Posts Tagged ‘Fruit’

Pear, Fruit, How To Grow Pears

Feels like we are well and truly into Autumn as the pears are nearly ready!! Forgive my excitement but from the moment the pear blossom appears at the end of April I count the days to harvest time.

The beech and walnut trees have turned and the leaves are falling and the lawn is looking like a beautiful middle eastern carpet with its gorgeous tapestry of browns and beige. Although they look stunning if you leave them on your lawn it will encourage moss. I find the best remedy is to bring out the mower and set it on the highest setting and just mow over the top of them. Great thing about the mower is it picks up the leaves and shreds them at the same time, which is great for producing leaf mould.

Autumn Leaves

But … my success this year has to be the Doyenne du Comice pears. Simply gorgeous.

Doyenne du Comice Pear

Doyenne du Comice Pears have done especially well this year

Last year was a bit of a disaster as the pears all dropped when they were small fruits on the tree. Disappointing to say the least but this year both the Conference and Doyenne du Comice have cropped really well and have reached a good size. It’s at this time of the year we harvest our pears as there is a knack to ripening them to ensure they retain the sweetness and flavour.

The Fruit Orchard
We planted 3 year old bare root trees in 2008 when we planted the orchard and they’ve always produced the most amazing blossom (first of the fruit trees to blossom) but never really delivered much in the way of fruit for the last few years. But this year they’ve done brilliantly!  No special treatment, just plenty of water when the weather was dry.

Juicy Doyenne du Comice Pears

I learned a great tip for ripening home grown pears. I didn’t know but they don’t ripen well on the tree apparently … at least not in the UK. Instead you need to bring them into store in a cool dry place and let them ripen naturally. So I thought I’d give it a go!

We have a covered area in the front of the workshop where it stays dry and fairly frost free. Should do just fine. I’ll also bring a few into the house as I think the heat may ripen them quicker and to be honest I can’t wait much longer!

If you haven’t grown pears before give it a go as they are a bit special. Now I’m off to find a recipe for home grow pears.

Oh and we’d love the hear from anyone that has any recipes for pears and I’d like to make Pear brandy but I wouldn’t know where to start? All ideas most welcome.

Back soon







PS: We hope to have an important announcement in the coming weeks … it will explain why we haven’t been posting for a while.  Exciting times!!!

Read Full Post »


I used to think growing fruit and in particular growing raspberry’s was the domain of only the most experienced gardeners. That was until a few years ago when I bought a handful of summer and autumn fruiting bare root plants from my local nursery.  Several years on and they have multiplied and multiplied … and multiplied! I must have over fifty by now which is fine but if they’re to carry on providing us with gorgeous fruit they’ll need thinning out.

We prefer the late summer/autumn fruiting varieties as they are easier to manage and in my experience produce more fruit. Essentially autumn fruiting raspberry’s fruit on this years growth which means you cut them hard back leaving approximately nine inches of stems after the first frost.


The bed they are in at the moment is right outside the poly tunnel and slap bang in the middle of what has become my little back garden nursery. Not exactly the best position although the canes produce absolutely loads of fat gorgeous tasting raspberry’s that seem to go on forever, but they’re going to have to be moved.

This year I’ve decided to move them to a new plot to give me a bit more space for the nursery.  I’ll keep the surplus plants and plant them along the hedge at the bottom of the plot and then anyone walking down the lane can help themselves.


Here’s the new plot … As you can see it’s going to need some work to get it ready. Its not really been used for anything other than as a temporary holding bed for the nursery.Now it will get a new lease of life and provide a permanent home for the razzas .

Preparing the ground for Raspberry’s

To grow healthy raspberry plants that will provide you with plenty of  fruit requires doing a little ground work up front. (Just hold on to the thought of ice cold home made raspberry ice cream on a warm sunny July evening and you’ll be amazed how the work suddenly becomes a lot less painful! )

Do rasberrys need any special treatment?

Two important things to remember about Raspberry’s.

