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

Failed: Bare Root Strawberry plants

An experiment concludes with bare-root strawberries continuing to live up to their name.

Two months ago I decided to take a gamble and buy a pack of three bare root strawberries from my local Wilko store. I’d seen them in there a few times, then I’d seen ‘just how easy’ it was to get great plants from them courtesy of lots of youtube videos. Why wouldn’t I give them a go?

The bare-root Strawberry Elsanta plants potted up and ready for sunshine.
BEFORE: The bare-root Strawberry Elsanta plants potted up and ready for sunshine.

I did. And after waiting for two months, nothing has happened.

My three pots are still bare roots, and bare tops. In fact, they haven’t changed at all. Each had fresh multipurpose compost (in which the normal plants thrive), each has been watered, and yet there is no life in these three bits of straw-esque dead plants. Perhaps I purchased a bad bag – old dried stock beyond redemption?

dead bare-root strawberry plants
AFTER: Spot the difference. The bare-root Strawberry plants failed.

My other older strawberry plants are happy – throwing out green foliage, and I’ve also added some Strawberry Florence, Strawberry Alice, and Strawberry Cambridge Favourite plants to my stock. I shall have strawberries 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.

However, I’m sad they failed, as I do love strawberries and I would have been interested to see this method work, but at only £2, the failure doesn’t sting too much.

I’d be interested to hear whether you’ve had any success growing bare root strawberries. Let me know in the comments below.

The Final Fruit of 2012?

A strawberry seedling has produced it’s first fruit courtesy of a windowsill and central heating.

Back in May, i was given a few gardening kits – a bit late to get sowing, but i did.

Since then, this Strawberry plant has been living on my windowsill as the only seed that germinated from the entire packet.

A lone strawberry hanging from a plant.
The final strawberry of 2012?

Now that the central heating is running, the plant has decided to flower and has produced one (so far) big red (tasty) strawberry.

Is this the final fruit of 2012?

April Showers (June Edition)

Rain arrives! So, it’s off to the garden centre where I pick up some strawberries and yet more herbs.

At last – the rain arrives. And it does it properly. Everywhere has been completely soaked by almost a day’s worth of rain.

Admitting defeat, I ventured off to my usual gym session but got stuck in my car for 10 minutes whilst thunder, lightning, hail and torrential rain turned the carpark into a reservoir.

About 90 minutes later it had stopped and the sun was out, so I took the chance to go Homebase, and Garden and Leisure in nearby Huntingdon to see if i could find some nice plants and some pots.

Having found the pots i needed to do some overdue houseplant re-potting, I found myself looking round the garden plants and noticed that the bees were all over the bright blue flowers of the Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’, so in the basket it went.

Salvia
Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’.

Over at Garden and Leisure I remembered that I had a ‘get a Strawberry plant for free’ voucher, so decided to pick up two Strawberry ‘Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta’ plants (very green and lush). Last year’s Strawberry ‘Judibell’ are all but dead – apart from a few runners where they shouldn’t be, and a couple of tiny signs of life. I picked up some more organic compost and then ended up with yet more herbs Parsley Japanese ‘Cryptotaenia japonica’ and Tarragon French ‘Artemisia dracunculus’ (the latter is good with chicken apparently).

Monty Don said a couple of weeks ago on BBC Gardeners’ World, that if you’ve had a Tarragon plant growing in your garden for more than a year, then it is undoubtedly the Russian Tarragon as it is hardier and is characterised by a bitter taste. However, whilst Russian Tarragon was in stock, the French Tarragon also says that it is frost hardy, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one does when I plant it out.