Friday 9 April 2021

Fruit & Veg

Cerise - good enough to eat (last summer's photo)
Tomatoes were a great success last year and requests have already been coming in for more of the same

I think the winner was Cerise - a small sweet variety that can be grown in a pot. It fruited prolifically and was especially appreciated by first-time growers 

So, Cerise is certainly on this year's list but we have considerably expanded the range. As you can see below, propagation is well underway. Germination has been good and we should have more that enough to meet demand. Here's a quick guide to some of the other varieties

Seedlings in the greenhouse 
Tomatoes plants towards the back

Take your pick!

For those who want a traditional British cordon variety we have both Moneymaker and Gardeners' Delight. Lidl have not stocked Harzfeuer this year, instead I've sown their alternative which is called Hildares (from Germany, I imagine)

Marmande, which has bigger fruit than any of these, is French, as the name suggests. A big tomato that is reputedly even bigger on flavour

In terms of smaller size fruits we have Sungold and several derivatives plus a variety that will even grow in a hanging basket: Tumbling Tom. The full line-up is truly international, in addition to France and Germany we have: Sakura (Japan), San Marzano (Italy) and Alicante (Spain)

Of course, it is far to early to plant out tomatoes but I thought readers might like to know what is coming along. We now turn to fruit and veg that can be planted now ...

Well-rooted strawberry plants

Yes, we know that Wimbledon some way off (and, to be honest, I don't know what the plans are) but, whatever happens, you won't get strawberries in June without action now. We have two strawberry offers ...

(1) We have some excellent plants that have done well over the winter, developing really strong root systems - as you can see in the photograph here. Strawberries need full sunshine but are easy to grow - just watch out for slugs (birds like them, too - attracted by the colour, I'm told. I guess the slugs just sniff them out)

(2) Special offer. I have made up a planter with three of my best strawberry plants. I've been bringing them on in the greenhouse so you can be sure of an early crop. There is only one trough available, so it is: first come, first served. You only have to put it in a sunny spot and make sure it doesn't dry out. Feed with ordinary tomato fertiliser and you can guarantee a great crop

Flower buds already forming
Other fruity offers

There are also several rhubarb plants available. They are surely a heritage variety but I'm afraid I don't know the name. Been in Mrs Codger's family since the year dot - and tastes superb

From Codger's side of the family we have Uncle Doug, or so I call it. A cultivated blackberry - good size fruit and lovely flavour. Whereas rhubarb will take some shade, make sure you plant a blackberry in full sun if you want sweet fruit

Heritage rhubarb
We also have a few blueberry plants. Like all the plants mentioned, they should give you fruit this year

Fancy something rather special? Chuckleberry could be the answer. Despite the name - or, perhaps, because of it, this berry makes the best jam in the world - similar to blackcurrant but an even more intense flavour. (I wrote about this hard-to-come-by fruit last year - you could trawl back for more information)

In a similar category we also have a Tummelberry - yes, you read it here first! As with all the above, just get in touch if you are interested (and see below for opening)

Before we move onto vegetables I want to share a sight for sore eyes

Not all gardening surprises are great (Codger has many failures, he readily admits) but I did have surprise yesterday when, seeming overnight, one of my clematis burst into bloom

For most of the year Clematis armandii is recognisable by its rather leathery foliage. It the right place, a useful plant - and the flowers are lovely and so delicate, as you can see (right)

Growing below this clematis (photograph shown below here) I have some unusual snow drops. This is a tall-growing variety so much easier to appreciate - that is, easier on the hands and knees

Well, what about veg?

This is by way of advance information. In a month or so we will be offering runner bean plants (Polestar) and also French beans (several varieties including the reliable Cobra)

There is one veg you can plant now - broad beans. We have a few young plants available as we goo to press - good variety Aquadulce. Worth a try if you have a little space

In due course, I'll remind you of a great snack recipe for broad beans - fantastic flavour, especially the first picking

A small Turk's Turban kept for decoration

Just thought: I ought to add a point about tomato plants. You can have them three ways: (1) plants to put into your border, (2) all potted up and ready-to-go, and (3) innovation: planted up in a baskets (Tumbling Tom, as mentioned above)

We shall also be repeating Grow Your Own Squash - great for kids. The Turk's Turban proved popular as family project last year

Nearly ready

Despite the low temperatures and the nippy wind, we are making good progress and hope soon to welcome anyone who would like to pick up plants. Codger felt that he needed to smarten up his own patch first

Covid-19 restrictions are being eased next week so look out for details in the next edition when we'll return the focus back to plants that will look great in your border. And, I've just realised - it is almost one year now since we first threw open the gates to Codger's Nursery - that was on 18th April 2020. How time flies!

With best wishes from your old friend, the Garden Codger

PS - a few shots to finish

Cherry blossom on the walkway

Dog's Tooth Violet - not quite open - get the name?

Our second, later flowering, camellia - great name Nuccio's Jewel

... and those rather gaudy Fritillaria Imperalis

Thursday 1 April 2021

Photo extra

May blossom on the nearby walkway
It is not altogether clear what the question was but the answer has gone done in the history of quotations: "Events, dear boy, events." So spoke the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. describing the unpredictability of politics

Codger, overtaken by seemingly everyday events, has not found the time to pull together the material for this week's planned edition. So, with my apologies, a few photos to show that, Spring is sprung (although with the erratic weather conditions, unsprung might be the better verb!)

Ground elder eradication programme in action
That ground elder!

Before I show you something pretty, here is one event that has scuppered my timing this week - weeding! But not weeding, as you know it. This is ground-elder-blitzkrieg - following every root back and extricating it from the other roots with which it viciously intertwines

Sadly, all this trouble is a self inflicted injury. I once, rather stupidly, put ground elder on the compost heap. I live to regret it!


Turning to something more pleasant. Mrs Codger loves blooms that appear two-tone. Moreover, Mr Codger loves camellias - so we are both very happy with this variety

Too cold to go out to check but I believe this variety is scented - somewhat unusual for a camellia - must check tomorrow but I fear that there will be is too strong a wind


Epimedium nestling in the shady woodland corner

Not in the same category, I know. But a sneaky reminder that we have some lovely plants looking for a good home! More on fruit and veg next week (held over from this)


I am rather pleased with this result - the first flowering of an epimedium. It is growing in my tiny woodland corner where all the plants are selected for those conditions. Codger finds it really gratifying when the choice works out well

There are a a few dog's tooth violets (erythronium pagoda) also making a showing. I planted the bulbs in the autumn and they are almost in flower - look out in the next edition

Crown imperial

On the patio, away from the shady area, this is another first. Rather showy but rather grand, too, don't you think? A bit of a fling that has paid off

Certainly worthy of its name: fritillaria imperialis! Despite the ten degree drop in temperature I am hoping that we will get the full royal display tomorrow as the blooms open


Rather more humble, violas have their place. I always think they look to be cheerful souls

They seem to sing!

Blossom has suddenly appeared on the pear


Sadly, our time is almost up. It has been grim work attacking the ground elder. But looking up I see our pear in blossom. What promise!

And so appropriate for Easter. Despite other pressures (Mrs Codger has not been too well), I try to keep the main focus right as we approach Good Friday. I continue to be fascinated with Luke's account and was struck by the introduction in today's reading in the series of reflections I have been following 

Page 135 of To Seek and To Save
Sinclair Ferguson comments on the remarkable prominence given to the closing week of Jesus' life on earth (see tailpiece) and then, speaking of the reactions of the two thieves crucified with Jesus, makes the following observation:

We know that the law never works grace: punishment does not make us love; in and of itself it may produce regret, but it cannot produce repentance. Only the hope of forgiveness can produce repentance 

Rather than wish my readers a Happy Easter, may I wish you a contemplative one? And an Easter with an open Bible - God's means of bringing the blessings of the Easter message

So, with my best wishes - from the old Garden Codger

Here are Dr Ferguson's comments taken from the page photographed above:


Luke 23:32, 39-43

The Gospels have sometimes been described as passion narratives with extended introductions. There is an element of truth in this. Luke spends two chapters on the first twelve years of Jesus' life, sixteen chapters on the final three years, and then six chapters on the final week. It is with a view to this week that Jesus lived all previous weeks. So the action is slowed down, frame by frame as it were, to help us to meditate on and take in the significance of what is happening for clearly this part of the Gospel is the key to the whole.

Now Luke devotes two whole chapters to the closing twenty-four hours of Jesus' life. It is with a view to these hours that Jesus has lived all his previous hours.

And here, slowing down even further, Luke devotes five verses to a conversation that may have lasted only a minute or two. But in one sense, it is with a view to what Jesus would accomplish in these few minutes that he lived all previous minutes.

(I might add that I have a spare copy of the book. Don't hesitate to contact me if you would like it. It has forty readings and is wonderful. At least, this old man finds it so)

And, for good measure, one last photo from the shady woodland corner