Some raspberry TLC for nitrogen deficiency

Yellowing leaves on raspberries

Yellowing leaves are a tell-tale sign of a nutrient deficiency

Having looked back at some photos of my Polka raspberries from last year, I think they have been suffering from a nitrogen deficiency. Not surprising, since I barely remembered to water, let alone feed, the raspberry canes all year. The tell-tale yellowing leaves didn’t have much of a trace of brown in them, which would suggest a magnesium deficiency. Rather, the pinkish hue that crept into some of the leaves made me pin the lacklustre foliage and yields on a lack of nitrogen.

Usually, I start the year off by dressing the ground around the shallow raspberry roots with some compost, followed on with fresh grass clippings to release nutrients and retain water. Having failed to do either last year, this year I need a quick fix (poultry poop, free range from friends’ pet-only homes), followed by a liberal mulching of well-rotted garden compost for a slower-release supply of nitrogen.

Raspberry plants

The raspberries looked a little healthier, but still weak, earlier in the season

If there’s a magnesium deficiency there, half a cup of Epsom salts diluted in a watering can should do the trick.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a little bit of TLC and a boost in the right nutrients will be just the fix I’m looking for, especially as my mum is ready and waiting in the wings to collect lots of the fruit for her cake baking this year. That’s more than enough motivation in itself to get the plants back in working order!

You can’t beat homegrown garlic

Garlic on drying rack

I’ve been banging this drum for years; you simply cannot beat the flavour of homegrown garlic. That’s why every year we plant some bulbs, grow them organically before harvesting enough to get us through a few months without having to resort to sub-standard supermarket fare that’s been flown halfway across the world.

This year we tried two varieties; Cristo (one of our favourites) and Solent Wight. We did have a pretty bad case of rust, but it just seemed to affect the leaves and not the bulbs (and it means we won’t be able to grow any allium on that patch for a few seasons). The Cristo definitely outperformed the Solent Wight in terms of bulb size, but I feel like we didn’t have enough of a cold snap at the beginning of the year to promote bulb growth and division.

Regardless, we’ve seen got a few decent sized bulbs, and crucially, they smell just amazing. Last year I lost a lot of bulbs as I harvested them during a prolonged spell of rain and damp weather, and they went soft and mildewy very quickly. This year, we’ve had the intense heat and lots of sun, so the bulbs have been drying out nicely on a rack in the greenhouse. I’ll wait until the outer layers of the bulbs are papery and crisp before transferring them indoors to store somewhere cooler but with plenty of air circulation.

Garlic growing in spring

Garlic growing earlier in the Spring

One of my simple pleasures in life is to make homemade vegetable soup from homegrown ingredients. The addition of homegrown garlic and onions brings a new level of flavour and fragrance to my cooking and just takes it into a realm of its own. Rich is more of a fan of homemade garlic bread, and we both enjoy the zingy fresh flavour in homemade pasta sauces too.

After eating slightly disappointing shop-bought garlic for a few months, I really don’t realise what I’m missing until I take that first taste of homegrown. Next time, we’ll grow even more to get us through the year. And if you haven’t tried it, you should. You’ll never look back.

Our world is changing

New addition to the family

I’ve wanted to write this for a long time; I am having a baby!

Now that I’m sat here in front of the keyboard, I’m not entirely sure that the words will come out eloquently. It wasn’t planned but it was amazing, exciting, terrifying news when I found out, by chance, on my birthday at an early pregnancy scan. My doctor sent me; I thought I was having other issues. Then up on the ultrasound screen popped up a little blurry shape. “… And there’s your baby,” said the nurse. Life-changing words. My hand flew to my mouth and I looked, wide-eyed at Rich, and he looked back. We walked out together grinning like idiots.

I’ve known for weeks as we found out very early on, but didn’t want to share until after my 12-week scan. I’ve had some early problems and had to rush to A&E a month ago, but so far, all has been well despite what’s gone on. I am full of trepidation and excitement and so many emotions and feelings, and more than anything want my baby to arrive safely, healthily and happily in August. I am going to be a mother. I am going to be a mother!

After feeling like I was treading water for a while, my life suddenly has a very clear direction that I need to follow. Lying there at my 12-week scan with Rich beside me, watching our little baby wiggle and kick and wave its arms (and at one point, go into a dive position with its hands above its head) was just amazing. We made this life. I’m growing this baby and I am so proud of it already.

Because it’s not been plain sailing so far, I’m still quite nervous about my first pregnancy – there’s just so much to know and learn and I just want everything to be GOOD now – but all I can do now is look after myself and put my trust in my body, and in nature. It’s such a wonderful thing, and I didn’t appreciate it fully until it happened to me.

So this year there’s a lot to do; house renovations, making sure we have lots of fresh, organically grown food at our hands here at home, and preparations as we make space for a new addition. My life is going to change… it’s already changing 🙂