It has been some time since I did anything with the garden. With two disastrous cold, wet summers, anything I attempted to grow had a poor show. Between the weather and feeling a bit poorly, I lacked enthusiasm to try to repair damage and my little patch went to pigs and whistles. The origin of that phrase is quite unknown, although the firmly established name of pubs, there are plenty of other suggestions but generally it’s accepted as meaning something has gone to ‘rack and ruin’. That is how I feel about my gardening at the moment.
This feeling will pass and already I am planning some differences. The containers I have, were filled with soft fruits, which did not do well in a wet climate. Strawberries which in the past gave me a good harvest, hardly poked their fruits out from their sorry looking foliage. I favoured Sonata strawberries but they prefer drier conditions, which I could not give them last year. The birds beat me to the rather nice blueberries I nearly had. They were plump and sweet, but I guess the birds thought they were too. The blackcurrants struggled to produce just a handful of fruit.
I did very well with peas and beans, I’m happy to say, and got enough to share with neighbours. Yacon and Oca didn’t do well, probably out of neglect and harvesting the Oca too early.
For the past couple of years, late frost has killed off many flowers from fruiting trees and the little cocktail kiwi, which can survive through the harshest winter, gets covered in blossom in spring, then hit with a late frost and everything is lost. The Victoria Plum was the same, a tree covered with blossom only to have a handful of survivors make it through the frosts.
My plan this year is to stick to a few favourites but sadly not all of them. That will leave me some space for a couple of apple trees. I have chosen two minarette, or columnar trees, both have been assured to survive in the north of the UK. The dessert apple ‘Scrumptious’ and crab apple ‘Pink Glow’. The dessert apple is self-fertile, however I chose the pretty pink crab apple for apple jelly. We have plenty of crab apples growing wild but it does mean having to be fit and agile to collect them.