Archive | Fruit, Vegetables & Herbs

Tips on growing good Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs

Fruit and Veg Airmiles – A Fruity Post

We need a rebellion against the extinction of the greengrocer but in the meantime it is a good time to use your garden productively. Late autumn in a great time to plant some fruit trees and canes. You can also use the cold months to plan and prepare your own vegetable crop production for the next year.

Recommended Crops

  • From the array on this fruit stall I would strongly recommend you increase the number of apples, pears and plums you plan to harvest. Better to have air yards from garden to kitchen than air mile from exotic countries.
  • The next on my wish list would be cane fruit and strawberries. By selecting appropriate varieties you can get good crops over a 4/5 month period and the taste will be fresh and wholesome.
  • I have skirmished with citrus fruit and exotics but have given myself a pass. Greenhouse space is to precious and crop levels are unreliable. I consider a grape vine worth cultivating if you can get the right conditions.
  • This fruit shop in Cardiff also had ‘imported’ sharon fruit, pomellos, lemons, melons, satsumas, pineapples, chinese chestnuts, pomegranates and persimmons. I don’t think I have tasted all those fruit types never mind trying to grow them

 

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Crab Apples to make Your Knees Go To Jelly

Feeling grouchy and ill-tempered then perhaps you should plant a crab apple and that way you won’t feel crabby much longer.

Key Facts about Crab Apples.

  • Common apples and crab apples are related. They are both members of the malus genus.
  • They are grown for their lavish display of spring blossom.
  • After the blossom a copious amount of small fruit are generally produced suitable for jelly or jam making.
  • The right variety can make an ideal specimen tree for a small or medium sized garden.
  • Original European crab apples have short spines and can be found growing wild in hedgerows.
  • Horticulturally they are often used in orchards inter-planted with apples to assist pollination. They themselves are self fertile.
  • Fruit may be red, green or yellow.
  • Plant new trees grafted on to semi-dwarfing stock during winter.

AGM Varieties

RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) are designed to helps you choose the best crab apples to grow and include Butterball producing butter coloured fruit. Jelly King has large fruit and guess what they can be used for. Laura is a registered variety that is naturally dwarf yet a good all rounder. Red Sentinel and Sun Rival have upright and weeping shapes respectively. Other awarded crabs include Evereste, Comtesse de Paris, Admiration, Cardinal,  Malus transitoria, Scarlett and the Japanese Crab Malus floribunda.

Other pictures from Google

 

 

 

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Stepover Fruit to Save Space

Take a new step in your garden this autumn by planting some step-over fruit trees.

Growing Stepover Fruit Trees

  • These fruit trees are effectively one tier espaliers
  • They are kept low enough to step over when necessary. 18-25″ will normally suit.
  • Starting with a Y shape with two main shoots train them horizontally in opposite directions. Aim for a spread of 10 feet. Prune out the vertical leader
  • Support with low wire on a ‘gripple system’.

Benefits of Stepover Fruit Trees

  • Ideal for planting in front of ornamental borders
  • Form a low edging for vegetable plots.
  • Increases the yield from small spaces particularly in smaller gardens. Larger fruit and often less numerous on stepovers.
  • There are a growing number of species now available from specialist suppliers particularly of apples and pears. Select spur-fruited varieties on dwarf stock.
  • They can become attractive conversation pieces.
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Plum Rot and a Rotten Crop

From this to this 

With clear blue skies and good blossom spring 2019 started so well for my plums. But then many things began to  go wrong. The first disaster was a snap frost that did for my Victoria blossom. Fortunately another variety of plum flowers a bit later, is better sheltered and survived unaffected by frost. That didn’t save the crop from the fungal attack of ‘brown rot’.

More on Plum Problems

  • Plum fruit infected with Monilinia laxa have grey coloured pustules. This fungus can also be responsible for end of stem wilt.
  • Plums infected with Monilinia fructigena have pustules that are buff coloured.
  • It looks like I might be blessed with both fungal infections.
  • Brown rot survives on mummified fruit and small cankers on the tree. It passes quickly on to other fruit in the cluster particularly in moist weather.
  • There is no spray available to gardeners so I will have to improve my hygiene and collect up and burn or bury deeply all infected twigs and fruit.
  • Unhappy with previous years crops I had invested in a new victoria plum tree  and I will hope for more success in years to come.
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Small Spaced Kitchen Gardens

Where space is limited or very limited there are still many ways to create a productive kitchen garden.

