Monday 28 June 2010

Strawberry Glut

I can't believe how well the strawberries are performing this year. This is what my hubby picked last night, about five pounds, and we're getting this amount nearly every day. My daughter, who is a proper strawberry fan, is eating them for breakfast, lunch at school, and tea. She follows that with some for supper before she goes to bed, nothing like getting the most out of the strawberry season. I've got Honeoye, Elsanta and Alice, though which is which I don't really know as I can't remember which were planted where, so much for my carefully made notes. This is one glut which I don't mind at all, there's always someone willing to take strawberries off your hands if you've got too many, my mum and dad have been enjoying them too.

What about the weather? It's been fantastic for sitting and watching hubby and son playing cricket on Saturday, not so good for getting round to weeding the allotment. I think I would have burnt to a crisp if I'd spent any serious time down there this weekend, all we've managed to do is pick the strawberries and give everything a bit of a water, though the water butts have now dried up and as there's no water on the site we have to take water with us when we go which is a bit of a bind, but we do manage.

I noticed at the weekend that the first of the tomatoes are just starting to grow. I've had flowers for a while but it seems to have taken a long time to see any fruit. Just a matter of time now before I taste those first sun warmed tomatoes.

Thursday 24 June 2010

As Cool As A Cucumber

My first cucumber is just about ready for harvesting. This is Bella which is an F1 variety and has been bred to only produce female flowers, so there's none of the hassle of having to remove the males. I also sowed the seeds of a variety called Cucino, which is a small mini cucumber. I thought it would be ideal for lunch boxes but I haven't been as lucky with that one. The seeds germinated ok but the plants have just given up. I sowed a second batch of seed but the same thing happened to them. Cucumber seed is so expensive too. The Bella seeds should have cost £4.45 for the packet which contained four seeds. Luckily I got them in the Wyevale sale for 50p, bargain.

The strawberries are continuing to produce really well, much to my daughter's delight. She's taking them to school every day to have with her lunch. The plants have been netted to stop the birds from taking them and I haven't come across any slug damaged ones either.

My allotment has been a little neglected this year, mainly due to the fact that the kids have taken on more out of school activities which demand my time, and also because we couldn't get a head start at the beginning of the year because of the bad weather. It's looking very weedy and overgrown at the moment so we're spending quite a bit of time down there trying to get it ship shape. I still haven't got my squash in, but I'll hopefully find time this coming week to do that.

Monday 21 June 2010

Lottie Hobby

We had a lovely day at Gardener's World Live on Saturday. The sun came out, though it was a little breezy. It didn't seem quite so full as it was last year, so it was more enjoyable not being crushed in a crowd, in fact I didn't get my shins bashed at all by any plant trollies. There were some lovely show gardens and my daughter, being a guide, was happy that the girl guide centenary garden had won best in show. It was actually very cleverly designed, representing rainbows, brownies and guides, with messages from the children themselves written on to message sticks. I was quite restrained and didn't spend too much money, but I had to have a fuchsia I saw, named Lottie Hobby, very apt. It's quite an unusual fuchsia, very small flowers and leaves. I lost many of my fuchsias this winter so I will have to make sure that I give them extra protection this year.

We went to the allotment on Friday evening and picked the first of the strawberries, which we took in our picnic to Gardener's World Live. There's loads of fruit on the plants, we just need them to hurry up and ripen now.

We've got glorious sunshine here today. I've just sneaked a peek at the weather forcast for the rest of the week and the good weather looks set to continue. Looks like we'll be getting the watering cans out.

Friday 18 June 2010

Nemesia - Vanilla Scent

Last June, I blogged about two plants which I had bought, Nemesia - Vanilla Scent and Heliotrope - Butterfly Kisses. Both of these plants are usually grown as annuals but are in fact tender perennials. As they were being grown in containers I thought I would have a go at overwintering them in the greenhouse. Unfortunately, we had an extremely cold winter and many plants which I usually successfully overwinter died, I didn't hold out much hope for the nemesia and heliotrope. On inspecting the containers in spring, it was obvious that there was no life whatsoever in the heliotrope so it went into the compost. I nearly made the same mistake with the nemesia, it looked dead so it was put to one side ready for the compost heap. As hubby was filling up the compost he noticed a tiny green leaf on the nemesia so called me over to ask if I was sure it was dead. It got a reprieve and look at it now. I won't be so quick to consign things to the compost in future, thinking they're dead, or thinking that they won't last more than one season. Nemesias are one of my favourite flowers. I always include them in my summer bedding, they look lovely in the little window boxes on my daughter's wooden playhouse.

I had a few comments on my last post mentioning how early it is to be harvesting my first courgette. This prompted me to look back at my earlier posts to see when I harvested my first courgette last year, and it turned out to be the 19th July, this was from a plant in a container in the garden, the plants at the allotment didn't start producing until later. I planted my first courgette seeds this year on the 21st March hoping to get an early crop, and sowed some more seeds at a later date in the hope that when the first plant gives up producing, I will still have other plants which are still going strong. I don't mind a courgette glut, I love them.

We've had some gorgeous days again this week but it's looking very overcast today. I'm hoping the sun will come out again at the weekend ready for my trip to Gardener's World Live.

