Saturday, 10 October 2015

Not So Bonnie

This year, as well as growing my favourite Anya and Arran Pilot potatoes, I gave three other varieties a try, Vales Emerald, Sherine and Bonnie, three tubers of each. I tried the Vales Emerald and Sherine earlier in the season and finally got round to emptying out the container containing the Bonnie yesterday. This is what I found, just four potatoes have grown from three tubers, not very good at all, so Bonnie is a variety I won't be bothering with again.

I had one bucket of Anyas left to harvest. It's a bit late in the season for them really and some tubers had rotted but I still got a decent amount which will provide a couple of meals for Mick, Eleanor and myself. Eleanor's never really cared for boiled potatoes, roasts are her favourite. I always boil Anyas, they're a waxy potato with a delicious taste and Eleanor's discovered this year that she really likes them.

The spare potato tubers I had, which I planted very late in the season hoping for some potatoes for Christmas, don't look to be doing very well, their foliage is very pale and doesn't look very healthy at all. I've sprinkled a few chicken manure pellets around in the hope that adding some nutrients to the soil will help but time will tell.

I decided that yesterday was the time to get rid of the bush tomato plants. They've done so well this year providing a handsome crop of tomatoes but they're just about done now. There were three outdoor Maskotka plants, one Totem which was also growing outdoors and two Maskotka plants which had been growing in the greenhouse. I harvested any useable ripe tomatoes and took off any green ones in the hope they'll ripen indoors. As you can see, the plants are way past their best now.

The cordon plants are still going strong though. All in all I picked another six pounds of ripe tomatoes yesterday and this is what the plants looked like afterwards. I have four plants growing outdoors and three in the greenhouse. They look quite sparse as I've removed most of the foliage to allow whatever sunshine we have to get to the tomatoes to ripen them.

There's still quite a few tomatoes hanging on in there and they're still ripening on the vine too.

So that's the end of my potatoes, unless my Christmas containers come to anything, and the end of the bush tomatoes. It's a sad time when the gardening season comes to a close but it won't be too long until we're starting seeds off again.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Harvesting The Roots

I think beetroot will be on the menu this week, I've had my best year yet. I've had some years where I've found the seed hard to germinate and I've ended up without any but it's been grown in the WoodBlocX raised bed this year and it's done marvelously. It's a shame there's only me in the house who will eat it as there's plenty to go round but I'll make sure that none goes to waste. I love it simply roasted in foil before allowing to cool slightly, slipping off its skin and then slicing, delicious. Beetroot goes very well with goat's cheese too, I think I shall have that in a salad for lunch one day.

The carrots are still being pulled, there's a selection of the three different varieties I've grown here, Tendersnax, Chantenay and Nantes. The WoodBlocX raised bed really has worked wonders. I haven't pulled many this time, just enough for a meal but there's still plenty more to come.

Only six pounds of tomatoes this time. I say 'only', my tomato plants have kept my own family, my mum and dad, two neighbours and a friend's family supplied throughout summer. I haven't preserved any at all this year as I have done in the past, I do so much prefer eating them fresh.

I keep saying this but there's still more tomatoes to come and they're still ripening on the vine. I wonder how long they'll go on for.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Photo Medley - September

The end of another month so time again for some photos which haven't yet made it on to the blog.

A few more photos from our visit to Cannon Hall Walled Garden at the beginning of the month.

Seed heads at Harlow Carr indicate that the season is coming to a close.

Lilies. One of the birthday gifts I received from a friend.

An abundance of tomatoes, and still they keep on coming. I picked another seven pounds yesterday with plenty more to come.

Still sowing seeds.

The trees are clothed in their autumn colours.

That's it for another month. The weather is decidedly autumnal as we head in to October, and there was I, hoping for a late summer. Oh well, there's always next year.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Time To Choose My Bulbs

It's bulb planting time again. I haven't bought many yet, just these Tulips - Queen Of The Night and these mixed allium.

I'd like to get some white tulips to mix with this darker variety, I think they'd look good together, or perhaps some orange ones. I saw lots of orange tulips at Harlow Carr earlier this year and they looked fabulous planted by themselves or mixed with other colours.

I had some Allium - Purple Sensation growing in the front border but they disappeared completely this year, I'm not sure what happened to them so I bought this mixed pack to replace them with.

I'll definitely buy some daffodils, I love seeing daffies in springtime, but I'm not sure what else yet. How about you, have you made your bulb choices yet this year?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

It's Time

Now's the right time to get some spring onions underway ready for next year. I like my spring onions to bulb up but as they're such a slow growing crop, it's useful to get them started early and overwinter them to give them a little extra growing time.

I always grow White Lisbon these days. I've tried other varieties but none do as well as this tried and trusted favourite so I stick with it.

I've got a few of these wooden troughs, I've had them years and they're just the thing for growing spring onions in, not too deep but deep enough. I'm reusing compost which some of my container grown potatoes were grown in, I just mix a few chicken manure pellets in with it as the nutrients will have been used up by the potatoes, this adds some nutrients back to the compost ready for the next crop.

Growing small quantities in containers means that it isn't such hard work to sow the seeds individually to prevent having to thin the plants out as they grow. As you can see, I make individual small holes in the compost to drop the seed in to.

