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

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