The first new seedlings of 2018

I must obey my cat overlord…. I must obey my cat overlord… I must obey my cat overlord…

In that limbo between Christmas and New Year, I planted some seeds into an old terracotta pot and plonked them onto my kitchen windowsill. They’ve germinated!

Cat Grass seedlings
The Cat Grass has germinated after only a few days.

These sturdy green-ish shoots belong to Cat Grass, one of the packets of seeds that landed onto my doormat straight after Christmas from Suttons.

I’ve never grown it before, but it took about 48 hours to break the surface of the compost with only a cool windowsill. The grass seeds were pretty big and tough too (up to 1cm long).

These will hopefully grow into tall grass, that my cat overlord Ruby will be able to chew. This apparently helps cats with digestion, gives them nutrients (my cat is pretty much vegetarian anyway!), helps the passing of hairballs, and can calm their stomach. Sadly it’s also culprit #1 when it comes to cat sick on your carpets!

Ruby Cat in garden
Ruby is a 7yr old rescue cat, that I adopted in September 2017… she’s ruled ever since.

Still, we must do as our overlords instruct, so instead of watching my cat sit in the half-dead, cold (and sometimes snowy) wet garden trying to find something remotely green and grass like, i’ll be able to offer her some lush green fresh grass grown entirely for her convenience.

How obedient of me.

Ruby Cat informing me of my to-do list

I already have Catnip ‘Nepeta Cataria’ and Catnip ‘Nepeta Mussinii’  growing in my garden, but this is a double-edged sword:

  1. Ruby Cat loves it, and likes to bury her head in it for about 10mins every time she goes out in the garden. I know where she’ll be – high as a kite.
  2. The neighbourhood cats like to bury their heads in it too at night time, resulting in Ruby almost kicking my kitchen door out to get at them (she hates other cats). I don’t let her out there at them.

Both of these plants are really quite pretty, and I have them growing close to my herb garden area. At the moment, both are somewhat dormant, and somewhat flattened by the cats. I find that bees quite like their flowers in spring.

Catnip 'Nepeta Cataria'
Catnip ‘Nepeta Cataria’, somewhat flattened by overlords.

So, whilst I’m busting to start sowing seeds again, I’m holding back, and planning the garden for 2018.

For now, happy garden planning, happy new year, and thanks for reading.


Goodbye Aubergine

Always acknowledge when it is time to give up. And give up.

I’ve always wanted to grow Aubergines (US readers: that’s an ‘egg plant’), but I just can’t get them to a harvestable level.

I’ve been trying to grow Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ since 2011, pretty much every year but only got close that year, and again in 2017 (when I switched to Aubergine ‘Early Long Purple 2), but they just don’t give me any fruit bigger than a radish on a cold day.

Aubergine and Nasturtium plants in a wicker basket.
Aubergines in a wicker basket did well in 2011.

The plants are always healthy and their silvery green leaves are quite elegant, but years into trying, I’m going to stop.

Even 2017’s raised bed saw them grow well, but in the end they seemed to run out of steam. It’s not that I’m not sowing them early enough – I’m following the packet. I just don’t have a greenhouse, and have no plans to.

It’s important to know when to stop and move on.

What about the Tomatoes?

In 2017, after gales, baking sunshine, and waves of blackfly, I did get a bumper crop of Tomato ‘Minibel’ but I threw most of them away as they were turning faster than I could eat them.

The potted-on Tomato 'Minibel' seedlings.
Too many Tomatoes.

I only eat them in salads, and whilst their small red plump fruits were delicious and fresh, I just wasn’t able to keep up (not least because of the Courgette glutz).

I’ve decided that I probably won’t bother growing them in 2018, or if I do, it’ll just be a couple of plants.

Instead, I’ll try out some new produce instead – Turnips and Broad Bean are top of my ‘must grow, must eat’ list for the new year.

The final bulb goes out in 2017

It’s a pre-Christmas rush to get the last of my rescued Tulip, Daffodil, Snowdrop, Hyacinth, and Crocus bulbs into the ground in 2017.