Spring onion seeds are a decent size so it's not too tricky to sow them individually. Obviously, if I were sowing a large patch of them at the allotment I wouldn't sow them in this way, it would be far too time consuming.

All that's left to do now is to give them a good water and leave them to do their thing. This photo was taken this morning, as you can see in the background, my tomatoes are still delivering.

It will take a couple of weeks for the spring onions to germinate but once they do, they'll have a good few weeks to put on some growth before the colder weather arrives. I leave the trough outdoors until about November and then I move it in to the greenhouse. There isn't usually any growth over winter but they've already got a good start when the weather starts to warm up again and they grow away quite quickly then. I do still sow more at the beginning of the new season but they're never as good as the ones I sow in autumn.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The State Of Play

My tomatoes have done remarkably well this year, I'm not sure why that would be since we haven't had what we could call a summer. The fruit started ripening before we went on holiday, which is almost unheard of, and they're still being harvested now.

This year I've grown two Ailsa Craig, two Gardener's Delight, one Totem and three Maskotka plants outdoors and one Ailsa Craig, one Gardener's Delight, one Bloody Butcher and two Maskotka plants in the greenhouse. Thirteen plants in total. They've all done well but as in previous years, I think my outdoor plants have done just a little better than those in the greenhouse. I don't usually weigh my harvests but I did weigh those below, there's about seven pounds in that one bowl and this is just the tip of the iceberg, the plants must have yielded pounds and pounds.

I've now removed most of the foliage from the cordon plants to allow what little sun we've got left this year to get to the fruit to ripen it. There's little warmth left in the sun when it does shine so I hope the tomatoes which are still to be harvested ripen before it's too late. This is the state of play at the moment and as you can see, there's still plenty to harvest.

I think the above photo shows how well the grow bags have held up. I cut each bag in half before standing each half on its end and planting in to it that way, it gives a much better depth for the plants to spread their roots than when the grow bags are laid flat.

The Maskotka plants are now a tangled mess. They're very untidy plants but I'm willing to forgive that as they produce such a huge yield of larger than average cherry tomatoes which taste divine.

I've been able to share my bounty with family, friends and neighbours this year and have had apples and grapes in return with a promise of pears still to come. I think it's great when you're able to trade in this way.

There's been one or two comedy tomatoes produced which wouldn't look out of place on Esther Rantzen's That's Life! Oooh Rude!

There's only two varieties which I've decided on for next year, those are Maskotka and Bloody Butcher. I may just stick to those next year, one salad tomato and one cherry, we'll have to wait and see whether any others tickle my fancy.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Cannon Hall Walled Garden In September

It was last May when we first visited Cannon Hall Gardens, you can read about our visit to the walled garden there in my Garden Visiting In May - Part One post. I was looking forward to seeing this garden at this time of year as we saw so many fruit trees in the garden when we last visited, I thought it would be good to see them around harvest time.

The first thing I noticed as I walked through the gate was how full the garden looked, totally different from our first glimpse back in May last year.

The beds were overflowing with produce, every bit of the ground was being put to good use.

I fell in love with these gorgeous old coldframes on our last visit and my heart gave a little leap when I saw them again. How I'd love to recreate something like this in my own garden, if only I had the space.

This is a wonderful example of an espaliered tree, so many branches coming off the main leader.

As you can see, it's dripping with fruit at the moment.

There are many types of fruit trees and bushes in the gardens, apples, plums, cherries, gooseberries, currants, hazelnuts, peaches, nectarines, quince, strawberries and raspberries, however, the pears are most prominent. There's almost forty varieties of pear, the most extensive collection in the North of England.

On Sunday the 22nd of September 2015, Cannon Hall will be celebrating its pear harvest with themed fun and activities in the garden as well as tastings and pear inspired refreshments. I'm sure that would be a great day out, weather permitting.

I enjoyed seeing how the garden differed at this time of year to when we were last there. The walls were just about totally covered by foliage from the trees this time, and of course, there was fruit dripping from the branches too.

One thing which did spoil the experience was the number of fallen fruit on the floor which had just been left there and was being allowed to rot. This fruit was attracting wasps and the garden was buzz buzz buzzing with them, not a very nice experience at all. You can just about see the number of wasps on this one fruit alone, it's a poor photo, I didn't want to get too close.

I did enjoy seeing other wildlife enjoying the garden though, there were butterflies on calendula and bees on scabious.

I don't remember seeing this fellow on our last visit, he must be new as I surely can't have missed him.

The clematis was flowering on the arbour when we were there last time, this time it had gone over. It just goes to show that different things are at their best at different times of the year.

I like how this large walled garden has a good mix of vegetables, fruit and flowers. There's areas devoted to each, but other areas where there's a mix of all three. Here's just some of the flowers growing there.

I have to say that one of my favourites was this beautiful hydrangea.

As we left the garden I looked back over my shoulder and was amazed to find branches from the espaliered trees had broken through the walls.

Cannon Hall is a great garden to visit and I'm pleased I've seen it around harvest time but the wasps were too much for me, I'd go a little earlier in the year in future.
!-- Start of StatCounter Code for Blogger / Blogspot -->