Under The Gooseberry Bush

You may remember that I left you with a picture of the gooseberry bushes in our allotment. Well, after all the hard work put in by The Husband I had  the fun of picking the fruit on a rare, sunny Sunday evening. By the time I took these pictures the shadows were fairly long. It must have been around 9pm.

It was such a treat to be in the garden at such a quiet time. I kept hearing rustling and wondered if it was a fox. The Husband and Son Number One disturbed one about this time last year. Son Number One was full of excitement about it. He wasn’t sure if it was a fox or a red panda! I didn’t see any  mammals so I think the noises were just birds hopping around.

We’ve had a resident thrush this year, bashing snails to bits. I’d like to think that thrushes have done well this year, as snails, their favourite food have been in plentiful supply. Seeing it in the garden made me think of my Dad. He always had a soft spot for them and, much to my Mum’s annoyance, refused to use slug pellets in case they were responsible for the decline in song thrush numbers. Slug pellets were one of the many areas of garden management that Mum and Dad disagreed on!

Anyway, back to the harvesting. Last year, I left it too late to pick the majority of the gooseberries and suddenly they were all gone. I blamed the birds. Good job I wasn’t trying to win the Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show, which is not so far away from me.

Why did I leave it so late? I just couldn’t wrap my brain around picking something so tart.  This year, after talking to a friend about rhubarb, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment (yes, my life is this exciting). I realised that I have no problem with picking rhubarb, sour though it is, and cooking it with LOTS of sugar. Why should gooseberries be any different?

Of course, picking gooseberries is a slightly hazardous experience. They have incredibly thorny branches. Despite wearing gloves, my hands and arms came under quite an attack. Nevertheless I managed to pick a reasonable amount of fruit.

Shall we take a closer look…

Erm, you might recall the title of my last post? Seems I managed to bring a ‘friend’ home. I really took this picture to show that my bucket was full to the 8 litre mark. In fact there turned out to be 5.3kg or over 11 lb of gooseberries. Not bad for zero gardening effort.

 

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Slug Paradise

We may not be enjoying the wet summer but the weeds and pests are. When the weather is bad, it’s easy to let your gardening duties slip. Unfortunately that has happened in our allotment. The Husband spent the day on Saturday trying to get to grips with the lush growth that has sprung up. I hope that you can see the fruits of his labours in these photos.

Our salad leaves and beetroot can be seen at the front of this ‘after’ picture. I don’t understand why some of them have bolted? I always thought bolting was a result of lack of water. How ironic that I planted them next to our water butts to ensure they could be well looked after. I suspect our water butts have been overflowing this year.

The tall yellow flowers in the first picture are parsnips that have gone to seed. I’m quite surprised that he cut them down because the insects love them and we’re suckers for bees and hoverflies. The daisies and dark red flowers (hollyhocks?) are in Son Number One’s patch. They do look pretty, even if they are a bit floppy and wild.

I think you can see the most dramatic change here. The patch of purple sprouting broccoli (psb for short) has finally been cleared. I’m really disappointed that we didn’t eat more of it. I discovered that psb and not wheat was what was giving me major stomach aches. I wonder if a different variety would be less difficult to digest? I love psb so if you’ve got an answer, please let me know. The bed next to our greenhouse has strawberries in it. As usual, they have produced lots of fruit, but sadly, most of it has rotted. The chap who does gardening at my children’s school told me he put his strawberries in pots this year so the fruits don’t touch the ground. Very wise. How did he know it was going to be such a wet year? I don’t think I will be making strawberry jam this year. To the left of the greenhouse are my onions that are still doing well. We consciously chose to plant more of these this year as they are so low maintenance. Potatoes and onions grow without needing the love that seedlings do and they don’t need much processing when they are harvested.

We have had some successes this year. The tough, perennial plants that can thrive despite an onslaught of slugs and a lack of sunshine are doing really well. Above are our globe artichokes. They are producing lots of lovely heads that are crying out to be preserved in oil. Just another ‘to do’ job to add to the list.

Finally, the soft fruit bushes are growing well, particularly the gooseberries. I have lot of plans for these. Hopefully, that will be my next post….

 

The flowers in my garden

On Sunday night I went out in to the garden to take a picture for a post I am working on. I hadn’t intended to go around taking pictures of the flowers in my garden but that’s what I did. Since the rain has returned and the garden now looks like this…

I thought it would be nice to be cheered up by some bright blooms. Here they are…

Turning left out of the back door The Husband has his collection of new lavender and peiris plants.

Moving along the patio to the left you reach our climbing frame (you can see it in my second picture). We purchased this from Activity Toys a local company based on a diversified farm. It’s a great place to visit if you want outdoor toys because they have a field with lots of different play frames set up. This was essential to us as we had a really awkward space to fill and we needed to get the tape measure out. They also sell ‘seconds’ usually with a hefty discount. Our frame was £100 less than the normal retail price.

I think we bought the climbers and clematis in the autumn of 2009, not long after we purchased the frame. They were all quite small and were on offer in Aldi. I have no idea what varieties they are. As this is a small, family garden we have gone for climbers more than anything else. I dont think herbaceous perennials would stand much chance.

This mauve clematis is one of three we have growing up our climbing frame. It’s done quite well this year, reaching right up to the crossbar where the swing is suspended.

I think this is some sort of Jasmine that is also growing up the climbing frame. It’s doing a good job of covering up the bare wooden poles. Unlike the purple clematis below.

This bright pink clematis is growing around our garden seat (see second picture). It has only produced one bloom and sadly, it can’t be seen from the house.

The same flower but close up.

At the right hand side of our garden we have quite a lot of climbing, rambling plants that were there when we moved in. They are not very dramatic but I like the green-ness of them compared to the relatively bare fence on the left. They contain a few things that encourage wildlife into the garden. For example there is a flowering cherry that looks lovely when it blooms earlier in the spring. It is now providing food for all the starlings that are about. Lower down we have cotoneaster and honeysuckle growing together.

Bees love them both.

My final picture is a sneak peak at what I went outside to photograph in the first place. Can you work out what it is?