Saturday, 27 August 2011

Planning ahead

I think this is 'Super marmande'. In any case, many of the larger tomato varieties are now swelling, promising a reasonable crop, though none show signs of ripening just yet.

I have tasted fewer than half the varieties of tomato I am growing this year - although I think I will be able to try at least one of each before the frosts.

However, seed fever has taken me again, and I have planned next year's list of varieties already. It is subject to change, but only addition - a few of those I have at the moment have not yet proven themselves, but they may be redeemed later in the season. Some seeds remain from the purchases of 6 months ago, so obviously I will start with these. Then, some which I do not have spare, but which have done so well already, I will gather the seeds from. Finally, I have chosen a few varieties that either come highly recommended, or which fill gaps in the size/shape/colour/habit combinations, or whose names I like, or which duplicate 2011's attributes, but might be even better. I'd set my limit at 20 varieties - which sounds like a lot, but in fact, I'd say it's no harder to grow 60 of 20 types than 60 all the same. I knew I'd overshoot a little, so here is the first draft, amounting to 23.

Varieties in bold will be making a return appearance after this year; asterisks denote those whose seeds I will have to collect myself.

Black cherry
Black prince
Brown berry
Caspian pink
Cherokee purple
Cream sausage*
Garden peach
Garden pearl
Gardener's delight
German orange strawberry
Great white
Japanese black trifele
Jaune flammée*
Plum lemon
Super marmande
White cherry
White wonder
Zloty ozarowski

A few notes. I will not save seed from this year's crop of 'Gardener's delight', because although they have grown well, the fruits are small, and I am not convinced I have a very good strain (the seeds, if you remember, came free with a magazine a couple of years ago). 'Brown berry' will grow alongside 'Black cherry' - they are very similar, and I want to know which I prefer. 'White cherry' will be compared with this year's 'Snowberry', which has not yet earned a place in the lineup. 'Garden pearl (Gartenperle)' will stand as comparison with 'Gardener's delight'; 'White wonder' with 'Great white' (although the former is smaller); I suppose 'Ildi' is next year's 'Sun belle'. 'Sungold', 'Zloty ozarowski', and 'Jubilee' are there because I realised my favourite tomato colour is orange - and I want to see if anything matches 'Jaune flammée', my absolute favourite of the year so far. 'Garden peach' is a peach tomato - namely, one that has a slight furriness, a fuzz, on its surface, and can look very much like its namesake - a type I nearly tried this year. Finally, all were selected from their peers on the basis of earliest ripening - since my garden clearly isn't hot or sunny enough to get fruit to harvest in the standard number of days (all have been around five weeks behind this year - not always due to incompetence).

So, exciting times. I don't yet know how many plants in total I will grow - 100 seems a nice figure, but it depends on how much I get this year - my goal of 50kg hangs in the balance; if I make it, a hundred will be too many. Of course, if I get an allotment in time, I will grow more.

I'll return to this subject in a few months, when I have finished assessing this year's varieties, and when I've bought the seeds I need.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

August harvest: week three

The mizuna is ready! I snipped one third of the catch crop I sowed in the first raised bed, which was plenty! The odd tiny slug and snail were dealt with by soaking in salted water and thorough rinsing. I'll pick more in the next day or two.

Slim pickings again, but I've had a little of something more than every other day. The tomatoes are ripening gradually, giving me enough for a salad here, a pasta sauce there, but nowhere near the quantities I need for preserving. Another variety came on-stream this week: 'Sun Belle'. I'll obviously be doing full summaries of each variety later in the year, but my initial impression was, it's sweeter and less acid than its near-twin 'Snowberry' (the former not as golden as expected, the latter not quite as pale). Delicious, anyhow.

