Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Fruit trees

Spring is here. And with the first stirrings of spring comes the urge to grow things. To plant out seeds, to lay down trees. But spring can be dangerous - she seduces with soft, warm, sunny days and then brutalises with cold frosty nights. So for now, I've settled for laying down seeds in my giant heated propagator, and ordering a profligate amount of fruit trees.

I felt a bit bad ordering so many fruit trees because of the expense involved, but then I put that expenditure back into perspective. I've spent the approximate equivalent of a month's grocery money on enough trees to provide us with perhaps half our fruit consumption for years - possibly all our fruit consumption in the summer. In the current climate, that may well be the best returning invesment one can make!

What did I buy? Well: I already have a Victoria plum, a mini olive tree, a brown turkey fig and two purple (Traub) grape vines. I bought:

1 dual grafted plum - Cambridge green gage & Marjories seedling
1 dual grafted cherry - Brigarreau Napoleon & Van
1 Morello cherry
5 different blueberry bushes - Tophat, Spartan, Gold Traube, Dixi and Patriot (these will ripen at different times, hopefully)
3 canes each of red currants, blackcurrants and white currants.
2 Cabernet sauvignon grape vines
2 Sauvignon blanc grape vines
25 strawberry plants - Cambridge Favourite (has to be the best for the Cambridge climate, right?) and a barrel to plant them in

and soon I'll pick up a kaffir lime tree, lemon tree, curry leaf tree and white fig as well.

I also planted boradbeans and peas in the garden and vast quantities of chilli, tomato, aubergine, courgette and spinach seedlings (amongst other things) in pots and trays on the weekend. Most of these are on heat to germinate.

In terms of cropping, most of what is left in the garden from last summer is greens. I've picked a couple of leeks, a large basket of sorrel and turned that into cooked greens to accompany patatas bravas, and a large bunch of kale to cook into a tofu and kale mole (yum!). There's plenty of chard, rocket and leaf beet for the picking.

But the recent warmer weather is having an effect. The rocket is all going to seed at once. The cabbages are starting to bolt, before they've even started to form head (I'm not a huge fan of cabbage, so I don't view this as a great loss). Thank goodness for the corn salad, chicory and salad burnet! It's not all bad: I've noticed that the parsnips I left in the garden over winter are growing new tops, and last year's celery is happily coming back after all the snow and hard winter frosts. The leeks and radishes are fattening again. And the purple sprouting broccoli is finally starting to raise its first head.