Monday, 27 March 2017



Grape Brant
Gardening just like technology is moving onwards at a fast pace. The days when we get an allotment to grow healthy food from a cheap packet of seeds are a distant memory. We still do that, but new plants are appearing at a fast pace, either an improvement on standard varieties so they are less prone to pests and diseases, (clubroot resistant cabbage Kilaton) or just a bigger version of normal plants like strawberry (Sweet Colossus), blackcurrant (Big Ben) or potato (Amour.) Every year we plan the garden with normal plants plus something
Aronia Viking
different to create a challenge to our gardening skills and give us an interesting topic of conversation to visitors to our gardens and allotments. Often new ventures one year soon become common place through success. I first tried sweet corn many years ago and was amazed how easy it was to grow this rare crop up north, but now they are almost a normal part of many allotment rotations. Mangetout peas were once a curiosity, but as a tasty and healthy crop to consume they have become quite popular.
Although I continue to try out new plants, so do many other plot holders on the allotment site.
Saskatoon berries
Last year the new crop was sweet potatoes, but it was not very happy with our climate.
Cape Gooseberry can be successful in greenhouses, but can be quite vigorous taking up a lot of space, so try them out on a south facing fence or wall in a sheltered spot. In a good summer they can be brilliant.
Scorzonera and Salsify were two root crops I just had to try out as I was intrigued by their names. They were easy to grow, and tasty on the plate, but a lot of work in preparation for cooking for such a small return. The same applied to kohlrabi as it does not have size on its side.
Our site will now have a Kiwi on trial, so I hope it has better success than my Goji which was very rampant for about four years then got wiped out as phytophthora fungus spread through my soil before I could see my first berry.
Fig Brown Turkey
Grapes growing outdoors are my latest venture into the exotics with some success but need a decent summer and autumn to ripen up the fruit and increase the sugar content. Both Rondo and Phoenix show a lot of promise, and Regent is also good but with smaller grapes. I want to try Siegerrebe outdoors, though it can be troubled by wasps as they know the grapes are very sweet.
Figs are another success, and I am very surprised they are not widely grown as they have been very successful year after year growing against a south facing wall on my allotment site. However I started them off by the book which indicated you plant them in a deep slab lined pit with a lot of drainage and only just enough good top soil to get them started. The roots will soon escape into the soil, but the initial restriction curtails excessive vigour and encourages fruiting.
Peach Peregrine
Cherries on the new dwarfing rootstock Gisela 5 is suitable for garden culture and saskatoons and chokeberries are some of the newer kids on the block for those into healthy black berries. If you can spare the space in the greenhouse, or have a very warm windowsill try the pepper variety the Carolina Reaper. The challenge is in the growing as it really needs a hot climate, but once you get the fruit what do you do with the hottest pepper on the planet where it has to be handled with protective gloves. This is not one to add to a summer salad dish, but there is plenty information around to keep you safe and enjoy its merits, and scientists are finding beneficial effects to sufferers of osteoarthritis. It will certainly be a great topic for conversation.

Wee jobs to do this week
Planting broad beans

This could be a long week as there are a hundred wee jobs all needing attention. Broad beans and sweet peas sown last month are now needing hardened off so they can be planted on the next warm day. Onions and leeks from seed as well as tomatoes are all needing pricked out, and it is time to sow cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, kale and any amount of salads. Then in spare moments take cuttings of early chrysanthemums and dahlias if they are big enough. Geraniums grown from cuttings last autumn have now been potted into their final pots.

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