Category Archives: Growing Fruit

No Dig Allotment – Raspberries

Standard

We love raspberries in our house, and we have a couple of plants in the garden that we snack on every evening during the summer.

There are never enough, so it was a no brainier to grow plant at the allotment. My fellow plot holders have great raspberry plants, so they obviously grow well there.

I bought a load of bare root plants in November when I got the plot, and decided to keep them in pots at home until I knew where I wanted to plant them. I was really inspired by the gorgeous raspberry bushes at River Cottage when I was there for their festival in August.

This was my delicious breakfast – yoghurt, muesli, grated River Cottage apple, and River Cottage raspberries.

And this is me getting into the glittery festival spirit!

I bought a mix of autumn fruiting ones from Thompson & Morgan – Polka, Autumn Bliss, Autumn Gold (yellow), plus some summer fruiting ones from Sutton’s – Valentina, (orange) and some long cane Glen Ample – I wanted to actually have some fruit this year, so I cheated and bought the long cane Glen Amples from Sutton’s that come with one cane.

I also love tayberries & loganberries – they make the best jam. So I also bought 3 loganberry and 3 tayberry plants from J.Parker’s.

They all overwintered in pots in my garden, and I took them up to the allotment at the end of March

to plant them out. They were the very first things I planted!

I wanted to keep the summer and autumn fruiting ones separate, so I’ve planted them on opposite sides of the plot.

I dug a four trenches and hammered in stakes at either end of them all. I got my stakes from Green Tech, they were the cheapest I could find, and were recommended by a fellow gardener on Twitter (but I can’t remember who!).

My trenches are 2-3m long. I made longer ones for the summer/tay & loganberries and shorter ones for the autumn fruiting as I have less of those.

I then popped a bit of compost at the bottom of each and placed the raspberries in the trench. Approx 30-40cm apart. Because the soil is heavy clay, I backfilled with fresh compost, topped with some manure (which had been composting for about 5 months, so not fully composted) and then watered and covered with a heavy mulch of bark chippings.

I have put wires across the Glen Ample area as they needed tying in straight away. I will do the rest when needed. I used Gripple wire and tensioners from Gardening Naturally. Easy to do, should last well, and they don’t rust.

Around the edges I have put cardboard and woodchip.

In mid May I also planted some flowers at the ends of some of the rows. A cosmos, 2 dahlias and some sweet peas so far.

I have given them a heard start by planting them in fresh compost rather than the ground. I cut off the bottom of the pot so the roots can go deeper when they are ready.

And this is how everything is looking in mid-May:

The Polkas (looking good)

Autumn Gold and Autumn Bliss (bit patchy, they haven’t all leafed up) – I’ve let Thompson Morgan know, and they are replacing the autumn bliss, but don’t have any autumn gold left – they have given a refund for those, which is good, but means I only have 1 plant.

Tayberry/Loganberry and Valentina (bit patchy)

Glen Ample (looking good, with some flowers beginning to show)

There have been a few weeds peeping through, but nothing like the weeds around the site, so very pleased with the approach so far. I try and pull them when they are small, and I’m working on the idea of exhausting the roots by constantly taking off the greenery.

Related posts: New No Dig Allotment – A Year In Pictures, No Dig Allotment – Strawberries, New Allotment – Levelling The Plot, New Allotment- getting started

No Dig Allotment – Strawberries

Standard
No Dig Allotment – Strawberries

The very first no dig bed to be planted up is the strawberry bed.

We grow strawberries very successfully at home in four grow bags on top of a rickety old table that was here when we moved in. However, we never have enough, so I knew I needed to plant some more at the allotment.

I bought the bare root plants from J Parker’s back in November, and planted them into a couple of plastic troughs. It is an ‘all season’ collection, with Honeoye (Early Season), Cambridge Favourite (Mid Season) and Florence (Late Season). They have been sitting in the greenhouse all winter, and I took them out a few weeks ago to harden them off. The recent hot weather has meant they have put on some good growth, and getting them last year and planting them into troughs means they are way ahead of where they would be if I had bought them in spring. There are already some flowers on them.

Firstly I prepared the bed with cardboard, manure and compost.

I decided to use weed suppressant fabric on top of the compost. This is to prevent any perennial weeds coming up from under the bed, and to stop annual weed seeds landing on the bed and taking hold. It also prevents the strawberries lying on wet ground and going mouldy. I think it will work well, as it’s similar to growing them in grow bags.

I cut a piece of fabric slightly longer and wider than the bed (which is 3m x 1m) and tucked it in all round the edges. I have loads because the whole plot was covered all winter, so it’s nice to be able to re-use it.

I then dug the strawberries out of the troughs and laid them on the bed to get an idea of spacing. They are 4 across and 9 along the length, so 36 in total. Honeoye is on the right, Cambridge Favourite in the middle and Florence on the left.

