Members adventures in the Vegetable Patch all year round
It was Burnham Wood coming to Dunsinane this morning. I had an 11 yr old grandson helping me and almost reopening a path that has got blocked with shrubs and nettles. I started well, then kept out of his way and concentrated on dragging the prunings onto my woodpile. There is more to do as the pile is overflowing so I need to snip them smaller and put the long poles to one side. 90 minutes and both of us needed a rest, chocolate biscuit and game of cards.
It seems to be an early season for tree fruit. I've almost finished picking plums. And picked most of the James Grieve apples. I sent my daughter back with some Worcesters today, the U3A walking group picked some on Friday when we started a walk using my long drive as a parking place*. The Worcester and Laxton Exquisite don't keep well after picking so I just get what I want.
*We're not having pub lunches at the moment so don't want to be cheeky and park in their carparks.
I think men and women have different approaches to pruning. Jim was drastic. I tend to take the minimum. But I can see the snags in my way so I let Tom have his head this morning.
There is far too much in my shrubbery anyway, so if some disappear completely they wont be missed.
Still snipping the prunnings, Tom did some more yesterday and has cut the dogwood down to the ground. There were several other shrubs along that side of the garage which are mostly dead, but I found a bit of climbing rose that I thought I'd lost (nearly removed it myself, mistaking the prickles for a bramble)
Well done Mo, your efforts will have paid off, I'm sure. As for my garden, I seem to clip back bramble stems every day. My neighbour does not cut her hedge, and it is almost wild, but at present I am benefitting from her brambles, some too high to reach, and nowadays I dare not climb a ladder, so I resort to the aid of a walking stick or the rake, to reach the really high ones. I am putting the brambles in my freezer at present.
Yesterday I transplanted the second batch of wild flower seeds into the former vegetable plot, and have sown the last batch in a container in the greenhouse. The gardener who recently turfed two former parking areas for me gave me some plants, and a bag of poppy seed heads. Can't remember the name of the plants, but he said they would do well at the bottom, and grow very tall. Eringium, or something like that, must look it up.
My strawberry patch is a disgrace, with long grass, and buttercup growing up as well. I don't really know what to do with it, but it takes up a good area of the plot, so may as well leave it. The weeds will die down soon, I hope.
The pear tree did not get pruned last year, and is quite wild, not as many pears either, and some blown off by the wind.
I picked one of the apples, may be a James Grieve, can't remember, but the pips were still white, and cooked it, making desert for two days. Some smaller ones have already dropped. Two much younger and smaller apple trees have done nothing, one suddenly produced curled up brown foliage, which I have cut off, its apples are the size of small tomatoes!!
My tomatoes are doing well, watered twice daily, and I have had more than half a dozen so far, there are plenty still green, some turning. There has been a lack of sunshine here to ripen them.
I am taking seeds from some plants, so far I have lupin, love in a mist, marigold, sunflower (from flowers one of my sons bought me), hips from the rugosa, delphinium, plus the poppy heads, my container is full I spent time yesterday looking up the sowing times. I bought a packet of hollyhock seeds, as this year our one remaining hollyhock failed to appear. So it will be a case of buying more compost for all of them.
This year the honeysuckles dotted around the garden have done really well, and I am pleased with them, clematis have been a bit hit and miss, not helped by accidentally digging one up! The roses are also doing well.
I read that James Grieve should be picked early and kept to ripen. If left on the tree to go yellow they are mushy. So I pick them when they part easily, cook some, eat some as they ripen (I like them sweeter than they are when green but still with a bit if tang), give loads away.
Didn't realise it was so long since I posted here.
I was wondering what to do with all my fruit this year as I usually take it to dance club and choir either to give away or for the Bring & Buy for charity or choir funds. I've been taking a car-boot full to the U3A walks (which have stopped again now we are in lockdown). A few years ago I had a tea-trolley on the verge at the end of the lane. The plums raised a good sum for Oxfam but them I started suspecting that money was being lifted. And finally the tea-trolley went too, even though it had a wheel missing. So I was put off doing that.
But this year I looked around the garage and found a broken Sholley (which my mother-in-law used to wheel her shopping home in). I'd used it to wheel pruning tools round the orchard but left it out one winter and an axle came off. So that went on the verge its side as a stall and I started putting out punnets of apples. And started a Virginmoneygiving page which I put on the village FB groups, inviting apple pickers. The village food bank stopped in July so they didn't want them.
I've had several pickers, and most came more than once as different varieties ripened.
More Laxton Exquisite picked than ever before. Its a crisp apple and very sweet if eaten straight from the tree, horrid if kept even a short time.
Never more than a few on the Laxton Superb.
The James Grieve were good, both for cooking and eating.
Lot's of Worcester put out on the stall, a good year for them though not my favourite apple. Certainly pretty though. I lot were taken, more than the others.
Then Lord Lambourne. A Cox type apple (but earlier). My daughter used to take them to college with her and eat them throughout October. I think they were earlier this year. This year she came scrumping every week picking different sorts as they ripened. My granddaughter has been taking them to school for break.
