Thursday 28 August 2014

Garden Visiting In August

The weather forecast for Bank Holiday Monday was better in North Yorkshire than West Yorkshire so we decided on a trip to Yorkshire Lavender. Fourteen miles north east of York, it's well signposted along the way. We've visited before, back in 2010, but it was earlier in the year, before the lavender was flowering, so I thought we'd make a return trip to see how it looked in bloom.

Yorkshire Lavender is set in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, it's not hard to see why I love this county so much.

The first thing you encounter is the scent of lavender, not surprising really as there are so many plants here, a real lavender lover's delight. They're well labelled too so that you know which varieties they are.

A sign you don't see in many gardens. It's nice to know you're free to have a little touch as lavender plants are so tactile.

There's lots of lavender tips too, I didn't know this one but I shall be giving it a try as I'm not a very good sleeper.

As you would expect, many of the gardens focus on lavender.

There are some mixed borders too. I didn't think they were so well kept, they didn't wow me, but perhaps they're just a little bit tired now that it's coming to the end of the season.

There's a maze made out of lavender which the visiting children were enjoying very much.

You can see the paths of the maze better in this photo.

There's a warning that the bees enjoy using the maze too, but I doubt they'd bother you, they're too busy enjoying the lavender.

It isn't just bees that can't get enough of it either, this ladybird was enjoying it too.

I loved this idea of using broken pots to display sempervivums, I think I may do this myself. I'm always inspired when looking round gardens.

There's a well stocked nursery, though I found it quite expensive, but they do have a very good range of herbs.

There's also a shop which sells all manner of things lavender related, but again, rather expensive.

We knew before we set off that dogs aren't allowed in Yorkshire Lavender so our visit was quite a short one as Archie had to stay in the car, but to be honest, I had enough time to see what I wanted to see. I think if the lavender had been in bloom on our first visit we wouldn't have returned, it was only a case of wanting to see it in flower, but now that we have, it's a place I won't bother with again. I can recommend it if you're a real lavender lover but I have to say that I've preferred the other gardens we've visited this year.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Onion Harvest

I think my onions have done better this year than ever before. We don't use that many onions so I don't grow very many, about eighty in total, but it's great that the ones I have grown have done very well. The varieties I grew were Turbo and Red Baron, both from sets.

I've never had any success with red onions previously, but even they've done ok this year. Some are rather small, but still usable.

Once they've been lifted, I stack them in these trays to dry off.

The trays are ideal as they're stackable and they allow air to circulate the whole way around the onions. I got them from our local greengrocer.

The onions look much nicer once they've been cleaned up.

I had quite a few onions sending up flower spikes this year. They don't store well when this has happened so I shall have to watch for signs of them rotting as I don't know which ones have tried to flower and which ones haven't now.

Of course, there's also the shallot harvest, they've also done well. They've been dried out but are now waiting to be cleaned up.

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.
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