Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Damn The Weather

If pests don't get our crops, something else will. In the case of my peaches, the weather.

Can you see the split in the fruit? Apparently, this is caused by heavy downpours after a hot, dry period. It's known as stone fruit pit split.

I'd kept the little tree in the greenhouse earlier on in the season to avoid peach leaf curl but moved it outside to allow the fruit to ripen in the sunshine. If only I'd kept it in there, this probably wouldn't have happened.

I haven't had a really good look at the fruit yet, there may be some peaches without the splits, though they're all fairly small and still rock hard. I'm not really sure when they should be ripe, I think I need to do a little research.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Tomato Disappointment

I'm disappointed with my tomatoes this year. I was hoping for great things from them after doing so well last year, especially as I'd invested in three self watering containers for them too.

Unfortunately, they got off to a bad start as the compost I'd used to prick the seedlings out in to wasn't up to much. The tiny plants stopped growing altogether and turned a sickly yellow colour but I managed to save them by repotting them in to some fresh compost. This rescue worked and they responded well turning back to a lovely shade of green and growing away. Then, the unthinkable happened, they got left in a hot greenhouse with no ventilation and I thought they were beyond hope, but they rallied and picked up yet again.

I think the problems they suffered as young plants has affected them though as they're really not doing very well at all this year. If it wasn't for the Maskotka plants which I bought at a nearby plant sale, I'd have had very little in the way of tomatoes yet this year. These plants have done really well and they're a variety I'll definitely consider next year.

As you can see, a couple of salad type tomatoes have ripened recently too. These are Alicante, another plant I bought at the plant sale.

All is not lost though, the Ailsa Craig which I grew from seed is now just starting to ripen.

The problem with the plants I grew from seed and that suffered as seedlings is that they're not carrying very much fruit. Many of the plants look old before they're time too, they're just not very healthy looking at all. In hindsight, I should have disposed of them and started again, or bought all the plants in.

This is Costoluto Fiorentino, just starting to ripen. It looks very ugly from this angle.

Taken from another angle, you can see that it's a ribbed variety. It's a beef tomato and very tasty.

It takes quite a bit of time and care to grow tomatoes from seed so I'm wondering if I should cut my losses and buy in plants next year. It's alright saying that now but I know that when it comes to sowing time I'll never resist sowing some tomato seed.

On a more positive note, my blueberries have done exceptionally well this year. They're just starting to slow down now but have kept us supplied with a small picking each day. There's been enough to share with my mum and dad, they've enjoyed having fresh blueberries sprinkled on their breakfast cereal. This was yesterday's smaller harvest.

As one crop does well, another doesn't do quite so well and that's the way it goes with gardening. I wonder what's in store for us next year.

Friday, 8 August 2014

No Trip To The Allotment...

...the weather's too bad. Thunder storms here tonight with short power cuts. It doesn't stop the dog walks though...

...much to Archie's disgust.

He doesn't like this weather at all, and who can blame him?

Thursday, 7 August 2014

A Bit Of An Update

I thought I'd give you an update on a few things, some which are doing very well and others which aren't doing quite so well.

First off then, my plum tree. This is growing on dwarf rootstock in a container so is never going to produce a huge harvest but I'm very pleased with the fruit it's given me this year. The variety is Czar, a culinary plum, but it can be used as an eating plum if the fruit is left on the tree to fully mature as the flesh becomes much sweeter.

These are a few of the plums I've harvested from it, they're very sweet and juicy. They look like shiny, polished jewels once they've been washed.

Most of the potato haulms are dying back now.

I harvested the above container which had been planted up with four tubers of Anya, a second early. This is my very favourite variety of potato, but I've found it doesn't produce the weight of other varieties. I don't know if other people find this too or if I've just been unlucky with them, but I don't mind as the quality more than makes up for the weight I'm harvesting. Actually, this tub contained a decent haul, 1320 grams.

The courgettes are still producing much quicker than we can eat them. Unfortunately, my mum and dad don't eat them so we have to find other people to take some off our hands. Our next door neighbours have been given a bag full and Mick's been taking lots to work, people there seem to be very pleased to take a few home with them.

I've been wondering whether to plant my apple trees in the ground rather than growing them in containers. They're growing on dwarf rootstock so they're only small, I think they'd be fine grown against the fence so I've decided that I'll definitely go ahead with this idea. One of the reasons is that my Golden Delicious tree hasn't done very well at all. This photo doesn't show it very well, but the fruit is very small and lots of it is misshapen and deformed. The leaves too are curly and don't look very healthy at all. I shall have to read up and see what could be the cause.

My Gloster tree is another matter, this seems to be doing quite well and is bearing a number of rosy red apples, I can't wait to try them. The fruit seemed very small for quite some time but has grown a fair bit just recently.

My little peach tree is still hanging on to its fruit, but the peaches don't seem to be growing at all, they're very small. Perhaps I was a bit premature in thinking I'd have my own peaches to eat this year, time will tell. Surely they should be nearly ripe by now though.

