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.

Andrew

The Blueberry Rescue

When I switch into garden rescue mode in the middle of a discount store.

A few weeks ago, whilst browsing for some cleaning products in a discount store, I wandered past their obligatory Spring-time gardening section. They had bits of everything – string, gloves, tools, trellis, plastic flowers, watering cans etc, but also included real live plants.

Well. Real plants. Less of the living. More like ‘clinging on’.

The racks were stacked full of them in various states of dying in cardboard tubes, with the survivors desperately sprinting towards the shop lights from the back of the shelves. I guess this stock probably comes in quite quickly, and to be fair, I bet that it’s without any information for the staff on how to care for them or make them even more desirable to buy – they’re just opportunistic seasonal products on shelves for the customers to buy or for the shop to let die (just like the Christmas food, or the Easter Eggs). In pity for them, I rummaged through and discovered that it was predominantly roses and blueberries.

I eat a lot of blueberries (they’re great with some raspberries in a bowl of porridge), so I thought that I would try to grow some too. I picked up a couple of the healthiest Blueberry ‘Vaccinium Corymbosum Patriot’ plants.

A blueberry plant with buds of leaves
One of the Blueberry plants seems to have recovered in its new pot.

When I got home I discovered that Blueberries hate lime, and therefore need Ericaceous compost because they require that acidic soil – putting them in a pot of this compost avoids that problem all together. They also prefer rainwater rather than tap water, again related to pH levels.

Having sourced a small bag of Ericaceous compost, I’ve now potted them up and stood the pot in the garden. If one of these two plants doesn’t make it, I should find some more, as they’ll crop better if they can cross pollinate.

Whilst rummaging, I also took pity on a rose bush – Rosa Pink – and so I carried all three to the checkout and paid the meagre £3 for them. I potted the rose up as soon as I got home in a pot with some soil and compost.

Rosa Pink plant
The Rosa Pink is doing very well. Note to self: thick gloves.

It’s showing great signs of recovery with lush shoots – it still looks a bit rushed with the reddish stems, but hopefully it’ll sort itself out. Hopefully I might see this one flower in the summer.

It’s rained a lot, and it’s been quite mild, so maybe, in a year or two, I might get some to blueberries for my porridge.