I very nearly forgot! Whilst I have picked one purple haze already, I have also grappled with a jalapeno and a couple of hungarian hot wax. They are both unripe, they both could go red on the plant. However, I have removed them so that other fruit get something of a chance to develop. The are both varieties that have a kick anyway, so i’m taking my chances with them as they are.
Then there are the cherries, morello to be precise. I have managed to grow cherries!! And in Birmingham! That might sound reasonable to you, but I didn’t expect the tree to crop having only been in situ less than a year. Alas, we had a handful of cherries. And my, how nice they did taste! I simply cannot be detailed enough. This small harvest, I think we had one each, tasted so superior to shop bought ones.
I thoroughly recommend this variety, and just growing cherries anyway. The tree in question, a bought two-one morello and sylvia-was from Victoriana Nursery.
Chillies and cherries, both a success.
Eau De tomato. There is nothing quite like it. The spiced warm scent that nearly all tomatoes provide if you so much as touch their foliage. Then there is that yellow pollen that lingers on your fingers tips; staining them as though you’d smoked one too many.
Was a bit warm today, weren’t it, and tomorrow things gets warmer still.
I hid for most of today, doing school work and then watching ‘Henry VI part one’-Didn’t particularly rock my world that play-as it was rather warm. Once it had cooled down a little at tea time, I took to the plot with pair of scissors and some wool. I wanted to sort out the triffid like tomatoes that over the last few weeks have become wonderfully luscious and sending out cascades of yellow flowers.
My thoughts were that as the weather had been so erratic, that like the squashes, the tomatoes would be a little stroppy. However, for some daft reason, Blighty finds itself in the middle of a temporary heat wave. I add the caveat temporary, as it may well be our entire summer compressed into a few weeks.
Anyway, off I pootled, having forgotten to take a drink-I eventually got thirsty, came home and then returned with a bottle of squash-and spend a good three hours trussing up tomatoes. Unlike a more seasoned grower, I don’t defoliate very often, and I don’t arm pit the stems that turn up in the nook between the stem and branch. Primarily, as I can’t keep up, forget or find it some form of torture for a plant that I really want to do well and be happy. Result being, I end up with plants that have three or form long gangly arms that sprawl across the bed. Tomatoes take on an almost alien like quality and become monsters. The long extended limbs then need tying to canes and being raised aloft. It also helps prevent the foliage getting all tangled and promotes air flow.
It dawned on me, as I was trussing up the tomatoes, that this was an exercise in mindfulness. I actually smiled as I thought it. There is the undeniable scent of the tomato plant. The feel of the fluffy leaves, as you try and detangle them and stretch out the tomato vine. The sound, of nothing but birds and the occasional “All right, Punam?!” from a passing allotment neighbour. You know it’s mum, when you hear ‘HAYYYYY PUNERRRRRM!”
Slowly but surely, I went around each of the 15 plants-mum’s got the same number, I just didn’t get so far as trussing hers up-and carefully tied up leafy limbs. This is the same concentration, that I use when colouring and knitting. The sort of concentration where you pause your mind, and take stock of the moment. Take stock of all that you see, hear and feel; take stock of your experience. A really profound effect of gardening, this is why I will always stand by it as a therapeutic intervention when it comes to mental health.
So that occupied me for a while. And I liked it. It was only later, that I remembered that tomorrow it’s meant to be a bit hot again. I should then perhaps open the vents in the poly.
That is my polytunnel. It’s not a huge great big thing; it’s two by three metres. And rather filled with chillies; I would adopt more tomorrow if I was so tempted to do so. There is quite a diverse range in here. On the left, you have Sparkler, coffee bean, devils rib, apache, red scotch bonnet and orange habanero on the staging. On the right hand side, we have patio sizzle-one plant-patio sizzle, jalapeno, purple haze and hungarian hot wax in the corner. You can just about make out the white flowers that have started to appear. I have opened the vents to offer some breeze to the plants. Otherwise, they may well cook to death in there; it is not fun trying to revive a chilli that whilst it needs warmth, might well have been cooked alive. I am aim to water them tomorrow evening anyway as it does get wonderfully hot in there. When we have a temperature of late teens to twenty something, the mercury sky rockets anyway.
