Category Archives: Fruit trees

Mint Marauding and Mooli Pods #gdnbloggers

There used to be a herb bed on the plot, only it is now full of mint. Mint truly is a thug, the cliché is true. Unchecked, it runs riot and takes over. With the unbalanced combination of rain and sun, the plot mint has grown quite a bit. This has meant mint marauding, chopping it back to harvest leaves. As you can see, the bouquets were nearly as big as me, and three large bundles of the stuff were harvested. I guess that you can never have too much mint! Having harvested it all and carried it home, Mama F and I spent a few hours at the dining table stripping the leaves so that it could all be frozen. There are several different varieties, with some smelling like spearmint and chocolate mint in there somewhere too. It would take a proper connoisseur to smell out the different mint varieties.

At the moment, I have vague plans to make mint jelly. Usually, the plot mint ends up in chutney; Mum can rest assured, there is tonnes still left for her to use.

The second half of the day focussed on Mum’s mooli pods. She had found that the radishes that she sown had bolted; as such, there were lots of seed pods.

pods1

These are actually edible, and different varieties of radish will produce seed pods of different potencies. For example, seed pods from Japanese radish have a peppery fiery-ness. In the image above, these are pods from an unknown red variety, and these were quite sweet to the taste.  As you can imagine, I was going a little dotty anyway, having plucked away all that mint. However, as Mum had helped me, I was going to help her. All We had harvested less than half of her entire bolted radish crop, yet we managed to fill three troughs of seed pods. How I did not see seedpods in my sleep, I do not know.

Mum plans to cook up the seed pods; the recipe is in sow grow eat!

Other than mint marauding, I was loitering with therapeutic intent as well. I’ve not een to the plot in a while, so have missed the blooms blossom. Shakespeare is well and truly kicking off, and the glads have finally kicked.  I have the standard, as expected six pears on the tree-it’s always six, no idea why-with tomatoes making slow but certain progress. I’m not holding my breath with the tomatoes; there will be a significantly smaller crop than expected, and no puddles of tomatoes like last year. There are fewer plants, and I don’t think the Roma variety will keep their place on the plot. Marmande appears to be the winner as per usual.  All three of the grapevines are burgeoning; lusciously leafy, there are clusters of grapes starting to swell. With raspberries creaking to an end, I was able to harvest a handful of plump ‘darrow’ blueberries. The other two varieties haven’t so much as sneezed this year, the one plant is turning copper and going to sleep.

 

P.S. yes, I know,  need allotment proof nail varnish.

 

 

Hello, Sunshine, where have you been?

tomato

If you ask my Mum, the tomatoes have been looking routinely quite sad. They needed watering, and they were cheered up with doses of haitch two oh as and when required. What was more important, was sunshine. Sunshine, which has been somewhat absent and has finally turned up. And very welcome it is too, as it has kick started and renewed feelings of optimism as far as the allotment is concerned. According to the weather people, the sunshine is going to be around for a while; a week at least. With that in mind, the tomatoes have been sent outside to the path in Dad’s garden to start the process of hardening off. Unlike last year, where the tomatoes were all grown under cover; these are going to be outdoors and in raised beds or open ground. Currently they are all having a strop in pots, and I am hoping that if the plants sun bathe for the next few days that I can then take them to the allotment and bury them a bit deeper. The appearance of yellow flashes, tomato flowers, suggests that these all need to get a wiggle on and fairly soon.

This year’s cohort of chillies are the current room mates of the tomatoes, and will also need to be removed to the poly tunnel and be potted up. There are chillies here that are supposed to be small and stumpy, as it were, and those who are supposed to grow tall and abundant. I did sort them out into two groups to make the sorting out easier. The taller chillies will be potted up into large flower buckets, whereas the smaller ones are going to put into pots as they are not expected to take up a huge amount of room. In the last few weeks, the chillies have rather had something of a grow spurt and on time. In the next four weeks they will grow further before being moved to the poly tunnel. Having been sown a little late doesn’t appear to  have to knocked them too much.

With the chillies hitting a stride, there are also emerging seedlings. Recently sown cucumbers and squashes have started to come through. With the frost window remaining open until the next May bank holiday, both of these have got four weeks to grow and become more robust.  In my experience, squashes grow very quickly; you sometimes have to re-pot them to key up. I am hoping that with the four week window they are suitably sized for planting out once that they have been hardened off. With the cucumbers, I do intend for these to be planted and grown outside. I have previously grown crystal lemon outside and harvested a crop.

