This week we got our main crop onions, garlic, and shallots planted. Usually, we would have an autumn sown crop running along the side beds of the polytunnel, where they produce well, especially the garlic. As we did little in the garden last year, we are missing out on this crop, but have planted two beds outdoors from spring sown sorts. March is a good time of year to do this and we have been waiting for the last couple of weeks for the weather to turn; the weekend weather was good so we got this task done. It is quite a big job as some three hundred or so sets needed to go in. Continue reading
Sometimes things do not go as planned. At the start of the kitchen garden project we planted three plum trees along the boundary fence and began their fan training. One developed many fruiting spurs but, before it could bear a crop, died. On another, one half of the initial Y shape died out and there were signs of problems with the trunk. The third tree appeared reasonably healthy but none have borne a single fruit. I am not sure what disease was to blame; all of our other fruit trees, including the stone fruits, are fine. Silver Leaf is the most likely candidate, although I suspect that the one that only half died may have been due to bacterial canker. This winter we removed all three and replaced them. Interestingly, all had established a good root system and digging them out was hard work. Continue reading
It was many weeks ago when the last of our orchard trees arrived. As the planting site was not ready and the weather was poor, we healed them in, in one of the vegetable beds. Before we ordered the trees we had found somebody to give us a hand preparing the planting sites, as this is quite a big job with 18 trees to deal with, but we were let down and it took a while to find somebody else to help us out. Last week, though, we finished moving them from their temporary site to the orchard. I am sure that the healing in is not detrimental, and it is, or at least was, a common enough practice, but one ought to plant out whilst the trees are still dormant. Thanks to the mild spring, they broke into growth early this year, and it was rather late to move them. We had no choice, however, so moved them with as much care as possible, aiming to minimise the disturbance of the new root growth. Continue reading
Apples and pears are ideal candidates for cordon training. Oblique cordons were commonly planted along the walls of the traditional walled kitchen garden. Stone fruits, including plums, are more likely to be grown as fans. There exists, amongst some contemporary authors, the notion that stone fruits are not suited for cordon training and will bear poorly if so grown. However, I am not at all convinced about this, and, at least in the case of plums, am fairly sure that one can grow these quite successfully as cordons. Continue reading
This article examines our selection of plum varieties, continuing the short series of orchard related posts. We have various plums and gages growing around the border fence of the kitchen garden and being gradually developed as fans: Coe’s Golden Drop, Kirke’s Blue, Reine Claude Violette, Oullin’s Gage, Transparent Gage, and Bryanston Gage. These have been slow to develop, and will not bear much fruit for some time. Eventually, though, I suspect they will bear plenty of fruit. Nonetheless, in our mixed orchard I would still like to plant one plum, one gage, and one damson, which will give plenty of fruit for jam, compotes, and so on. Continue reading
Things are quiet in the kitchen garden – and on the blog – at the moment, not so much because there is nothing to do, but rather because we are in the middle of some major renovations to the house and short of time. One matter that we have been attending to, though, is the selection and purchase of young trees for the prospective orchard. Over the next couple of weeks, I will write a few articles on our selection of varieties and preparations for planting.