Optimising Space for your Kitchen Garden.

  • It seems common sense to plan to use what you have available. That covers layout, sequential growing and innovation.
  • If you have a ‘general’ garden then you can interplant kitchen plants eg herbs with box hedges, colourful veg with annuals and fruit trees instead of conifers.
  • Substitute kitchen garden plants for other plants and features as they did when digging for victory.
  • I grow potatoes in old compost bags and pots on my many paths.
  • Other garden veg can be grown in pots even runner beans. Another plant I am having success with is tumbler (Cherry) tomatoes in smallish pots. The are compact easy to grow and are currently producing lots of small sweet fruit.
  • Chose plants and varieties that grow and mature quickly eg salad, radish courgettes and edible flowers.
  • Herbs can be grown in slender strawberry pots with several opening spaces.

Small Garden Fruit

  • Dwarf rooting stock has opened up the opportunity to grow and pick fruit from  small constrained trees or shrubs.
  • Trained apple, pear or currants can be grown as cordons, espalier or fans against a wall. I have also seen a gooseberry grown this way. ( Cordons are diagonal branches that are only allowed short laters, espaliers are grown with a vertical and one or two level branches forming a cross).
  • Grape vines normally need a lot of space but with rigorous training and the right location you can succeed in a small plot.
  • Soft fruit including strawberries and blue berries are ripe for pot growing.
  • I would always find space for rhubarb but that is due to my ‘pie fetish.’
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A Raspberry to Virus

A virus has struck my favourite raspberries and the leaves have gone mottled. The light lemon green could have been a sign of magnesium deficiency but that turns out to be wishful thinking on my part. One variety partially effected last year is now in full denial and full of virus (its not just raspberry flu either.)
As can be seen below full symptoms of my raspberry virus are obvious.

  • Browned off leaves
  • Stunted cane growth
  • Minimal fruiting and small berries to boot.
  • Dead or dying plants getting ready to infect other near by plants.

I originally planted 3 varieties at the same time from a fruit tree specialist. ‘Glen Moy’ (Early season summer fruiting) – produced an abundance of firm, medium sized fruits from June to July on virtually spine-free canes, which made harvesting a pleasure (and jam eating ed.)

Raspberry ‘Glen Ample’ (Mid season summer fruiting) gave larger berries and some new canes a fair distance from the parent.

Tulameen was a wash out and most canes died. The supplier replaced them without any fuss but the cropping has remained below par. Not what I hoped for or expected but now I am worried about all my chosen varieties catching the virus.

Raspberry Nutrition

 

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Brambles or Blackberries Is it Just a Name

It is not a question of which name but Brambles and Blackberries should be thought of together as one is the fruit of the other.Looking carefully at this picture you can see young unopened buds at the top center with some flowers that have been pollinated and begun to show nascent green fruitlets which will turn into blackberries when they swell and ripen.

As with many fruit there is much in the breeding and plant selection and I recommend checking the availability of various selections 

Wild Brambles

  • Hedgerows and uncultivated land can become home to robust plants. They are often treated as weeds as for gardeners they have invasive tendencies.
  • Long stems or branches often overflow on to paths and the thorns or spines can catch the unwary.
  • Plants growing in sunshine can provide a large crop of fruit
  • Bramble jelly used to be made from wild collected blackberries.
  • In my opinion they make a good flavoursome crumble or mix well with apples in a fruit tart.
  • Flowers attract a range of bees and wasps which is essential for pollination.

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Growing My Vegetables in Containers

Potato sacks

You can grow fresh relatively clean vegetables in containers. This is useful for gardeners with restricted space or where you want vegetables close to the kitchen door.

Selecting Containers

  • Growbags get there name for a good reason. They are the first container to consider for vegetables.
  • Old large plant pots are fine as long as you clean them thoroughly. Disinfect with jeyes fluid in necessary.
  • Your own selection of containers, troughs, window boxes, even old drain pipes may be brought into service.
  • Depth for most crops should be at least 1 foot to avoid watering problems.
  • I use an old dustbin to grow ‘large long’ vegetables – it doesn’t always work but they do attract attention.

