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Archive for the ‘‘How to’’ Category

Indigo Rose tomatoesI’ve been watching this tomato for a while now (Indigo Rose seeds available from Plant World Seeds), and many neighbours and passersby have been commenting on these alluring fruits too. They seemed resolutely black and rock ‘ard up until a day or two ago, but now things are changing. Michelle at Veg Plotting luckily wrote about how to tell when this black tomato is ripe, so I’ve been patiently waiting for any sign of red.

Indigo Rose tomatoes closeAnd here it is. The green underside has slowly but surely started to redden up. What a gorgeous thing!

On eating, this, sadly, isn’t the most tasty tomato I’ve ever tried. I think Ananas (freshly plucked last summer when holidaying in the Loire) is a hard act to follow, but I may well grow this variety again, just for its amazing good looks alone.

yellow tomatotesMeanwhile, I’ve been tucking into these delicious ‘Golden Crown’ cherry tomatoes, supplied by Sea Spring Seeds for lunches and dinners and these fruits have been remarkably sweet and full of flavour. A definite for next year.

Black cherry‘Black Cherry’ (more of a muddy red), also from Sea Spring Seeds has also been a little disappointing in taste, so the search continues for a truly delicious ‘black’ variety that will sweeten-up well when grown outdoors in our northern clime.

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Narcissi Rijnvelds Early SensationI thought my bulb planting was over for the year, but in a meeting just before Christmas, a new client expressed an interest in daffodils for spring. I’ve never planted daffodils this late before, so I gave bulb supplier Peter Nyssen a call early in January to see: One, if it was still ok to plant and two, if they had any bulbs left. Regarding the former, they said there’s just about time if you do it STRAIGHT AWAY (but the bulbs would flower later than usual) and yes, they had some bulbs left.

Jonqil Baby Moon

So I’ve planted some Jonquils, carefully, so as not to knock any sprouting shoots off and some Narcissi ‘Actaea’ and ‘Rijnvelds Early Sensation’ (thankfully not so sprouting). As I wondered how behind they might be, I had a very timely conversation with flower farmer friend Lizzie about Vernalisation (yes indeed). She’d been speaking to a daffodil grower who noticed that due to the lack of cold weather, his bulbs were a few weeks behind in flowering. Strange that, but many plants need a cold period to kick-start or accelerate flower production. Having said that, I’ve also noticed that some daffodils in neighbours’ gardens have popped up already, complete with flower heads, which annoyingly doesn’t quite fit in with the Vernalisation theory during this very mild (so far) winter. The more I know, the less I know!

Meanwhile, another friend confided in me that she’s often planted daffodil bulbs in February and they’ve always come up a couple of months later. Very reassuring, and I’m looking forward to finding out when these joyous bulbs will eventually bloom.

p.s. I’ll also be planting Allium bulbs tomorrow.

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Sugarloaf chicories in front garden

I’ve failed again! I’m really starting to get to grips with successional sowing over summer and have enjoyed months and months of lettuces (and other herbs and leaves) picked from my front garden. But despite actually sowing (and even buying) some leaves for over-wintering I didn’t manage to get most of them into the ground. The shame of it all!

So here I have my one success story. These are Sugarloaf chicories and I grew them as they come highly recommended by Joy Larkcom. Need I say more! I’ve been mixing these with the end of my summer/autumn lettuces, Sorrel and Sweet Cicely and have been enjoying some rather tasty salads.

Metal Hoops from Plant BellesBut as the temperatures are soon forecast to dip again, I’ve decided it’s time to do some wrapping up. I bought these natty hoops from Plant Belles some while ago and they seem just the ticket.

Adding bamboo canes for mini clocheYou simply thread a few bamboo canes through the holes in the hoops,

Mini cloche covered in fleeceEt voila! Covered in fleece, I now have my own cloche/mini tunnel to keep my chicories covered up during the coldest and windiest of months. Hopefully the protection should elongate the harvesting season for the Sweet Cicely and Sorrel too.

And I’ve left a couple out in the cold as I’m  keen to see how well they survive with no extra help.

Nicole collecting seeds from street HollyhocksMeanwhile, neighbour Nicole is collecting seeds from her ‘Halo Apricot’ Hollyhock, remarkably still in bloom in her tree pit. It’s a gorgeous variety and it’ll be interesting to see if the seeds come true or if fraternising with other Hollyhocks in the street will supply some interesting variations.

Cavalo NeroAlongside my Chicory, Cavolo nero is supplying some delicious winter veg,

Daubenton's perennial Kaleand on the corner plot, a small cutting of Daubenton’s perennial Kale, acquired from Charles Dowding, has come on marvellously. Looking forward to taking my own cuttings come spring and popping this very useful veg in many a new spot (sticks are there to deter foxes digging the plant up when tiny).

Beans to collect for seedsI’ve been meaning to do a final clear up in the corner plot for ages now, but bulb planting has taken precedence. However, all bulbs have been planted for both clients and myself (hurrah!) and it felt great to have time to collect the last of the seeds and clear up the garden for winter. Just a bit more leaf raking (GRrr..), a bit of mulching perhaps and then there’ll be plenty of time to catch up on reading and researching what to grow next year.

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