Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Healthy Summer Eating


Last week I ran over a few thoughts on the raspberry and strawberry for a true taste of Scottish summer. This week I will also include others a bit less popular, but definitely far more healthier.
My only omission will be rhubarb as it is not a fruit, but we use it as such in jams, crumbles, and stewed for puddings and it ranks as high as most others as a delicious health product.

                                                    New SCRI Glen Fyne rasps

Black, red and white currants

These fruits are very high in both vitamin C and anti oxidants. Ben Connan, Ben Lomond and Ben Dorain the latest newcomer, were all bred at the Scottish Crops Research Institute and are heavy croppers and disease resistant. Blackcurrants make fantastic jam and are great in a summer pudding mixed with other soft fruits. If you have enough bushes and can spare the fruit, blackcurrants make a brilliant dessert wine.
Prune blackcurrants immediately after picking as this helps to ripen up the young shoots which will crop the following year.
I also grow Red Lake redcurrants and White Versailles white currants, though there are many more fine varieties. Red and white currants are excellent additions to summer puddings, or lightly stewed and sweetened for adding to morning muesli or Greek yoghurt with honey. They also make fantastic wine.


New varieties have emerged with resistance to mildew and SCRI hope to have a red fruited thornless variety available to the trade in a couple of years time.
Invicta is a superb dessert and cooking gooseberry, but picking is a nightmare. The bush will draw blood, but the fruit which is quite sweet, is heavenly eaten when ripe straight off the bush. Grow on a leg and remove all low growing branches too close to the ground and keep the centres open to assist picking.
Remove any sawfly caterpillars as soon as you spot them or they will very quickly defoliate the bush.


Blackberries are no longer a prickly problem when picking and pruning as most new cultivated types are thornless. They are perfect on a wall or shed or can be trained in rows along support wires. Flavour, fruit size and thornless stems as well as disease resistance has been bred into newer varieties such as Loch Tay and Loch Ness both from SCRI. Sweetness and aromatic flavour have been bred into Loch Maree, the latest newcomer.
I'd love to say they were my favourite, but Helen which crops in early August has seeds so small the fruit makes a perfect jam. No need to strain off the juice for making jelly.
Pruning to remove all the old fruiting wood can be done any time after fruiting, then tie in all the new young shoots which will fruit next year.


A mid to late summer soft fruit easy to grow if you have a moist but free draining acid soil or use containers with an ericaceous compost. Some varieties have very large fruit like the popular Bluecrop. Eat them fresh or in juices.
Soils can be made more acidic by incorporating leaf mould from pine woods and giving a dressing of sulphur chips. I give light dressings of acidic fertilisers such as sulphate of ammonia, sulphate of iron, and sulphate of potash.
They will need netting from birds during cropping.


Also known as Juneberry these fruiting forms of Amelanchier are the latest new fruit bush for a health conscious diet. They are high in vitamin C and many minerals as well as being very high in anti oxidants.
They are very easy to grow on most soils, have few pests or diseases and give a very heavy crop of black sweet berries great eaten fresh, or used in jams, yoghurt, pies, summer puddings and make an excellent wine.
I started picking my first berries in early July and will continue till the end of the month.
At present they are fairly unknown but becoming quite popular as word gets around. They will be on show at the Dundee Flower and Food Festival from 3rd to 5th September.
I have created a special Saskatoon page on my website detailing my experience with them over the last six years.

Other fruit

Figs grow and ripen perfectly in Dundee trained against a south wall though I have given my Brown Turkey variety a restricted root run in a sunken pit. My young bushes about four years old will give me about twenty delicious fruits in late summer.
Chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa is grown very successfully around Dundee as our mild moist climate suits it perfectly. It is rated as one of the healthiest fruits on the planet, due to its very high levels of anti oxidants and vitamin C. However, although it is too astringent to be eaten raw it is perfect for blending into juices, smoothies and health drinks.
Goji berries are worth trying as a novelty, but they have been a bit over hyped with stories of living a very long life if you eat a lot of them daily. My two year old plants have still to show a berry, but I am patient. Grow them as a climber on a wall or fence.
Outdoor grapes are worth a try. I grow Brant on a south wall getting over one hundred small bunches of black sweet grapes every year. I keep growth in check with summer and winter pruning as they are very vigorous.
I am also trying other outdoor varieties on my allotment plot but as yet global warming at City Road allotment site has had no great impact.

In a later article I will mention my outdoor peach, plums, pears and apples.

