Tag Archives: Strawberries

Jubilant July #gdnbloggers

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?

Blooms and Buffy: Frocks, fruit and flowers

The last week has seen several episodes of rain and flooding; not very conducive to going to allotment. I finally made it to the plot today to see what the state of play was; there are weeds to  be got rid of but also lot to positive about.

 

The first handful of strawberries have been harvested. A couple of them a little under ripe, but they are bright red and edible. I may have even eaten one to taste check, and I not even a big fan of strawberries. These have arrived a little earlier than usual, with strawberries usually cropping around Wimbledon fortnight. I know that sounds very cliched, but I do have memories of hearing of Andy Murray winning wimbledon and only having one strawberry that year.

The rain has done little to thwart the roses; they are a bit damp and fluffy, but still blooming. There are easily a dozen roses in that bouquet and in an assortment of colours.

There was also some adventuring this week. Adventuring, that I have been looking forward for some time and is completely unrelated to the allotment. I actually went to a convention. Not a conference, a convention; a convention celebrating Joss Whedon’s Buffy:The Vampire Slayer and Angel:The TV series. Two shows, that I have very fond memories of having watched them as a teenager; and two shows that I can watch over and over alongside Star trek and Shakespeare. So I went.

 

And it was rather fun! An amazing opportunity to talk to other whedonites and to meet some of the stars as well. The highlight was meeting Anthony S Head who played Rupert Giles. There were eight guests in total, and it never ceases to amaze me just how iconic Buffy and Angel were. Hearing the guests talk about their jobs was simply mind blowing.

This was the first time that I had ever been to a convention, so I was a little bit worried as to what expect. It was however a really positive experience, and sat there at half ten talking about Buffy episodes at a disco was rather surreal. As you can see, part of it involved dressing up. That is my attempt at Bad willow, though I do look more an extra waiting to keel over in GoT. On the right, that’s a better attempt at dressing up to attend a whedon prom.

I can safely say, that whedonites are by far one of the most amazing groups of people in the world. I flew solo in this adventure, I didn’t take anyone with me. Yet there were couples there-a couple of which had very new babies in tow, I take my hat of to them!-where whedon was a shared passion. So in being by myself, i was adopted and made to feel very welcome at my first convention.There was a huge diversity in age ranges and nationalities, people had travelled in from very far afield. Apparently, there are not many Buffy/Angel conventions, so this was a rare one.

Plot reccy: Valentine’s Week 2016

Had to wander down to the plot today to see what was still standing or not given the stormy weather that we have been experiencing. I also had some raspberry canes to plant.

You can find the youtube version here.

 

The clay is very heavy and sticky, making any meaningful work really very difficult. I had a quick check of the trees that were recently planted. Some of these have started to send out buds, which is quite promising. There was even some buds on the one remaining raspberry cane. This was heartening as the raspberries were today being replaced with another cohort.

Sprawling across two beds are masses and masses of strawberry runners. I am not sure of the exact variety, but they really have tried to make a break for it and escape their bed. The heritage garlic is a little under water and this is always my worry when planting it into open grown. However, I am told that it is fairly robust, so hopefully it will be okay.

Autumn: A review

The plot has been busy.  Very busy. With autumn, we have the opportunity to take stock of what has happened. It’s not necessarily an end of year review, that is reserved for New’s Eve. No, this is a case of reflecting on the journey that has taken place over the last ten months,

A journey, that started two days after Boxing day-i think-with the sowing of chilli seeds. That for me,  was the start.

As I come to pay my rent for the next year, I really must do that soon, I have a wealth of learning experiences going into what is my fourth year on the plot. It is with this milestone that I can see just how far I have come. Particularly with the grapevines. These take on average between three to five years to become established, and here we have our first ever harvest this year. The thin wiry twigs that were planted years ago, have become strong and fruitful. They do need extra support now, what was a temporary frame back then, now requires significant bolstering.

Another more concrete example, was the spuds. I have stopped counting now as to how many pounds or kilos, for that matter,  that have been harvested. I feel as though I have broken something of duck. Learned a technique if you like, how to best plant,  picked out appropriate varieties to gain a healthy and abundant crop. I am sure that I will be seeing Pink Fir Apple in my sleep.  They have most likely been put into every dish imaginable by Mum. Yesterday, I found one in Punjabi Khadi.

For the inside the poly tunnel, I am a little perplexed. There were tomato plants galore in there, with chillies and aubergines. The chillies, did okay; lessons were implemented. All were planted into pots, we had a none too bad crop of chillies. Aubergines, have reiterated their point as being a pointless exercise for me. I need to consider whether growing a seed, is equitable with rescuing plants from the garden center.

Eighteen tomato plants were sunk into the ground of the poly. They grew, they grew into six foot tall triffids that were defoliated from time to time. All they grew, was leaves. Maybe the occasional tomato. At a point where I might ordinarily be drowning in green tomatoes; there were none to be had. I was in a different time zone, when Mum found a single, solitary red one. She sent me a picture, to contain her surprise.  The questions that arise here, are two fold. Was it the selected varieties, or was the weather just generally a bit unaccommodating? I am going to say it was a reflection of both. Some of the varieties were the slower maturing ones, and I do think that the poorer weather-in comparison to last year-simply never gave them a fighting chance. Even the roses, suffered; but the gladioli kept going.

 

Soft fruit was a bit hit and miss. Strawberries, took flight, and we had enough to watch Wimbledon by. The runners are now running amok. Raspberries, well, the pink ones did precious little. With the autumn raspberries a bit confused and cropping quite well. Blueberries were a revelation, and for their first year did well.  Didn’t scrump as many plums this year-I do actually scrump with consent-so there was a lot less plum jam and jelly made. But lots of courgettes and marrows  lead to a relatively less busy preserving pan. For the first time ever, we had ice cream made using plot produce.  Something that I highly recommend, even I don’t really like strawberries.