I'm harvesting plenty of cherry type tomatoes, they've been ripening ever since we returned home from holiday, but I've only harvested one salad type so far and the beef tomatoes are nowhere near ripening yet. There's a few more salad types on the turn though now.

Most of them are still stubbornly green.

The blueberries have done really well this year and there's still lots to pick. As you can see by this photo, they all ripen at different times. I go over the bushes each day picking those which are ripe and by the following day, lots more have ripened again.

On the whole, most things are doing well but there's always some disappointments in gardening.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Blueberry Pancakes

I don't usually blog about the recipes I use my home grown produce in, but I thought you might just like to see my delicious Sunday breakfast. I have to confess that I didn't make it myself, Mick usually cooks breakfast on a weekend so I passed the recipe to him and away he went. Doesn't it look delicious?

I've had a good blueberry harvest this year, it's about time as the last few years have been lean, but it looks like we're back on track again.

I'm the chief pancake maker in our house as Mick isn't usually very successful with them but he did himself proud with these.

If you've got an abundance of blueberries and would like to try this recipe, it's the American Blueberry Pancakes on the BBC Good Food website, a great place to find recipes.

I'm sure you won't be disappointed if you do try them, the blueberries give a delicious tang against the sweet syrup, yum yum.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Veg Box

One of the things I love most about growing my own fruit and vegetables is sharing the produce with friends and family. This is the veg box that I took for my mum and dad earlier on this week.

There isn't huge amounts of anything, but enough for my mum and dad to get a few meals from.

The first pickings from the blueberry bushes, Maskotka tomatoes, the only ones ripening in any number at the moment, and the only two ripe plums there were on the tree at the time.

Crystal Lemon and Mini Munch cucumbers, one onion and one red onion, which is on the small side, and two shallots.

Purple Cascade French beans and St.George runner beans.

Arran Pilot and Anya potatoes.

My mum and dad may not be able to grow their own any more but they don't miss out on that home grown taste.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Garden Visiting In July - Part Two

I Beg Your Pardon
I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.

Actually, I did. This post follows on from Part One of my garden visit to Temple Newsam Walled Rose Garden.

I've never really been a lover of roses but my tastes are changing, I've now got three rose bushes in my own garden, Golden Wings, a golden yellow shrub rose, The Birthday Rose, a half standard creamy coloured rose with a slight pink tinge and an unnamed red rose which Daniel bought for me for Mother's Day last year.

I thought I'd show you a few of the roses in Temple Newsam Walled Garden. I couldn't see any labels giving their names which is a shame, it would have been nice to know which varieties they are.

I think my favourite is the first yellow one, I have a thing for yellow roses, especially delicately coloured ones. Do you have a favourite?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Garden Visiting In July - Part One

Temple Newsam is a place we visit often. I grew up within walking distance and we now live just a ten minute car journey away. I've wrote about it many times on my Through The Keyhole blog, a couple of the posts are Temple Newsam and Temple Newsam Rhododendron Walk.

On this occasion, our trip to Temple Newsam was to visit the walled garden for my garden visit for July.

The walled gardens were set up on this site in 1788 and were used for the cultivation of vegetables, fruit and cut flowers for the house. The gardens became famous for the cultivation of pineapples, the gardeners produced Queen pineapples weighing five or six pounds each. By the mid nineteenth century other varieties such as White Providence, Montserrat and Prince Albert were also being propagated.

The walled garden now presents an extensive rose garden originating from about 1923.

Around the walls are magnificent herbaceous borders, some of which are 800 yards in length.

The borders are quite deep and have some glorious height to them.

Such bold splashes of colour.

As you enter the walled garden, you can see the 'lean-to' conservatory which contains a host of temperate plants.

There's a fabulous potting area in the doorway of the conservatory with different bays set aside for the different composts used. How I'd love an area like this to do my own potting.

The first area you come to inside the conservatory is filled with zonal pelargoniums, such a fabulous display. They're trained to cover the full height of the wall, some 10 - 12 feet.

There are also upright fuchsias here, I've never seen fuchsias with such thick stems, but they're grown so that they flower above head height and are a brilliant feature.

The next area you come across is filled with coleus, so many different varieties.

I love the contrasts between the zinging lime green varieties and the darker leafed specimens.

Next, we come to an area which houses plants from Central and South America. These are abutilons, a plant I'm not familiar with but part of the mallow family. I love the effect against the whitewashed walls.

This ipomoea is such a gorgeous colour, it really zings.

Bougainvillea Barbara Karst.

As we exit the conservatory, we're back again in the rose garden. It looks fabulous from this elevated position with the park land behind the walls.

The gardens are also home to five of the eleven national collections held by Leeds City Council, including delphinium, phlox, aster, chrysanthemum and solenostemon.

We're so lucky to have such a beautiful place on our doorstep. Pop back for Part Two and I'll show you some more.