As the final days of 2017 head towards that blurred and dazed week of Christmas to New Year, I’ve finally gotten the last of my bulk-rescued bulbs into the ground.

In the last few weeks I picked up a load of discounted bulbs from my local Wyevale, and also rescued some that were just a few pence in a branch of Poundstretcher.

Tulip bulbs in a bag
Tulip bulbs in a bag, waiting to be planted out.

I know it’s late to be putting these in, but I did the same at my last house, and miraculously the flowers were out at the usual time in Feb/March… plus, if I don’t save them, who will?

The snow delayed me in planting these straight out, so today – a somewhat mild Christmas Eve – I was out in the morning with trowel and spade, and setting lots of Tulips, Daffodils, Crocuses, Snowdrops and Hyacinths. Fingers crossed.

bulbs planted in ground
Some of the bulbs I planted a few weeks ago.

I did manage to get a few in a few weeks back, and I inadventantly checked on them today as I dug up what seemed like a good spot, only to discover I’d previously claimed it.

If you can remember from last year, I have a load of tulips and daffodils in pots – I planted them there because I knew I was going to move house. They put on a fantastic show.

tulips on flower
My Tulips in pots at my old house in April 2017, just days before I moved.

Elsewhere, the daffodils that I planted in the pots are up by several inches, in what will be their second season with me.

In all the digging that I’ve done in my new house’s garden, I’ve not spotted a single bulb – it was all tired lawn and no borders.. so this introduction of bulbs will be interesting. The soil here is more clay than my previous house, which itself had a shady garden, so it will be interesting to see how they fare.

I’ve planted:

  • 32x Snowdrops ‘Galanthus’
  • 6x Tulip ‘Red Impression’
  • 6x Tulip ‘Gorilla’
  • 12x Crocus ‘Flower Record’
  • 12x Crocus ‘King Of The Striped’
  • 16x Daffodil ‘Quirinus’
  • 6x Tulip ‘Grand Perfection’
  • 3x Hyacinth ‘Mixed’

If only half of them come to anything, then it will still have been a bargain. I hope the rest of the ones in the shop found a home rather than a bin.

I’m really looking forward to the cheery flowers in the spring. The flowers from snowdrops and crocuses are really important for bees as they emerge from their hibernation.

tulip gorilla and red impression packs
Tulip ‘Gorilla’ and ‘Red Impression’ should offer some colour to my garden from Spring 2018.

I’m particularly looking forward to checking out the new Tulip ‘Gorilla’, with it’s deep frilly burgundy petals, and the bright red of Tulip ‘Red Impression’.

Now, with my feet up, cat on my lap, the Christmas tree lights twinkling in the corner, and a nice hot cup of tea, it’s time to sign-off for Christmas.

Have a wonderful end of year break, and I’ll be back in 2018 with more adventures in gardening Cambridgeshire.

Happy Gardening!


Planting a native species persuasion hedge

Planting fifty-five feet of ‘persuasion hedging’ and creating a front border.

My 1950s house sits amongst many, with lots of mature green open spaces around, including five children’s play parks within about five minutes walk of my front door.

Despite this, I found that last summer, the local kids would spend more time in my front garden in one day, than I ever did in a year.

It’s about 55 feet long, and predominantly weed-filled grass. A nasty looking, wonky but very sturdy, rusty, 3 foot high metal white fence runs along one edge, and immediately on the other side is a public footpath down the side of my property to one of the many play parks. The fence is not mine… sadly. The front is open to the pavement and road, and the other side is my driveway – so, it’s open on two sides.

However, this sturdy but nasty fence has been a favourite thing for kids to climb – I’m sure i’d have wanted to do it when I was their age, so I can understand why. However, now that I’m a miserable bill-paying adult, I don’t want the neighbourhood kids in my garden, dancing around my lawn and climbing the fence.

I’ve very carefully and politely asked a few not to do it because it’s not safe, and not their garden. All obeyed my request at the time, but several took delight in disobeying later. One young girl also scales neighbours six foot fence to steal apples and pears – sounding like something out of a 1950s Ladybird book!

