I really dig up the garlic the week before last but it has been drying and I only cleaned it up last week. We grew elephant garlic and a variety called Marco as this was the only varoety at the nursery when I went to buy it.
Marco has done very well and produced good sized bulbs. The opposite is true for the elephant garlic which has produced bulbs smaller that I would expect. The photo above on the left shows an elephant garlic next to a bulb of Marco. If anything Marco on the right is the larger of the two.
One issue is that the cloves in some bulbs have split apart as shown in the photo above on the right. I'm not sure why this has happened bit the cloves still look useable.
We pick salad leaves and a mini cucumber each day. We also like to add a sprig of mint to our salads and sandwiches. We've found the salad leaves more useful than the whole lettuces and so have bought some more varieties of seeds to sow in the salad bar.
We almost mossed that some of the figs in the greenhouse had ripened. We actually picked ten fruits but six aren't in the photo as we thought they were over-ripe and probably useless. Happily we were wroing and they were fine.
The sweet peas and courgettes are now getting intto the swing and providing regular pickings.
Friday's harvest brought a couple of surprises. Some of our berry fruit is either starting to either wind down or we have picked plenty to store in the freezer but I noticed the first few fruits had ripened on our thornless blackberry - Loch Ness. This variety always seems much earlier than the thorny varieties but the ripening of the first fruits always takes me by surprise.
In an earlier post I mentioned that the blackcurrants were smaller that usual, well now the later fruit us a much better size.
The second surprise fell to Martyn. He was clearing weeds from the concrete bed destined for planting our winter brassicas when he came across a crop of volunteer potatoes, They had produced quite a good crop of unblemished potatoes especially surprising considering the bone dry rock hard medium that they were growing in. (We are desperately hoping for some rain now to give us half a chance of planting the brassicas).
Peas and climbing beans are also struggling through lack of moisture. We try to prioritise them when watering but to give them enough would require an agricultural water cannon.
We did manage a picking of peas and some yellow - Golden Sweet - (More pale green to me) and green - Carouby de Maussane - mangetout.
We lifted some of the autumn planted onions which have done really well being one crop to have thrived in the dry conditions. Even the red variety that can be a bit temperamental have produced good bulbs. They haven't been watered at all but still haven't died down completely. In fact this year it is hard to distinguish between the autumn and spring planted onions
Back in May I wrote a series of posts entitled "Come into the garden". The aim was to give readers an idea of the layout of our garden so I drew a little plan.
Already the plan is out of date! Note the red cross on the now outdated plan - well something has changed here.
If you read this post that Martyn wrote then you will have some idea of what I am referring to. If you are interested he has some 'before' photos and explanations how the bed was made.
We now have a mini pebble bed at the far side (from the house) of the pond. It's been dubbed mini pebble bed as we also have a larger version at the house end of the pond.
From the bedroom window we can just catch a glimpse of the new bed.
And here is the view from the lawn.
It isn't fully planted up yet as we want to fill it with plants that we really like rather than just buying plants for the sake of filling the space.
The first plant that we bought was Rhodoxis - Fairy Tale and earlier this week week we visited an alpine nursery and came away with:
Oxalis - Jay
Rhodohypoxis - Slack Top
Potentilla - Eriocarpa
Campanula - Arvatica
Corydalis - Kingfisher
Rhodohypoxis - E A Bowles
Some of the plant labels specified free drainage was important so we added a bag of grit into the top layer of soil and also popped a layer of grit in the planting hole of the plants needing good drainage.
There are not many alpine type plants flowering at the moment and we would like to see the flowers before buying so we will be on the lookout for one or two more plants, when we visit nurseries over the next few weeks.
Harvesting is almost a full time job at the moment and we are having to squeeze in some essential jobs when we can which includes writing blog posts and visiting favourite blogs.
It's not just the picking - you can understand why soft fruit is expensive - but there's also all the podding and picking over once the harvest arrives home. Not that we are complaining as our hoard will serve us well throughout the year.
Monday and Tuesday's harvest
The peas are producing well at the moment giving us lots to eat fresh and lots to freeze. Frozen home grown peas in the midst of winter are a treat.
