This should be our best year ever for blackcurrants! We’ve never had so many, I can’t wait for hem to ripen! I’m out in the garden every day checking on them and picking any that are ripe, popping them straight in the freezer to use later. When we moved into our little house 6 years ago, there was an overgrown bush half covering the front door and dropping these little berries all over the floor. Whilst we were moving furniture and boxes into the house, many got trampled into the carpet and I vowed that this bush was going to be dug out and disposed of as soon as I had the chance! After realising that they were actually blackcurrants, I had a change of heart and decided to keep it. Tried to cut it back and train it into a suitable shape but it still dropped berries by the front door and the berries were few and far between and very small. I decided that it needed a new home with more sunshine. My Grandma told me that moving it was as simple as cutting off the stems and pushing them into the ground so that’s exactly what I did. All but 1 stem took and turned into a little bush of its own and I learnt to prune them properly. The first year after they were moved we didn’t get much but that was to be expected. Last year we had quite a few berries but not masses. This year, however, every bush has gone mad! My grandparents used to grow all sorts of fruit and veg in their garden, including blackcurrants and homemade blackcurrant jam was a staple. My Grandma and Mum used to make hot blackcurrant drinks using a spoonful of the jam and mixing it with slightly cooled boiled water, then strained through a tea strainer. I can’t wait to make my own jam (hopefully!) this year. If we have enough blackcurrants, I’d like to try some sort of cordial or sauce too. Now to find some recipes…
Summer arrived here in Cornwall yesterday! High temperatures and glorious sunshine all day long meant that the allotment was really going to need some TLC but watering was going to have to wait until quite late in the evening. After visiting my best friend to help resolve a ‘which dress to wear’ dilemma, it was nearly 10pm when I stopped by the allotment. The temperature was finally dropping (but still not enough to need a cardi!) and it was light enough to spend a good half hour watering everything. I gave everything a good soak (except the onions, which I’ve read you should stop watering when the bulbs are starting to swell) and was thrilled to see some ripe fruits on the raspberry canes, flowers on the peas and beans and even a fruit or two forming on the sweet and chilli peppers in the greenhouse! After feeling for so long that this year might not be very productive and that we’d missed the chance to enjoy fresh peas, it is wonderful to finally be seeing some progress.
So this morning, I couldn’t wait to get back down there in the light of day and really see what’s happening! I was indeed met with the sight of 20 or 30 flowers on the peas (variety – Onward), 2 flowers on the runner beans (which I didn’t think would produce anything given the state they were in!), just 2 ripe raspberries (but more looking like they’ll be ready in just a day or 2!) and courgettes (varieties – Zuchinni and a rogue seed from last year) flowering and fruiting (is it a fruit?! You know what I mean!). I’ve never had any trouble with courgettes when growing them at home, they’ve always been so prolific we’ve been sick of the sight of them after a while! Maybe the more exposed conditions at the allotment have really slowed them down because we’ve barely had a flower until now. But there they were, in all their glory! There are at least 2 or 3 that, although tiny, could be picked now. I will wait a few more days as I already have some in the fridge to use up first. It’s so exciting to see things growing and fruiting!
The rhubarb has really picked up in the last week or so. It was a small plant when I bought it, just 2 or 3 stems on and these quickly got damaged by the wind. I was a little worried that it wasn’t going to recover, but I really shouldn’t have worried at all! It is booming! I won’t be harvesting from it this year but I think it will be good to go next year. I’ve seen an interesting rhubarb jam/butter recipe that I’d like to try. We only ever really had it stewed or as a crumble when I was growing up and, although I don’t mind eating it like that, I’d like to try something different with it.
The onions are looking good, too. As I said, I’ve stopped watering them now, a couple went to seed but I’m letting them do that and I’ll try to save the seed for next year – I’ve never done that before so we’ll see how it goes! I’m growing a red and a white onion, I can’t remember the specific varieties. Interestingly, none of the white onions went to seed, only the red. I don’t know if the variety has been bred to avoid this or if it’s just luck that the white onions haven’t produced seed but the red have. I’ll have to try and find the packets – I’m sure I kept them!
I started some more Dwarf French Beans (variety – Borlotto Firetongue I think!) in the greenhouse last week as the originals died outside. I really wanted to try these as I just love the colour of the beans and think they’ll be good for winter storing and using in stews and maybe some home made beans on toast! They are just starting to peek through, as are the cauliflowers and kale that I planted at the same time. The cauli and kale were free seeds with a gardening magazine. I just wanted to give them a go as I’ve never tried to grow either before! There are plenty of seeds left over for next years plants. I’m quite surprised that they are coming through already – I guess the conditions have just been right for them.
Weeding was the order of today, after I’d finished inspecting the veg and talking to myself about how much they’d grown or were ‘coming on nicely now’… passers by and the builders working opposite probably thought I was a bit nuts! Once my fingers were tingling from stinging nettles and I cleared as many weeds as I could bear, I started boxing up the mammoth harvest of summer raspberries (ha ha! maybe one day…) and picked some elderflowers for my next batch of elderflower cordial (the first lot is long gone and the second batch is well under way!).
Home for a much needed cup of tea and to write this up… my fingers are still tingling!