I therefore dug a border up to the fence, and planted 55 feet of Hawthorn ‘Crataegus Monogyna’ and Blackthorn ‘Prunus Spinosa’ along it, and dug a border at the front of the garden along the path. I’ve planted a few shrubs and roses in that front border, and the kids seem to have finally gotten the idea.

The hedge is of native species of Hawthorn and Blackthorn.
The hedge is of native species of Hawthorn and Blackthorn and should hide an ugly fence, and provide for wildlife.

I’m hoping that in March, the Hawthorn and Blackthorn all begin to bud and burst out green shoots.

Blackthorn blossom
This Blackthorn used to grow on my walking route from my old house. Look at the flowers, at the flowers, at the… OUCH!

I purchased these plants from Hedge Nursery in Telford, Shropshire, back in August at the height of the kids use of my garden (about 10 a day across my lawn), and they were delivered at the start of November as bare-root 2yr old plants. I soon set about planting them out, and heeled in a load of spare ones in the back garden in case not all of them took.

freshly dug front border garden
The front border has roses and various shrubs to close in the front of the garden.

So, hopefully, come March the thorny ‘persuasion hedge‘ will begin to come to life. I’m hoping it does three things:

  1. Screens an ugly rusty metal fence that I can’t affect
  2. Provides 55ft of native species hedging and berries for local wildlife
  3. Encourages kids to walk around a stranger’s garden

I’d like to think that options 1 and 2 will work well at least – and hopefully it’ll be a well established hedge, hiding the ugly fence (I’ll need to cut it to about the same height), and provide a home to a few happy birds nests by the time I think of selling and moving on.

My neighbour whose driveway joins mine, sympathised and suggested barbed-wire! 😀

Why isn’t it Spring yet?

Filled with dreams of Spring 2018, I’ve found myself browsing and buying next year’s seed.

I’m feeling impatient.

Snow is on the ground, the garden is brown and sleeping, and I’m thumbing the Sutton’s 2018 seed catalogue impatiently. Sometimes my eyes glaze over and I catch myself drifting off forward in thoughts of filling seed trays, potting up, and bright spring sunshine.

garden in snow December 2017
The back garden is covered in snow.

I’m lacking in the TARDIS department, so I return to the cold winter window view of 2017, knowing that at least my planning will be good.

Over the last year I’ve been tuning in to videos by Vivi, who has been allotmenting for years, but in 2017 she put herself out of work and aimed to become self sufficient. Her videos have kept me inspired to keep gardening, to keep trying when it doesn’t quite go to plan, and also to try growing new things (as well as making soups!). She inspired me to grow squashes after watching her harvest a wheelbarrow load off her allotment, so in 2018 I shall be growing some new things… well, new to my gardens anyway.

First Grows

In 2018 I shall try growing:

  • Turnip ‘Snowball
  • Carrot ‘Flyaway F1 Hybrid
  • Carrot ‘Sweet Imperator Mix F1

I bet i’ve tried growing carrots before – i mean, who hasn’t? But the harvest can’t have been successful as I’d have remembered what happened. The latter of the three firsts are those ‘vintage’  kinds of carrots – the yellow, purple, red and orange kinds. So these will be fun to grow. The ‘Flyaway F1 Hybrid’ carrots should, as their name suggest, be ‘fly-away’ for the carrot fly larvae.

Turnips are completely new to me, and I don’t remember them growing on my parents garden either. I’m really into roasting veg, so I shall be roasting these snowy white turnips. I think I can also eat the tops too.

I’ll also be growing a range of Peppers, because I’ve realised that I use quite a lot of these in my cooking – far more than tomatoes, so I shall swap to growing those instead. And what I’m sure will be a mixture of disbelief and amusement of my mother, I’ll also grow some Broad Beans in 2018.