One, they are heavy feeders and two they hate to dry out. They thrive on moisture which if you consider they are mostly composed of water it does kinda make sense. So they need muck or compost … and plenty of it.

Best time to transplant?

I find about now (early – mid March) to be the ideal time. Why? Because we are still having frosts in Hampshire which means the canes are still fairly dormant and the plants will have plenty of time for the roots to settle into the new conditions before they start to bear fruit.


Prepare a planting hole about a foot deep and about 18 inches wide and back fill with well rotted compost and a sprinkling of fish blood and bone. A tip  I picked up from my dad is not to plant the canes to deep. The roots need to breathe so don’t be tempted to heal them in too vigorously. Also if at all possible plant them in full sun and the fruits will be all the more sweeter for it. Oh and one last thing … don’t plant them too close together. After all you want to be able to get to all those gorgeous fruits!



How To Transplant Raspberry Bushes

Apologies for the poor quality of this image .. . I’ll take some better ones next weekend.

Its hard work but well worth it!

A busy weekend moving the Raspberry’s but very satisfying feeling now its done and it feels great to be back doing some serious gardening again!

Hope your weekend was a fruitful as mine. 😉

Best wishes


Read Full Post »


Fresh strawberries are such a treat and with Wimbledon around the corner what could be better than a bowl of fat juicy strawberries picked fresh outside your back door accompanied by a glass of Elderflower champagne!

I grow mainly summer fruiting varieties of strawberries like Jubilee and Mara des Bois in the fruit garden but this year I’m growing a few fruit and veg outside the back door mainly for convenience, but also to show you don’t necessarily need a large garden to grow great tasting fresh produce.

Strawberry Pots with a difference

I’m always looking to recycle items wherever possible and I was looking around the garden and came across a few ridge tiles left over from the build. I thought if I stand them on end and find some way of fixing them together they might make cheap and cheerful strawberry planters. They’re nice and tall, which will keep soil born pests off the fruits, and the extra  depth will provide plenty of space for the plants to root into.

They’re quite heavy but once positioned in the gravel they are easily pulled together using garden wire and a pair of pliers. I’m really pleased with the results and the terracotta gives them a lovely natural feel and the gravel sets them off nicely!


Strawberry plants really need full sun if they are to thrive, but will grow just fine in partial sun. I’ve positioned my planters on the edge of the patio which is full sun for most of the day, at least until the sun goes behind the trees.

Planting mix?

I use 50 parts well rotted garden compost and leaf mould, mixed with 50 parts sifted top soil. You can use a mix of John Innes and Ericaceous compost but we’re about building a garden on a budget so I prefer to use what we have available at our disposal if at all possible.

Feed or not to feed?

As a general rule when it comes to feeding plants stick to Potash for fruit and flowers and Nitrogen for green leaves and growth. If you want fat juicy fruits and you’re growing your strawberries in pots I’d recommend feeding during the fruiting season. I start adding potash rich feed to my watering just as soon as the fruits have set. I tend not to feed when they’re not in fruit as it only produces more leaf growth.

Feed can be expensive?

Yes it can but you can use natural occurring potash in the form of wood ash which is free (if you have a wood burner that is) alternatively shop bought tomato feed works really well.

Perfect accompaniment to Strawberries?

For a taste of the countryside and as a perfect accompaniment to a bowl of fresh strawberries and cream why not have a go at making you own home made Elderflower champagne. It’s the perfect time of year, the flowers are everywhere, and if you wait for a sunny day it’s the perfect time to grab a basket and have a go at a little light foraging!

If you fancy having a go at making your own strawberry planters you might want to try your local reclamation yard or builders merchants. They usually have a few ridge tiles lying around or something similar and someone you know is bound to have a couple of strawberry plants to get you started. So have some fun making your own planters, the more unusual the better!

Take care and thanks for reading!



Please be assured we will not share your email address with anyone and will only send you lots of useful gardening tips and information from time to time.

