I love wrens, Troglodytes troglodytes – they’re such punchy little birds, completely fearless – and so loud. I got quite close to this one on my way to and from the polytunnel. He/she completely ignored me.
This post is a little bit of a round up on progress in the tunnel. The produce is coming along in leaps and bounds. Without the tunnel, we would not be able to have such treats as:
Melons. Both the cantaloupe and watermelon are setting fruit now.
Chillies. These have done so well this year. I planted out into 10L pots and the display is fabulous. This is a growing approach that I will definitely repeat next year. All they need is a weekly high potash feed.
Grapes. The vine survived its move from outdoors to in and we added another 2 dessert grapes for good measure. We don’t expect any fruit this year, (well I might leave one bunch on), but we look forward to delicious crops in a few year’s time.
Tomatoes. Nothing compares to a ripe tomato, freshly picked and warm from the heat of the tunnel. I don’t grow tomatoes outdoors anymore because of blight. Growing undercover means that we can reliably produce a decent crop of the heritage varieties we prefer.
We also have cucumbers, sweet peppers and aubergines to look forward to.
Outside, we have started to lift the garlic, the onions and shallots have bulked up nicely and we are picking peas, french beans, chard
and tiny courgettes; the latter destined for our favourite summer pasta dish.
And of course….lots and lots of sweet peas.
The lovely OH has set the strings for the melons and cucumbers in the polytunnel. As we are pushed for space we grow the cucurbits in pots and train the vines up canes attached to the cross bars.
This year, alongside the honeydew and cantaloupe melon varieties, I’m trying out a dwarf watermelon, a ‘Sugar Baby’ type.
The fruits are small, around 8inches in diameter, handy for a single serving. Even better, Sugar Baby are, reputedly, one of the sweetest watermelons.
I’ve cleared away the early peas and have thinned out the leaves on the cordon tomatoes to ensure good ventilation around the vine. Along with not getting water on the plant, I think leaf thinning helps to keep blight at bay.
The lettuces, Little Gem, are plumping up, the chillies are setting fruit; Loco is looking a treat ….
and the lovely OH has finished topdressing an old shed brick base, next to the house, with gravel. This side gets the late afternoon sunshine – a perfect place to have a glass of chilled rose and watch the sun go down.
One of the best things about the smallholding in summer and early autumn is the bumper crops of fruit. The harvest started with strawberries, and gooseberries; cherries; currants; blueberries and smatterings of mulberries.
We are starting to pick plums and greengages.
Waiting in the wings are fruits that need a little longer to ripen – melons; peaches and apricots.
Autumnal fruit will end the growing year with a flourish – cultivated blackberries; late raspberries; apples; pears; medlars and quinces.
Fruit is easy to grow and every garden or plot should have some! Possibly the hardest part is making sure the choice harvest is protected from marauders.
Fresh fruit needs little embellishment. Today – grilled apricots with honey and greek yoghurt.
Reading this week: Woodlands by Oliver Rackham
We are growing musk melons, Cucumis melo, in the polytunnel. Melons belong to the same family as the squashes, (courgette, pumpkin etc.) and cucumber. Originating from the Persian/Asian Turkey/Armenian region, the first record of them in England cropped up in the sixteenth century.
The cultivar I have grown this year is ‘Emir’ and the seed is from the James Wong’s Home Grown Revolution range by Suttons. So I’m expecting an oval, cantaloupe style melon with netted skin and delicious, dense, scented orange-pink flesh. I’ve planted them in pots of loam and the vines are being trained up string. We will support the fruit once they start to get to the size of tennis balls; old tights or those bags that used to contain oranges are handy for doing this.
‘Emir’ is a good variety to try in the UK as it is meant to be more tolerant of low temperatures plus it has an RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Let’s hope it’s a winner here.