Saturday, 15 June 2019

Hares move in

Three days of rain and we hardly stirred outside. But when we did we found a bunch of hares had moved in and were making merry. Beetroot chewed, spinach nibbled right down, 3 ft high purple sprouting broccoli  taken from under a net, occupying the poly tunnel (obviously wanted to keep out of the rain in there) ...............
Image result for lady with broom image
Rain or not, we now have to pop out every half an hour and rush around scaring them off. Protected species so no long term harm can be done to them.

Next time I am in the garden centre I am going to give all the over the top Peter Rabbit merchandising a good kick.....

Saturday, 8 June 2019

June Fruit garden tour

Continuing to tour our garden I thought you would be amused by the long fruit "tunnel" that has gradually emerged this season. Bit rough but does the job. The nearest end is the latest to be netted as the berries are on the verge of turning ripe. I did not do it one year. picked one load as they ripened and went back next day and the rest were gone! Blackbirds.  We got some 2x1 inch posts from the old guy next door for the sides and used some scrap wood to form some of the cross pieces. Canes along the rest. The ground has had thicker ground cover fabric for last 2 years and saves any weeding.
Then there is a run of strawberries. 2nd Year growth. I left this bed too late and it was full of grass. A couple of weeks ago I attacked the worst and then down put some thin weed suppressing fabric we got cheap. Terrible stuff; it tears easily. I just cut holes for the best strawberries. and then put old fence posts and bricks to press the fabric down on to the weeds still there. Then the usual triangle of canes and netting. I now have some more hooks and could take the bits of wood off the sides but acutally it helps when mowing as they have a bit of paint on them and you can line up the mower wheels nicely. The plants are full of flowers and fruit and starting to ripen. 
The strawbs merge into the 3 blueberries which have a permanent netting now as the deer (muncjac) just will not leave them alone in any season. This is the best they have been in 5 years and have grown out to the netting sides. I have put a cane on the outside and used string to pull the net out. Its a mess and when all the fruit has finished we must take it all down and do something better. We have discussed a cage or metal hoops but we should have invested 4 years back and I can't see a return on monies now. Our plan at present is to stay another 5 years and we could buy a lot of blueberries at the supermarket for the costs of a cage!
Not had to bother with netting the gooseberries or the thornless blackberries beyond as nothing seems to bother them (yet). Pleanty of fruit on the green gooseberry but it is far from ripe.

Loads of flowers on the blackberries. We had a bit of second hand left over fabric cloth so the run got extended a bit. Saves weeding. Its mostly couch grass and it is hard to get out when the ground is baked hard. I have quite a bit of success last year and this in throwing a couple of inches of grass cutting round this bit to keep weeds down. Not to deep or it will turn to sludge but just enough to mulch.  
Right at the end of this bed is my rhubarb. It has always struggled. I did get quite nice early sticks by covering them in the cold spring but I am going to leave them now to grow and strengthen. I have attacked the couch grass again and started to mulch with compost from last years bin.

In the parallel fruit bed we start with the tayberry. I netted this early as I knew we needed the largest bit of netting for this tall structure. Its a bit thin looking but we get a good crop. The birds utterly love these as much as we do and you have to leave them on till they are fully ripe so they are in danger daily! Their main disadvantage is they are horribly prickly.
From there right back down is raspberries. Autumn ones and then summer fruiting. The late ones have only just started to re green due to the cold winds and then the dry weather. The summer fruiting one are not looking at all happy this year. We may dig some out as we have too many anyway and we are definitely mulching them hard all this summer to try and get them stronger. 

To the right of the two long fruit beds is our orchard of a dozen trees. After 5 years we are not seeing great returns. We get some hard winds off The Wash (5 miles away) and it is very well drained soils here (silt base from land reclaimed from the sea in 1700s - in fact this orchard slopes up slightly as part of a sea bank marked on maps of 1756).

 Some tiny damsons. Never had a crop till now.
 A few conference pears perhaps?
 A few William pears perhaps?
 May be some Bramleys?
A nice lot of yellow plums possible.

Theres a nice row of red gooseberries (6 bushes) at the end of the orchard with a decent crop coming on them. Again I have used weed suppressant fabric under these to cut down the need for weeding under the very prickly bushes.

