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Category: Fruit, Vegetables & Herbs

Tips on growing good Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs

Blueberry Growing My Best Tips

Blueberry Growing My Best Tips

It has taken 7 years to get a good crop of blueberries from my plants in a 12″ pot. See my earlier more detailed blueberry GTips from 2014. Now with the benefit of experience a good crop looks likely.  The yield has increased annually but for soft fruit and my blueberries in particular 2021 looks the best yet.

Three Best Tips

  1. Blueberries love a moist soil and plenty to drink. I put Strulch around the plants to retain moisture and water regularly. If using tap water rather than rain water I add some ericaceous feed.
  2. I planted two varieties in the same pot which helps fertilisation. One was a smaller weaker variety.
  3. The pot is now in a sunny sheltered position. The fruit grows on old and new wood  so I only trim rather than prune

Commonsense Apple Trees

Commonsense Apple Trees

Basic Facts

  • There are many thousands of apple tree varieties (7500+)
  • Apple trees can live for more than 30 years
  • Apple trees fruit better if they are pollinated from another variety (two more varieties for some apples).
  • Trees need a balance of roots, new wood and leaves to perform well on fruit production.
  • Most trees are grafted on to a special stock (not grown from pips). This determines the size of the tree.

So how to use this Information

  • Think about the apple(s) you want and the conditions in your garden.  Match your choice from information about specific varieties. Soil conditions geographic location and other knowledge is available from  specialists, a quality nursery or the RHS fruit group.
  • Buy with care bearing in mind the tree is their to last. Give it space and appropriate soil conditions as the tree will want air and light as well as sustenance.
  • Pruning stimulates new growth, do it between winter to early March. Train tree to shape before serious pruning and do not over prune in any one year.

Other Commonsense Comments

  • Apples can be grown in pots. Choose a large one that will be stable and hold moisture and feed weekly from July to September.
  • Protect the roots of pot grown apples from drying out caused by sunshine on the pot.
  • I am not keen on the use of chemical ‘icides on fruit but rely on a clean environment and early removal of problems. I will add sulphate of ammonia to increase vigour or potash to help fruit production.
  • When staking a tree ensure the trunk isn’t damaged or rubbed.
  • Apples can be stored for 4-6 months and should be left on the tree as long as possible ie November in many cases
  • Apples are ripe when the pips have turned black and should come off the tree with a gentle twist.
Brussels Sprout Commitment with TLC

Brussels Sprout Commitment with TLC

I have found a new commitment to growing and eating Brussels sprouts. From 3 or 4 plants last year I ate several hearty meals including a socially distanced Christmas (not because of any sprout side effects). I treated the plants in a cavalier manner and wonder how much better they would be with a bit of tender loving care.

Reasons for my new Commitment

  • The plants do not take up as much space as other brassica crops when compared to the volume of food produced.
  • My soil is fertile and free of most diseases (famous last words.) It also hold plants firmly in the ground a feature I am informed helps sprouts.
  • In march I will sow last years seed of Evesham Special but also try find some F1 plants of early (maximus), mid (Diablo) and late (Revenge) season favorites.

Tender Loving Care

  • This year I will  draw up more soil round the stem in summer to reduce staking and provide support. (Evesham only grow 2 feet high)
  • Early sowing produces the best plants so I should get a move on. It is one draw back that plants grow for 12 months of the year but don’t need too much attention.
  • I have a lot of local pigeons but did not suffered any attack on young shoots last year. I still keep some chicken wire temporary fencing handy should the need arise.
  • This year after potting-on I will give a weekly liquid feed.
  • Watering well in summer will provide an opportunity to boost with a nitrogen-rich feed.
  • Whilst I try to minimise insecticides I will resort to them if caterpillars and white fly start to over power the crop.

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Feed Raspberries to Feed You

Feed Raspberries to Feed You

You do not need to give your raspberries five a day for them to supply you with at least one portion a day of your fruit and vegetables. However feed your canes and treat your hungry raspberries right with these tips.