Totals for week 15th-21st August:
16th: 70g tomatoes (comprising 2 'Jaune Flammée' at 38g, 3 'Snowberry' at 15g, and 4 'Gardener's Delight' at 17g)
17th: 9g French beans
20th: 2g French beans, 34g runner beans (day total: 36g)
21st: 121g tomatoes (comprising 2 'Costoluto Fiorentino' at 76g, 3 'Gardener's Delight', 3 'Sun Belle', and 2 'Snowberry', each at 15g), 80g mizuna (day total: 201g)
Week total: 316g
Year to date total: 20.41kg

So, I didn't manage another 500g. Not to worry - I have been doing other things (including building the side gate, finally - a key step in securing the back garden, which has not had a lockable gate for two or three years, and has never been private). The raised beds in the front garden are growing so fast, it fills me with pride, and spurs me on - I want more like that! I'll do another tomato update very soon, but I will just mention here that there is a lot of fruit coming - including some rather large 'Cherokee Purple' (outside!). I might get to 21kg by the end of the month.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The height of summer

There have been a few large butterflies hanging round my front garden this summer, but only one at a time. This red admiral kept startling me today.

Another garden update? Aside from the tomatoes (which I wrote about a few days ago), so much is going on right now, I thought I'd do a summary. What's coming up to harvest, what's just germinating, what's yet to be sown.

I started this post over a week ago. This is what the seedlings in my first (shallow) front garden raised bed looked like...

...and here it is today. The mizuna has lived up to its reputation as a good catch crop, being ready now, long before the beetroot (left) and kohl rabi (right).

This is the other (deep) raised bed. In one half, carrots, swede, and radishes are just appearing, while here, I have transplanted stem lettuce (celtuce; above), and rainbow chard (below).

First, the old. The beans and squash aren't doing too bad, considering my earlier neglect and worries! Okay, so 95% of what I sowed went to waste, but what I did find space for has burgeoned. The runner beans have just started showing signs of setting pods - so maybe there will be a crop, after a few dozen failed flowers. They have been pretty, and not defoliated by snails as they have been in previous years. The French beans, on the other hand, have been problem-free since I sowed them. They have lovely, rich purple flowers, purple-tinged stems, and it seems, purple-blushed pods. They're actually ahead of the runners, even though they were slower to get started. They lose their colour when cooked, so it's best to just quickly steam them, or pick young and eat raw.

Finally - baby runner beans! And lots of them. They should be ready in a week or two.

The squash were a bit of a disaster. I sowed dozens, of around ten varieties. But most I allowed to die - I just didn't have the space or soil for them, and I was concentrating on tomatoes. I planted one in a large container on the terrace, where runner beans had been. It had been thriving in the greenhouse, but almost immediately was attacked by snails in its new home. I thought I'd lose it - but it fought back. Now I think it will survive. One more (a different kind) went into the large runner bean pot - it has grown well, straight up the sturdy supports. This week, I spotted the first, tiny, embryonic fruit - so there's hope. Actually, I've been overrun with self-sown squash - wherever I've spread homemade compost, they have sprung up. I've left a few, around the place, where they aren't harming other plants. Their identity, and whether they will produce anything, I can't comment on.

After my tomatoes, this might be my greatest achievement so far - a tiny pumpkin! It's 'Uchiki Kuri', a (one-day-to-be) red Japanese "onion squash".

Now the new. All but two of the things I sowed at the start of the month have germinated (the two that haven't are year-old red perilla seed - it may be one that loses viability quickly - and mixed salad leaves, which were several years old, and had come free with a magazine - there are plenty more where they came from). The ones that have grown are rainbow chard, stem lettuce ("celtuce"), Chinese cabbage, mizuna, mibuna, mispoona, kailaan, tsoi sim, heading lettuce, green perilla, fennel (herb), and sage indoors, and turnips, beetroot, more mizuna, black radish, kohl rabi, and mesclun (mixed salad) outside. Parsley and namenia, both also sown outdoors in trays, were destroyed by slugs and too much sun respectively - they will be restarted indoors. In the last week or so I've also sown carrots, cheeky late summer squash, swede, and radishes outdoors, and several kinds of basil (Thai, holy, purple, cinnamon, and Genovese) and bulb fennel inside.

This is perilla. I sowed green and red, but only the green has germinated. It's perfect for sushi and Japanese-style pickles.

And sage! You can grow it from seed, and it's so easy, why would I ever buy plants again?

And here is another aromatic herb - basil. This is standard ('Sweet Genovese'), but I also have several other kinds. Still tiny!

