Category Archives: fruit

Honeyberry

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This is my Honeyberry, I bought it two years ago from a shop that was selling it off cheap. I felt so sorry for it I had to buy her and bring her home, (this happens to me a lot).

Honeyberry are actually a form of edible honeysuckle ‘Lonicera caerulea’ some people call them blue honeysuckle or edible honeysuckle. They originally come from Siberia, Northern China and Northern Japan. Like blueberries they are extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin C, but unlike blueberries they aren’t picky about their soil and will grow quite happily in most soil types. The berries make good jam or can be eaten fresh.

So far I have to say ‘she’ is a ‘tough old boot’. Last year whilst we were having work done on our house, the boys threw a load of top soil right on top of her in the raised bed. I didn’t fancy her chances, I thought she was gone. I finally found her whilst digging around with my hands carefully feeling for branches, which I gently brought to the surface as best as I could. Needless to say last year she didn’t do much of anything, a few leaves and certainly no flowers. But today whilst I was checking around the plot I spotted she was blooming away, Result!

I am painfully aware she doesn’t have another mate to pollinate with, maybe I will find another one another day, but for now I thought I would see if I could hand pollinate and just maybe this will fertilise the flowers. I have no clue on earth if this will work. But it’s a worthy experiment whilst I keep looking for another one to put nearby.

So in the spirit of experimental allotmenting I took my little paint brush and tickled all the flowers. Just maybe this will do the trick… Time will tell
!

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I got those tomatoes to ripen

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Here are my Tigerella tomatoes, aren’t they beautiful? I think they look like they have been dappled with gold leaf.

They a UK heritage tomato which have been around since the 1950’s. They aren’t the American Mr Stripy beefsteak ones, these are about the size of a snooker ball. I have read many people who plant them out of the UK struggle with them, just shows how these heritage seeds are perfectly suited to the climate they were bred for.

So a week or so ago I was wondering if I should do an experiment with bananas to get my tomatoes to ripen. Click here

I decided against using a paraffin heater and wondered about using bananas, then it hit me, whilst I was pruning the bottom leaves from my tomato plants… Why not use the leaves?

As you know I make my own greenfly spray from tomato leaf tea. I usually make small amounts and leave it in a sealed container as it gets a bit smelly. That’s when it dawned on me! The whiffy smell is actually what I need to get things moving.

So as I was going away for the week the smell wouldn’t bother me I filled a bucket 90% tomato leaf 10% water and off I went.

I got home yesterday and look what I have found! It worked! 30% them have already ripened and the rest are on their way. I asked the neighbours to see what the weather has been like, it hasn’t been terribly sunny or very hot so that hasn’t kick started them to ripen. So maybe it was the tea bucket?

Guess who will be making tomato salsa later?

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Getting impatient with my tomatoes

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So my poly tunnel is a tomato forest at the moment. The plants are covered and I really mean covered in fruit. All beautiful, all green.

In the UK we had our summer 3 weeks of sunshine and that was that gone in a flash, and it’s back to grey clouds and drizzle. My nan used to call it “the fine rain that’s wets yah” So will my fruits ever ripen?

I am thinking about an experiment. We all know about bananas ripening fruit. So what happens if you buy a load of cheap bananas and leave them in your greenhouse/ poly tunnel?

Plants/fruit can smell we know this, well I say they can smell they can receive scent, one of which is ethylene, this causes fruit to ripen. That’s why paraffin heaters are used in vast warehouses of lemons to speed up the ripening process, it’s also given off by a ripe banana too. The old paper bag and a banana trick has been used for donkeys years.

I prefer the banana approach over a paraffin heater, it seems a little less stinky. I could bore you with how a plant smells and how they communicate to each other by scent and smell – maybe one day, it’s terribly fascinating I assure you!

I’m not entirely sure how many bananas I will need, and this of course, will cause my tomato plants to enter the final stages of their little lives. The smell of ethylene is basically the smell of Autumn.

So do I try it? Maybe I am being impatient. I just cannot wait to make a massive tomato buttie on thick white bread with lashings of olive oil to dip into. What do you think?