I then cut a cross in the fabric for each plant, and put them in the holes.

We couldn’t find the watering can, so mini-me helped me water each plant individually. We filled the bottles from the tap, we didn’t use bottled water on them!!

We gave them a good soaking as it is forecast to be hot over the weekend.

This is the finished bed. I put stones in each corner to help hold the fabric down, and one in the middle (after I took the photo). Once the plants grow, I don’t think the fabric will be in danger of blowing away.

These were planted on the 3rd May. It’s the 13th today, and already we have some berries forming. I’ve also added two cornflower plants (one at either end of the bed for some added height and colour).

As the fruit began to form and change colour, I found the local pigeons took too much of a liking to them, so I covered it in handy pop up netting from Wilko , which works really well – I didn’t even bother pegging it down – I just used the bricks I was already using to hold down the weed suppressant fabric.

And here they are – the first strawberries from our plot!­čŹô They arrived early June, and they are absolutely delicious. I particularly recommend the honeoye variety. I also recommend the no dig approach – particularly with the weed suppressant fabric – barely any weeds – just a little bindweed making its presence felt at the beginning of July.

Update – Now that it’s July and it’s their first year, the harvest is over, and the plants are now bulking up and putting out runners. I’ve been cutting new holes and pegging the runners down with U shaped pegs. I expect to have double the amount of plants next year. Yum yum!

Related posts: No Dig Allotment – Raspberries, New No Dig Allotment – A Year In Pictures, New Allotment – Levelling The Plot, New Allotment- getting started

Productive Small Fruit and Vegetable Garden

Standard
Productive Small Fruit and Vegetable Garden

You really don’t need an allotment or a large garden to have a lovely supply of fruit and veg throughout the year.

My garden isn’t large, but I have shoehorned in fruit and veg plants all over the place. Usually in containers.

Here are some examples:


Cherry tree in a container gave me loads of lovely fruit this year. This picture below is just some of it. It’s a Stella cherry in case you were interested, and will not get massive.



Rhubarb in containers. Had them for a couple of years, and got a good crop this year. Behind them is asparagus. I have three crowns in this tub. It’s past asparagus season so I’ve let them grow out.



Raspberries in containers. Two summer fruiting, one Autumn (on the right) and one black raspberry which I planted in the middle tub just this year. Will see how I get on with two plants in one tub.


Apple tree in a 3/4 barrel. Not a good year for apples this year. This is a ‘family tree’ and has 3 types of Apple grafted onto one rootstock.


Potatoes in sacks. Just about ready to be harvested.


Plum/damson tree. Again a family tree with two types grafted onto the same rootstock. Going to be a good crop this year, after having none last year! One of the few trees I have planted in the ground.


Strawberries in grow bags on an old table. They grow brilliantly this way.


Difficult to spot them, but the pots at the front and back of the picture are blueberry plants. Really easy to look after and heavy cropping. This tub is mostly full of blueberries from my first picking this year. And there are loads left on.



Tomatoes in grow bags. Do you like my tripod frame?!


And of course a raised bed. I have two, but one is for cut flowers. I have beetroot, courgettes (2 plants) and beans (cobra, purple, roquencourt and borlotti) in here. I get loads of beans and courgettes.


None of this is much hassle, and I get to go foraging every summer evening when I come home.

Great gifts from the garden today (30th July 2016)

Lovely collection of goodies after my 2 week holiday at the end of August.

Raised beds 2015

Standard

This year I’ve given over one of my raised beds to become a cutting patch, whilst the other one is for veg.

Here is the cutting patch one, mostly planted out mid May:

┬á I’ve built a cage of canes for the plants to grow through, and have planted Dahlias, cosmos, cornflower, zinnias. With a variety of marigolds and nasturtiums at the front.

The dahlias all have copper bands round them, and the blue dots you can see are slug pellets. Last year the little blighters massacred my dahlias­čśł This year it’s a war I’m determined to win!

The veg bed is bigger and has a yellow courgette, a range of broccoli, some beans and ┬ácucamelon growing up the tripod. I’ve also sown some beetroot and a couple of butternut squash seeds. And again a range of marigolds and nasturtium around the edge.


This is what they look like today (bank holiday Monday). Will add some update photos in a couple of weeks.

Update 14th June – I’ve already had some cosmos and callendula flowers, and everything is coming along a treat.

I put some covers over the beetroot seedlings to give extra protection from the cat, and one of the butternut squash seeds that I sowed in May has just popped up.

June update. End of June, so about 6 weeks after planting out.


┬á┬áYou can’t see it as I just picked them, but Cosmos, calendula and cornflowers all beginning to flower. . As are sweetpeas (growing elsewhere in the garden). Marigold Sunset Buff is going great guns. One Dahlia just popped out its first flower and some of the others are not far behind. Zinnias are still growing taller, and a couple have given one flower. If they don’t increase much in height I will put them in front of the cornflowers next year as the cornflowers are huge!