Good Food Guide for Raspberries.

  • Feed with a general fertiliser containing nitrogen for leafy growth, phosphorus for roots and shoot and potassium for for flowers and fruit. Growmore suits me but Phostrogen, Chempak of Vitax Q4 will do a similar job.
  • If your leaves show signs of yellowing between veins it may be due to magnesium deficiency or the over use of potassium feeds. As a cure foliar feed with epsom salts solution in summer. I also start with an epsom soil feed in early spring.
  • On chalky soil it may be worth giving a feed of sequestered iron in the form of sequestrene.
  • Mulch around the canes with well-rotted manure but don’t bury the canes. This feeds and helps retain moisture both essential for good fruit. I also mulch and water in summer.
  • Prepare the soil for new plants by deep digging adding well rotted compost and a slow release fertiliser such as bone meal.

Good luck with your cropping this year. May you pick enough raspberries to feed your daily portion needs with some leftover  to freeze or turn into jam

 

Heart of the February Veg Plot

Heart of the February Veg Plot


Purple sprouting broccoli is coming along nicely. It has been occupying the ground for quite some time and has a lax habit needing more space. The old sprout stalks are ready to be dug out (they are too firmly in the ground just to pull out). They take less space and produce more food per square yard than broccoli which is consistently good at our greengrocer. A tip for this years growing plans – more sprouts firmly planted and well staked.

Kale is now flowering and running to seed. I am less keen on this vegetable so the plants get no tlc. The purple leaved version that I grew from a mixed packet of seed was worthwhile for its individuality. I am not a brassica free growing garden but I wont be rushed into cabbages just at the moment so my 5 a day will be sprouts.

English Walled Kitchen Gardens

English Walled Kitchen Gardens

Walled gardens make great spaces for your special kitchen garden. Traditionally associated with larger estates, country houses and stately homes many were designed to provide a continual supply of fresh fruit, flowers and vegetables for the ‘big house’. It is the micro climate that walled gardens induce thus creating the facility to grow more exotic fruit trees against walls or with the aide of heated glasshouses.

There are many more discrete kitchen gardens where you can model your own food producing plot with ideas in this National Trust book. Even one well situated wall can provide shelter climbing space and support within a kitchen garden.

 

Book Cover

Herbs for a Vegetarian Christmas

Herbs for a Vegetarian Christmas

Book Cover Our son is a staunch vegetarian and his Christmas present this year will have a herb theme. He has the space for many pots and some new raised beds as he develops his garden 200 miles south of our Yorkshire home. It is  bound to be warmer down there if not Mediterranean.

My selection of plants to grow will be governed by seeds I will give him to create a ‘saladery’ ( my word for a green leafy range of herb crops.) As a carnivore I can’t resist some Beef Tomatoes and Lambs lettuce on the menu.

Salad Seeds

  • Coriander for cut and come again leaves and ultimately seeds. I have bought a lemon coriander packet from Suttons said to be ideal to entice ladybirds.
  • Basil [Ocimum basilicum  ] should produce well and there are several varieties to chose from . Sweet basil, lemon basil and lettuce leaf basil are on the list.
  • I had not thought of eating Bergamot leaves ( Monarda didyama) but they are recommended in my herb book.
  • Chervil,  and chives are good old fashioned standbys.
  • Fennel and dill have similar tastes.
  • Lovage tastes a bit like cellery but beware of the diuretic effect.
  • Flat leaved and curly parsley ane a personal favourite
  • Sweet cicely roots can be boiled to bulk out a salad.

long tom herbs

Other Recommended Herb Garden Staples

  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Camomile
  • Garlic
  • Bay
  • Marjoram
  • Lavender
Fruit and Veg Airmiles – A Fruity Post

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

 

Crab Apples to make Your Knees Go To Jelly

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

 

 

 

Stepover Fruit to Save Space

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.