Now what might I do with all of those chillies? Well, if they all crop, I have a plan to make chilli powders as well as use them in Mum’s kitchen. There are many flowers, so for now, we live in hope.
I also furtled for carrots. These were an experimental sowing direct into the raised beds. They are small, but they are straight and have a wonderful carrot smell. One of the crops that I haven’t sown very often, so might have again. And yes, there is a stray snow ball turnip in there.
If it wasn’t for this lot; I would wholly miserable. There are no runner beans on the plot, the courgettes have all mostly been written off. I should at this stage in the growing season be starting to swim in courgettes. At the moment, I have the grand total of zero. All the plants have been subject to carnage by slugs and snails. I would be very surprised to get something, if anything, over the coming weeks from the courgettes and the rather spiny and spindly looking courgette and runner beans.
On the other hand, I am very close to throwing a small histrionic fit over strawberries. Every other day, I have been harvesting between 1-2lbs of strawberries. I say harvesting, it’s a case of picking the fruit before the slugs get to them. I would really like someone to invent a machine for hulling and chopping. Fruit has been stashed in the freezer; I am hoping that my jam making mojo returns so that the strawberries can be spiced with chilli and redcurrants maybe.
Tomatoes have filled out and up, with fruit forming after the bright yellow flowers. Mum had a lovely large marmande one, only for it to explode. I suspect that it might have become over ripe; a couple of money make have turned as has one single solitary tigerella. The surprise however, has to be the fleshy and fruity morello cherries. This is the first year on the plot and the tree has done very well to have survived frosts and inclement weather. There are less than a dozen cherries, but these are rather special in being the first ever crop. Have only pinched three ripe ones, so we shall see about the others. All being well, they will be harvested before the wildlife gets to them. I think I actually jumped to see that the cherries had turned, they were squishy to the touch, that’s the only way I can describe it. Though I have probably picked them a little early. I guess they could have done with a little more sunshine perhaps, and turned a little darker still. There are three sat on the kitchen window sill next to the tomatoes, so they may turn yet.
With the roses blooming on an almost daily basis, the gloom does lift a little. I have been waiting for William Shakespeare 2000 to bloom, and you can see the first three blooms that have developed this year. The bouquet above also contains a raft of lost label roses, the yellow one is rather productive. No idea what it is called, but it’s a brown limbed creature that cascades outs. Might even be a climber, but it is rather nice to pick.
In the poly tunnel, the chillies are also getting going. There are lots of white flowers and also purple tinged purple haze flowers. Jalepenos are starting to form as are hungarian hot wax. You see the one purple haze chilli, that I am hoping will turn red. The jalaepeno, apache chilli, orange habanero and devil’s rib have formed large white flowers. In comparison, patio sizzle, prairie fire and sparkler are forming the most delicate, tiniest of white flowers. With all the plants in flower, this means feeding regularly and making sure that the plants don’t get too arid. They do dry out, but too little water and the flowers will drop off.
So there we have it, we can’t be too miserable, now can we?
Finally, I am moving the chillies from their warm sitting place to the poly tunnel. I have potted up twelve pots into larger flower buckets. This is half of this years chilli cohort, with another two dozen pots to be positioned in the poly tunnel. Potted up today were Purple Haze cayennes-two plants, with a third waiting at home-jalepenos, hungarian hot wax, prairie fire, patio sizzle and sparkler. These are plants that have had something of a growth surge recently, and one of the purple haze plants has even started to form flowers. I have taken this as an indicator that these are now ready to move home and head to the poly tunnel. These are the final pots for the plants, and I don’t anticipate potting them on again.
You can see the you tube version here.
Squashes also need to be potted on, and I didn’t realise quite how many I had. I counted just over two dozen plants; luckily for me, I can share these with Mum. There are four marrows in there, which she will no doubt have designs on. Marrows are really not my thing, but Ma can work magic with them. I have yet to sow pumpkins and butter nut squashes; to be honest, I might cheat in those cases. I can never get pumpkins or butter nut squashes to actually germinate. Seedlings tend to be okay and I can look after them from that stage onwards. There are a few patty pans and yellow scallops, these become the coolest of space ship courgettes. There are the standard green courgettes as well as other yellow ones.
