Friday, August 24, 2012

In a jam

Way back in 2010 I planted out a small tayberry plant that was well overdue a permanent home. My first mention of that small plant is here.

It kind of sat by the fence for a year minding it's own business and showing just the merest hints of growing. Towards the end of 2011 it grew a bit more and then a bit more again. Three very prickly stems reached further and further out until the only way I could keep them under control was to rig up an amateur stake and wire type arrangement against the fence using some plastic coated wire and screws usually reserved for hanging net curtains. The long whippy stems, by now each a couple of metres, were tied to the wires in a 'Loch Ness monster' formation (if that's not an official fruit cultivation term, it certainly deserves to be).

In the springtime the shoots were covered in blossom and then a bumper fruit crop followed. Rather than eating the fruits fresh as they ripened, I saved them in the freezer until they fruiting period was over so I could make a big batch of jam. Five takeaway containers full gave me 3 jars of very tasty, slightly tart tayberry jam!

After consulting my RHS 'Pruning and Training' book, I've now cut out the stems that fruited, and am in the process of tying in the 3 rope-like stems that grew during this year. They will be my fruiting stems in 2013.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bearing fruit

Things are ripening at the suburban veg plot. It's that time of year again (though admittedly, slightly later than usual) when I'm picking or plucking on a daily basis. Now I really get a chance to evaluate how something has grown (or not) and depending on the reasons for any failures, whether I will grow the same again next year.

My 2 nectarines were lovely. From a tree purchased in May and said to be self fertile, it arrived with little fruitlets already attached so I can't really claim much of a part in its success. More fruitlets were lying on the surface of the soil in the pot – thanks courier company for taking so much care and not throwing the box around en route... But at least I have hope that if I can look after it over the winter, then it will produce more than 2 fruits next year.

I have mentioned before that we have alpine strawberries rambling all over the suburban veg plot. These hardy plants have runners like steel wire that seek out any little space or gap to set up shop. Mistakenly I tried to create a small strawberry border using these plants at one stage – they multiplied like rabbits and ended up looking a horrible tangled mess and producing very few fruits. Needless to say, that border has now been 'de-strawberried'. So now I have them just about under control bordering a few raised beds where they seem happy and I can keep pulling out any new plants they try to throw out. The fruits are real crowd-pleasers around here – the husband, the chickens, my best friend's toddler – they all love these tiny fruit straight from the plant. I pick a few each morning to throw onto my muesli along with fresh blueberries. And as for deciding whether I'll grow them next year? Well, I don't think I have much choice in that.