Jerusalem artichokes and leeks are both excellent winter vegetables, standing through the worst of the weather to be dug as and when needed. At this time of year, the leeks are at the end of their useful life and will soon put forth a flower spike, and the artichokes are growing again. A couple of weeks ago we dug over the artichoke bed, selecting tubers for replanting, and using the last of the harvest for soup and the gratin described here. Continue reading
Though strictly speaking a vegetable, rhubarb is most often used in the manner of fruit, and in that category it is rather useful, providing the first fruit of the year long before the earliest of the summer soft fruit. Rhubarb is easy to grow with few problems. It appreciates a sunny spot with a rich soil for best results, but tolerates shady corners well and is not particularly fussy about conditions. It can be planted and all but forgotten for a few years, although the crown will, at some point, become crowded and benefit from splitting up, replanting the younger parts to replace the old and unproductive. Continue reading
Our bees have been busy working on the spring blossom, first the pears, which flower early in the warmest part of the garden, and then the cherries, and soon the apple blossom. Temperatures last week were high enough to allow a brief inspection of the hives. Of the four that went through the winter, three have survived in excellent condition. They still have plenty of stores left and look to be in good health and particularly large numbers, so we added the supers and everything looks good for a decent harvest this year. The one colony that died out was rather weak going into the winter, so not a loss we are overly worried about. Continue reading
We recently grafted some wood from our mystery apple tree onto MM106 rootstocks. Although too early to be sure about the quality of the grafts, there are some encouraging indications, with all five showing signs of life and some with good new shoots developing. The scions clearly had a number of fruit buds developed, which have burst into flower. These have now been pinched off, as we do not want any effort being wasted on them. So far so good. Continue reading
Our currant bushes gave their first proper crop last season. They bore very well indeed, and the fruit quality was excellent, especially the red currants, which were large and sweet, and held on nice long strigs. The buds will soon break, so it was the last opportunity to look at pruning them a little before the coming season.