The courgettes are now producing fruit in a range of shapes and colours. We are trying to catch them whilst they are still small but no doubt we will fail to keep up.
As we enjoy the first of they courgettes we have harvested and thoroughly enjoyed the last of the cherries. What a treat they were.
A few cherry tomatoes from Martyn's early experimental plants were added to out salads which also include freshly picked herbs and salad leaves that don't feature in photos.
We picked the last of the Witkiem Manita broad beans and the cauliflowers just keep on coming and so some have to be frozen.
The main problem was prioritising the fruit to be picked and trying not to devote all our time to picking as much of one type of fruit as we could
The sweet peas are beginning to flower just in time to take over from the sweet Williams which have now gone over. The dianthus that has sneaked into the vase are the first flowers from cuttings that I took from bunches of flowers bought earlier.
The jostaberries have done really well this year and maybe to make up for devastating the plot cherry tree, the wood pigeons have either been content to eat fallen fruit or found something more to their liking elsewhere.
Jostaberry bushes grow quite large and even after yearly trimming have slightly outgrown my 5' 1" (approx 1.5m). We inadvertently ended up with six bushes as bits of prunings root really easily! It's a good job that we like the fruit.
We picked the first of our dwarf - Robin Hood broad beans. The plants grow between 1' and 1.5' (30 - 45 cm) tall. We picked these small.
This time the sweet peas have been combined with a few cornflowers and some ammi from the annual bed which is just beginning to flower.
The collection above shows a small collection picked to add to our evenings fruit salad. We have no idea what some varieties are as they were grown from cuttings given to us. The green one is Hinnonmaki yellow and we have a Pax some of which we picked on Sunday. All develop into sweet fruit if left to mature fully before picking. I tend to use the taste and squeeze gently test.
It's tempting to just carry on picking fruit until the bushes are bare but we really have enough redcurrants now even though the bushes are still dripping with fruit. Up until now they have been protected under netting but I have now opened up the 'cage' to let in the blackbirds. Knowing how contrary they have been in the past they will probably lose interest now the currants are being offered freely.
Plot tasks are being restricted to essential ones at the moment as it is soft fruit picking time! Everything seems to ripen at once and call out pick me!
We have to prioritise which fruit we pick first. The list of criteria on which the decisions are based is:
Will it spoil if left longer?
Is it falling off the plant?
Will the birds or slugs beat us to it?
Have we already picked and stored plenty?
Raspberries and strawberries need to be picked quickly. All three varieties of summer raspberry that we grow - Glen Ample, Glencoe and Tulameen - are ripening now. The tayberries too don't want to be kept hanging around.
We had a first taste of one of our new strawberry varieties this week - Malwina - and it is delicious. The alpine strawberries are picked when time allows as they usually continue fruiting throughout the summer.
The jostaberries and gooseberries had started to fall and so these had to be picked. Wood pigeons seem partial to jostaberries and often break the branches on the bushes when stealing the fruit but so far this year the bushes are undamaged.
The wood pigeons stripped the leaves off the Summer sun cherry on the plot and consequently it bore no fruit. Fortunately they weren't attracted to the Stella cherry growing in a pot in the garden. It hasn't produced many fruits but they were especially precious and so the tree has been draped with fleece as bird protection and we have been rewarded with a few superb cherries.
The redcurrants have been waiting their turn to be picked. They are dripping with fruit but the strings hang on well as long as they are protected from the blackbirds that adore them. Picking them falls exclusively to me as Martyn conveniently made the cage too low for him to enter. Picking isn't the main time consuming part of harvesting the redcurrants - it's the destringing that takes the time and is a tedious job but worth it.
We've also picked the less prolific blackcurrants, some of which I think will benefit for being given a severe pruning.
The blueberries have started to ripen and have to be picked quickly to beat the birds to it.
Our harvest hasn't been confined to fruit. We have continued to harvest broad beans, calabrese, autumn onions and potatoes.
We have picked the first tiny spray of sweet peas and what are maybe the last of the sweet Williams.
I am wondering whether to give the plants the chop to see whether they will then produce another flush of flowers.
We also had the double treat of our first peas and cauliflowers. It's times like this that we realise why we go to all the effort of growing our own!