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Daphne

So how is the season so far?

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This is what the RHS say about it so I wonder if you’re right CT

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This is a self-fertile variety that produces both male and female creamy-white flowers, so it does not need a pollinating partner to produce delicious, greenish-brown kiwi fruit

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Not that I have given this much thought, but given they fruit so early, I am guessing the blossom is also very early?  If so, then I guess it is very prone to wind damage, rain damage, frost damage, you name it damage....?!  As you aren't keen on the fruit it probably doesn't matter too much, but its still annoying, as its very satisfying to produce your own, and you must be in a better part of the country to suceed with borderline fruit, than many.  If you were super-keen, is there anywhere more sheltered you could move it to, like in the lee of a handy garage or outbuilding which you could then rig up a post and wire system to train it along.  I know this is probably wishful thinking and such a site probably doesn't exist!

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It doesn’t flower until June and it actually is in a fairly sheltered position so it shouldn’t be that I don’t think. I have wondered though whether perhaps it dries out too much at just the wrong moment. It certainly pumps a massive amount of water around while it’s growing it’s buds - I cut some bits off it a bit late this year and there was watery sap absolutely pouring out for about 2 weeks! I felt awful and thought I must’ve done it serious damage but I don’t seem to have done.

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They need to be pruned in Winter @mullethunter, before the sap rises, otherwise the bleeding can seriously weaken the plant. We have pruned some of ours in Summer though, because the branches were getting in the way. To stop the bleeding we used a blow torch to seal the ends.

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The blow torch works well @Daphne. Just heat the very end until it chars immediately after the cutting. Can't be done if it's windy of course because the torch blows out. Our fruit is ready around beginning of February, so if we get are hard frost we've lost the crop; it just turns to mush.

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Had a look at the potatoes earlier. The earlies are still suffering from the frost damage and growing very slowly and we have one main crop that looks wrong. Had the same last year with one; the leaves are darker green and tiny. The one last year gave no potatoes and just wasted the space. Fortunately we still have the leftovers in the tray of seed potatoes so it will be dug out and replaced. We've stopped putting the leftovers on the compost heap because they all grow, resulting in a huge tangle which repeats every year. They now go into the green waste bin.

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That's a bit odd, Beantree, I'm not a potato expert so can't comment very usefully.  No doubt you have thought about same variety/supplier but also is there anything different in your compost/fertiliser/soil regime?  Sorry its a bit vague.  I have seen small dark leaves on spuds, but only on ones mistakenly left in the ground which grew again the following season, with about one potato per plant on it, so I think you do the right thing to pull them up and start again.  I used to nurse things along, but given the amount of effort and water we all put into our veg, I now am much more cavalier.  I have also had a revelation, which is a slightly raised bed with plenty of guano dug in at creation.  Then I buy plugs and away they go, partly because there is less competition from grass and weeds but mostly because the bed is supercharged at the outset.  I used to think it was 'cheating' not to grow from seed, and to use bought in fertiliser as opposed to home grown compost, but as I can't make the latter, and I have seen the results from plugs (I have some sown beetroot alongside some plug beetroot - the plugs are about 4 times the size and were planted later), and I realise that all my neighbours do the same thing, I am producing more for the same/less effort.

Although there are recycling points everywhere here, for glass, batteries, plastics/metals and paper, and I know of a couple of places to recycle oil, there is no such thing as a domestic green waste collection.  I don't know what everyone does with it, you never see compost heaps either.  I suppose some of it goes to feed chicken/goats.  

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It's the green waste bin at the tip @Daphne. We bought some 300 litre canvas style sacks and fill those with stuff we don't want on the compost heaps then put them all in the van and take them when we are going into town for something else. I think people here just throw it in an obscure corner somewhere and leave it for years to just melt away. For those from the UK, we don't have brown, blue and black bin collections here. You take the recycling (no glass!) and the bagged household waste to bins positioned along the roads. Everything else has to go to the tip, so that's flattened cardboard, oil, metal, green waste, wood, rubble and small appliances. Supermarkets have places for clothes, batteries, bulbs and plastic bottle screw caps, which are a different material to the bottles themselves so should be removed. Glass goes separately into special bins and there are only two in this whole town. Takes up a lot of storage space all this recycling stuff!

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Ah, that explains it.  I have a friend who positively likes going to the tip, whilst I positively hate it, I associate them with queues and bad tempers.  You must have an encyclopedic memory to remember what goes where, not to mention a massive assortment of transportation containers!

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The new potatoes still look very sick so won't do well, but the beetroot is showing just 7 days after sowing. Put 3 courgette seeds into pots 8 days ago and all are up, so one of our neighbours will get one. Last year we put three in the compost heap and had double the yield stated on the label, so far too many.

Our tip is a very quiet place @Daphne, so no queues or bad tempers. Having said that there is a little cockerel with two hens wandering around on the lawns around it, so sometimes  noisy. Yes we do have an assortment of containers and in three different locations as well. Just lucky we have the room for it all without affecting living space and a vehicle to move it all.

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I had to persuade my Mum to keep her small bedding geraniums in for a bit longer, its not worth the risk.  Its very weird weather.  I heard Bunny Guinness say that although trees might have bloomed well and been pollinated, they may not set any/much fruit as its just too cold.

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Started earthing up the main crop potatoes yesterday; I'd forgotten how hard it is on the back. The new chicken enclosure was stripped of moss (by the chickens) which has been set aside to cover the South face of the potato mounds. I soak it in water and apply it in a thick layer to protect from the heat and retain the moisture. Tried it for the first time last year and it works well. Previously we used leaf mulch, which also works, but the blackbirds make a mess digging for insects. Long job but it saves a lot of watering over Summer.

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Planted out my little seed sown onions and brassicas yesterday in time to get watered in by the rain. Peas are doing OK but growing slowly. Parsnips are finally showing themselves. Looks like I’m going to have about 10 which although it sounds rubbish is usually enough for me because I only eat one a week during the middle of winter. Nothing else out in the veg garden yet.

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We used to grow some lovely parsnips in England @mullethunter because we had deep sandy soil, but here it is solid clay below fork depth and they grow very short and fat; still taste nice. I sowed them too late last year and they didn't germinate in the heat. Thinking the seeds were no good I re-seeded and when it got cooler they all came up! Even with the losses from the lizards eating them (which we stopped by hanging CD's) we had far too many. We tried to explain what parsnips were to our French neighbour. Even when we found the translation 'panais', he had never heard of them. They sell the seeds here but I think they are not grown locally by anyone but the English. Not growing any this year but perhaps next and we'll give them some to make chips.

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Posted (edited)

Its one of life's small mysteries, the French have never eaten, sold or grown, parsnips, even in the North.  They don't know what they are missing!  I am able to harvest a few peapods a day for eating raw at the moment, I can't save them up into a big enough batch to cook, I'm too impatient.  I will do this again, plant in late autumn, in a raised bed, on a patio, to keep the mice out.

Edited by Daphne
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