Pink Lemonade Blueberry

If you like something a bit different, and enjoy experimenting with new varieties of fruit and veg, then you’ll like this. I recently posted about bringing a taste of the exotic to my little English cottage garden potager patch, with my Valentina raspberries. And now I’ve added another interesting and unusual variety into the mix; a Pink Lemonade blueberry. I got mine from Marshalls Seeds but you can get them easily online pretty much anywhere!

Pink Lemonade Blueberry

© Marshalls Seeds 2017

Apparently this variety of blueberry is much sweeter than its blue-hued counterparts, and flowers with delicate pinkish to white blooms in spring. The hardy plant then produces a large crop of bright pink berries mid-summer, followed by a steady harvest through to early autumn.

Sounds good to me.

If you know blueberries, then you know that they need ericaceous soil and love full sun. Whilst there’s not a lot I can do about the abundance of lack of sunlight in summer, I can control soil conditions. We might have sandy soil in this part of Mid Bedfordshire, but it’s not really acidic enough (between pH 4.0 – 5.5) for these fruit bushes to thrive planted out in the borders. So I’ll be starting my Pink Lemonade blueberry plant off in a large well-draining container (the plant could grow up to 4-5ft) with ericaceous soil, and giving it a regular top up with diluted tomato feed each month. In spring, a liberal mulch of leafmould will also help to keep the plant balanced, fed and healthy.

Apparently Pink Lemonade blueberry plants are self-pollinating, which means they’ll produce fruit with just one plant. That’s all I’ve got for now, but if I choose to buy one or more blueberry plants, it’s said I’ll get a bigger, better crop. To be honest, I’ve got about three years until the plants will produce those juicy, jewelled berries, so I’ve got time to grow my blueberry collection before then. Perhaps a couple of heritage varieties will do…

*This is not a sponsored post. I have not been asked to mention/promote/link to Marshalls Seeds!

Little Harvests

harvesting pea pods

The harvesting has begun – we’ve already got a fridge full of calabrese and during the last fortnight I’ve been picking fat pods of peas every other night. I only put in a handful of plants, but they’ve thrived, carefully planted at the back of the veg patch so as not to overshadow other crops and happily scrambling up some old metal grilles that were used to protect the old chicken ark from Mr Fox.

I love podding peas – it’s intensely satisfying, opening up pods of neatly packed chubby green globes of goodness and popping them out. I hope that next year I’ll be able to feed my daughter freshly podded peas to encourage her to enjoy tender homegrown, organically produced fruit and veggies.

freshly podded peas

The calabrese has taken on a life of its own, and where I harvested big florets off the top of the plants, smaller shoots of tender stems have sprung up, willing to give us just that little bit more before the plants go over.

The garlic hasn’t been so virulent; with lots of rain this year we’ve had our worst bout of rust, so not sure how the bulbs have fared. We’ll see… as long as we have something to use I won’t mind too much as homegrown garlic is just unbeatable. The downside though is that we won’t be able to grow any kind of alum in that same patch for three years.

And on my two tiny apple trees, we have some fruits appearing. The Blenheim Orange must be on a dwarf slow-growing rootstock, but it’s managed to produce a few fruits this year. The Charless Ross is much more vigorous and the offerings are looking so much better than the lone fruit produced last year. I’m already thinking about apple crumble!

There is a definite kind of peace in wandering about the veg patch before dinnertime, picking and harvesting fresh, homegrown food before preparing it for dinner. It’s like a piece of life’s puzzle that just slots in and makes you feel a little bit more satisfied, a little bit more complete. I might not be the world’s best food grower, but it doesn’t matter. Because next year, I can always try again.

growing peas

Rain and Sunshine

Earlier this week we had a thunderstorm of pretty epic proportions. In fact, I have no shame in admitting that I almost crapped myself a couple of times, thanks to some ear-splitting booms and claps that rolled out of the skies.

Downpours in Bedfordshire

It wasn’t just a show of sound and light though; after a long build up in which the bump and I slowly melted under a fairly oppressive cloud of intense humidity, the heavens opened. The downpours were long and penetrating – just what the veg patches needed – and the Smallest Smallholding has, as expected, gone into overdrive and everything is growing at a rate of knots.

Raspberries, calabrese, parsnips, peas and more in the long patch

Raspberries, calabrese, parsnips, peas and more in the long patch

My onions and perennial wallflowers were the only plant life that took a beating from the storm, whilst everything else has thrived with a heady combination of hot days and squally showers. Another benefit of this mix of sunshine and rain is that the soil is virtually fluffy, so weeds (even the mile-long tap roots of thuggish alkinet) are so easy to pull. This, together with my no dig approach, has meant that keeping on top of the veg patches has been so easy.

Bumble bee enjoying a geranium

So it’s the first week of June and the veg is romping away, the roses are blooming and the Smallest Smallholding is just so full. This time of year is so invigorating. Armies of honey bees and fat bumblebees are jigging and rubbing themselves with tangible glee all over our geraniums, lavender, foxgloves, toadflax and alliums. The fledged blackbirds are out in force, and the hedgehogs are resolutely on slug duty at night. I’m having a battle of wills with an undisclosed feathered or furry critter who keeps pulling out my strawberry plants (two miserable looking plants have survived) and it’s all a bit wild and out of control… and when I stand back and look… there’s still so, so much to do.

But do you know what? It’s totally OK. It’s keeping me busy, occupied, and dare I say it… happy.

Podding peas

And in three weeks I shall be on maternity leave. Yes, we have a list of things as long as my arm to do in the house before my due date, including some significant renovations and decorating, but I can’t keep my mind off my vegetable patches, my borders, my plans for everything.

I should be worried, I should be brimming with anxiety and how the hell I’m going to cope with the weeks and months ahead. The state of the house should have me wringing my hands and raging. But somehow, my garden is taking that energy and channelling it into something positive. Something I can build on in the future, and something I can make good with.

Early pea flowers