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.


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.

Trying Bare Root Strawberry Plants

Giving bare-root Strawberry Elsanta plants a try.

I bought a small pack of three bare root Strawberry Elsanta plants at the weekend, from my local Wilko store for £2. I’d spotted them before, and looked at them curiously, but after watching a few videos on bare-root strawberry planting, and just how resilient they are, I thought i’d give them a go.

Bag of bare-root Strawberry Elsanta plants from Wilko.
Bag of bare-root Strawberry Elsanta plants from Wilko.

I already have Strawberry Elsanta plants in my garden pots, and they have consistently survived winters, thrown runners, and produced a crop of tasty sweet red berries. Buying more just makes sense, and after watching a number of YouTube videos on the topic, I thought i’d give some bare root ones a go.

CaliKim’s video below explains how to handle them, and she’s absolutely right when she says ‘they don’t look like much‘ – they really don’t. They look like dead dried-up terrifyingly large wolf spiders.

I unpacked my bag and rummaged around to find the brown, lifeless, dry clumps of rooty-straw things. In her example, you can clearly see which bit is roots and which bit is leaf, but mine were less obvious until i’d let them soak in the water (and essentially washed them).

Having put some multipurpose compost into three little pots, I added the plants, ensuring that the crowns of the strawberries were about half a cm above the compost line so that it would not rot off and would not dry out. I have stood them outside with the rest of the Elsanta plants, and hope they begin to wake.

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

They still don’t look like much, but at £2 for what could be more delicious strawberries from a variety that I enjoy, it’s worth the experiment. I’ll keep you posted on whether they spring to life. I’d love to hear if you have tried bare-root plants before, and what your success rate is. Let me know in the comments below.

As ever, happy gardening!


Strawberries and Wimbledon – everyone’s a winner

Whilst the crowds whooped at Wimbledon, I did my own.. aptly over a Strawberry.

Coinciding with a little-known tennis competition win, comes the equally as exciting news that my first strawberry from my garden has arrived.

A Strawberry
The first Strawberry of 2013.

Plump and smelling of that wonderful strawberry aroma, Strawberry ‘Elsanta’ has provided its first fruit and it is now sitting in my fridge.

I’ve been buying strawberries lately, but this is the first this year, from plants that managed to survive a winter (they haven’t tended to in the past, despite the severity of the winter we had this time).

There’s plenty of strawberries coming, including ones from my recently purchased Strawberry ‘Judibell’ plant, I’ve just got to remember to keep watering them so that they have enough to produce more of these red fruits.

Tune In, Pot Up, Plant Out

Music, sunshine, and a bank holiday weekend. This can mean only one thing – gardening time!

The sun has been shining today – somewhat unusual for a British Bank Holiday weekend – but I made the most of it by doing a few jobs I’d put off due to the recent rain storms, hailstorms, and cold weather.

Armed with iTunes Remote, garden wifi, and a strategically placed speaker, I set to work in the sunshine by pulling out some irritating Cleavers ‘Galium Aparine’ (or ‘Goosegrass’ as it’s also commonly known). Having had some warm weather, then rains, it had grown strong and woven its way through many of the plants. I have to wear gloves to remove this plant as I seem to have become allergic to it in the last few years. It’s an ever-lasting war with Goosegrass, but for now, I am winning.

There’s geese on the pond near my house – wonder if they actually like goosegrass?

Strawberry 'Elsanta'
Strawberry ‘Elsanta’

The Strawberry ‘Elsanta’ plants are doing well. They are a mixture of survivors from last year, new plants from runners from last year, and an extra plant that I bought last weekend. I have potted these on, so hopefully their flowers will soon turn into the delicious red fruits that I enjoyed last year, and have been plucking from my fridge more recently.

I also planted out the Lupin ‘The Governor’ plant that I bought recently from Twentypence Garden Centre. My mother’s garden has many Lupins, so hopefully this will self-seed like the Foxgloves and Antirrhinums have done.

Hopefully, the snails will leave it alone long enough to allow it to take hold of its new-found freedom.

Lupin 'The Governor'
Lupin ‘The Governor’ will have blue and white flowers

The Cineraria ‘Maritima Silverdust’ that I sowed last spring, and planted out, over-wintered perfectly, and are now strong plants, breaking up the lush green of the garden with their snowy white foliage.

Cineraria 'Martima Siverdust'
Cineraria ‘Martima Siverdust’

It won’t be many more days until many of the plants are planted out into the garden. The beans, nasturtiums, courgettes, and tomatoes are all impatient on my windowsill, whilst the Aubrieta ‘Cheeky Mix’ for next year’s garden, are beginning to germinate.

The next few days are crucial for the success of the garden. A herd of snails, or strong winds could wreck many of the tender plants. Fingers crossed that the single figure centigrade nights soon end.

Happy Gardening!