Propagating Strawberries

  

 

Some of my strawberry plants needed replacing, they were in their fourth year of fruiting and the yield was much less this year. Throughout summer the plants threw out lots of runners so I potted them up to be the replacements rather than buying new plants. This is how I did it:

  • Fill 3in pots with compost
  • Select a few runners from the adult strawberry plants, place the largest leafy section of each runner onto the surface of a pot of compost and place a small stone on the runner stem to weight it down
  • Leave the pots in place until the leafy section of the runner roots into the compost, usually in a few weeks

Once the baby strawberry plant puts on some growth you can cut the runner stem, basically you are cutting the cord from the parent plant. You can then move the baby strawberries to wherever you like. If you grow your strawberries in a bed you could allow the runners to root themselves straight into the ground, dig them up if you need to move them to a better position. I have already dug up my old strawberry plants and replaced them with the strongest baby plants in a new patch, the smaller runners will overwinter in my mini unheated greenhouse and these will be planted out next spring.

Poor Pumpkin

I decided a little late in the year to try growing Pumpkins, something I have wanted to try for a while but concerned as usual that there would not be enough space. After a lot of mumbling and frowning I did a last-minute sowing of Racer that produced 2 strong plants, I then planted these in an unused patch of weedy ground, and pretty much ignored them. To my horror one of the plants gave up and died, the other kept growing away happily and produced a fruit. Just as I was starting to feel very smug about my baby Pumpkin, I suddenly remembered that we were having a new fence put up. You guessed it, the new fence would be built right where my poor Pumpkin was! I had no choice but to harvest it while green and then place it in the sun to cure and ripen. A few weeks later it doesn’t look too bad and is almost completely orange now, not a bad size either considering. Oh well, I will probably let my children have this one for carving (hopefully it won’t rot in the meantime) and start again next year.

What are your favourite variety of pumpkin to grow?

Beautiful Sweetcorn

Nothing beats the taste of fresh sweetcorn cobs cooked  immediately after harvesting, for this reason Sweetcorn will always have a slot in my vegetable garden. I also enjoy growing Sweetcorn because I think the plants are beautiful, they add height and visual interest to the vegetable garden as well as sound, rustling in the breeze. After I have harvested all the cobs I don’t rip my plants out, I leave them there to be enjoyed even more, especially when the first frosts cover them with glitter.

What do you do with your sweetcorn plants once you have harvested all the cobs?

Leeks

I planted my very first Leek seedlings in May and was fascinated by the way they are just dropped into holes and pretty much left to get on with it. It did seem very alien to me planting this way and to be honest I didn’t really know what to expect, but here we are in September and they have come on really well. Big strapping Leeks and very tasty I am pleased with my first attempt at growing Leeks even though some have bolted and are not quite as good. Perhaps the hot spell in the summer had something to do with it, despite trying my very best to keep them well watered. Any ideas why some of the Leeks have bolted?

Last Harvest of Onions

I have been a bit slow to lift the remainder of the onions, with the heavy downpours that we have had here lately I decided it’s probably a good idea to get on with it before they rot. I chose a sunny day and popped the last of the Red Baron onions on a bench in the sun to dry out completely, then moved them into trays to store in the garage. I am hoping they store better than last years onions, most of them rotted but I didn’t dry them completely before storing.

How do you store your onions?

Purple Haze Carrots

Back in May I had a bash at growing a new type of carrot for me, ‘Purple Haze’. As the name suggests it is indeed a purple-skinned carrot but with an orange centre. The long thick roots have a vivid colour, I am pleased with the end result. They are best eaten raw (although you can cook them) and look very decorative when sliced and added to a salad, good flavour but personally I prefer the stronger flavour of the orange varieties that I like to grow.

I bought my ‘Purple Haze’ seeds from Thompson & Morgan and I think I will try yellow carrots next year. I still have a few rows left in the ground to be lifted soon. Have you tried a different colour carrot? How did they compare to your orange ones?