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Just picked some Red Gooseberries – jam time!

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Just about to make some jam… Jars all boiled and lined up, Gooseberries picked and washed. All that’s left is the pan, sugar, lemon juice and a sieve.

I have to say Red Gooseberries are my favourite for jam best thing is there’s no messing about with all that pectin stuff, as Gooseberries have loads of natural pectin already. It’s just a case boiling, adding sugar, tiny squirt of lemon juice and strain through a metal sieve into the jars. I’m not keen on billions of pips on my toast!

Keep things simple that’s what I say, cannot wait to taste it. Right now the gooseberries taste like sweet grapes so the jam is going to be amazing!

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Cucamelon

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How cute is this? My Cucamelon has started to set fruit.

Melothria scabra also known as cucamelon, sandita, Mexican sour gherkin or mouse melon. Is a fascinating little gem and comes all the way from Mexico. I have been told it tastes like a cucumber crossed by a lemon and I simply cannot wait to try them. They grow tiny little fruits which look like mini melons which wouldn’t look out of place sat on a Barbie dolls dinner table.

They will keep going fruiting until the first frost, however you can move them indoor to a cool place and look after them until the spring when you can move them back out into garden or greenhouse etc. I’ve read you can treat them like a dahlia, this excites me, as I will hopefully get an earlier crop next year.

The cucamelon didn’t get into the Botanical books until the middle of the 1800’s! I love a plant with history, to think the Mexican people were harvesting this amazing little fruit way way before Columbus went on his ‘holidays’ around the Caribbean…

I started my plants off in May in the UK and ‘So far’ I have noticed the slugs and snails haven’t gone near them, they also don’t appear to attract green or black fly – good news I love plants that are able to get on without being pestered.

Mine are in a nice deep pot in my poly tunnel and I think I will keep them there, they seem to be doing well, not point in upsetting the apple cart. It’s gets pretty warm in there through the day and cools through the night. I’m definitely going to bring them into the house though before winter hits us. Last year it got to -14 and everything was frozen solid in the polytunnel, I would hate to lose them.

I have been reading some interesting recipes for pickling them, I will share them with you as soon as I get my good crop – fingers crossed

Happy gardening my friend!

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RHS Tatton Flower Show

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Just got back from an amazing day at RHS Tatton Flower show. Phew it was a long hot day, but totally worth a visit.

I’m very lucky to of been given two Press passes for the day, thank you guys! I had the most thrilling day.

My favourite part was the allotments bit, veg and herb growing is a huge passion of mine and to get the chance to talk with like minded folk was a real treat. There was everything from huge onions to the worlds biggest collection of gooseberries I had ever seen, wonderful seed collections to the latest spade. It’s basically heaven for gardeners. I could of easily of spent the whole evening there too.

I bought a new herb, Banana Mint! I do have a soft spot for mint. Pineapple, apple, chocolate, spearmint and now Banana! I spoke to the lovely lady on the stand, next year she is hoping to have strawberry mint!

I also got the opportunity to speak to a lady who looks after the North West Herb Group. I shall be sending her an email and joining soon. Following another chat with a lady who helps run a heritage seed society I found out I could help a local stately home with their Tudor garden.

I always harvest my seeds in autumn and many of my plants have deep historical roots (sorry about the pun). So the thought of helping a historical site in the North West of England fills me with joy.

That pretty much sums up what gardening is to me, healthy eating, exercise and getting the chance to share knowledge, veg and seeds with as many people as possible.

Today has been one of the highlights of my year, now its head down and try to win Horwich in Bloom 2013! (Got to 3rd place in 2011 so it’s all to play for!)

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The results from the tomato leaf spray

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Told you I wasn’t worried, my artichoke was attacked by greenfly and was looking very grizzly indeed so I squirted it with the tomato leaf spray everyday day for 3 days and ta darr!

They all dried up and died and after a good water it’s looking right a rain!

See my old blogs for the recipe! Click here

Happy gardening x