Seedlings are sat on the sidelines, mean making crumble. Last year I was able to harvest trugs full of apples and these were then frozen alongside some plums. Today has been spent making a plum and apple crumble. The second in four days!

With the crop of a previous year being used up, we can look to the future crop. A walk to the plot meant finding cherry and apple Blossom. The two cherry trees, Sylvia and Morello, are new additions to the plot; so it was rather heartening to see white buds n the Morello, but a lovely white bloom-just the one!-on the Sylvia tree. I wasn’t expecting to see any blossom on them this year, so I am really quite surprised to see blossom. I did check on the Concorde pear, that appears to have taken the frost on the chin, and is still looking frilly. The darling peach tree does still have a couple of deep pink blooms, there had been half a dozen; I did fleece at one point only for the wind to disagree with the shrouding.

The otherwise heavy clay of the allotment has had a chance to dry out. This has been to the relief to the heritage garlic that Marshalls were kind enough to provide for the plot. Garlic is wonderfully resilient, and is actually doing quite well given how much rain it has suffered. There are no signs yet of any bolting, and the ground is weed free so the bulbs should be making the most of the nutrients available from the clay.  The foliage is still very green and leafy, and with another eight weeks to go there is still a lot of growing to be done.

heritagemarshall

I do like it when the post person delivers something that you’ve been hotly anticipating. Copies of ‘Sow Grow and Eat’ landed on our doormat and rather made my day. My thanks to the fabulous Howard-(the artist who once sunk spuds, remember him?) for having put the cover together. You will also spot that the Loldeantimber trug is now something of a cover star, it also appears in the book. Given how the trug is used so much on the plot, it was definitely going to end up in the book.

Promises Promises: Buds to bloom and burst

It is the day after the night before, as Storm Katie ran amok around the British Isles. Mum and I headed down to the plot to see if there was any damage. The poly tunnel and walk in green house are still standing strong. My biggest concerns are always the grapevines and the fruit trees. Somewhat mindful of the potential inclement weather, I had staked the thin wiry trees to give them a bit of a fighting chance. There are puddles on the plot, on the lower part at least. This always happens, and the continuing plan is to raise that part of the plot.It is for that very reason that I have raised beds to help overcome the soggy soil.

Having checked for major disturbances, the first thought I had was about the Peach tree. A A variety called darling, this is a  very new tree to the allotment. Over the last week or so, I have been watching a small cluster of pink fuzz. The rest of the tree is forming buds, but this cluster is obvious because of its brightness against the bark. I have been checking almost daily, to see if the pinkness has burst. I’m not too sure if it is cluster of leaves or an actual blossom. This is a lot closer to success than my previous experience with a peach rochester tree, that didn’t do an awful lot at all. Hence the excitement of this tree actually doing something.

peachdarling.JPG

Concorde Pear also seems to be kicking off. Last year, we had all of two pears. I am not complaining about that, I am very glad for those two pears. They ended up on a chutney. For now the blossom isn’t actually very pretty, it’s fuzzy, spiky and awkward looking. My only concern is that we have a horrible frost and these will get obliterated as they have in the past.

pearconcorde

Last year the Moor Park Apricot formed maybe less than half a dozen leaves. (No that is not the rest of my plot, nothing to do with me.) A year later, there are more green buds forming, and that means potentially more leaves. This, like having a peach tree, was an impulsive experiment. The growing season is still young, so this like the other trees will be monitored and observed closely.

moorparkapricot.JPG

These are Darrow, blue jay and blue crop blueberries. I like my blueberries, least of all because they produced a surprise crop last year. Two out of the three have been there for a year, the third is a recent acquisition. I am comforted by the number of buds though, a good sign. Blueberry gin may well happen again.

blueberries.JPG

Sinking fruit trees

Cold and damp, the plot was not particularly pretty at the end of the last week. A stark contrast to the week before when the plot was much drier and the mud wasn’t so sticky.

If you can’t access the video above, you can find the You tube Video here

I have planted four trees on the plot. These are morello and stella cherries, as well as a peach called Darling and another Victoria Plum. All being well, these will start to establish and in time produce fruit.

Apple blossom

There are three apple trees on the plot. Two of them, the braeburn and Worcester pearmain are relatively new additions on having being planted last year. The falstaff is something of a resident. In the past, the falstaff has fruited, and last year we may have had about a dozen red apples. That was lovely. the apples were nice. This year though, all three are in blossom, lovely pink flowers, that suggest a possible bountiful  harvest. I was very surprised to see the braeburn in full blossom, I had only seen buds about a week ago. This has to be the biggest tree as well, in comparison to the other two. The worcester pearmain is the smallest. With May only just starting, I am conscious of the fact that here in Birmingham, we get a frost right up to the end of the month. This means, that in the next three weeks, if the temperature drops, and the flowers have not set; then it’s good night Vienna for them all. The blossom looks rather robust, however, so we shall exactly what happens.

