Monthly Archives: March 2014

Shallots out and Fruit tree plans

I attended the NVS Hampshire DA Seminar last Sunday afternoon which was an excellent event with two top speakers from the fruit and veg world.

Gerry Edwards is one of the countries top experts on fruit growing and his talk on apple and pear trees has really inspired me to plant some in my own garden. Gerry is on the RHS Fruit Committee amongst other things and what he doesn’t know about fruit probably isn’t worth knowing.

There were a few points from his talk that are key for anyone thinking about starting out growing fruit.  Choose the right rootstock – either M26 or MM106 – and buy from a reputable fruit nursery.  Blackmoor fruit nursery in Hampshire is one, out of a total of four in the country, he recommended.  You can get cheap fruit trees in supermarkets – I saw a few in Lidl’s this morning – however these will be the lowest quality trees that the commercial growers and nurseries have passed on and the supermarkets have hoovered up cheaply – you don’t always know what rootstock they’re grafted on either.  Best to spend a bit more and buy quality, after all it will be productive for 20 years if looked after correctly. You can also grow fruit trees in a small garden, particularly as cordons, which Gerry grows 18 inches apart. Finally you need to know the pollination group (1-7 for apples) and buy trees from the same pollination group or one either side. It would be no use having trees from group 2 and group 5 for example as they would flower at the different times and pollination would not take place.

We’ve just had a new south-facing back garden fence put up and it will be the the perfect spot for some trained fruit trees.

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I’d like a couple of espalier trained fruit trees like this one. Blackmoor sell Fiesta and Discovery espalier apple trees which would look great against the new fence.

Also this weekend the shallots were planted out in between the showers. I’ve put in 24 plants for exhibition shallots – one they divide I’ll thin to 3 per plant. They’re planted 9 inches apart following Dave Thornton’s direction (top NVS shallot grower). And there’s 14 plants for pickling shallots which I’ll just leave to grow naturally. Growing shallots for show is quite tricky as they can easily grow to far where each bulb starts to divide again and become “pregnant” and not perfectly round. They can continue to grow after they’ve been harvested so it’s all about timing when to lift.

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Other news to report – the long and stump carrots have germinated and I’ve planted out a few first early potatoes – Pentland Javelin – just in time for the first frost we’ve had in a while which is forecast for tonight! Ah well fingers crossed it’s mild enough for most veg to get started.

Winter Greens

The lettuce planted in the greenhouse have done really well over winter and keep us supplied with plenty of leaves for sandwiches. There’s a couple of land cress plants also which are easy to grow and give a bit of variety at this time of year.

Winter lettuce

With the warmer weather I decided to sow some parsnips (Gladiator), carrots (Sweet Candle, Match, Flyaway, Purple Haze) and some broad beans (Longfellow) direct in the beds. And I also finally got round to planting out a few spring cabbages I had in pots.

Spring Cabbage

The shallots are coming on well – now thinking of keeping them in pots to save space in the beds.

Shallots

On various windowsills indoors there’s chillies, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes chitting. I’ve just sown another batch of tomatoes and some cabbages.

All in all quite a productive day and long may this warmer weather continue!!