The near future holds a little more sowing - spring cabbage, more basil (Greek, maybe giant-leaved), kale, cavolo nero, more carrots, more radishes, more turnips, perhaps some cheeky late chillies - I can overwinter them indoors or in the greenhouse if they take. Then it's over for a few months - until November probably, when the greenhouse will be cleared of tomatoes and repopulated with winter salads and oriental vegetables, and outdoors I can attempt overwintering broad beans and peas. I'll also plant some garlic and shallots, maybe onions too - since most of what's going in now will be harvested by then. I've found an exciting mixed multipack of garlic sets, nine different varieties, for £17.99. Pretty expensive, you'd think, but that will easily provide enough garlic for a year - 10 bulbs and 5 extra cloves, let's say 8 cloves per bulb, could make as many as 85 bulbs by next summer. They sit out during the winter and spring, so they're not competing with other crops for at least half their lifespan, and they can be planted quite densely - I'll only need a couple of raised beds for them. I eat a lot of garlic, so it makes sense. As for shallots, I will plant some next spring as I did this year, but some (especially Japanese varieties) can go in before winter, and I'd like to see if they're worth it. As for onions, I have a pack of 'North Holland Blood Red' seeds, which I got for spring onions, but they are a dual-purpose variety, which can be grown as full-sized red onions. I might see how that goes.

Plenty of seedlings on my windowsill again! In the foreground, heading lettuce 'Pinares'.

August harvest: week two

My camera has problems focusing in less-than-perfect light. Still, you can see the range of colours in the three varieties of tomato I picked today. The red one on the left is the mutant bloom I mentioned two months ago.

Another light week. There a lot of variety, but not much substance. The tomatoes are delicious, at least, and everything is brightly coloured. I'm a little concerned by the continuing paucity of tomatoes and beans, but I'm comforted by thriving autumn crops, which are germinating all over the place.

Totals for week 8th-14th August:
8g French beans, 54g tomatoes (4x'Gardener's Delight': 21g; 2x 'Jaune Flammée': 33g; day total: 62g)
12th: 121g beetroot, 87g beet tops (day total: 208g)
14th: 4g French beans, 164g tomatoes (2x'Costoluto Fiorentino': 79g; 4x'Jaune Flammée': 66g; 3x'Snowberry': 19g), 537g shallots (day total: 705g)
Week total: 975g
Year to date total: 20.094kg

My informal goal this week was 20kg, but I knew it was unlikely. In fact, until I cleaned, trimmed, and weighed the shallots, I thought I'd missed it. It may seem convenient that I harvested them this week, but in fact they were as ready as they'd ever be - their leaves had mostly died back, although the bulbs were pretty small. Still, for an old recycling box of unimproved compost, it's not bad. Most of them have gone into a batch of marrow chutney I'm just making.

I suppose, to be realistic, I can't expect more than 500g this coming week, but we'll see.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Could this be my future? (part 3)

A little more exotic: a bed of netted cavolo nero kale, perfect, dark, inviting. For hearty Tuscan-style soups and stews, or maybe pasta dishes.

Am I that easily swayed? Half an hour in the allotments, and I was thinking about applying for one? Apparently so. It's that I've never thought about it though. I have considered it, and rejected it, for complex reasons. But they all seemed irrelevant when I was there - it was a transformational experience. That so close to home, hidden away, was this other world, where normal, local people were producing so much wonderful food. The plots were big, but not unmanageably so, they were pleasant - even joyous - places to spend time, not places of work, but spaces created by their owners, where nature was corralled, chivvied, encouraged to do what they wanted, but not without allowing space for its own preferences. Birds, insects, wild flowers, were all around, no doubt helping as much as they hindered - predating pests as well as crops, attracting pollinators as much as competing with the cultivated plants.

I'm not sure if these celery were being grown for a competition - but they would certainly be worthy of a prize. Fascinating to see how they've blanched them with metallic insulation, keeping them clean and white.

Here and there, was a sign of the "traditional" allotment culture that had repelled me in advance. Show vegetables: those grown for their appearance, size, regularity, in order to win prizes, rather than primarily for eating. One large greenhouse contained a couple of dozen onions and leeks, the former as large as my head, the latter as thick as my arm. They were incredible - but thankfully in the minority, outnumbered by more realistic examples. The celery above, I suspect, was also grown for this purpose - there was other celery, not even earthed up, in other plots. Actually, apart from the size and spacing, this method, wrapping the stems in foil, seems very sensible, and worth doing generally - a reminder that these approaches are not mutually exclusive. Overall, the plots seemed geared towards producing as much tasty, fresh veg as possible - which I suppose is their purpose.