From what were bland-tasting, smelly warts as a child, after 30+yrs, I finally realised that they’re actually quite tasty, healthy, and filling. I know that you can get varieties that can be sown in Autumn, but having missed that boat, I’ve got my eyes on some Spring varieties like Crimson Flowered or Listra instead. Thankfully, you can get away with sowing these as early as February.

But I’ve got to wait to sow the rest of these seeds. Months.

Instead of Christmas shopping (it’s December after all), I ended up on the “1 present for you, 2 presents for me” routine at a local garden centre. Oops. I came home with two packets of seed and a propagator.

Other garden tasks for 2018

Once it’s dry enough, I am going to demolish an old little shed in the back corner of my garden. There’s a much bigger and newer shed opposite it, and I don’t have enough junk to fill both. How this little shed has survived the gales of 2017, it’s anyone’s guess. It has no felt, the door regularly swings open, and I think i could push it over with one generous poke from my index finger… yet still it stands.

A lawn garden with sheds awaiting planting
The little shed on the left is going to get it!

My plan is to carefully remove the pane of glass (I think it’s glass anyway), and then deconstruct it so that I end up with a pile of planks. I then want to recycle it into raised beds, as my one from last year really worked well.

The end of April 2018 will signal the end of my first year in this house, and hopefully by then, I’ll have worked out how areas of my garden perform, and will be able to plant appropriately.

For now though, I shall continue watching the winter garden, feeding the birds, and dreaming of warmer, greener months ahead.

Squeezing out the 2017 harvest

My first attempt at growing Squash Spaghetti Stripetti, keeps me in food into 2018.

As 2017 heads towards its inevitable end, I’m pleased to find that I still have three large Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ in storage.

Three Squash Spaghetti Stripetti
Three left!

These were grown by me for the first time, and were a complete success.

I enjoyed watching the squash plant shoot across my garden, clasping on to so many plants – including the lawn and the Fennel. Every so often a big yellow flower would open followed by a swelling fruit. By the end of the season I counted 12 squashes (there would have been a couple more if i hadn’t have snapped a stem, or the mildew hadn’t choked the leaves). Still, for one plant, that’s a tremendous good job and I’d certainly recommend them to anyone to try.


Squash Spaghetti Stripetti seedling
One of the Squash Spaghetti Stripetti seedlings (after about 8 days) in April 2017… just days before i moved house.

Next year, I’d like to grow them upwards though, as they were a bit of a space hog, and I’ve seen that you can persuade them up an arch or trellis.

The largest Squash 'Spaghetti Stripetti' a few weeks ago.
The first Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ early July.

Cooking Squash Spaghetti Stripetti

Once I’d got these impressive orangey squashes, I then thought I should learn how best to cook them.

Once you’ve finally managed to cut them in half (which is by far the hardest bit), use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Then, put a little olive oil spread around the insides of each half, and season with some salt and pepper, and then turn them face down on a baking tray and put them in the oven at about 180C for 35 mins.

Roasted Squash Spaghetti Stripetti
Roasted Squash Spaghetti Stripetti is delicious!

Flip them over and let them cool. These spaghetti types are great for roasting and then using a fork to strip them out. They collapse into a delicate spaghetti shape with little effort. They’re pretty sweet and buttery as they are, but really quite versatile.

I’ll definitely be growing another one in 2018, once I’ve got an arch or trellis up.

As ever, happy gardening!


The Minibel Tomatoes begin to ring in the harvest but the Squash comes under attack

The Minibel Tomatoes begin to crop, but the Squash and Courgettes are under attack from white mildew that threatens to kill them.

My Tomato ‘Minibel’ plants are beginning to regularly provide me with some juicy red cherry tomatoes, a little over 4 months after I sowed them.

They’ve been a tough grow as usual, because they are desperate to fall over 10 times a day, particularly when there’s no breeze, and they’re always fried. I go through this each year, but this year seems to be the first one where I’ve got quite a few tomatoes on the plant.

These were the first batch of red 'Minibel' tomatoes of 2017.
These were the first batch of red ‘Minibel’ tomatoes of 2017.

