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September 2010

August 2010

If you do only one garden chore this week, - prune your lavender


Lavandula Hidcote, - one of the loveliest plants for growing as a small hedge. But to get the English lavenders to flower again well next year, and to ensure you don't get leggy plants with bare centres, Now is the time to prune them.

The end of August bank holiday weekend is always my marker for getting rid of the flowering stems, plus a little bit more, (consider it a lavender haircut) so that the plant puts on new growth.

Flower buds for next year start to form in September, and by pruning now, new growth can form during September and October, that will be hard enough to survive the winter.


Now there is a deliberate mistake in this picture, - i'm left handed, and I borrowed my mum's secateurs to help her prune these lavender, that's my excuse for ending up using them the wrong way up.... - This is how they should be

With the blade nearest to the plant to ensure a clean cut.

Harvest for this w/e 30/08/10

I love this time of year for harvesting. Without any effort you can find baskets of food from the garden. The only effort has to go into using it all or preserving it before it goes off.


I've got plenty of kitchen work to do this week as our harvest consisted of

the last of the potatoes - these look great but go from being hard in the pan to mush within 5 minutes, so i've got to work out which ones they were (ok I've lost the labels !) so I don't plant the same again next year.

Beans - Borlotti beans, and french beans, plus the last of the mangetout.

Tomatoes - a lovely mix of the large Red Alert, plus the small ildi, red cherry and garten perle this week.

Courgettes - i'm making sure I pick them regularly at the moment, and i'm averaging about 4-5 a week from my 2 plants.

The last of the carrots, - not impressed with these, as all the roots had split and were bent, - soil sieving needed for next year I think.

There's also been another kilo of raspberries this week, and lots more apples. But only one fig this year, - very disappointing after last year's bumper harvest. - My fault for not watering enough earlier in the year I think.

Harvest for this week w/e 22/08/10


i've spent most of this afternoon dealing with fruit. - Not a bad job for a Sunday afternoon. I've made summer pudding, stewed blackberries and apples, a blackberry and apple charlotte, and i've frozen raspberries and blueberries (put them in a single layer on a baking tray in the freezer until they are solid, then put them in bags or tubs, - that way they are frozen as individual berries, not a squashed mass)

We went for a walk at Hatchlands this morning, and picked over a kilo of Blackberries. We then came home and picked 1280g of Raspberries, 810g of Blueberries (440g Goldtraube and 370g Bluecrop,) not to mention the Chandler Blueberries which didn't get weighed, because they were so big and juicy, they never made it into the bowls!

We also picked about 8kg of apples.

That would have been quite a good haul for this week, but I also got loads of veg

The potatoes, french beans and carrots all got used to go with our Roast lamb this evening. The carrots may have been a strange shape (not enough sieved ground for them to go down into!) but they tasted great.

I've just got to find a borlotti bean recipe for this week now.

We've also been harvesting tomatoes. - The Red Alert got made in Salsa yesterday, and Guacamole. and the cherry tomatoes were included in the warm chickpea salad I made for my packed lunch earlier in the week.

Making the most of your fruit crop, and preventing Silver leaf


These are borrowed fruit. Well to be more precise, the tree to which they belong doesn't start in my garden. This branch is hanging over from next door, - and the conditions this year have been so good for tree fruit that it is laden with Damsons. Loads of the Prunus (cherry) family are having a bumper crop this year, with Prunus Cerasifera, (common name Cherry plum) which normally has a few insignificant fruits, producing lovely big crops, of cherry sized and coloured fruits with an almond shaped stone in the middle rather than a pip.

Anyone got any ideas of what to do with all this extra bounty? - I don't do jam, - (Mainly because my mum is rather good at it, so I leave it to her). So any other suggestions to use up this great crop would be greatly appreciated.

Oh and if your bumper crop has been so weighty that it has damaged any branches, - make sure that you prune them this month. The Prunus family are susceptible to Silver leaf disease if pruned at other times of the year. Silver leaf disease is caused by fungal spores which generally break out between September and May. As this can kill trees very quickly, and gets in through new cuts and breaks in the tree branches, only pruning in the summer months for the prunus family is highly recommended.