Read Full Post »

Bramley Cooking Apples

Bramley cooking apples make a great seasonal pudding!

It’s been an excellent year in the orchard with pretty much all the fruit trees providing gorgeous fruit. From delicious eating apples, to plums, pears, and super Bramley cooking apples.

But I was wondering what to do with my left over Bramleys, other than the usual processing options like purees, pies etc I was a bit stumped.

Then I was speaking to a friend at my sewing class and she came up with a great suggestion, which I thought I must share with my readers. It’s simple to make and has a real seasonal flavour, which is perfect with Christmas just around the corner.

Baked Apples Stuffed With Mincemeat

Basically you take a good sized Bramley cooking apple and remove the core.  I found it best not to take the whole core out, but leave a small piece at the bottom. I’ll explain why in a sec.

Bramley Apple cored

Carefully remove the core, but leave a small piece in the apple

Scoop out some of the apple to leave a good size pocket in the top half of the apple. It’s purely down to personal taste, but I like to sprinkle a little cinnamon powder inside my Bramleys for that special Christmas flavour.

Then take a large spoon of fruit mincemeat and stuff it into the hole. Make sure you press it right down to the bottom (which is why we didn’t take all the core out) and remember to leave a little extra on top, as the mincemeat tends to shrink back when it’s cooked.

Filling Bramley Apples with mincemeat

Finally, take a square of tin foil (about double the size of the apple) and wrap the apple in the foil into a neat parcel.


Repeat the process for as many apples as you can fit in your freezer and you have the perfect winter pudding!

You can cook the apple parcels from frozen, straight out of the freezer. Just put them on a tray into a hot oven, and cook for between 45 mins and an hour, depending on the size. What could be simpler!

When they’re cooked, remove the foil and pour over copious amounts of home made custard, or if you’re feeling particularly naughty lashings of cream!

Very nice indeed.

Best wishes,


If you’d like to keep this post for future reference I have created a PDF. It’s absolutely free, so please feel free to download as many times as you like, with my best wishes.


Read Full Post »

Late summer fruiting rasberries


Just before we get on to the ‘juicy’ bits, a few kind people have contacted me and asked if I could include a PDF copy of my posts, so they can keep it handy should you need it to refer to at a later date.  Absolutely no problem at all, from now on I plan to add a free copy with each post.  I plan to work my way through all the previous posts, so please bear with me as there are quite a few. 🙂

So here’s today’s free PDF download on How to Grow a Good Crop of Raspberries with my best wishes.


If you have any problems with the download drop me an email to and we will do all we can to  to help.

Anyway, on to the main event!

Late summer fruiting Raspberries, what a treat!

I don’t know about you, but I never get tired of fresh picked home grown Raspberries. The flavour of these freshly picked little gems always seems to be so much better than the supermarket varieties.

I’ve never confessed to being a great gardener, but I do like to have a go, especially when it comes to growing fruit and veg.  I don’t use any special techniques, all I do is try different methods, and then wait to see which one produces the best results. Take my Raspberries as a case in point.

I wandered up the garden at the weekend to weed between the Chrysanthemums, and noticed we had ripe raspberries, which was a bit of a surprise, as I thought they finished fruiting ages ago. What I’d forgotten was, the canes I planted 2 years ago, were both summer and late summer fruiting varieties.  (Labeling is not my strongest point)

When I looked a bit closer and lifted a few of the branches the canes were loaded with fruit, which was fantastic news as we don’t have any other fruit ready for picking anywhere else in the garden. The strawberries are all finished and I don’t have any current bushes or gooseberries for that matter.

The orchard fruits have a few weeks to go before they are ready, apart from the Plums which should be ready sooner, so it’s fantastic that we have some juicy berries for the table.

Of course I had to taste a few, just to make sure they were suitable for the table :).   The variety is ‘Leo’ which is actually a late summer fruiting variety with a gorgeous flavour and the fruits are firm and fleshy.