I’ve already enjoyed eating my first batch of red tomatoes, but there’s plenty of green ones yet to ripen.  When I look back to 2013 at my previous house, it wasn’t until the middle of September that this variety would finally yield a crop. However, that was a shadier garden, and these are in the south-facing garden for most of the day, being roasted by the sunshine.

The tomatoes have overcome blackfly, which I only gave one treatment of the old washing-up liquid wash too.

Blackfly on Tomato 'Minibel' plants
Spot the Blackfly marching up and down the Tomato ‘Minibel’ plant. Their sap sucking holiday came to an end.

I eat a lot of salads, so it’s been great to get to now pick tomatoes, that go alongside my home grown lettuce leaves. I’ve learnt that the slugs in my garden don’t seem to like red leaf lettuce, or a crinkly variety that were both in the old ‘sow by 2012’ Erin seed kit that I almost threw away, but gave a chance and grew a forest.

A red leaf lettuce planted out.
The slugs don’t seem to like these red-leafed lettuces that I planted in my new veg garden back in May 2017. I’ll grow some more.

So, now that a few of these plants have bolted, and it feels like the plants are getting a bit old, I’m aiming at sowing some more of these this week so that I can extend my season.

Victor: Mildew

Sadly, on the other side of the garden, the Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ plant is under attack, and as it is now covering about 15 feet radius, it’s looking a bit sad. The outer edges are still roaring across my lawn, with wide open flowers, and more little squashes forming (i’m up to about 10 now, from one plant). The culprit this time is the frosty white powery layer called Mildew.

Mildew coats each leaf and blots out the sunshine, therefore slowing down the plants ability to photosynthesise, and therefore it dies. I’ve seen this before, when it killed off some of my courgettes at my old house, but this time it really has taken hold, and fast.

When the Squash and the Courgettes began to rapidly grow, I did realise that they were too close together, but as they were so desperate to go outside (having been waiting for my house move), I decided to let them go out whilst I followed up with creating the rest of the garden around them.

The downside to this close planting is that the compact space in which their leaves have grown, means that the cool breeze has not been able to get amongst the leaves and dry them – resulting in this damp environment where this mildew mold (it’s a fungi) can thrive.

Mildew on Squash and Courgette plant leaves.
The white powdery Mildew has taken hold of my Squash and Courgette plants. Left, it’ll starve the plant of sunshine and kill it.

I’ve bought some spray (coincidentally the one recommended by the RHS), and I’ve sprayed most of the infected leaves, and the nearby Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ plants, and hope that the plant stays alive long enough to finish ripening its many squashes. I’ve also previously given it a spray with watered down milk – I read online somewhere that this introduces a protein that kills the mildew… but I don’t think my skimmed milk is really going to help much.

My garden looks a bit like a winter wonderland… but hopefully it’ll live long enough to reward me with my first ever crop of squashes.

Any ideas to deal with the mildew is gladly received, but in the meantime, thanks for reading, and happy gardening.


The Sunflowers begin to open and nature pays a visit

Finally, summer has arrived with the opening of the cheery sunflowers, and nature decides to pay me a visit!

It’s been a long time coming, but some of the sunflowers have begun to open.

I sowed the first wave of Sunflower Helianthus Annus ‘Autumn Time‘ back in March, and these sunflowers went up a bit, then round, then down, then horizontal, and they looked rubbish, as if unable to tell where the sky was.

I then sowed a second batch of them at the end of May, and then a few weeks ago I planted them out into one of my newly created borders in my back garden. Some frantic slug ‘meet and greet’ sessions ensued but they’ve reached for the skies, throwing big lush green leaves out, and now the flowers are uncurling.

These sunflowers aren’t the variety that you’ll ever win a height competition with, they’re about 3 foot tall, and rather than the traditional large-headed yellow flower, they’re smaller and a bit more reddy-brown (hence the ‘Autumn Time’ name). Even so, I’m really pleased to see them, as are the bees.

a red Sunflower Helianthus Annus 'Autumn Time'
a red Sunflower Helianthus Annus ‘Autumn Time’
Sunflower Helianthus Annus 'Autumn Time' with a bee.
Sunflower Helianthus Annus ‘Autumn Time’ with a bee.