Compost or Soil

  • To get good results we recommend using sterilised potting media
  • John Innes No 3 holds nutrient, water and has some weight and body.
  • Proprietary potting compost are equally of use.
  • Good quality loam or garden soil will be fine but may lack nutrient, harbour insects and disease.
  • Mix in 20% of well rotted manure if you wish to grow organically.

Crop Selection

  • Sow Broad Beans from February 6-8″ apart.
  • Round carrots like Nantes and Amsterdam sown from February to June. The pots height can stop or deter carrot root fly.
  • Herbs and salad crops do well in containers. Small lettuce can be sown successively from January
  • Potatoes are my favourite as they come out clean and problem free. You can grow lots of varieties this way. One tuber for every foot of container diameter.
  • Peas with edible pods can be sown from March as can beetroot.

I start a few seed potatoes as soon as they arrive, end January/February. They are just starting to flower so I can pick some fresh tubers anytime from now on. They were in a double container if you count the greenhouse and vertical grow  bag.
I cover with fleece in very cold weather and happily move the pots for protection of the really early spuds. If the crop fails I have only lost a bit of effort and I can get on with full quantities in March.

Early Salad Varieties of Potato

Aim for a waxy texture with your salad potatoes and you will probably get some of the best flavoured spuds you have had in a Salad. Waxy potatoes remain intact after cooking and do not go into the water. Waxy potatoes tend to be Early to crop 75 -95 days. Waxy potatoes lend themselves to growing in large pots, barrels or containers.

Charlotte is resistant to blight and has a good cooked waxy texture. Continue Reading →

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Herbs and Herbals

If you feel Herbie, the plants not the films, then sniff out the comments below:

Herbie the Love Bug

Herbie the Love Bug

Herb & Herbal Groupings

  • Culinary herbs for use in kitchens
  • Medicinal herbs, ancient and modern the basis of many drugs and remedies.
  • Vegetable herbs like onions and garlic.
  • Flowering and decorative herbs.
  • Spices and other plants at home in a herb bed.
    Continue Reading →

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Umbels for Gardens & Ornamentation

Umbels are far from humble when grown well. When grown badly like Hemlock they are poisonous, even fatal but many species such as carrots, parsnips and fennel are edible or even medicinal.

Umbels flower in a parasol shape with short stalks of equal length rising from a common point opening to a flat or rounded spray.

Book Cover
Unusual Facts About Umbels

  • A small umbel is called an umbellule
  • Fatsia japonica has a globular umbel reminiscent of a golf ball.
  • Sea Holly (Eryngeum) produces fruirlets rather than seed but is still a member of the umbel group of plants
  • Umbellifers are mostly aromatic flowering plants of the genus Apium such as the celery, carrot or parsley family.
  • Queen Anne’s lace is a development from the common carrot
  • The first ‘Herbal’ describing umbels was credited in a ‘History of Plants’ believed to be written circa 300 BC.
  • Coriander leaves produce ‘ cilantro’ which has strong antibacterial and fungicidal properties that helps kill Salmonella bacteria hence its use in food from hot climates

Herbal Umbels in Medicine

  •  Traditionally many umbelifereous plants have been used in herbal medicine.
  • One recurring use of plants from this group of plant is in treating digestive and stomach problems. Parsley, Dill, Fennel,  and Lovage are well known in this respect
  • Angelica, Wild Celery, Caraway, Coriander, Anise, Cow Parsnip and other plants are used for treatments and  a range of medicinal claims, toothpaste, tisanes and poultices.

Sea Holly                             Hedge Parsley  (Torilis japonica)

Ornamental Umbels and Uses

  • The ferny foliage of umbelliferous plants looks attractive when combined in borders with more robust foliage even before the flowerheads are taken into account.
  • See through backdrops and feathery borders can be included in your own bespoke garden design.
  • I grow Angelica in my border and it is a robust plant that survives our northern climate.
  • Many gardeners already grow Astrantia and Burpleurum a couple of other umbels without thinking of them as part of the carrot group.
  • You could grow a whole bed of Eryngium species including, yuccifolium, alpinum, higanteum and variifolium
  • Pennyworts or Hydrocotyle are useful in water gardens and the harder to find Oxypolis is used in wet land.

Wild Carrot                          Pig Nut (Conopodium majus)

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