The poly tunnel is now occupied with a number of different seedlings. Tomatoes and Sweetcorn have been basking in sunshine for the last few days, and I have taken the decision to move them to the poly tunnel by way of a half way house. The Latah variety and a few others have already started to flower, so moving might be useful. The tomato cohort as a whole are probably not as tall as they could be-they were sown later than usual-and are starting to look a bit weary of their pots. The aim is to plug these into raised beds in the coming week if the weather remains fair. I just need to keep an eye on them in the poly tunnel, as I remember having a small panic last year in nearly cooking plants as the poly got rather too hot. There should be enough water in the gravel trays though, for the next couple of days if the temperatures remain; the vents are also open.
You can see the youtube version here.
It was world naked gardening day today, apparently. I can assure you that I fully clothed all the time.
As the Easter Weekend draws near, I thought I should check on the chillies.
The weather over the last week has been somewhat up and down. There have been says of glorious sunshine and days that like today, have been grey and miserable. The chillies, along with the tomatoes, have been enjoying the sunnier days whilst sat in Dad’s sun trap. However, there have a few nights where frost has been scheduled and they have covered over with a layer of horticultural fleece to protect them from a premature demise.
There a number of different varieties that I am playing with this year:
- Purple Haze
- Patio Sizzle
- Prairie Fire
- Devil’s Rib
- Coffee Bean
- Hungarian Hot Wax
- Orange Habanero
As you can see, there is quite a spectrum in terms of heat. It is the first year of sowing for devil’s rib and coffee bean, but all the others have been experimented with before. The hope is that these will be just a fruitful as their predecessors.
Purple haze is the only cayenne variety on the plot, and at the moment has seed leaves that have a really nice purple tinge to them. There are a few habaneros, some which like the coffee bean variety are somewhat slower growing. I have found that the hotter the chilli, the more difficult it is to get it to germinate in the first instance and that these are slower growing compared to say a cayenne.
Coffee bean, like prairie fire and sparkler, is a variety that produces fairly small compact plants. This should help with organising the poly tunnel as smaller pots can used. I say small, but I am probably going to use morrisons flower pots as per usual. They are really quite useful for chillies.
One thing that I do hope for, is that these will all catch up to where they should be. Sown later than usual, the plants are developmentally behind where they might be. I would have expected the milder varieties to be a little more leafier. The combination of later sowing and not enough heat and light is probably the reason why the plants are still not so leafy.
The festivities are over, the vast majority of people are going back to work. I have had an extra week, and some of it has been spent reflecting upon the start of the new growing season. In all honesty, I have been feeling a little behind and the allotment mojo has taken something of a nose dive. I usually have chillies sown after Boxing day, and this wasn’t the case.
Given last years rather disappointing crop, I am reviewing the seeds that I will be sowing. This has resulted in more than one sowing of seeds. Today I have found some jiffy pellets, and sown the first batch of seeds. Cayennes are the notable absentee from the list, but these will hopefully be sown in the second phase.
If you can’t access the video above the you tube video cane be view here.
In the first phase we have:
- Orange habanero
- Devils rib
- Coffee bean
- Scotch bonnet yellow
- Hot patio Sizzle
- Hungarian Hot Wax
Some of these have been sown before, others are new experiments. Chillies are not entirely easy to grow. I have found that the hotter the chilli, the lower the chance of germination. Also, serious chilli heads will also use heat and light lamps to germinate. I don’t tend to use the heated propagator any more, as the seedlings that I ended up with were rather spindly and inclined to fall over. I have had greater levels of success with a cold propagator being placed upon a warm window sill.
Seeds were sown into moistened jiffy pellets which were sat in a gravel tray. I used warmish water, rather than cold; as this just make the for cold damp conditions that are not the best of seeds that are hard to crack open anyway. The gravel trays were then placed into a large foodbag, I would have done the same with pots, and then a transparent lid was placed firmly on top.
Hopefully there will be another sowing in a few weeks, and purple haze will feature.
Potatos and prep were the key words this week. As mentioned previously, we have had an abundance of Pink Fir Apple potatoes. This week we harvested the last batch. These have been by far the most productive potato that I have ever managed to grow. My potato growing adventures have not been without incident. so to have such nice good quality potatoes from the plot is something of a surprise. All of the spuds this year were in raised beds, and either in compost or farmyard manure. This does appear to have paid dividends.
