Fragaria is a genus of flowering plants in the rose family, Rosaceae. commonly known as strawberry. There are more than twenty species. The most common strawberries grown commercially are cultivars of the garden strawberry, a hybrid known as Fragaria × ananassa. Strawberries have a taste that varies by cultivar and ranges from sweet to tart. Strawberries are widely grown in all temperate regions of the world.
When I bought the Rhubarb crown I ordered fifteen strawberry crowns. The variety is Hapil and I am hoping for a harvest of large juicy fruit in the Summer. I have grown strawberries off and on for years but have never tried this variety before.
Fragaria x ananassa Hapil isa Belgium bred strawberry that bears heavy crops of orange/red berries with a good flavour. I have given the roots of the plants a dusting of mycorrhizal fungi powder and potted up into multi purpose compost. Having watered well I have topped off with Strulch, a straw based mulch, to try and ward off the slugs who seem to like the fresh new green leaves. During the fruiting season place a protective collar of dry straw around to keep the strawberries clean. Remember to grow on some of the runners as strawberry plants usually only last well for about three years.
I have just been reading back on the blog after doing a search for Rhubarb. When we had the allotment one of the resounding successes was the Rhubarb bed. It was not hard work and gave us a bountiful harvest year after year. I have bought a root of Rhubarb Victoria which was the best variety in my opinion being hardy, productive and very tasty. I bought it from McIntyres again as, based on experience, I trust them to provide good healthy plants.
Victoria is a long established main crop variety and I am sure it is the variety that we had in my family garden when I was growing up in the prefab. We had a large wrap around garden which my mother put to good use growing produce for the table plus flowers. Happy days!!!
Rhubarb Victoria fruits during the summer months and can grow to 3′ so I shall need to prepare a good space for it. I have an initial spot in mind but I don’t intend to put it into the ground until the soil warms up a bit and I have dug in some good rotted compost. I intend to give the roots a dusting of mycorrhizal fungi powder to encourage the root to establish well.
The roots of Rhubarb need to go deep so an depth of two spades needs to be worked and plenty of rotted manure added if available.
Plant as soon as the weather permits and in a position that gets the sun.
Dig the hole large enough to avoid disturbing the crown and the root ball and with space all around to allow for root growth. The crown is at or just below the soil level. Firm in gently and water in well.
Follow Up Care
Pruning: Remove all flower spikes as they appear as you don’t want your plant to go to seed.
Mulch: Mulch annually with well rotted compost or manure and cover with straw avoiding the crown.
Water: Water regularly during the fruiting season and especially in very dry periods.
Feeding: Apply a high potash feed in February and for best results a liquid feed every couple of weeks during the fruiting season.
Warning: The leaves of Rhubarb are extremely toxic
I bought a few fruiting bushes for Laura as although she had a go at flowers and a few peas, beans and tomatoes last year she has never grown fruit. I searched online and found a company called James McIntyre and Sons operating in Perthshire in Scotland. Delivery was prompt, plants were well packed and in good condition. They have been over wintered in the garden and we are just now potting on and planning where they will live in the garden. I would definitely use this grower again. Their product is excellent.
Rubus Idaeus Raspberry – Tulameen
Raspberry Tulameen was bred in Canada. It is a summer (July and August) fruiting variety, and is sold as an excellent variety for growing in pots. It is supposed to be disease resistant and have fruit with a sweet aromatic flavour. Instructions for pruning says remove the canes that have fruited and train in new canes for next year. The cane will probably need the support of a post. Soil must be kept moist during fruiting time. The cane will probably grow to five feet. Apply a high potash feed in February each year.
Vaccinium Corymbosum Blueberry Chandler
Chandler blueberries could have been designed for amateur growing. The taste is outstanding, the berries are large and fruit for a long season from August to September. Blueberries are a superfood with high levels of anti-oxidants and anti-cancer agents. Chandler is an upright plant growing to 4ft and is easy to cultivate. All blueberries need moist, free-draining ericaceous acidic soil. This healthy looking plant has been repotted today in a large pot of fresh ericaceous compost. We already have three other older Blueberry bushes in the garden and these fruit, whilst being self fertile do fruit better with cross pollinators nearby. Apparently they are members of the heather family and need the same conditions as any other heather. That’s news to me. Very interesting. Update 25th May 2021. This plant looks dead. I will leave it for now. Update 18th March: This Blueberry Chandler has been replaced by McIntyres for which I am very grateful. They have been a good all round family company as promised.
Green Gooseberry Hannonmaki
This is a variety of gooseberry, Hannonmaki Green, that I have grown before at the allotment. It was very rewarding large juicy fruit with a sweet taste. It is a traditional variety producing an abundance of green-yellow fruit with a fresh and tangy flavour. The hardy bushes reach a height of about three feet with attractive bushy foliage. The fruit is ready from June to July and is useful fresh or in pies, jams and crumbles. As I remember this bush looked after itself requiring a little pruning back in the winter for the following year. I have missed having fruit in the garden and look forward to the gooseberries even though only one plant I think it will provide enough for us. Update 25th May 2021. This plant looks dead. Treated exactly the same as the others too. Update 16th March: This plant has also been replaced. Excellent service.
Red Gooseberry Hannonmaki
This traditional variety has a good resistance to disease and produces a heavy crop of fruit. The ruby-red, medium-sized gooseberries are sweet when ripe in July.
Pink Currant Gloire de Sablons
The Pink Currant is another old favourite that I grew at the allotment. This particular variety is new to me though. It is sold as a heavy cropping variety fruiting in July. It is a beautiful bush visually when the fruit is hanging like jewels and the jam I used to make from them was amazing.
Red Currant Rosetta
Red Currant Rosetta is also a new variety to me but my memories of the ones I grew on the allotment are vibrant and luckily I brought back a good cutting from one of my very established bushes which has really grown well in the garden. These shrubs are very easy to propagate so when they are a couple of years old I shall take cutting from the new ones. Once planted a mulch of well-rotted manure every spring as well as a nitrogen and potassium fertiliser will help to increase the fruit production. Make sure the plant is watered in dry weather. In the first year prune back to one bud above soil level in winter. After that prune out weak branches only. The plants I bought are already two to three years old so should be ok left alone.
Apparently Jhonkeer is a parent of this new Dutch variety. I am looking forward to cooking with it and cant wait to see the large fruit hanging in glowing red clusters.
Ribes Nigrum – Blackcurrant Big Ben
Blackcurrants have always been a favourite of mine and I just love jam made from these fruits. This variety, Big Ben, has been bred by The Scottish Crop Institute. It is an early season variety producing, as its name suggests, larger than average sized fruit. It is self-fertile, cropping in July and is disease resistant.
Goji berries are also known as Lycium barbarum. The goji berry is native to Asia where it has been used for more than 2,000 years as a medicinal herb and food supplement. Goji berries are widely available to purchase in health food shops and online. This is a completely new fruit to me. I have read quite a bit about it and I bought it because of its reputation as a super fruit with health giving properties.
Lycium barbarum was introduced to the United Kingdom in the 1730s by the Duke Of Argyll but the plant was mostly used for hedges and decorative gardening.
According to RHS the plants begin to fruit after two-to-three years. Berries appear from late summer until the first frosts. Only fully ripe fruit are edible. Fruit can turn black when handled so consider harvesting by shaking the berries gently from the plant onto a sheet placed beneath. Hmmmmm. Not convinced. The advice is it is best to train plants against a wall or fence tying the lax stems onto wires and to wear gloves for protection against spines. This will be an education for us. I’m not sure that I can eat these berries yet.
I have recently treated myself to a juicer. Initially it was to use up all the frozen berries that had accumulated in the freezer because I hadn’t been making jam. However, I am now very keen to try to consume a daily smoothie having read about the health benefits. Apparently its not just fruit that can be used up by juicing but vegetables too. My Aicok Juicer is small and was relatively cheap and is the centrifugal type.
There are two main types of juicer, centrifugal, the most popular and the cheapest and masticating cold press or slow juicers. Centrifugal machines shred ingredients with their toothed blades on the bottom of a spinning sieve with a force that separates the juice from the pulp. They often have two speeds for hard or soft fruits and veg while pricier ones sometimes enable you to juice particularly soft fruits like berries. Centrifugal juicers generally tend to be smaller than masticating ones and work quickly. Some don’t even require you to chop fruit and veg up first. Masticating or cold press machines crush fruit and veg using slowly rotating augers that press out the juice through a punctured screen. There’s little they can’t juice but be warned, they are slower and often trickier to clean.
The next step is to discover which fruit and vegetables mix well together and which ones taste good. It seems obvious to me that any fruit and veg are healthy but not all go well together. The first experiment was made from what was available in the kitchen on that day. I had two bananas, half a pineapple and a few grapes plus a couple of scoops of Greek yoghurt and a good spoon of honey. This first try taught me something. I put everything that I was using in together through the little funnel to be juiced. Wrong!!! I should have just juiced the fruit and then added the yoghurt and honey to the smoothie afterwards. Made perfect sense after the event. I have since made juice with some frozen red currants, blackberries and raspberries that have been sitting in the freezer since last Autumn. I think I am going to love my new gadget. A few days on and although I have enjoyed quite a few smoothie drinks I am dismayed at the pulp waste which gathers in the bottom of the machine. I have given some to the chickens and composted some but am still shocked at the amount of waste created. I think citrus fruit in particular is still best done by hand in the old fashioned squeezer.
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.
Today, 11th March, I have planted ten Strawberry Senga Sengana bought as bare-root plants. I have read good things about this variety of strawberries 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 of strawberry 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.
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.
I have a lemon tree in the garden that I think I bought from Crocus.com many years ago. It used to be in a pot in the porch but at some point I transplanted it into the ground. This year I plan to move it again into a new large pot and am busy reading up about the best soil mix needed.
I have read that Lemon trees can be grown in pots outdoors in summer and brought inside for the winter. The fragrant flowers appear all year round apparently but are especially abundant in late winter. The fruit ripens up to twelve months later so they often flower and fruit at the same time. Although I have had this plant for many years I know very little about how to care for it. Although I have read conflicting information I think my best bet is to wait until Spring to re-pot this lemon tree. Pot and compost are waiting so here’s to Spring.
I bought a pack of lemons from the supermarket last week and just for fun I have put ten collected seeds in some damp kitchen towel and sealed them into a plastic freezer box to try and get them to sprout. Following advice from Lee of Project Diaries on YouTube I have peeled away the outer husk from the seed. It’s Thursday 12th January so I will be recording the germination time. Update 18th January one of the seeds has germinated. It is seven days since I set them. I have put the sprouted lemon seed into a 3″ pot of compost today 19th January. Monday 23rd January and two more seeds have sprouted. I have put them in damp compost like the other one. However the first one put in on 19th has still to show its head above the compost.
The seed must still be moist when it is buried into the soil. Sow the seed about half an inch deep in the middle of the pot.Spray gently with water from a spray bottle.Cover with clear plastic. Place the pot in a warm place until it sprouts. Don’t allow to dry out. After about two weeks, when the leaves emerge take the plastic cover off. Two weeks to wait then. One week on, 29th Jan, one seedling through.
I have completed harvesting the pears from the garden this morning. This tree had no fruit at all last year but this season has been great with lovely blossom in the spring and loads of fruit. I understand that these pears keep well but I shall be having a look at how I can use them in cooking as there are so many.
The Minarette Damson tree that I bought from Ken Muir has done us proud this year. It was beautiful in the Spring when it was smothered with blossom and I have picked five pounds of fruit this week. We love Damsons and quite a few have been eaten already. I have made four jars of jam today.