Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Blueberry Patriot – Vaccinium Corymbosum

I have bought two roots of Blueberry Patriot from Lidl. They were two for £3 so worth a risk. I have a Blueberry bush that is quite a few years old that I think I got from Wilkos for a couple of pounds and it has paid me back over and over with fruit. This early season variety is said to have large berries and be a reliable and heavy cropper. I am going to plant them tomorrow in a large pot with a mix of all purpose and ericaceous compost. I am a bit doubtful about them as they look quite weak but let’s see what a bit of tender care can do. 11th April – there are signs of fresh growth but not looking promising for this year.

Patriot is an early season variety. It has been developed as a cold hardy variety that will bear consistent crops of large sized fruit, fruits can sometimes reach the size of a 10p coin. Cropping is high, ranging between 10 and 20 pounds when the bush is mature. The berries are dark blue and highly flavoured. Patriot is a low growing, spreading bush reaching a height of around 4 feet. It is adaptable to many soil types and will perform better in moist soils than many other varieties. Patriot looks fabulous in the garden with its showy white blooms in the spring, dark green summer foliage, and fiery orange autumn colours.

Senga Sengana Strawberry – Rambling Cascade

Today, 11th March, I have planted ten Strawberry Senga Sengana bought as bare root plants. I have read good things about this variety and look forward to tasting. I am not sure if I should expect fruit in the first year or whether I will have to wait until next year. I live in hope. 21st May and plenty of fruits forming on these plants.

The flavour of this variety is exceptional. The large fruits are sweet and very juicy.  This is the perfect variety of strawberry for growing in hanging baskets or window boxes.  Whilst no strawberry can climb Rambling Cascade can be trained and tied into a trellis. They are of course also suitable for open ground growing and is a fantastic variety for those considering growing in matted rows. Recommended by the RHS to be an excellent attractant and nectar source for bees and other beneficial insects. Senga Sengana is self fertile and can be grown in pots or open ground. Information from Victoriana Nursery.

 

Pineberry – White Strawberry

I bought five bare roots of these unusual strawberries and after giving them a drink and a rest I have planted them into a wooden wine box to grow on before finding them a final bed in the garden.

Pineberry is an albino strawberry cultivar with a pineapple-like flavour, white colouring, and red seeds. Pineberry is based on the original strawberry hybrids that arose in cultivation in Europe, with recent selective breeding to improve the plants. It is a hybrid of Fragaria chiloensis, originating in South America, and Fragaria virginiana, originating in North America, the same parentage as the garden strawberry Fragaria × ananassa. The first commercial cultivation occurred in 2010 in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Honeydew Melon – Try Try Try Again

Six chitted seeds from a shop bought Honeydew Melon have been placed into a module tray and covered in polythene. Germination was super quick, they had quite a long shoot emerging after two days.  4th Feb. If I can grow them on into a decently strong plant they can be put into the ground at the allotment. Apparently they need three months of growing time after this point. I have tried many times over the years but always directly into the ground. Second batch sown today 7th Feb.

Raspberry Canes

We potted up three raspberry canes yesterday. They were from Lidl so only £2.47 for the three. They look very healthy with a good root system but have no variety on them or any indication as to wether they are Summer or Autumn fruiting. I already have one raspberry plant given to me by my sister. We plan to erect a post and wire row for them all in the Spring.

Raspberries are best in full sun. They produce new canes in the first year and these canes fruit in the second year. First year canes are green and second year canes have a thin brown bark. It is best to prune back the cane after it has fruited. Maybe we will do what we do with the red currants and cut the wood back whilst it is covered in ripe berries. That way you do two jobs in one and the branch can be taken home to remove the fruit then trimmed and used as a cutting for a new plant.

Pear – Pyrus Communis

Surprisingly the pear tree is a relative of the rose and the quince. Of our three pear trees in the garden only one has given us a decent amount of fruit this year. The Red Williams, a Minarette,  did have three baby pears but only one has reached maturity. It is a corker however and we are looking forward to next year when we may see more fruit. The Conference has no fruit at all but is a very healthy tree. The Beurre Hardy has about fourteen fruit all looking great and they should be ready to harvest soon. Late September or October is the time for picking pears I believe so it wont be long now.

Pears are a good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C, potassium and copper. A slow-releasing energy fruit, excellent for helping to balance blood sugar levels.

 

More Jam Than Hartleys

The kitchen window ledge is now full of jars of jam made from the fruit harvested from the allotment. I do still have some picking to do but I am nearly at the end of it. I have kept a few for ourselves which are in the fridge, given some away and have thirty two jars needing new homes. I have Black Currant, Red Currant, Pink Currant, Red Gooseberry and Green Gooseberry.

I used all the Victoria Plums in a pie. Although the tree was covered in blossom in the Spring only fourteen plums survived the very cold spell. The Damson Merryweather is still not ripe and I would imagine I will get another pie out of that. Both the cherry trees did well this year and the fruit was all eaten as it ripened. The pears are showing a few fruit and should be ready soon. All in all for such young trees they haven’t done badly.

Jams and Jellies

It’s that time of year again. Time to pick the fruit and make the jams and jellies. To date I have made four jars of red gooseberry, one of yellow gooseberry and six jars of blackcurrant. I have already used up all my saved jars and freezer boxes and there is still a load to pick. I think I may have to invest in some bought jars but they are so expensive to buy the decision is yet to be made.

http://www.citychickens.co.uk/2009/07/29/currants-black-red-and-pink/

Apple – Elstar Malus Domestica

Today I bought an apple tree from Aldi. It is an Elstar, an offspring of the Golden Delicious.  I bought this cultivar once before and it died. However the original cost £25.99 and this one only cost £3.99 so there is not so much to risk. Oh well I was just as disappointed when this tree died but it was a bit easier because of the low cost.

Elstar is a crunchy apple. The flesh is lemon-white. In most Golden Delicious offspring it is the other parent which provides the essential counter-balance to offset the sweet blandness of Golden Delicious. In the case of Elstar this is Ingrid Marie, a variety which originates from Denmark. Although not a widely-known apple, it lends a bit of sharpness to the mix – inherited from its own parent, Cox’s Orange Pippin. The result is Elstar, which is probably one of the best Golden Delicious offspring.

Blueberry Darrow

blueberrydarrowI have bought another Blueberry bush to grow alongside our original one. I have chosen Blueberry Darrow from Wiggly Wigglers. They say it bears the largest blueberry known and is a late season, self fertile compact bush. It will be planted in ericaceous compost in a tall pot to stand next to our other one.  

Blueberry Darrow is the largest fruit known, late season, mid to late August, upright compact bush and orange autumn tints.
Self fertile
. information from wigglywigglers.com