#NABLOPOMO: Blossom booting up on the plot

I have been some what worried as I wander around the plot, that there was something of a delay with the blossom. There seemed to be blossom everywhere, but my little corner of the universe. So I made something of a close inspection today, to see if there was anything growing. The braeburn, worcester pairmaine and falstaff apple trees have started to send out leaves and blossom. But what really took me by surprise was the presence of plum and pear blossom. The concorde pear tree has blossomed previously, but then lost all it’s blooms. The victoria plum even fruited once, three years ago, but nothing since. Whilst I feel somewhat alarmist, I’m not holding out too much hope this early.

With having hope, I had somewhat lost it with the rochester peach tree. Unlike the Moor park apricot, a recent addition, the rochester peach looks a pale, skeletal thing, about to snap in half. I looked down, thinking that I perhaps needed to weed around the  base. A single solitary shoot protruding from the bark. Al is not, perhaps, lost. In comparison, the moor park apricot is slowly waking and sending out green shoots.

Blueberries were watered today, with saved rain water. Not looking so bad, sending out buds and flowers. We might end up with fruit yet.

Tree-ly Delightful

With the school term ended, I had a mission today. To not only sow sunflowers for the Psychology Sunflower challenge but to also sink two additional fruit trees. These were a doyenne du Comice pear tree, and a Moorpark Apricot tree. I am still expecting a Czar plum tree.

The Moor Park Apricot, is an experiment, the same way at the Rochester peach tree. But the pear and plum are to help support the two other pear and plum trees. The plum tree has flowered and fruited before, but not since. The Pear tree however, has flowered but never fruited. I am not sure of any of my plot neighbours having a pear tree, so that is important as having another pear tree helps pollination. There are huge great big plum trees-been there a good fifty years-further down the allotment site.

In all honesty, I have been wondering how far bumble bees can fly from one flower to another. Do they fly in feet, metres, miles? In time there will be flowers to help them fly around easily.

The full list of fruit trees on the plot is as follows:

  • Worcester Pearmain
  • Rochester peach
  • Moor Park Apricot
  • Falstaff apple
  • Braeburn apple
  • Victoria plum
  • Doyenne du Comice pear
  • Concord pear
  • Sylvia Cherry
  • Czar plum-still expected

Pottering on the plot 24/01/15

After a very long time, I wandered down to the plot today. Courtesy of my mum’s sister, I had manage to filch some strawberry runners. Probably not the best time of the year to uproot them, but I do have a plan for these things. There are three beds of raspberry canes that I planted last year. These are upright canes, that as of yet, still look a bit brown and sticky. Have yet to start sending off green shoots. I am told that these are two years old, so I would hotly expect some raspberry fruit at some point in the growing season. I forget now which variety is where. But the varieties are

  • tulameen
  • Malling jewel
  • Glen Cova

The earth around the canes is very bare. This only means that this is vacant space for weeds and other such nasties. In order to reduce this amount, I have slotted into the filched strawberry runners. Might even see if I can find some more. But these will hopefully send out more runners and the space on the beds will be maximised with soft fruit. Whilst I have grown strawberries before, and I have autumn bliss raspberries, I’ve never considered cultivating them both with this technique before.

Pottered around, heeling in the  rochester peach tree that had become a little lopsided with the buffeting wind. This is tree that started off life as a variety in Canada. I would love to have fruit from there, would be rather novel having home grown peaches in Birmingham. Not many buds have formed yet on any of the trees, sadly. The Braeburn apple tree may have a couple of buds that are still tightly closed. Otherwise, the fruit trees are looking rather scary and skeletal. Last year, the falstaff apple tree did provide about half a dozen apples. We also have a worcester pearmain, and syvia cherry tree, along side the victoria plum and concorde pears. The victoria plum fruited once, the pear tree has yet to fruit at all. My main concern about these trees is the frost once they get their blossom. I cover them, mum would rather I didn’t. She is rather vocal about that, and reckons that is the way to kill off the flowers.I am not prepared to argue, but should probably re-consider and be resilient and keep them covered.

Had a quick look under the cabbge netting. It’s all very green and leafy under there. Spotted some brocolli, but not an awful lot. And there are the tiniest of cabbages too. Think it’s time to whip out the blue pellets of doom. Whilst there is a crop in there, the slugs and snails are already snacking on what should be mine.