Cox. I picked 30lb or more and left some for pickers. They seem to be going wrinkly now, I wonder if I picked them too soon.
The Chivers is a small tree, easy to pick, but I prefer the other kinds, so the first box went to Northwich Food hub
I discovered them via a FB post and one of their volunteers lives not too far away, so on my way back from a U3A walk I delivered a bootful of all sorts of apples and pears.
I have 2 Bramleys quite tall trees. Have been picking and picking up for a couple of months. Not many left now and the high ones are often pecked if you do get them down, so the birds can have those. I've been putting a box of windfalls next to the stall but people only take the biggest & best.
Kidds orange are my favourite. Another tall tree and when it comes ready to pick I can't get them quickly enough so a lot fall. The fallen ones are quite hard and don't bruise too badly so they went the other end of the box. My favourite apple, like a Cox but crisper, good keeper, I enjoy it cooked or raw.
The Crispin and Granny Smith are still not ready to pick so I'm having a rest from picking.
Usually I take damsons to choir and dance club. The jam-makers are glad of them, This year I put some in the freezer in 1lb bags in case they wanted them when (if) we resume. As well as some stewed damsons, plums and greengages for my crumbles through the year. Not a marvellous year for plums, Some years I struggle to pick them all.
I'm enjoying the Conference pears nearly finished now.
The Packhams pears were recommended as good for Cheshire, but they are odd. Some ripen and tasted good, others take the skin off your teeth. But cooked while green they make a good crumble. They are another that go from not ready to pick to fallen on the floor overnight. So a lot of them were scooped up (using a soup ladle to save my back) and put in the windfall box. If the slugs, birds & squirrels hadn't got there first. The good ones are big and look nice, they've been going well off the stall. The last 4 I handed to lady who stopped her car as I was setting up the stall this morning.
Her donation brought my total to £100.16 (and a halfpenny!) cash and £15 online.
I've been waiting for the cone to fall from my monkey Puzzle tree. Thought it would be interesting for my grandchildren. I turned brown but i can't see it any more - just a flat brown bit where it was. Can something have eaten it?
There are a lot of blackbirds in the garden, maybe eating the fallen fruit.
You have been a busy bee, Mo.
I too took some cones off a tree, not sure now what it is called. I have seen Blackbirds coming for the remaining cones, so possibly birds have taken yours.
I will have to hunt the cones out, as right now I cannot remember where exactly I have put them. It's me age you know. LOL
The monkey Puzzle cone was huge, almost football size (hard to judge size as it was high)
I watched out of the study window as the bin men emptied my green bin for the last time this year (usually fortnightly, except at Christmas). There was a man standing behind the lorry looking in to see if it was empty - they had to hoist it up again and jerk it up and down to get all the brambles out. There was a nice sunny spell yesterday afternoon so I tried to clear the bit by the septic tank, so it had quite a lot in.
I've stopped putting out fruit as there's not a lot left. Didn't want so much that it went soggy, but I'll keep the rest for me. Raised £170 so pleased with that.
I've been borrowing my daughter's horse muck shovel - a bit like a long handled dust-pan but bigger, and the scraper, to clear my paths. Loads of leaves and mud all rotting down to nice compost. If I left it you'd hardly know there was a concrete drive there. Some of the paths were there when we came 50 years ago, and have sunk and cracked. Dandelions and shrubs coming up in the cracks. The Chaenomeles* Japonica is the worst, it pops up the other side of the path too.
* No I didn't mean chameleon
The council stopped collecting garden waste for Christmas (usually alternate weeks with the household waste, recycling every week). But then delayed restarting. Latest news is not till March. So my bin is full of brambles - given the way it tip roots and the vicious prickles I daren't put it in my compost bin. I've been spending as much time chopping it small as cutting / pulling it off all my shrubs. One session would fill the bin if I left it long and curly. It's tiring work pulling it out, so chopping means I can spend an hour outside, if my hands don't freeze first.
I had my first harvest this week. I'd piled leaves on the rhubarb and a few very thin stalks were pushing through. Should have left them to grow but I reckoned they were frozen and wouldn't survive so picked them and padded with a bit of stewed apple they made a change. Left a couple of stems which went soggy so I was right to pick them.
The pond has expanded so much that I can't get to the bottom of the garden without some drastic pruning of either the hedge at the side or the loganberry thicket at the bottom. Jim dug out a hollow ('the dingley dell) which gradually became a winter puddle / an all-year puddle / a bigger pond with reed mace (aka bullrush though I haven't found Moses) / a lake. But I wish he'd left more level space by the hedge - up till now I've been able to clamber down and walk by the edge of the pond but not now. I can only see my snowdrops in the distance.
Down the LaneRegular entries focusing on Nature in the Garden and beyond
Click here to go there
•Drink & Food Feeders
•Health & Wellbeing
•Red Mite Products
Over 400 Breeders across the UK now listed.. Chicken Breeders & Other Poultry UK Pages