Over the last weeks, my garden has become home to what seems to be about 35 Sparrows. Blackbirds have fought over my garden, there’s usually a few Blue Tits on the peanut feeder. Nature sure is visiting this once blank plantless (aside from grass) garden, and late one night some neighbourhood cats were in my garden making weird sounds. They woke me, as it was hot and my windows were open, and when I looked out, I could see that the cats were clearly upset about something (not each other). I could hear movement near the shed, so I dressed and headed out with a torch, only to be met by a hedgehog. I don’t know what the time was, but I’m pretty sure I said ‘Oh…. Hello Mr Hodgepodge‘ out loud in the garden at about 2am. It snuffled and waddled off hedgehodging.. or whatever they do. I’m pleased to find it in my garden, as there’s still SO many slugs.

Amongst the many bird feeder battles between the fat little sparrows, the bird seed has inevitably been getting spilt across my garden. Sometimes there’s a few big black Crows that swoop across the garden, and make the birds scatter, and so this perhaps accounts for my discovery of finding two self-sown Sunflowers in the garden. By coincidence, they’re in the same bed as the others, but right at the front. I’m wondering what kind these will be, as both look like strong plants. It’ll be a while before the flowers arrive, but I’m just enjoying having them there.

Speaking of things I didn’t plant, the fence at the bottom of my garden is my responsibility. It’s a tall wire fence, and it adjoins the bottom of the garden of an empty property behind (where there’s a fantastic pear tree fyi). This fence not only has my sheds close against it, but it is also laden with brambles, and of course, I’ve been watching these lethal spires shoot up since moving in, and watching them flower, and now they are literally dripping with fruit.

I picked these blackberries from the bottom of my garden
I picked these blackberries from the bottom of my garden, ate them, didn’t enjoy them. Meh.

I don’t really like Blackberries, but i showed willing and picked a bowlful. Had them with porridge and kind of regretted it. Definitely need to turn them into a cake or crumble.

Anyway, that’s it for now, there’s loads more things going on in the garden – really keeping me busy, but I’ll share more real soon.

As ever, thanks for reading, and happy gardening!



I don’t think you’re ready for this Courgetti

I’m drowning in Courgettes, and I’m spiralizing them as fast as I can go…. but I fear this is only the start!

You might remember that I planted 6 Courgette ‘Black Beauty plants earlier this year, and when I moved into my new house at the end of April, I swiftly built a raised bed and planted 4 of them in it, and 2 of them nearby.

Two Homebase raised beds stacked on top of each other and filled with soil.
I built my raised bed at the end of May, and planted 4 courgettes, 2 squash and 2 aubergines.

Well, having since had weeks of hot weather and sporadic heavy rainfall, I’m now in the midst of a Courgette-valanche, a Zuchinni-overload, I’m drowing in them. Plus, i somewhat foolishly gave them all liquid fertilizer at the weekend! :S

Today I went out and picked 8 courgettes.

Courgette harvest of week 4
4th week of courgette harvests – 8 of them!

Introducing the Courgettometer

Because I love a good bar chart, I’ve decided to keep a tally of how many courgettes i’m picking per week, and how much they weigh. I’ll probably do the same for the French Beans, although the Courgettes will win on weight easily.

Here’s the Courgettometer’s cumulative courgette weight chart so far:

Courgettometer - week 4
A chart showing the cumulative weight (in grams) of Courgettes from my garden – week 4

I knew I’d get more than I needed (I’m the only one here to eat them), but in just the 4th week of harvest, they show no sign of giving up. Thankfully I traded in my wrist-achingly manual spiralizer for a Morphy Richards electric spiralizer a few weeks ago, and after a few very disappointing and messy squishy attempts, I’ve pretty much mastered it and now I’m eating a courgette most days via the magic of courgette spaghetti – or ‘courgetti’ as I like to call it. I don’t eat pasta or noodles, so turning a courgette into a noodle form gives me a lovely bulky meal that’s also far healthier (and less uncomfortable) for me to eat. It also means I can eat them alongside a load of other vegetables without realising I’m eating a whole courgette.