Monday 14 June 2010

It Must Be Love

I decided to empty one of my potato containers at the weekend and this is what I found, well, not the courgette of course, that's the first one of the season which was taken from the allotment on Saturday. These potatoes are Sharpes Express, a first early which I haven't tried before, and as I haven't yet eaten them I can't give you the verdict on taste. Apparently, they're quite a dry potato so they're good for chips too. There were quite a lot of very small potatoes which would have grown if I'd left them a little longer, but I'm pleased with the amount of reasonable sized ones. Just look at the cute little heart which I found. I have more containers which I will leave to grow on for a while longer, I just couldn't resist my first taste of the season which I will have tonight smothered in butter.

I'm looking forward to the weekend as I have tickets for Gardener's World Live. I went last year but was going to give it a miss this year as I'm having to watch the pennies quite carefully at the moment since I have given up work. I then found that Tesco's were offering the tickets on their Clubcard Deals. I swapped £6 of Tesco Clubcard Vouchers for each Gardener's World Live ticket, and as it's free for kids at the weekend it's only cost me £12 in vouchers in total. It was a lovely day out last year and the ticket also gives entry to the BBC Summer Good Food Show, so all I need now is for the weather to be kind. They're open tickets so I can go either day, I'll just wait and see what the weather has in store before I make my mind up whether to go on Saturday or Sunday. If you fancy going to Gardener's World Live but haven't got a ticket, head over to Carrots and Kids where Deb is offering ten pairs of tickets to ten lucky winners.

Thursday 10 June 2010

What A Disappointment

After the success I had with my blueberries last year, I was hoping for similar results again this year. Unfortunately, the late frosts in May dashed any hopes of a bumper harvest. One of the bushes has no developing berries at all, and the other has only a few. As you can see, the blossom has completely shrivelled and died. All I can do is put it down to experience and remember next year to cover the bushes with fleece if a late frost is forcast again. I thought it was going to be the same with the strawberries as many of the flowers had a telltale black mark in the middle of them which is knows as black eye. These flowers will not set fruit, but luckily, the plants have produced many more flowers and it looks like I will get a bumper harvest from the strawberries at least.

I was thrilled to be given the Beautiful Blogger award by Scented Sweetpeas this week. Thank you very much, it's always good to know that people enjoy reading my blog. This is the second time this award has been given to me so I will spare you all reading another ten things about me. As it's always so difficult to choose a few of the many blogs I read to pass the award on to, I will nominate you all. If you would like to accept the award the rules are to display the award on your blog, list ten things about yourself, pass the award on to other blogs which you feel deserve it and leave a comment on their blog to let them know that you have given them the award.

There hasn't been much gardening done here this week because of the weather. I was hoping that it was going to be fine as my son has had two field trips to go on with school, but no such luck, it's still raining. The weeds are calling out from my allotment so I'm hoping that it brightens up at the weekend so that I can go and do something about them.

Monday 7 June 2010

Better Late Than Never

It's been quite a while since I last posted, mainly due to the school holidays last week. Hubby took the week off work too so we ended up making the most of the good weather and headed off all over the place enjoying ourselves. I took this photo last week thinking that I would do a post, but then never got round to it. Do you remember me mentioning the Micro Tomato seeds which I was having trouble germinating? The first batch of seeds I planted never came up and I only had three more seeds to try. Well, one of the seeds was ok and this is the plant now. It's potted up in a six inch plantpot, so you can gauge it's size, yet it has already got it's first trusses. It won't grow much taller now, but it should get some more foliage. Last year I got loads of tiny tasty tomatoes off one of these plants. It's so small that it lives up to it's name of Micro Tomato, and the fruit is tiny too.

As I've already mentioned, we had a lovely week last week. On Sunday we visited Newmillerdam where we saw coots and Canada geese nesting on the water and some had young in their nests. Mallards were swimming on the lake with their young following behind. Duncombe Park was the setting for a country fair on bank holiday Monday and after that we headed in to Helmsley which is a gorgeous little village. I would have liked to have visited the walled garden while we were there but we didn't have time, so it will give us a reason to return in the not too distant future. We had some rain on Tuesday so we stayed under cover of a shopping centre as my daughter had outgrown her school shoes and needed new ones before she went back to school today. The sun was back on Wednesday so we headed off to the Yorkshire Dales, my favourite place. We spent a while in Hawes before driving down to Burnsall where we parked by the side of the river for our picnic and a paddle. No school holiday would be complete without a trip to the coast, so on Thursday we spent the day in Scarborough. It was a gorgeous day, warm enough for my daughter to don her bikini on the beach.

On Friday, my daughter had been invited to her friend's house for a sleepover, so we decided to stay at home and I managed to find the time to plant up my hanging baskets, plant up all my containers with bedding plants and get my tomato plants planted in to their final positions in the greenhouse. I also evicted many of the plants waiting to be taken to the allotment from my greenhouse, so they're now on staging in the garden until I can find some more time to get them in to the allotment.

We spent most of Saturday at the allotment. Hubby built my bean wigwams and I discovered that I did have some spare space, so I've decided to grow some runner beans after all. I planted out two different types of climbing French beans, and have sown seeds direct for the runner beans. I noticed that my first courgette is growing, so it won't be long now until there's a glut. I was also pleased to see plenty of strawberries waiting to ripen. Many of the strawberry flowers were caught by the frost but lots more have opened so all is not lost.

I would have liked to have spent more time at the allotment yesterday but the heavens opened so I spent the day catching up on housework instead. I'm hoping to get down again later on today as the weeds are threatening to take over.
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