Mirabelle: love unrequited

5 April 2012

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By now, I should have a dozen or so thin green stems sitting in the spare room waiting for the spring warmth to return and so to make new homes in 10 inch pots in the freshly cleaned greenhouse.

Alas. Mirabelle Blanche, my new internet seed love match, has stood me up.

I’m left with a hotchpotch of old seeds some faithfully fecund others, whilst not entirely panda-like, just a bit more coy and fickle.

Last week’s delivery from Tamar Organics was a proverbial mixed bag. A new lot of red clover sprouting seeds and Mirabelle’s Dear John letter. (BTW, if you like sprouting seeds, do try red clover. Fantastically crisp with a hint of spiciness.)

In response, I resorted to the tomato family’s answer to cockroaches (they could survive a nuclear holocaust) in Gardeners’ Delight and Moneymaker. Despite being well passed their best before date, I’m confident of at least a 50% strike rate. Given that I’ve sown a dozen or so of each, if you need any plants in 4 weeks time, I might have a few spare.

I’ve also emptied my store of slightly more exotic seeds. There’s Golden Queen – a tasty yellow oval – and Zuckertraube – sweet little fruits. The former produced a couple of plants last year but were hardly big croppers. The latter went all moody and died, not favouring for my erratic watering regime. Wimps.

To date, there’s been a bit of life from the Golden Queen and not much more. The plants got a good shot of spring sunshine last weekend, but since then have had to cope with cold blast from across the Bristol Channel.

Oh Mirabelle, you tease. I’m yearning for a tomato that tastes of something. No more over chilled, watery lumps from Spain thank you. Maybe this is the answer.

Next up, finding a space to protect cucumbers from July’s inevitable Atlantic gales.




Autumn roundup

16 October 2011

Blog Action Day 2001 – #BAD11

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My allotment

It’s been a mixed growing year on the allotment, in the garden and the greenhouse.

As I’m sure every gardener complains, the weather has not been co-operative this year. Spring was a mixed bag. It arrived early and promised a bumper year of fruit and veg. But, warm March turned to soggy, cool May. Summer in these parts never kicked off.

Tomatoes and cucumbers got a jump start, but as summer went dull, cold and windy my plants were reluctant to fruit. I can count the number of cukes on one hand: that from two wind swept specimens. (Just a quick word to the neighbours’ cats: can I grow my veg in your litter trays please?)

That early springs was a good news for the onions and garlic though garlic Sprint suffered from a mysterious mould that wiped out a third of the crop. Sandwiches are still getting a good kick from strong and sweet Red Baron.

Slugs and worms once again got to the potatoes before I could lift them – rain in June and July. Yet, there’s still two bags of salvaged tubers sitting in the shed.

As seems to have happened every year since moving to Devon, the summer brought the odd game that blew for a week or so. That did for the peas and September winds clobbered the runners just they were heavy with beans. But, overall I picked about 20 lbs of runner beans and 8 meals of broad beans. Not so successful with the peas which got hit by the full house – slugs, heavy rain, wind, weeds and rot.

So, to the winter.

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Strawberries (and weeds)

I’ve moved strawberries – which went beserk in my home raised bed – up to the allotment. After a few weeks of bedding in, they’ve produced a couple of fruits. Not bad for some cast-offs and runner.

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The strawbs are not the only cast-off. I’ve been donated some raspberry runners. About 2/3 have taken. I have no idea of the variety and raspberries are new to me, so it’s going to be yet another experiment.

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Netted sprouts

Yet another experiment: a dozen brussel sprout plants. I’ve tried out netting them which seems to have had the effect of stunting their growth. There’s a lot of leaf damage, yet I’ve got a reasonable number of sprouts on each stem. The stuntedness might not be a disaster as it probably reduces the chance of the plants getting blown over. F1 Doric if you’re keeping score at home.

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Further adventures in brassicas with my cabbage selection. I’m growing Myatts which should be ready about June or July. There’s a bit of slug damage, but all 10 plants look like they’ll form heads.

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Four rows of garlic

At the back of the allotment I’ve got four rows of garlic. I’ve gone for Thermidrome which has been a success the past few years. Instead of Sprint, I’ve got Vallelado on the go. Another experiment.

Finally, at ground control I’ve just sown 16 broad bean seeds – Bunyards Exhibition. They’ve got a temporary home in the greenhouse hopefully away from mice and other critters.

Busy days.

Slow news day

21 August 2011

The other day, one of the local media outlets rang our office, desperate for stories. I thought why not a staple of the silly season: rude shaped fruit and vegetables.

Or, in this case, arranging perfectly formed vegetables into the form of … erm …

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Perfectly harmless photo of salad vegetables

My “love apples”

3 April 2011

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A couple of weeks after sowing, I’ve got several tomato varieties on the go and some yet to germinate. Golden Queen, which strangely produce yellow fruit, were only a few days behind the old standards Moneymaker and Gardeners’ Delight.

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Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for my precious Zuckertraube to kick off. These took some time last year. I recall a strike rate of about 1/4.

Some of these “heirloom” varieties can be a bit finnickety. The fruits are delicious, but what’s the betting I get none?

Last of the cukes

7 November 2010

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Picked the last of the cucumbers on Saturday. November cucumbers: pretty impressive, I think.

Still eating greenhouse tomatoes too. I’ve got half a dozen ripening in the kitchen.

Greenhouse, this evening

4 August 2010

Tomatoes, cucumbers and chillis. Yum.

Late summer

12 September 2009


I don’t know about where you live, but summer here in North Devon has been another washout. As a tease, we’ve has the most glorious weather since last Wednesday.

Warm sun means the remaining salad crops have had a late burst of ripening. So, our household has had a glut of tomatoes and cucumbers.

Slice the crusts off?