With October starting, I have my seed garlic ordered; and will be trying to shoe horn time in between now and late November to get it sunk. I don’t tend to sow over wintering broad beans anymore. Beyond that, the major autumn winter task is to remove the dead plants and start clearing away. All the dead plants will most likely be composted where they are are, and covered with leaves and other organic material. Creates compost, helps improve the soil, and I am filling the raised beds til they are needed again in Spring.

Whilst everything on the plot is an achievement. There was something else. I wrote this.

‘Playing with plant pots: Tales from the allotment’

http://amzn.to/1OB7PqH : E-book
http://amzn.to/1VsJckt : Paperback

To find out more about it, you’re just gonna have to get it.

This can feel like a very depressing, dark and dank time of year. Especially when you have see the bright, blooming and bountiful delights of colour, crop and your own creativity. It then become difficult to see the light, more positive side of things.  Autumn and winter can be time of reflection, taking stock and making decisions as to how you would like to proceed. That is certainly the route that I will be taking. Tackling the plot bit by bit, setting lists to work through. It has taken six years to get to this point, so there is little point in hurrying.

I really need to go check the inside of my seedboxes.

 

 

 

Successful Sunny Saturday

There are weeds cropping up all over the plot. There are also harvests to made too. I will be hoeing the weeds down soon. The harvests, though, have been good so far. Firstly, we have spuds. Potatoes/ Over the last four years I have variable harvests. From sinking into open ground to raised beds. I finally have a spud that I am proud of. Today, I have harvested probably about a couple of pounds of kestrel second early potatoes. The foliage had started to keel over, so I took this as a sign to harvest. I wasn’t so quietly impressed when digging over. I may have blasphemed a little bit; my mother who was in ear shot, exclaimed my name. Not at my blaspheming, but at the fact that I was handing over fairly nice looking potatoes.

A plot neighbour kindly donated some redcurrants that she was harvesting. These with the pounds of frozen strawberries already harvested went into a jam alongside some purple haze and cayenne chillies.

It does taste rather nice, and I don’t actually like strawberries that much.

I have been further monitoring the raspberry situation. To be honest, I am not in the least bit happy. Yes, these were planted in Autumn. A full season collection, I had thirty canes. Not all of these have foliage, and they are all very much still brown and sticky. Those that are leafy, have so far produced the grand sum of six-maybe-raspberries. All of the canes have rooted, I have done the tug test. They have definitely rooted.

On the other hand, I have ten fall gold yellow raspberry canes and two pink autumn bliss raspberries. The two autumn bliss ones are happy, having been cut back, and now fairly leafy and about to bear fruit. The yellow ones, have provided three yellow raspberries so far. This I can deal with.

With the distinct lack of pink summer raspberries, I am feeling a bit dejected. A lot like England crashing out on penalties. Penalties, can be practised.

Runner beans are shooting up their supports, and rapidly. So much so, I have spotted a cluster of red flowers. The climbing french beans however, don’t look so good and are still very small.

Home grown, home made: Pudding

All that would be soft fruit on the allotment, you can eat it, infuse spirits, make it into smoothies. I rather wanted to make ice-creams. After much researching, and I did do a fair bit, I found one and bought it. Today was the first time I have used it, and luckily my mum had harvested some strawberries this morning. (I was asleep this morning when she did, so she came home and told me about it, loudly.) If the rest of the fruit on the plot works, that may make for more experiments.

The machine came with some simple recipes, so I have used one of them today. An eggless recipe as well, which is useful; as there are some family members who don’t eat ice cream made with eggs.

The bowl for the machine, had to be froze and for a while. The ingredients were then chilled to help the process. A ripe banana was added to the strawberries and both were mashed up to a smooth paste and then added to the ice cream mix.

I was fully expecting to be pacing for a good half an hour whilst the machine did it’s thing. It took twelve minutes to get a lovely softy whippy ice cream. And it tasted lovely, it passed the Pop’s taste test.  The quantity made is small, I didn’t want to make more than we can eat. A very small scale study! The inner bucket of the machine is back in the freezer to make the ice cream a bit more solid.

Just in time for tea time.

Strawberries are a-go!

I had thought that my plot was a little delayed. There were a number of green strawberries below the raspberry canes, and they didn’t seem to be ripening.

Then the sun came out.

In the space of 12 hours, the fruit has gone from being smudged with red, to a lovely shade of ruby garnet. We’ve not had punnets and punnets of fruit, but this is the first time we have ever had a mass of strawberries. And to think it’s not Wimbledon Fortnight yet. If we do get more, might experiment with making some ice cream.

#NABLOPOMO: Strawbs and Sunflowers

Have spent the best part of today, pottering around, potting up chillies. Some of them even have flowers. Sunflowers were also potted up as some of them were starting to keel over. As were the last of the tomatoes.

I did take a wander down to the plot, Ma wanted to dig for England again so I had to keep her company whilst nursing a thermo mug of tea. Was really quite bright, and I thought I looked a bit cool with the sunglasses. I had just planned to supervise ma, but then I got a call from a plot neighbour who was actually working hard.

A lovely plot neighbour had an excess of strawberries, and I had already re-homed some their donations. I’ve taken in another half a dozen or so additional plants. Quite healthy looking too. These were then plugged in around autumnal raspberry canes. I have hoping that these will grow, send out runners and cover the ground. Also means I get two types of soft foot from one bed.

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.