|Hinnonmaki Red - the fruit start green then turn red|
Strange thing how fashion plays a part in gardening. I have stood up for rhubarb, guessing that many people do not eat it these days. I now want to do the same for the good old gooseberry. They are fairly easy to grow - and they are delicious. Looking at those in the photograph here, you might think they are almost ready to eat. Wrong! They still have a way to go. With gooseberries, Garden Codger likes to recommend a red variety: Hinnonmaki Red. It is sweet and the bush tends to crop well. Although I class it as fairly easy, I did get caught out this year by the early season. There was a lot of new growth and I did not get round to pruning. That will mean less fruit as the bush is now very congested. Later on, I must get out the secateurs and tidy the thing up, removing old growth. This will encourage fruiting on the new growth next season. The prospective of both pruning and harvesting brings to a problem with gooseberries: the thorns - yes, they are sharp. Thick leather gloves needed - but I remain a champion for the gooseberry
|Something to chuckle about|
Currants - black, white and red - are all worth considering. Many of these berried plants can be crossed and I must tell you about one, in particular, that you may not have heard of. You can see it on the left. Looking, for all the world, like a blackcurrant - but it isn't. It is the progeny of a redcurrant crossed with a gooseberry crossed with a Jostaberry (itself a cross!) - and the result? A chuckleberry. Yes, you read it here first. I have two young plants with just a few currants - this being their first season. Why bother? They have the most amazing taste. If blackcurrant jam is your favourite, then try chuckleberry - it has an incredible tangy flavour. Worth seeking out
|Logan, Tay and Tummel - sounds like Scottish solicitors!|
Blackberries and the like
The attraction of blackberries and related berries in the bramble category is that they grow vertically. Therefore, ty take up little space and so are excellent in the small garden. Since I like to try things out (fiddle around, Mrs Codger says) I have a little collection – shown left. It comprises a loganberry, a tayberrry, and ta ummelberry. After two years doing nothing, they are growing like crazy this season. All I did was give them a load of garden compost over winter. The result you can see. I’m dying to find out what a tummelberry tastes like! Like the gooseberry, they have all grown like never before this year. I shall report back on the harvest when it comes
It is worth mentioning that many of these soft fruits propagate very easily. Brambles reproduce as soon as a growing tip hits soil. Just let roots develop than snip off - you have a new plant! Strawberries put out runners that root in a similar way. Experts say that strawberry plants should be discarded after three years – so this is where your new stock comes from. Easy!
Raspberries have their own way. They tend to throw up new plants from their roots. I am unsure how much this varies from variety to variety. One of the many things I need to find out more about. I suspect that some of my canes are due for replacement but others are growing away fine in this sunny weather. But rain is promised for tomorrow. Hooray!
|Inside looking very different|
Another oddity of the remarkable Spring we have experienced concerns tomatoes. I have planed out the outdoor tomatoes before attending to those destined to grow in the greenhouse. Anyway, despite yesterday's heat, the job is now done. One side of the greenhouse has been completely cleared of the dozens of young plants growing in trays. As you can see (left), bamboo canes have been erected and the tomatoes planted. I have decided to try a wider range of varieties so I can improve my knowledge of what does best particularly, with the ever-popular cherry tomato. As well as comparing varieties, it will also be interesting to compare those grown inside with those grown outside
Today, I have to work through the many plants that need to find a new home. I have already unearthed some Butternut Squash I had forgotten about. Interested? The variety is Walton - bred to grow in the British climate. Several plants spare - just let me know if you would like to try
So, there's work to do. For now ...
... best wishes from the old Garden Codger
|Close-up of a young pear on Doyenné du Comice|
By the way, I also thought to check how the pear tree is doing. The pears, when ripe, might almost qualify as soft fruit. They melt in the mouth and have a delectable and delicate flavour. The variety is a French classic: Doyenné du Comice. I grow the tree, espalier fashion, against a West-facing fence. It seems happy there but a feature of the variety is its cropping which is somewhat unpredictable year on year
I noticed that the clusters of tiny pears have already thinned - a natural process it seems
Must go! - talk about the sublime to the ridiculous: Old Codger takes you from Doyenné du Comice to the Chuckleberry!