A bit of a squeeze

The Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ are likely to give the courgettes a run for the title of heaviest veg harvest this year, with the one surviving plant in the raised bed having gone potty (I almost wrote ‘bananas’ there) in the last few weeks. It has probably reached a good 15 feet in spread, swamping and strangling anything in its path, and there’s loads of squashes littered around the garden under its leaves.

The largest Squash 'Spaghetti Stripetti' a few weeks ago.
The largest Squash ‘Spaghetti Stripetti’ a few weeks ago.

I originally planted two squashes in this raised bed, but sadly (and probably fortunately), the wind snapped one of them in half. Stupidly, I sowed a replacement, which is now sitting impatiently on my kitchen windowsill as I wonder whether the hell I can let it grow.

As for the courgette overload, I’ll keep eating them, but at some point I’m probably going to have to start giving them away to neighbours and friends. That’s one of the great things about being a vegetable gardener – if you produce too much food, you can be sure that you can give it away. Veg gardening can be a very sociable past time.

That’s it for now – but let me know whether you’re drowning in a pile of fruit/veg yet? I’d love to hear of more recipe ideas too – I’m thinking about Courgette muffins, courgette cake, and wondering whether they convert to soup very well.

As ever, thanks for reading, and happy gardening!

Andrew 🙂


The first harvest of 2017 – lettuce, strawberries, and raspberries

The first harvest of 2017, and my new garden, has happened!

About a week ago I was really pleased to finally stop having to regularly buy bags of salad leaves. Usually these are over-priced, crushed into the displays that they soon decompose, and are a wet limp mess by the time you go to serve them up.

Instead, each morning I’ve been out in the morning sunshine picking fresh leaves from the salad leaves that grew from those ‘sow by June 2012’ seeds that I sowed en mass back in early April.

Salad leaf seedlings in a tray
The old Erin Eco Salad seed starter kit has germinated – 5 years beyond the recommend sowing date.

It seems that they all germinated, and so whilst they were desperate to be planted out, it wasn’t until the start of May that I was able to actually plant them in soil at my new house once i’d broken the lawn.

handful of mixed salad leaves
The mixed Salad Leaves have been lush and delicious, and I’ve enjoyed picking them in the morning sunshine before work.

These fresh green and bronze-red leaves have been delicious, and I was kind of proud that I’d managed to grow and harvest these. I’m not usually successful with salad leaves. My failed Rocket sowing put me on a downer, so I’m glad that these worked. Even if i’ve had to be vicious with the slugs and snails.

Joining these on Wednesday were my first Strawberry ‘Cambridge Favourite’ and Strawberry ‘Elsanta’ strawberries, which were nicely red although greatly varied in size.

first strawberry and raspberry harvest of 2017
Strawberry ‘Cambridge Favourite’ (left), Strawberry ‘Elsanta’ (top right), Raspberries (bottom right). Might even be a mouthful?

I also managed to pick three small Raspberries from the plants that I picked up at my local Wilko store. The Elsanta variety have always worked well for me in my previous garden, giving me a small but steady crop in the summer. Well… aside from my bare root strawberry disaster earlier this year 😦

Strawberry plants in a patio planter
Some of my older Strawberry plants are happily growing in some refreshed compost in my patio planters.

It’s unlikely that the Blueberry ‘Vaccinium Corymbosum Patriot’ plants will give me anything this year as they’ve been busy growing branches and leaves, and the few berries and flowers they did have were soon removed by the two days of flattening wind that trashed most things in the garden.

Do you have a particular variety of strawberry or raspberry that works well in your garden? Let me know in the comments below.

Anyway, there’s plenty more growing – including more veg, but i’ll tell you about that in my next post.

As ever, thank you for reading, and happy gardening.