Gardener’s guide to gluts: Blackberries

I have fond recollections of foraging for blackberries with my maternal grandparents. They lived close to the coast and I remember wandering about in wellies, my fingers purple with the juice of the blackberries my sister and I ate as fast as the others could collect. We’d happily brave the thorns for the delicious berries […]

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Leaf my trees alone, grass!

Help, the trees are being eaten by the grass! When we bought our little homestead, it came complete with a small herd of alpacas to keep the grass down in our back paddocks. I now see why. We’re a month away from getting our small flock of edible sheep and the grass has just exploded. […]

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Auditing the new orchard

When we planted our small orchard over the winter, we did so with no knowledge of how to do so. Luckily for us, the amazing Monty Don had made a short video on how to plant bare-rooted trees which we watched the morning we decided to make a start. It took us several weekends to […]

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Getting our fruit trees FIG-ured out

You may remember that a couple of years ago I was utterly baffled by a little Brown Turkey fig that I grew in a small pot on my London patio. After a year of doing nothing interesting, this small but determined fig tree suddenly started to fruit over the winter and then promptly died for […]

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Planting an edible boundary hedge

Our little smallholding is surrounded by very appropriate but rather ugly stock fencing. We needed something that would fit in well with the rural nature of our village, but that would keep our livestock safe (and, frankly, would keep other people’s dogs out). However, the stock fencing that was in existence when we moved in […]

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Planning (more) fruit futures

The weather is dank and dark, the heating still isn’t working and the dog refuses to recall but I find I drift easily away from all of these petty everyday issues when I think of summer and the bumper soft fruit crops I hope we’re going to get. I’ve become increasingly irritated by supermarket soft […]

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Planting an orchard

In our rush to become self-sufficient, we somewhat madly placed an order for 32 bare-rooted fruit trees, 160 raspberry canes, 36 fruit bushes and 10 rhubarb plants the day that we exchanged on our little smallholding and a couple of weeks ago, they arrived. Faced with all these bushy twig things and a finite dormant […]

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Hanging raspberry canes can’t (or at least it appears that way…)

Pretty unimpressive before planting You know the old saying “too good to be true”? Well I think I may have fallen for the marketing hype on some raspberry plants to replace my old¬†Raspberry canes. They claim to be trailing or tumbling canes that you can grow in hanging baskets. This makes me suspicious in the […]

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Maintaining bush plants in pots (or, a recipe for happy gooseberries)

I have a certain fondness for gooseberries, something that I think is shown by the fact that I’ve squeezed five bushes (two green hinnomakis, two red hinnomakis and a trusty old invicta) into my tiny space. They’re marvelous things, gooseberries, useful for everything from a liquor to liven up fizz through to pies. They’re one […]

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When aphids attack: How to build an organic defense

Disgusting: Aphids colonising the plum tree The other day I was out in the garden and pottering about with a cup of fresh mint tea making a mental list of tasks that needed doing when it occurred to me that the fan-trained Marjorie’s Seedling plum tree that I planted in a raised sleeper bed appeared […]

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