Little Hen Rescue Appeal for Homes

Little Hen Rescue is a Norfolk based poultry rescue, rescuing and re-homing battery hens, barn hens and other types of poultry including turkeys, geese and ducks. Little Hen Rescue currently have a large number of ex battery hens waiting for good homes, the space is needed to be able to carry out further planned rescues. Could you offer a pet home for some deserving ex battery hens? If you think you can, or you are in need of more information please contact Little Hen Rescue through their website:

http://www.littlehenrescue.co.uk/

Homes are what Little Hen Rescue really need at the moment, there are other ways of helping by spreading the word elsewhere – advertising in your local vets for example would be very helpful. Perhaps you feel you would like to offer a small donation? Donations are always gratefully received by Little Hen Rescue to help cover food, medical and transport costs.  Little Hen Rescue is a non-profit organisation, they exist simply to improve the lives of current UK laying hens. They will from time to time take in other poultry where space allows. 

On behalf of Little Hen Rescue, thank you for reading this appeal.

Overwintering Crops

 

After the 2009 autumn harvest nothing but bare earth was left in the veg beds, basically I didn’t plan that particular growing season very well. Apart from being bored from lack of things to do, I was disappointed that the vegetable garden was not being given the chance to be used to its full potential.

This year I have attempted to extend the growing season by growing crops that can be left in the ground during the winter months until needed, such as Leek and Parsnip. I will also try autumn /winter sowing of peas, autumn sowing of Broad Beans as well as overwintering onions and garlic. I have never used mini polytunnels to grow more tender crops during the colder months, perhaps this is something I could also try? Any ideas?

So, what will be grown in the garden smallholding to hopefully see me through the winter months of gloom?

Leeks. Ready for use now but I shall resist the urge to gobble them all up in one swoop.

Parsnips. Probably big enough to lift now but I want them to get a frosting to sweeten. They shall be left in the ground till needed.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli? No, I don’t because my first attempt was a disaster and I was too lazy to sow again on time, gaaaah!

Overwintering onions. Sets, all ready to be planted.

Peas. Autumn/winter sowing variety, never grown these before so I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Broad Bean. I have never done an autumn sowing of Broad Bean before, normally I opt for early spring. I’m not a fan of Broad Beans usually but hey if there is a sniff of an extra early season crop then it’s got to be worth a bash.

Garlic. I plan to plant garlic towards the end of October.

Swede. Disaster.  I did not give them enough room and powdery mildew claimed the lot. I shall put this one down as experience.

What are you currently growing or plan to grow for winter and early spring crops?

Another Loss

This morning Auntie Marge passed away, she developed a mass on her side and went downhill very suddenly. She was a sorry-looking soul when she first arrived here from the battery farm but she soon feathered up, becoming quite the greedy character. She adored her food and often took herself to bed with a crop fit to burst! So many BIG characters have gone these past few months, I miss them all very much.

Goodbye my sweet Auntie Marge xx

It’s Never Long Enough

Since my last post (which was quite some time ago) I have sadly lost 2 further hens, my beloved Hope and then Chrissie. Hope developed egg yolk peritonitis and went down hill very suddenly while Chrissie (who had battled so long with a mass in her abdomen) lost her long fight – and what a fight she fought. To say I have so much respect for my hens is an understatement. I never regret having given them that chance.

So, I guess you can forgive me for not keeping the blog updated?! I have been too sad to post about recent goings on and couldn’t summon the will to do it. On another sad note I have another hen that is giving me nightmares, so we shall see how things go with her. All of my hens have had a good bash at life, but as anyone who keeps these fantastic little blighter’s will tell you, it’s never long enough.

Oh, by the way,  thank you all for the fantastic comments that have greeted me on my first return to the blog since losing Mrs N. It means so much! Keep reading, I am around and will be back to ‘veggie and henny business’ soon xx

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