Thursday, 19 September 2013

Garden Review 2013 - Fruit & Veg...


With September now in full swing and the autumnal equinox fast approaching, it's a chance to review our successes and failures during the fruit and vegetable growing season....


SUCCESS ....

Tomatoes - in early March, we'd started these off from seeds in 3" pots on the kitchen windowsill.   This meant they missed all of the effects of the very cold April, and the weather had recovered to more seasonal norms before they were planted out in the new greenhouse.  We've had literally hundreds of tomatoes from our 14 plants, and there's more still to come.  With the amount of headroom we have in this greenhouse, there's fruit on eight or nine trusses on each plant.


tomato plants in August...

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Growing Raspberries & Cranberries from Seed...


For some time, we'd been toying with the idea of growing soft fruit bushes from seeds – there's plenty of space on the greenhouse shelves for starting them off.   Growing fruit from seed is a fraction of the price of buying rootstocks, even if they're bare-rooted.  The major downside is that it may take much longer to get the plants established from seed.

It was actually more difficult to find seeds than established plants, although I had managed to find one eBay supplier based in Lithuania selling seeds for raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and blackcurrants, among others.  I suppose an even cheaper alternative may have been to buy some fresh fruit from the market and then prepare our own seeds from a few of them.

However, we ordered some raspberry and cranberry seeds for around £1 per packet, and they arrived at the beginning of June.  

Looking at the instructions provided for each type of fruit seed, they were both very similar.  To cool the seeds for at least a month, and preferably longer, presumably to fool them into thinking it's darkest winter from which they will then awaken and burst into life when the temperature is returned to normal.  This process is called 'stratification' by the horticulturists.

Rescuing Blackcurrant Canes....


In the local Poundshop earlier in the summer, they were selling some small blackcurrant plants at 2 for £1, half the usual price because they were bare-root stock and it was already late May, well past the time when they should have been planted.  They were in a sorry state - all had some sort of new forced growth although it was very pale in colour due to the absence of light where they'd been stored.   They were labelled as Ribes Negrum, so they're a true blackcurrant, and the variety is 'Ojebyn' which seems to be a popular European variety from an internet search.

Anyway, we bought ten of them for £5, got them home and unwrapped the roots which at least were still moist from the polythene wrappings.   We stood them in a bowl of water and then pruned them back to just above where we could see new buds.  On one or two, the new pale growth was only an inch or two long, so we left these on thinking that they were short enough to fully recover.


after pruning, soaking in a bowl of water