In the poly tunnel, we have a mass of six foot triffids. Would you believe, that whilst I was away, Ma harvested a red tomato. Yes, I was upset too. You can also see her picking glads, some of which were as tall as her.
Grapes are on the turn, and whilst there is not many of them this year, they are rather sweet. The autumn raspberry cane has kicked off with lovely large fruit, whereas the blackberries are still somewhat thin amongst the boughs.
Ma has taken up the cabbages, as she was about to declare war on the critters that were nibbling on them. She has shredded them and frozen for winter saag dishes.
Then came the apples. Having spend ages chopping, coring and peeling. I have found a new gadget! This was tested in the falstaff apples, the worcester pearmain are too small as are the home grown concorde pears. if only I had thought of this two weeks ago! Would have saved me six hours of work!
The poly tunnel is alive. It truly is standing room only in there. I have had to stake the tomatos and also defoliate as well. This allows some more energy to go to the fruit-according to my mum-but also allows the plants to be better ventilated.
I was starting to wonder about the super hot chillies. As to whether once again I had missed something in their growing conditions. To be entirely honest, I was chiding myself about not watering them that much. I have harvested a good clutch of hungarian hot wax; and I am hoping that these will go yellow with being on window sill. The would be red cayennes are by far this year the longest I have ever grown! This may be down to letting them stay on the plant for longer than I have in the past.
But! Remember the habaneros? Well, I should have paid more attention, and tomorrow I will double check. There is for the moment, one single solitary orange habanero. I will check if I have a chocolate one. In addition there are the tiniest of pumpkin chillies. I would have had had longer look; only as I was defoliating I heard “Puunnnaaaam! Come home now! You been here a while” My mother was on the plot, and she had come to fetch me back home. In punjabi, and at the top of her voice.
Hello, everyone, happy Sunday; I do hope that you have had a nice weekend.
Firstly, an apology. For not having updated properly, the plot is kicking off now and that means watering and harvesting. I have made two batches of ice cream in the last two weeks, with the strawberries from the plot. I have even harvested some tonight. The ice cream was fabulous, the ice cream maker, a good investment and highly recommended. I have been harvesting strawberries daily, and I don’t particularly have a preference for them.
As you can see from the gallery, the plot is coming into it’s own. There is nothing to report yet, as far as squashes and things go. They are just forming large leaves as of yet. In the poly though, the tomatoes are getting leafier, taller, and sending out yellow flowers. I have had to stake them into sentry like positions to prevent them all falling over.
The stars for the moment, are the chillies.
These are currently sat on a warm window sill. There are also a few more cayennes on the plant. Whilst walking through the poly tunnel with the watering can, I saw the rather chunky, lime green form of the hungarian hot wax. There are about five fruit, I shall leave them there for now.
Soft fruit is coming quick, with the strawberries especially. I have been watching the raspberries carefully. Especially as half canes don’t look to be doing an awful lot. These were canes planted last autumn, all thirty of them in the full season collection. There were an additional 10 yellow ones, The raspberries you see above, all three of them are the harvest of tonight. That yellow one, didn’t make it home, I ate it on the spot.
It was delicious. Get some. These are a variety called Fall Gold.I suspect they are a bit confused, as they are meant to be autumn ones.
I will continue to monitor the growth of the raspberries, to see if any more of them come to life. Also last year, I sank gooseberries and currants. The gooseberries have already yielded one small harvest, the next one, is most likely to be a pickle of some kind. The currants, are still babies, so there is not an awful lot expected.
But they do taste good. I swear, that the berries that I have collected were ready to burst. Beautifully red, they have given the strawberries a good run for their colour money. Not as tart as I would have expected, but a little full of seeds.
I had one black currant berry. May be next year, we can cordial or cassis. Yet to see if I have any white currants, if I can work out whether or not they are ripe. The two blueberry bushes are also laden with fruit, and again, ripeness check needed.
Last but not least, William Shakespeare 2000
Big, beautiful blooms, this rose bush sits in the middle of the plot. A sprawling mess, we like this sprawling mess, with green foliage and red blooms that burst in a matter of days in the shape of a fuzzy pom pom. This is the rose that I have been waiting for, as the other roses heralded the start of summer.