I went to Northiam this morning to pick the crop from the cherry tree we rent there (The Telegraph Magazine had a lovely feature about the orchard last Saturday). We had planned to go on Sunday, but with the possibility of heavy rain tomorrow there is the danger that the ripe cherries will split. If the forecast rain does arrive tomorrow I can spend the day freezing and bottling what we won’t eat fresh in the next few days. Cherry clafoutis is a must.
Find out about renting a cherry tree here : www.rentacherrytree.co.uk
After all the struggles to get things growing earlier in the year, yet again nature has proved that when the conditions are right there’s no struggle involved. The runner beans and French beans I sowed 2 weeks ago are growing fast in the greenhouse and will be hardened off over the next week before planting them out, the first sowing of peas (protected by a coldframe) are growing well and the broad beans have flower buds.
I spent a couple of happy hours putting up my sweet pea and bean supports. They are either side of the coldframe so that later in the season when the supports are covered, they will filter the sun that reaches the coldframe so that I can plant my courgettes there. With our light sandy soil I find the courgettes appreciate the additional humidity (I do remove the coldframe lid during the summer).
I’m being determinedly optimistic and telling myself that this cold easterly wind will swing round before long and the shivering days will be over replaced by the ‘I’ve been gardening in my t-shirt’ days. In the meantime I’ve been bringing plants on in my Grow Light Garden and the dwarf French beans that will move to the greenhouse once the weather obliges, are looking fantastically healthy. I sowed them in GroChar seed compost which I keep much drier than conventional compost and they seem really happy. At this rate they will be cropping before they make it as far as the greenhouse.
Yesterday I was listening to James Wong (@Botanygeek) on Five Live talking through the merits of growing your own fruit and vegetables. For those of you that missed it James was questioning why we are still growing the same basic fruit and veg on our allotments that we grew in 1940. It was his suggestion that buying all the kit to grow your own basics might end up costing you more than buying the actual veg from your local supermarket. I thought I’d do some digging to see if anyone had actually worked this out. Gold medal for accuracy goes to Tiger Sheds who have created this infographic breaking down all the costs. Pleasingly it’s still cheaper, healthier and more rewarding to grow your own !
Now, what James went on to say has merit, his suggestion is to look further than the basics that are widely available. Instead look to grow more expensive options like saffron. Not only does this autumn flowering bulb look great but it produces a harvest which is more valuable in weight than gold. On top of this it will continue to deliver the world’s most expensive spice every Autumn for the next 15 years. You can’t argue with the logic. Naturally you’ll need to buy his new book ’Homegrown Revolution’ for further inspiration and tips. I might even order a copy myself.
© Daniel Carruthers