Lets ignore the other trees as there is so little fruit it is depressing. We have tried to increase the early flowers by putting in areas of daffodils and leaving cowslips to colonise to make sure there are bees etc but those cold east winds always seem to come just as the blossoms are out.

Hope you enjoyed this long tour of our fruit garden. There are lots more new fruit things coming out in the seed catalogues but we have decided we don't need more. We are still eating our way through last year's jam.   I am actually avoiding the old chap next door who has a giant rhubarb patch as he will only try to give me a wheelbarrow full if he catches my eye!

Friday, 7 June 2019

Fruit and Veg at start of June

I have been a terrible blogger lately but life just gets in the way sometimes!

Our fruit and veg have been kicking in to contribute to the household budget nicely, that is, without overcoming us with a "glut".
We have had a nice crop of broccoli grown in our poly tunnel, now we have lettuce, radish and spring onions from there with some strawberries. Outside more strawberries are coming - a full bowl each last night.  I could not keep up with the early spinach so cut half right back to give baby leaves and dug the rest up. Husband spotted one potato plant looking a bit sick so dug that today. There were enough small pots there for a handful each with the lunch salad.
I have done a tour of our kitchen garden.
 This is one lot of outside strawberries. Second year. I have gone for weed control fabric this year which is working very well. Kept weeds away, I could select the best plants and just covered any off shoots from last year. The fruit is clean and I can spot any runners straight away. So far no trouble with slugs. I used a stiff close mesh over short bamboo canes, I think it was labelled as a pond covering in Wilco. This has remained tight and easy to secure so no birds have got trapped in there (yet) I ran out of metal hoops to secure the edges so I used bricks. Those have proved easy to lift off and harvest and put back.
 The next bed has 6 rows of potatoes and so far looking good. We have been through and weeded and my husband ran the rotovator up the rows that are wide enough apart to loosen the soil to bank up. We have a thistle problem so we keep pulling them out every few days. The two early rows are a bit too close so I am trying a layer of grass cuttings as a mulch between. It was recommended on the Scottish gardening programme Beechgrove the other day. We planted when the soil was wet (and really it was still a bit cold) and thank goodness we did as it is been terribly dry ever since.
 Here are the spinach I just cut back, the seed packet says you can do that 4 times to encourage baby leaves. I replaced one end with a dozen summer cabbage plants we had spare. Again gone for the weed suppressing fabric and cut holes in it for plants. We have noticed it stays damper under there too.
 Our next bed has onions (grown from seed), carrots (2 rows), parsnips and beetroot. They have been watered but are desperate for rain to "swell". The weeds are a pain and I recently picked my way up and down the earlier bigger carrot row, and the beetroot and parsnips, plant by plant. These are the best parsnips we have ever got going. We followed a Charles Dowdling recommendation and started them in plugs. Beetroot are still small and the hares have been down the garden nibbling on the tops already.
 Sweetcorn have finally gone greener and looks better. I have "de thistled" this bed with a spade but I need to go back and get the small weeds out with a hoe. As soon as we put the corn in we had fierce drying winds and they did not look happy. To the left I have a row of baby leeks. And a row of french beans, not exactly romping away either.
The peas and beans have gone in. The peas this end probably don't need canes that high but I had to put the mesh up to keep the pigeon flock off. The runner beans like the sweetcorn did not like the wind and dry and are only just getting up the poles.
The  last bed has garlic on the left, the main row is good but the garlic in the other two rows has failed. I think it was a very late (reduced)purchase at the garden centre and a waste of money. At the far end I have some dwarf broad beans. Just enough for husband as I dont' like them! Some more beetroot and then a long cage of brassicas. 6 each of sprouts, kale, cabbage, and 4 red cabbage. Some how a broccoli got in there and did not form one head but had several spurs on one plant. No problem as it meant a couple of small heads cut at a time, mixed with spinach was a nice green for several meals last week.

Just beyond the compost bins I have two courgettes. I have had to wander up with extra water to get them going and one has a small courgette on it.
We had a 3mm shower today and it has wet the soil a bit so things might get going. Promise of more rain in the forecast next week which we could do with here.

I will update you on the fruit crops on my next post.
Hope your crops are coming on now.

Hares move in

Three days of rain and we hardly stirred outside. But when we did we found a bunch of hares had moved in and were making merry. Beetroot che...