Secret to a good crop of Raspberries

I’d never grown raspberries until a couple of years ago when I thought I’d give them a go. As I had no real experience I didn’t give them any special treatment, but they only produced a few fruits. Then I read that Raspberries don’t really tolerate chalk as they prefer a slightly acidic soil, which considering my garden is sitting on a layer of chalk, was probably responsible for the  poor crop.

Then, last Spring (April) I had to move my canes as I needed the ground for another project. This time I thought I’d give them a bit more care as I wanted to prove to the family that I could grow fruit on our chalk soil.

I’d read somewhere that Raspberry canes thrive on damp conditions, so I thought I’d give them the same preparation as my runner beans, as they also thrive on moist conditions.

I dug a small trench, about a foot wide and about 8″ deep, and put 2-3 sheets of newspaper at the bottom of the trench. Then, I replaced the chalky soil with a 50/50 mix of topsoil (imported) and well-composted farmyard manure.  (Apparently the newspaper helps to hold the moisture in)

The plants were healed in nice and deep as the roots need to be well below the surface to stop them drying out, then a month later I top dressed the plants with a 4″ layer of general garden compost.

I’m pleased to say the plants have repaid all that effort with healthy looking bushes and best of all, loads of succulent, tasty fat fruits.  I don’t  protect my raspberries from the birds as there’s enough to go round, but if you see any sign of significant bird damage, then I’d have no hesitation in netting my fruit.

Autumn Pruning

I’m going to prune the late fruiting bushes hard back when they have finished, and give them a sprinkling of bone meal around the base of the plant, by way of a thank you for providing us with so many treats this summer.

We also have an early summer fruiting variety, ‘Glen Moy’ which fruits on the previous years growth, so I’ll remove any 2 year old wood from the patch and tie the remaining new canes on to the wires, ready for next year.

If you plan to plant your own canes, then ideally you should plant them this autumn, so they have a chance to get established before they burst into growth next Spring, and if you’re on chalk, or any soil for that matter, take the time to prepare the soil as I did, and you will be eating raspberries throughout the summer.

Next year I’m going to add a couple of redcurrant bushes and maybe a couple of Gooseberry bushes so we have a bit more variety.

If you have space for a few canes then give them a go, not only will they produce gorgeous fruit, but they also make for a  vibrant green summer screen.

Happy Gardening!

Best wishes,



Read Full Post »

Conference Pear Blossom

First of the Conference Pear Blossom

First of the Fruit Tree Blossom

Another productive weekend in the garden, mostly spent in the kitchen garden planting two rows of my early pea crop (Kelvedon Wonder), along with a row of quick cropping carrots (Nantes). I also managed to plant a some Boltardy beetroot on modules in the Polytunnel. I saw Monty plant his the same way in last weeks Gardeners World so I thought I’d give it a go.

The first of the fruit trees to blossom in my garden are my two Pear trees, Conference Pear and Doyenne De Comerce, and what a wonderful display they make on a beautiful Spring day! I just hope they manage to hold onto the fruit this year as last year they all dropped off before they had a chance to grow. I’ve absolutely no idea why, so if anyone has any idea why I’d love to know.

Pear Blossom

Pear Blossom

Best wishes,

Read Full Post »


James Grieve

Apple – Red Devil

Looking like it’s going to be a bumper year in the orchard.

We planted the trees in September 2008 so this is our second summer and the trees are well and truly established.  We’ve had to do very little other than we gave them a light prune last Autumn by taking about 4 inches off the end of each branch and made sure we watered  them in dry spells.

In the Spring we covered the blossom with fleece when frost was forecast which seems to have paid off.

Not so great with the pears though.

Conference Pear

Conference Pear

We had loads on both the Conference and Doyenne Du Commice in the Spring, but they’ve all disappeared over the summer, and now we only have a couple on each tree. 😦

Cox's Orange Pippin Apple

Cox’s Orange Pippin Apple

Bramley Apple

Bramley Cooking Apple

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »