I think it’s time to go for a walk around the garden, virtually of course, and have a look at where we are starting from. After all, season 2021 is about to really kick-off and there is going to be a whole lot to talk about. Like for example that it’s only the 10th of March and one of our tomato plants has already flowered. I mean what am I meant to do with that exactly? So before it all kicks off, shall we start by having a look back so that we can get a bit of an update on all the stuff that was quietly happening in the background over winter? Sound like a plan?
There are a few things that you guys already know about, but maybe just haven’t had an update in a wee while, and there might be the odd thing I haven’t mentioned at all this season, so let’s go for a walk and see.
The soft fruit
There are two updates about the soft fruit I suppose, the most obvious being the blueberries. The perceptive amongst you will have noticed that I hadn’t really mentioned the blueberries last season and well… that’s because I was kinda embarrassed to admit what I’d done.
So it went like this, think back to last year, or maybe even beyond, when I got the two blueberry plants and was super excited to talk to you guys about potting them up and making sure they had the right soil, yaddah yaddah yaddah. I was so excited. But, the following spring, I pruned them and I made a right mess of it. I cut off loads of the wrong stuff and ended up with very little in the way of fruiting branches. Gutted. But it didn’t stop there. Because I was so gutted and so furious with myself, I kinda lost interest in them a bit, well a heap if I’m honest. And I got lazy. I stopped bothering with the effort of watering them and started just watering them with the tap water like the rest of the garden. Of course, this meant that over time, the soil in the pots became less and less acidic because our water has a slight alkaline PH. And so the plants were not happy.
Now I should point out for those of you who don’t grow blueberries. They like acidic soil. If the soil isn’t acidic, they won’t die, but being unhappy means they don’t fruit. Sigh. So now, I’m having to gradually add ericaceous composts into the pots to re-acidify the soil. Is that even a word? It’s going to be a slow process but I’ve learned my lesson.
So the other thing, which is a bit more exciting is that we now have a couple of blackberry canes (we say bramble). These are replacing the black and red currant bushes, which we’ve been growing for the last couple of years because, well, we discovered that as much as we both think the currants are gorgeous visually… neither of us particularly liked them to eat. Whoops. So a lovely neighbour has those and we’ve replaced them with a couple of brambles. Now we wait for them to settle in 😀
Remember the carrot experiment?
Last year, I decided to try growing carrots through the winter to see if it would give us a bit of a head start this spring. After all, carrots can take forever to get going in our cold, wet springs. So how did it all go? Actually not bad.
So basically, as usual, I grew carrots from seed, but in root trainer in the greenhouse with the intention of transferring them out to the beds once they were a bit bigger. I do this evey year and it’s proven to give me the best harvest of carrots. Last November I decided to take this a step further. So I grew some little seedlings and put them out into the beds, as normal, but to grow through winter. But… I also potted some up in the greenhouse, to see if that would make a difference. Did it?
Well, not through winter really. They are fine, but the carrots in the greenhouse are further on than the ones in the beds. You can see this in today’s video (I’ll post it below). They are fine, but the hope of having spring carrots might not be quite achievable, I don’t think there’ll be actual carrots to eat by the end of April like I’d hoped.
Update… the difference a few days of sun makes – the carrot seedlings in the greenhouse are now (one-week after taking the initial photos) coming on much better than the ones outdoors in the raised bed… so watch this space – it’s looking positive. However, I have carrot seedling already, normally it would be May before I have recognisable carrots. So this is a bonus.
Now the strawberries… there’s a big update for you. We already told you all about the new varieties we were growing and the snow affecting our ability to get the pallet planter finished, well… it’s all done. Hurrah!
So I’ve got it all planted up now, with the three varieties I chose. Two standard red coloured strawberries, Albion and Sweet Heart. The Albion have white flowers and the Sweet Heart have red flowers. And of course, the excitement for this year is the Pineberries, where the fruit is actually white. I’m quite excited.
The planter did eventually come together, but to be honest, we ended up going for something really simple because by the time the weather passed and we were ready to get going, we were kind of sick of the whole project. So it’s quite simple. We’ve got 4 pallets in total. Two rows of two. But… it holds way more than you think, so I’ve got 6 of each variety in there. it’s all quite exciting.
The actual planter itself was a pretty simple build to do, which is why I think it is so popular, that and the fact that most folk can get their hands on pallets for free. All we did, was take the central slats out and then use them to make the bottom of the troughs.
Then, we added a lining of landscape fabric to hold the soil in place, making sure there was decent drainage of course. And voila… one planter. We’ve got them fixed up against the fence at one end of the garden, taking up way less space than a raised bed but providing the same growing opportunity – hurrah.
The whole point of doing this rather than Kate doing of her usual planter builds was to show what can be done, for free, and with very little skill or materials. I have to be honest, it worked better than I expected 😀
We’ll keep checking back on that as the year goes on and we’ll keep you up to date.