Picked this bundle of goodies this evening.

Grow Your Own – Planting the plot

Standard

Earlier in the year I decided to convert the flower bed closest to the house into a vegetable patch. The soil wasn’t very good so I decided raised beds were the answer. I got them from Harrod Horticultural. They seemed to be the best price around.

They were pretty easy to build and I filled them with a mixture of top soil (best and cheapest place I found for this was my local garden centre, who delivered two big builders bags), manure and compost about a month ago. They are partly on soil and partly on paving slab. I put a layer of cardboard underneath them to suppress weeds.

20140523-214954.jpg
They’ve been covered in black plastic. Largely to keep the cats off, but today was the day for planting!

I also put a layer of copper tape around each one to try and defeat the slugs and snails. Fingers crossed it works.

20140523-224212.jpg

I’ve been growing lots of seedlings indoors since February/March, and some stuff I will direct sow.

20140523-215559.jpg
I’ve blogged previously about the great ornamental veg garden course I went on at Sarah Raven’s Perch Hill, and I found more inspiration yesterday at the Chelsea Flower Show. There was a fab potager garden on the Marston & Langinger trade stand.

20140523-220205.jpg

20140523-220235.jpg
I’ve learnt that I really like the mix of flowers, fruit and veg all planted together. Which means my planting plan

20140523-220349.jpg
which I designed before going on the Sarah Raven course, had to be revised. Well completely thrown out the window!

I’ve never really grown vegetables before, so I’m going to blog about what I am growing, and how I get on.

The beds are 1.2m wide and one is 1.8m long and 45cm deep. The other is 2.4m long and 30cm deep.

I found this seed and measuring spacer from Burgon and Ball really helpful. I used it to create channels for sowing the seeds (on its side, pressed into the soil), and it has a guide to spacing which is a handy reminder. As well as measurements in both imperial and metric.

20140523-223716.jpg

This is what I have planted in them. Some as seedlings (grown myself from seed) and some as seeds.

Smaller bed:

20140523-224646.jpg

– chard (lucullus)
– spinach (Bordeaux)
– rocket (runway and wild)
– mustard (red giant and red frills)
– beetroot (burpees golden, bolthardy and chioggia)
– carrots (Nantes, little finger and chantenay)
– pac choi
– sorrel (red veined)
– lettuce (little gem, merveille de quatre saison, Descartes, Seurat and reine de glace)

The idea is to have lots of cut and come again veg to use in salads. I’ve tried to pick ones that look as good as they taste.

20140523-222208.jpg

I’ve also added lots of flowers around the edge. Including different types of marigold, viola heartsease, nasturtiums and dahlias (at the back). Both for aesthetic reasons and to attract pollinating insects. They’re all edible flowers too.

For bed two I planted:

20140523-222544.jpg

20140523-222605.jpg

– sweetcorn (luscious, popcorn fiesta and minipop)
– butternut squash (just one plant)
– courgette (black beauty and soleil)
– broccoli (cardinal, summer purple, red arrow, Rudolph, autumn)
– Brussel sprout (rubine)

Again I’ve put lots of flowers around the edge. Same as the other bed, but with some rudbeckia thrown in for good measure.

20140523-222957.jpg

And I built a cage to hold netting out of bamboo and some clever little rubber gizmos that I bought at Chelsea Flower Show. This is mostly to keep the cats off the bed whilst everything settles in.

Really looking forward to seeing how things get on.

Update 1: only a week later and some of the seeds are already sprouting little seedlings.

20140531-223816.jpg

The copper tape seems to be working really well at keeping the slugs and snails away. But the netting hasn’t kept out my naughty cat, who had already been in and knocked a few things around. I have now lengthened it in an attempt to stop her getting in. Fingers crossed!

Update 2: only two weeks on, and lots of signs of life

20140605-211103.jpg
Carrots

20140605-211146.jpg

20140605-211304.jpg

20140605-211354.jpg
Pac choi and little gem lettuce really coming on

Update 3.

Been away for two weeks at the end of June. I think the weather has been hot. I gave it a really good water and left it to it and the plot has gone crazy!! Here are some before and after photos. Just two weeks apart.

Before (mid June):

20140627-131056-47456287.jpg

20140627-131059-47459114.jpg

20140627-131057-47457254.jpg

20140627-131058-47458188.jpg

After (end of June):

20140627-131157-47517605.jpg

20140627-131158-47518610.jpg

I actually can hardly believe it!!

And here is what I picked.

20140629-171803-62283164.jpg
From left to right:
Mustard red frills and giant red, lettuce merveille de quatre saisons, rocket, lettuce reine de glace, pac choi
Plus some (strangely shaped) beetroot

20140629-172217-62537199.jpg
Not bad for 6 weeks after planting!