.

I did have a small disaster. I wiped out about a quarter of our carrots, by accidentally standing on a carrot while uncovering our spring onions. Carrots are not our strength.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Black Gooseberries

Yesterday we had to dodge rain showers to check out the indoor tomatoes. As soon as we arrived it was clear we needed to pick some raspberries. We collected about two and a half kilos of very ripe fruit. Jean made some jam with some, we froze some more and gave three batches away to neighbours.

The main event for the visit was that some of the gooseberries were ripe. They are not the standard green goosegogs. These are black ones - well nearly. They are ripe, a few have split open, they smell great and they are softening slightly. I picked all that looked dark and ripe, probably about a third of them. We got nearly half a kilo.

Jean planted the remaining mangetouts out and I added another layer of string to support them. The first batch have produced us a lot of pods for a few plants so I'm hoping these will produce even more. If we get enough we'll try freezing some for later in the year.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Beetroot, fence and a moth

A quick visit to check things over today. It's a wet, cool and blustery day so we squeezed into a gap in the rain. I replaced a broken fence post and Jean planted the next batch of beetroot to keep the steady supply coming. Some of our red onions are folding over. About half of them have flowered. I pulled the flower spikes off, but I'm not sure if they are still any good, so I brought home one that had flowered and one that hadn't so we can compare them.

Tucked away in the greenhouse Jean found a quite large, brown moth. As it flew it revealed yellow on its wings and when I looked it up I think it was a large Yellow underwing Noctua pronuba. It's a good looking thing, but the bad news is that in the long list of food plants its lavae enjoy are brassicas. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Weighed down with fruit

Another session for picking fruit today. I picked the very last half kilo of strawberries. The plants want a tidy up, there are lots of dead leaves, and I want to see how the runners are doing. Later this year I want to move the strawberries by moving as many runners as I can to another spot and move a few mature plants too. We want their current spot as our salad garden. We need to grow some of the runners on to reinvigorate the plants which only really do well for three or four years at most.

Jean and I picked about two and a half kilos of ripe, lovely raspberries. I can smell some boiling in the kitchen now. We already have almost as much as we want in the freezer for the rest of the year, so in spite of eating them and giving loads away we still lots left. The raspberries canes are still covered with ripening fruit so there's much more to come. We took a few courgettes and some mangetouts too. Yesterday I dug the last of our winter onions and left them to dry. Two had flower stems which I hadn't noticed and their bulbs look small. We'll see how they turn out.

I still haven't mended the fence.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Bumper harvest

We had a bumper harvest today. I gathered about a kilo of strawberries, all ripe and delicious. Jean gathered about a kilo of blackcurrants. Both the strawberries and blackcurrants are nearly all finished but the raspberries are still getting going. We gathered about two kilos of ripe raspberries, with much more still to come. We clearly have different varieties of raspberries. We inherited them from the previous tenant. Some berries are much bigger and juicier than others some are sweeter and some have a stronger taste, the mixture works very well. There were a couple of perfect courgettes and some mange-touts. Jean gathered four beetroot too.

There is so much harvesting to do we don't do anything else at this time. I broke a fence post the other day so that needs replacing. All of the posts are vulnerable because the wood rots in the ground, but without the wire netting fence the rabbits would demolish the greens overnight.

Monday, 6 July 2009

After the storm

A couple of thunderstorms today knocked out our power and internet. The power came back straight away but the internet took all afternoon. We went to see what the rain had done. Some of the ground looked wet, but under the bushes it was still bone-dry.

There were lots of lovely stuff to gather. The blackcurrant bushes gave up another kilo of fruit, all fat and very ripe. The broad beans have all ripened together, we gathered loads of beans, indeed maybe too many because I'm not sure I've left enough to ripen as next year's seeds. This is not frugality - these beans have been grown on the site for years and have become well adapted to it. We still have some seeds left from last year so we should be covered. We gathered nearly a kilo of raspberries with still much, much more to come. There were a couple of courgettes and some mange touts too.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Sweet peas

Jean had just the strawberry beds to weed to finish her latest pass of weeding. Of course weeding in the summer is never finished, but doing a little each time stops it being a chore and stops the bigger weeds getting a hold. I picked our first batch of sweet peas. They are the usual blend of different colours and patterns and they have a great perfume. Cutting them just encourages more, so there will be loads. Jean picked another huge batch of strawberries, again only the completely ripe ones.

On the way out we talked to the newest arrivals Kim and Andy, who's strawberries disappear just as they get ripe. Kim seems to think it's mice , but I bet her mice have wings. I think they might need to cover them. We gave them some of our berries - we just have too many all at once. I dug our first yellow winter onions. The tops are starting to keel over so I pulled three to try. I didn't dry them much as we're not planning to store them. We'll pull a few as we need them. Another little batch of mange touts were ready so we'll have them with our meal tonight. There looks as though there will be another batch of raspberries ready in a day or so. My sister-in-law loves raspberries but can't get them easily in Hong Kong where they live. I'm not sure ours would survive the journey out there.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Break down

So, the hot weather was due to break with heavy thunderstorms. Hmmmm, a short shower and a distant rumble of thunder. I watered the plot as best as I could, Jean planted out a lot of stuff. We had been holding out until the hottest weather was over because the young plants suffer badly in the sun. The rest of our leeks are now out. Our first batch of cylindrical beetroot has gone out too. This was a free gift and I'm interested to try it. We have used Bolthardy beetroot up to now, which is good, but trying another variety seems a good idea too. The first batch of celariac has been planted out too. This will take until the early winter to be ready. We took another courgette, but this time it was a decent size and tasted very, very good.

Yesterday we took our first broad beans of the season. They were actually only just ripe, but that was a good choice. They tasted great and the skin on the beans were much thinner and lovely. We took over a kilo of very ripe strawberries and a few more beetroot.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


The season of fruitfulness seems to be upon us, though it's only just July and not autumn as Keats's ode would have it. Maybe it only gets mellow in the autumn. We have a few mange-tout plants and they are producing ever more pods, with many flowers still to turn into pods. They are lovely when they are small. In fact I think I like them much better than runner beans, so next year I'll be sure to grow some more. I might try growing peas too rather than just mange-tout, but I think peas might be trickier to get right.

The courgettes are swelling quickly. The hot, sunny weather suits them , but they need water to keep them happy. The flowers look big and blowsy and I'm told they are edible, but I don't expect they taste as good.

The raspberries are suddenly ripening quickly, again I think the water we gave them a few weeks ago has helped swell the berries. They are very sweet and the birds love them, so the few that our nets don't cover have been pecked at. The birds are welcome to a few, we have lots.