Fruit for the Future

The Scottish Crops Research Institute held an open day on 15th July to show the direction and findings of recent research with raspberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and brambles.
Studies have started on berry crops on the effects of global warming which reduces the chilling time during winter dormancy. A cold period is necessary for most fruit otherwise flowering capacity is reduced the following year.
A programme of blueberry breeding is underway to find varieties suitable for Scottish conditions, having large healthy fruit, free from pest and diseases fruiting over as long a period as possible so local growers can meet a huge market demand which at present is met with imports.
New varieties of raspberries have large sweet fruit with an aromatic flavour cropping over a longer season. In a tasting session the varieties Glen Fyne and Glen Magna were absolutely delicious.


Sunday, 25 July 2010

Summer Fruits for a Healthy Lifestyle


There is so many easy to grow summer berries that just spoil you for choice, and if you have access to an allotment you can really indulge in a huge variety that will keep you enjoying fresh fruits from June till the frosts come. However most can be stored in freezers to maintain that summer luxury all year round.
Although we have grown up in the Dundee area with berry fields everywhere and people of my generation spent many days during the summer holidays picking rasps and strawberries.
It was always a seasonal pleasure that only lasted a few weeks of hard graft but you got paid and it always seemed to be sunny in the countryside.
Life has moved on. Very few locals go to the berries any more, but we can grow our own fruit and modern techniques and varieties allow us to extend the season.

My earliest memories (1960), of home grown fruit was picking a few strawberries to add to my plate of cornflakes at breakfast. I felt like royalty with the health benefits from fresh fruits invigorating my mind. The journey to work from my home in St. Marys to Dawson Park was no problem on my bike, and anyway it had a three speed gear, very modern.

I have always had a deep interest in fruit culture from rasps to apples, having worked commercially on many soft and top fruit farms in southern England, and now back in Scotland my fruit growing is on a domestic scale. My research background encourages me to try new products and now that we have global warming it is worth trying out those fruits normally associated with warmer climates..
By the way, global warming is a long term statistic we are informed about, but not immediately obvious considering the last three very wet years followed by the coldest winter in living memory for many people, though in Dundee we always seemed to miss the worst.
Anyway I will give you my thoughts on the summer soft fruits I have been growing both in my garden and on my allotment today and next week.
I will discuss my top fruit trees in a later article.

I grow strawberries, raspberries, black, white and red currants, saskatoons, blaeberries, blueberries, gooseberries, brambles, goji berries, figs, outdoor grapes and cape gooseberries. I also had Aronias, the chokeberry, and lingonberries for a few years.
Saskatoon fruit in July


Strawberries can now be picked over several months by selecting the appropriate variety and growing technique.
My season starts in early to mid June with an early variety called Mae. I have two rows, one of which I cover with a low polythene tunnel at the end of winter. This harvests two weeks ahead of the unprotected row, and the polythene cover protects the ripening fruit from damp so I get a full crop as there is no botrytis to spoil any fruit.. Main season varieties start in July with Honeoye, and Elsanta, then followed by late varieties Symphony and Florence. Commercially Elsanta is the supermarkets favourite as it is a large clean berry with excellent shape and a heavy cropper.
Late season fruit above picked outdoors in October
There is also a drive to put back flavours, textures and high nutritional values back into fruit to improve the health of the product. In the past there was too much emphasis on producing large fruit with a heavy cropping potential. However a lot of these varieties suffered from botrytis which rotted a lot of fruit during wet weather, so it was normal to spray chemicals at least three times just before fruiting. Today the use of chemicals is frowned upon, so newer varieties are bred with vigour that are not prone to rotting so no chemicals are needed.

The picking season extends till October, depending on sunshine levels with a perpetual variety Flamenco. I am also trying a new perpetual called Malling Opal. The perpetuals will continue well into November with a late autumn, and may look brilliant, but lack of strong sunshine gives a hard fruit devoid of flavour.
It is now possible to follow the experience of the commercial growers and buy in cold stored runners (dormant leafless crowns), at a range of times up to July and plant these outdoors or in poly tunnels or glasshouse, even using growbags, (ten to a bag). They will start cropping sixty days from planting. So with a range of different planting dates fruiting can continue for months.
I have included a photo of some fruit of strawberries and raspberries I picked on 4th October 2007.
Strawberry growing is easy, but they must be strictly managed.
I grow in rows 2.5 feet apart with plants at one foot intervals. If using my own runners and they are plentiful, I plant a double row at six inch spacing to give me a heavy crop in the first year.
I do not remove any runners during the summer, though many people do, and I control slugs before cropping and bed the rows with straw to stop soil splashing onto the fruit.
After harvest I remove the straw and cut off all foliage. The crowns grow again very quickly. In early winter I give a light dressing of garden compost between the rows which I dig in as well as any runners rooting in the middle of the rows. I only crop for three years.


Raspberries should be grown in every Scottish garden. They should be as common as rhubarb and just as healthy. It is our national sweet dish and very easy to grow.
The variety Glen Ample bred at the Scottish Crops Research Institute at Invergowrie is now the main summer season heavy cropping raspberry. New varieties are being developed for vigour, better flavours, and pest and disease resistance to reduce the need for chemical controls, as well as an ability to crop well under tunnels to extend the cropping season.
Look out for the new SCRI variety Glen Fyne,
a heavy cropper with very sweet berries full of flavour.

For gardeners not having tunnels the variety Autumn Bliss will fruit from early August till the frosts. It fruits on current canes, so I cut back the old canes to ground level then do a light thinning of new canes so they do not overcrowd each other. I also give them some support with six inch weldmesh wire held at three feet high which they can then grow through.

The last three wet summers have resulted in the spread of raspberry root rot disease, phytophthora which causes the leaves and new emerging canes to wilt and die off. Studies are under way to breed resistance or at least tolerance into new varieties. I am testing a variety bred at Washington University called Cascade Delight that is reputed to be tolerant to root rot. My previous row of Glen Ample died out last year with what I suspect could be phytophthora. Some types of this disease which is spread by ground water is quite specific only affecting one host, but others strains can affect a wide range of plants. Another strain of phytophthora causes potato blight a big problem recently in our wet summers, but this one spreads in the air, as well as by infected tubers.

I will cover more soft fruit next week to include the currants and gooseberries as well as the more exotic outdoor grapes, gojis, chokeberries and figs and the latest berry gaining popularity, the saskatoon.


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Flaming June did happen this year


The summer returned this year after three years of cool and wet weather following a very long and cold winter. That is the kind of normal weather I remember from childhood to youth, before global warming appeared and weather pattern became guesswork.
The garden plants have responded with strong healthy growth, a lot less pest and diseases, flowers in profusion and fruit crops to come, full of potential.

Some outdoor fuchsias never made it through the winter, hebes were lost as well as my Leptospermum Red Damask, however Fuchsia Mrs. Popple has sprouted from the base and will have its first flowers by the time you read this, despite the attention of the greenfly and frog hoppers, (cuckoo spit).
Always give apparently dead plants plenty of time after a hard winter to recover before you dig them out. Some years ago I had a 15 foot tall Cordyline australis the Torbay palm, that died after a very hard frost. It was cut back to ground level, but then 18 months later five new shoots appeared and it sprang back into life. A lesson was learnt. Eucalyptus can also be a bit tender when young though my twelve year old specimen has never looked better.
Robinia frisia, the false acacia, an excellent small tree with golden leaves suitable for domestic gardens lost a few branches but soon recovered. It needs good drainage at its feet to survive the winter, otherwise die back of shoots get infected with the coral spot fungus which can then spread to healthy wood.

This year it was the turn of my date palm, Phoenix canariensis, to die back to ground level after successfully growing outdoors in a sunny border for six years as a specimen dot plant in the middle of a flower bed. It got chopped back to ground level but I see it is trying to make a recovery.

The Flower Garden

Glorious colour abounds in herbaceous borders, rose beds, climbing roses, flowering shrubs and in tubs, hanging baskets and borders with summer bedding plants.
Dead heading to remove seed heads is a constant task with Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Himalayan blue poppies, Iceland poppies, and winter pansies who wont stop flowering. I have never known them to continue for so long so I keep feeding and watering them.

Seeds gathered from the Meconopsis, Himalayan blue poppy, and the Iceland Poppies will be sown this month. I hope the Iceland poppies will germinate fairly soon as they are to grow on for flowering next spring, but the Meconopsis will probably not germinate till next spring. Keep both of them moist, shaded and cool to assist good germination.

My bed of geraniums grown from cuttings every year is a mass of colour, but my other summer bedding plant the tuberous begonias have yet to put out their first flowers. They are looking very strong. I purchased a tray of fifty mixed double non stop tuberous begonias about 15 years ago. They flower reliably every summer then get dried off, and overwintered in a box in the garage,
They never let you down.
Excellent value for money.

The Fruit Garden

A funny year for fruit. I have been too busy on other activities, painting flowers, and running art classes, so I never got around to netting my strawberries to keep the birds from eating them. I never lost a single berry, yet the local blackie took a liking to my red currant bushes so these got the strawberry net for protection. I have not needed to net red currants for the last four years. Birds left them alone, but not this year.
The net has also been erected over my saskatoon patch as they are so favoured by the birds that they will even attempt to tunnel underneath the net if it is not buried around the edges.
The saskatoons, Amelanchier alnifolia, should be ready for picking mid July probably at the same time as my red currants, black currants and gooseberries.
This year I only have Autumn Bliss raspberries as my row of Glen Ample got infected by a root rot fungus which wiped them out. I think it was phytophthora but cannot be certain.
There replacement variety Cascade Delight will not bear any fruit till next year, (hopefully)

Apple trees are quite heavy with crop, but the natural June drop did some thinning for me. I then did a little bit more to space apples out so I get larger fruit.
My variety Fiesta has adopted a biennial fruiting attitude with only five apples on a young tree that gave me over forty last year.

I will cover fruit crops in greater depth next week.

The Scottish Crops Research Institute will be holding an event for those in the fruit industry on Thursday 15th July at Invergowrie to showcase developments and trends in their breeding and research programmes. This cutting edge technology eventually filters down to gardener level as we benefit from the release of new fruit varieties with enhanced cropping potential, better flavour, more disease resistance, stronger vigour and acclimatised to Scottish growing condition.

The Allotment

Two rows of Beetroot Bolthardy germinated very well so they required a thinning to leave them about an inch apart. These will grow into lovely baby beet size before a further thinning to four to six inches for the main crop. Last year our beetroot was left in the ground unprotected until winter digging time in January and was still excellent. The cold winter did not do any harm. We use beetroot for soups mixed with potato, onion and a wee bit of orange rind, then finished off on the plate with some yoghurt or sour cream swirled into the surface. It is brilliant and most likely very healthy.

Leeks are another vegetable that are very easy and rewarding as they keep you supplied with fresh vegetables right through the winter till March, or April in a long cold winter.
I plant mine out in rows twelve inches apart in the traditional style on good ground manured or composted in winter. Take out a shallow furrow and dibble in holes about four to six inches apart. Lift the young seedlings when about eight inches tall and top and tail them before dropping them in the dibber holes. Water them in and leave them alone.

Fresh vegetables are now being harvested for the table regularly. Lettuce. radish, spring onions and now the first courgettes and Swiss chard leaves. The former makes fantastic soup and the latter brilliant as a stir fry ingredient but dont use much oil.
The social side of allotment gardening brings people together at this time of year to swap spare vegetable plants, tomato plants, courgettes, pumpkins, leeks and other new types worthy of a trial, and when its too hot to garden there are always plenty of sunny patios to sit down and relax on.

The Cold Greenhouse

As the heatwave continues most plants that had greenhouse protection have been moved outside leaving the grapes and tomatoes and four pots of Cape gooseberries which continue to grow very strongly. At this moment I still have space for them, but if they get much bigger they will need to go out somewhere.


Friday, 23 July 2010

Early Summer in the Garden


Recent warm, dry weather has been great for weed control but watering some recently planted crops and flowers has been essential. Watering is best done in late evening if time permits.

Now is the time to potter around the garden as the hard work of preparation is complete, and planting done but numerous other small tasks seek attention in between relaxing on the sun lounger when its too hot to work, but of course with thoughts of planning the next few tasks.

The Flower Garden

Most Rhododendrons and Azaleas have flowered so remove the old seed heads to conserve energy for growth.
I have an excellent drift of delphiniums grown from seed obtained from the specialists Blackmore and Langdon in Bath. These are quite vigorous so need good staking and tying in
I grow both decorative and spray chrysanthemums on my allotment, but this year I am trying the sprays at the end of my herbaceous border to add colour in late summer when most of the other plants have finished. These sprays will get the tops removed twice to make sure they are well branched and hopefully dont need staking but I'll keep an open mind on that.
Iceland poppies have been outstanding yet again so I will save seed for sowing in a week or so to give me plants for planting in autumn or next spring.

Recently sown wallflower seeds has now germinated but will get transplanted later into rows for growing on.

Roses this year have never been better. Vigour is strong and pest and disease so far not been a problem. The climbers Madame Alfred Carrier, Etoile de Holland, Dublin Bay, Gertrude Jekyll and Morning Jewel have all been terrific, and the bush roses are now all in full flower. Very hard to pick a favourite.
Gertrude Jekyll is a pink highly scented old English shrub rose but can be grown as a climber as it has enough vigour and given the the right pruning for covering a wall or fence. I am also using shrub rose Graham Thomas as a climber to replace my Golden Showers, once one of the best yellow climbers, but after three wet years it got wiped out by black spot.

The Fruit Garden

The strawberry patch has been strawed to keep soil from splashing on the fruit during wet weather. Not been any of that for a wee while, so the fruit has been fantastic with hardly any rots. I have been very slow to get the nets on, but for some reason there is no damage from birds. Maybe they dont like my early variety Mae.
The first fruits were picked from my new perpetual variety Malling Opal. As with the previous one I grew, Flamenco, the fruit may not be as shapely as summer fruiting Honeoye or Elsanta but the flavour is excellent.

My thornless bramble Helen trained on the east side of my allotment shed has been a picture while in full bloom, but now the young shoots growing from the base (next years crops) need careful tying in as they are very brittle. This variety is very early fruiting in August but has great flavour and very small seeds so is excellent for jams.

Check over apple trees and remove any primary infections, ie. young shoots that have been infected by overwintering mildew spores. The young growths are stunted and totally covered in mildew ready to spread to the rest of the tree. Remove these immediately you see them.

My pear tree is a family type with two varieties grafted onto the same tree.
As is normal the more vigorous one (Comice) dominates and the weaker one (Conference) which gets overwhelmed. Comice is a terrific pear if scab was not a problem, but after three very wet years scab has taken a hold and virtually wiped out the Comice. Conference is less prone to scab but not a great pear in Dundee. I must graft some decent varieties onto this tree next April and cut out the Comice.
The Carse of Gowrie has a history of fruit growing and in the past top fruit predominated but now it is mainly soft fruit. There is a renewed interest in its heritage and there are still many of the old varieties to be found. Hopefully I will locate a good pear able to tolerate scab and do my wee bit to preserve a good old type.

The cold winter seems to have wiped out a lot of pollinating insects so although my Victoria plum tree was quite late in flowering there were no insects around to pollinate it. I even have a Berberis darwinnii planted at its feet to attract bees who just love it and it flowers at the same time as my plum. It is usually very successful in attracting pollinating bees, but this year I only saw two large bees. They must have been very efficient as I now have a fantastic potential plum crop.

The Allotment

Watering has been the main task this week keeping my courgettes, pumpkins, Swiss chard, lettuce and sweet corn growing through the dry spell.

I utilised the two failed rows of parsnips with a sowing of lettuce and radish, though giving the successful four parsnip seedlings every protection. If any greenfly wanders anywhere near them they are in deep trouble.

Mangetout sugar peas needed some support, so netting on a framework of posts and rails usually keeps them tidy and easy to pick.

My brassica rows of summer cabbage Golden Acre, winter savoy Traviata and my curly kale are all looking good. None have needed watering. Netting from pigeons seems to have worked, though even those unprotected have been left alone, (for now)
Could be that on an allotment site of over sixty plots there is ample food so damage is not too severe.
However I keep checking them for cabbage butterfly caterpillers and just pick these off as they appear.
You must also do the same on the gooseberries as sawfly caterpillers can multiply and devastate the bushes very quickly.

My Cape gooseberries (Physalis edulis) planted three weeks ago have been very slow to establish, though usually they are quite vigorous by late summer. I have a few more in pots in the greenhouse just in case we get another cool wet summer.

The Cold Greenhouse

Tomatoes continue to grow with constant watering and feeding and removal of sideshoots.

Grapes, Black Hamburg and my red seedless variety Flame require continual summer pruning of removal of shoots at two leaves after the fruiting bunch then one leaf after that.
This allows ample leaf cover to grow a good crop but not too much foliage otherwise mildew and botrytis could take hold. Keep plenty of ventilation at all times and leave the door open on any hot days.

Check for vine weevil beetles late evening and early mornings when they can be seen feeding and dispose of them before they lay hundreds of eggs that emerge as maggots doing untold damage.


The Garden Beckons

As the season warms up, the garden has never shown so much potential. The long hard winter appears to have reduced the amount of overwintering pests and diseases, and now plants are showing a lot of promise for good crops and plenty flowers.

The Flower Garden

Summer bedding plants have now been planted out in borders, tubs and hanging baskets.
However my winter show of pansies in hanging baskets and tubs are still very colourful, so I let them finish their show grouped together on the patio beside the new summer tubs.
I rely on geraniums, and tuberous begonias for my main display, supplemented with other summer bedding plants.
I also plant out patches of spray chrysanthemums, and gladioli with sweet peas trained up some fence lines.

Roses seem to be healthier than ever this year. There is little signs of greenfly, mildew or blackspot. The last three very wet years really allowed diseases to flourish so I removed all roses than were not strong enough to fight off fungus attacks. So out went many bush and climbing roses to be replaced by stronger and more disease resisting types.
A heavy infestation of greenfly disappeared when a passing swarm of ladybirds spotted them. If only it was always that easy.
I replaced one climbing rose with a shrub rose Gertrude Jekyll then treated it as a climber. It just loves this spot on a west facing wall on the patio providing a mass of deep pink flowers with the old English rose scent wafting over the patio. Now this is summer.

Another border is ablaze with scented flag iris and oriental poppies. My garden may be my labour of love and main hobby, but my income comes from the world of art. Flowers give me inspiration to paint and the Iris just had to go onto a canvas together with some spectacular Iceland poppies both in my garden around the studio as well as on my allotment in City Road.
These new paintings on large canvases can be seen on my website on my Art Exhibition page.
The Fruit Garden

I have been a fruit lover since childhood having been weaned on the berry fields around Dundee since about nine years old, so growing raspberries and strawberries was essential to a normal way of life, but not forgetting rhubarb, previously so common in poor working class family gardens but now almost elevated to super food status. I have always loved it raw with or without a dip in the sugar bowl, or as crumble or stewed for dessert.
A short spell during my horticultural training years at our local Scottish Crops Research Institute in the sixties introduced me to a wide variety of fruit previously unknown.
We had the museum collection of apple trees from all over the world looking for a variety suitable for eastern Scotland. I also remember harvesting the first crops of Blueberries in 1967 totally unknown in the UK but now widely grown everywhere.

However, now we have global warming, my research background encourages experiments with outdoor grapes, peaches, figs and now saskatoons.

I have started picking the first of my strawberries from an early variety called Mae grown under a low polythene tunnel. These will continue until my other varieties take over including Honeoye then the late summer variety Symphony.
I am also trying a perpetual variety called Malling Opal which I hope will fruit till the end of October in the open.

Raspberry growing was always very easy in the north east of Scotland and SCRI bred an very heavy cropping and flavoursome raspberry called Glen Ample.
Then along came a root rot fungus Phytophthora. My row of Glen Ample was wiped out. Research is now under way to find a variety that can resist or at least tolerate the diseases. Fortunately the variety Autumn Bliss has not been affected by root rot so I still get raspberries from August till October.
I have replaced my Glen Ample with Cascade Delight, a new variety bred at Washington State University reputed to be fairly tolerant of root rot disease.
Time will tell.

The Allotment

The allotment of today is a place to indulge in the delights of growing whatever you want, whether vegetables, fruit, flowers or just create a garden place to relax in. Sheds with patios, and seating areas are common place, but to reach the stage of being able to wind down and relax, a wee bit of work does not go amiss. Once the crops are in and all the weeds are taken care of, (a major task) the site takes on a social function.
However do not ignore the benefits of fresh air, outdoor environment, exercise and the value of fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers.
In between socialising and weeding, my first crops of lettuce, radish, rhubarb and strawberries have all received a picking. Greenfly not controlled by ladybirds infested my blackcurrants and gooseberries, so I picked off all the young infected shoots. This will also help to push plant vigour into fruiting rather than growth.
By the middle of June my allotment is virtually all planted up.
Although most vegetables are giving good growth, my parsnips have failed. Only got four plants from a whole packet of seeds. They had better be very big as they need to last from November to April.
My ornamental border full of Iceland poppies always needs dead heading before they take over the whole allotment site and I get evicted, but what a fantastic display they give.

The Cold Greenhouse

My tomato main crop Alicante and Sweet One Million cherry tomatoes growing directly in growbags continue to need removal of sideshoots as I grow them as cordons. I am now feeding them a high potash feed at every second watering.

I also grow Black Hamburg Grapes, as well as Flame, a red seedless variety which fruits in August and does not need any fruit thinning. I have planted a new white seedless type known as Perlette but it will not fruit till next year at least.

Now the garden is sorted out I had better get a brush in my hand and get back to the easel.