White currants a-go-go – but what the bloomin’ heck to do with ’em?

I give myself this problem every year. I like white currants; they’re sweeter than their red sisters, less mouth-puckering than their black cousins. You can eat them straight off the bush but, frankly, they’re not so exciting you’d actually want to. I have three white currant Blanka bushes. They crop excellently, give me no trouble…

Giant Autumn Roundup: Blackcurrants

An excellent year. The blackcurrants enjoyed the thick manure mulch they received last autumn, washed around their roots by gallons of rain through the following six-odd months. They also grew unencumbered by the usual bindweed and horsetail as they now have planks forming a small raised bed around them, which have been kept scrupulously weeded….

Giant Autumn Roundup: Tree Fruit (1)

It’s been a difficult year for stone fruit. The relentless rain followed by near drought seems to have done nice things to some people’s fruit but for me, on a hill, it’s been pretty disastrous. Since we’re going on a virtual tour of the allotment I’ll do this in several sections as we hit each…

Giant Autumn Roundup – Strawberries

In their second year, in a dedicated fruit cage that’s pretty much finished, now, made from old estate agent poles, second-hand chicken wire and batons out of a skip. Just one side to go; I hung a net over that side during bird season. I needn’t have bothered, to be honest. The birds showed little…

Figs on a Roll

What’s more Mediterranean than the rich, sensuous lushness of figs?  If the splendid renaissance quality of the quince smacks of 15th Century Rome, the fig conjures earlier images of the Eternal City. Of aqueducts and villas, bath houses and arenas, senators and emperors and, yes, I’m afraid for me, at least, of evil Livia in I Claudius. For…

National Apple Festival, Brogdale

Two thousand, two hundred varieties. Two examples of each. And that’s not counting the new plantings in the next field.If you can’t find an apple you like in Brogdale’s National Fruit Collection, chances are you aren’t going to find an apple you like anywhere. I first went last year, where I met a fantastically knowledgeable…

Mystery ‘Russet’

Here’s an interesting thing. As regular readers will know, I’ve recently been populating my plot with hand-picked carefully-chosen apples. But I have an interloper. I have no idea what it is but I will bet my best gardening boots it ain’t what it says it is on the label… I adore russet apples. I love…

Blackberry Cascade

For years I’ve resisted growing blackberries. Somehow it seems sort of – well, cheating. Surely I should just get off my butt and forage a few? Trouble is, there aren’t that many decent brambles round South East London and what there is either gets picked bare or, tend to grow at, shall we say, ‘dog height.’…

Quincetastic

Quinces reek of the Renaissance. They conjure dreams of splendid feasts in a 15th Century Florence palazzo, or Dutch Old Master still lives, complete with dead pheasants and a jug of hock. I bought a little quince tree fourteen years ago when I first moved into my present home. At the time old fruit trees, such as…

Event: Red Gooseberries

I have an excuse for not knowing the variety of these delightfully sweet goosegogs. Not a very good excuse, but an excuse. Okay, so I’d stopped off at a garden centre on my way to visit pals (aww, c’mon, we’ve all done it…) where I spied an angry young gooseberry plant, all gangly spines and…

Event: Whitecurrants

I’m a firm believer whitecurrants are an essential on an event allotment. They’re hard to find in the shops and if you do they’re hideously expensive. It’s hardly surprising; mature bushes take up a fair footprint and they tie up the ground for the entire year, yet crop only once, but these little flavour-bombs are…

Event – Gariguette Strawberries

This is the second year I’ve grown Gariguette and I’m absolutely delighted. I took runners last year and have always been a little concerned that they’re notoriously light croppers. I figured, though, that I’d rather have a few superb fruit than a load of indifferent berries. I’m happy to report that both the second-year mature…