Don't know if you tree is a prunus? - All this family have horizontal lines on the bark like this


Alchemilla Mollis, give it a 2nd flowering chance

Alchmilla mollis

In late May and June, the acid yellow flowers of Alchemilla mollis, are fantastic for brightening up a border, or acting as a foil for blue's and purples. By the beginning of August though, they are now looking rather sad and brown

By giving it a severe (see below for how severe I mean) haircut now, to take it right back to the crown, you will encourage new growth, and if we have a mild autumn, they'll also be a 2nd lot of flowers, - which will be a nice and cheerful addition to your autumn borders.

Alchemilla is also a prolific seeder, so this also has another bonus that you don't have to do a huge amount of weeding next spring (although if you want extra plants, you can leave some to seed, or divide the plants in spring)

What's up with my Acer?


In the garden I was in yesterday, there is a lovely feathery Acer  - (proably Acer palmatum Garnet) -tucked in by the front wall of the driveway.

It looks fairly healthy at a first glance, but being a nosy gardener, I tend to give most plants more than a first glance, and so I noticed that this one wasn't as well as it first looks

All up the trunk were little brown spots and white fluffy stuff, - that's the non technical way of telling you what Scale looks like.

There are lots of different types of scale, but they are mostly Brown, mostly waxy curved spots that cling to the trunks and branches (or sometimes the underside of leaves). They are an insect that, like aphids, feeds from the plant. The white fluffy stuff is their excess residue from their feeding. They are unlikely to kill the plant immediately, but over time they will make your plant look lacklustre.

I had an Acer at my last house which got this every couple of years, so I have a solution. - Contact insecticide (organic or not) will have no effect on the waxy cover of the scale, - Systemic insecticide is not on my agenda, although it would probably work in the long run. My solution is fairly low tech

5 minutes of scrubbing the trunk, (not too hard, you don't want to take the bark off) cleared the lot.

If you've got an Acer in your garden, give it a 2nd look this weekend, and check it hasn't got Scale insect.  - It also likes Vines, Horse Chestnut, Oleander, and Pyracantha.

Flowers in the veg patch

I do try and add some colour to my vegetable patch, - growing small amounts of a wide range of salads and vegetables helps, and adding in sweet peas, Sunflowers and calendulas, helps for colour and companion planting (plus this year the sunflowers were sown by birds!), - but this fantastic flower is leek - variety musselburgh, and is in William's patch. - He didn't want to pull it to eat, he wanted to see what it looked like when it flowered. - Glad I indulged him, - maybe i'll plant leeks in my front border to take over when the alliums fade.


Harvest for this w/e 7/08/10


It's been a month since my last harvest post, but I have been getting plenty from the garden.

These Raspberries are the first of the Autumn crop, - we've been away for a couple of weeks, and the sight of these on our return was wonderful, - along with bushes full of blueberries. We harvested a punnet of each and I had them for breakfast this morning with my cereal. (the boys ate theirs raw and unaccompanied)

After complaining about my courgettes, they decided to amaze me and grow. - I harvested 6 before we went away, and came back to 5 more, - 3 of them marrow size.

My pot of carrots has produced 6 portions of finger size vegetables all through the month, and we thinned William's parmex carrots, which were also edible size.

The mangetout gave us several helpings, even though they were William's favourite snack food when playing in the garden this month.

The runner beans have also been busy cropping, but as they didn't get enough rain over the last month, they are rather tough overwhelmed by blackfly, and not the best i've grown.

The lettuces went bonkers, and after we'd stuffed our faces with meal after meal of Can Can,Lollo rosso, and Cos I even had to give several away. We got a couple of helpings of rocket before it succumbed to the Flea beetle, and to add to our salads, we've harvested the first of the cherry tomatoes - Garten perle from the hanging basket outside the kitchen door, and red alert and ildi from the greenhouse (bit disappointed that red alert are only a mouthful at a time, I thought they were larger)

there are lots more tomatoes ripening, and i'm looking forward to more fruit breakfasts this month, as the apple tree is now producing.