A view across the heart of the site. Onions of some kind are flowering in the foreground - vegetables are often as pretty as ornamental plants. Look how many greenhouses there are!

In fact, it was amazing how much people were getting from the space. The soil here is fertile. It's heavy - clay where I live, and probably a mixture of clay and peat on the allotment site (as I've mentioned, it was once a glacial lake bed). But even so, it takes extraordinary management of nutrients and space to get so many plants to grow this large, produce this much fruit, in a patch not much bigger than a suburban garden. Without exaggeration, I can say if I had such a plot (assuming I did as well as these folks), I could produce all the vegetables (and eggs, and non-exotic fruit) I would need - what an exciting prospect. It would be a lot of work, but everything in life is work, and at present, this option - producing as much as I can myself, so my overheads are as low as possible - attracts me the most.

A comfortable corner: massive columns of runner beans either side of a path, leading to a cosy blue shed. Not too neat or fussy, neither drab nor unkempt - a perfect allotment.

I can imagine myself there, the radio on in the shed, doing a few hours' work every couple of days. Taking myself away from the intensely urban environment in which I currently spend all my time. Not being limited by space - having the room to grow everything I want. Having a space that I can be proud of. Not instead of my garden here - but that will never be quite what I want, and there's nothing I can do to change that. Rather, a sanctuary, all my own. Running away without having to go anywhere very far. And of course, a source of so much more food.

I bought a few things from a stall they had set up (actually, there was a cafe, a raffle tent, a stand selling cakes, and a barbecue). An enormous marrow, bright yellow, the size of a baby - more than 4.5kg. A punnet of black grapes - yes, black grapes, ripe in August, here in northern England - small, but tasty. A bunch of beetroot, a couple of corn cobs, and some cucumbers.

And I sent an email enquiry about applying for an allotment myself. Next weekend it's the open day for the closest site to my house, where I'd always dreamed of having a plot - but it's on the largest road junction in town, so I suspect I'll like it less. Either way, I have a plan now. Given the waiting lists, I may have to be patient. But that will give me time to finish my garden here - no point in starting a new project until this one is complete. I can wait.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

August harvest: week one

I already posted a picture of the week's harvest in this entry, so here's a pretty shot of the French bean blossom - they are so ornamental, any crop is a bonus!

It wasn't a heavy week's harvest, but there was more out there than before. A few tomatoes, French beans, blackberries. Enough to brighten my plate here and there, but not enough to subsist on.

Totals for week 1st-7th August:
5th: 6g French beans, 80g 'Jaune Flammée' tomatoes (5 fruits), 42g 'Costoluto Fiorentino' tomatoes (1 fruit; tomato total: 122g), 32g blackberries, 3g nasturtium flowers, 3g Calendula flowers (edible flower total: 6g), 11g mesclun (day total: 177g)
Week total: 177g
Year to date total: 19.119kg

Meanwhile, the next door garden (belonging to my grandfather) was the star. He has a double plum tree (i.e. two varieties grafted onto one rootstock, though they have grown into effectively two separate trees), and the large, yellow-green variety (the other is a mirabelle, I believe - cherry-sized, red fruits, but it has never given a large crop) has cropped heavily again this year. I can't include them in my totals above, but the first picking (he'd already picked a lot, and some had fallen to the ground, yet there were as many again still on the tree) yielded just over 12kg. That was more than enough to occupy my kitchen for now. I made a batch of wine, reluctantly, as the last one (I made it two years ago) wasn't very nice, but there were so many, I needed to find some way of processing a lot in one go. The most delicious product so far has been plum sauce - the fragrant yellow fruits being converted into a rich, complex, satisfyingly balanced brown purée, with onion (or homegrown shallots in this case), garlic, vinegar, honey, brown sugar, five spice (home-blended and -ground), soy sauce, and sherry. Really delicious, which is excellent as it transforms the plums into something much nicer, and I've been converted to the stuff, having never much enjoyed commercial plum sauce in the past.

I also bought a few bits from the allotments on Sunday, including a 4.5kg marrow. I haven't yet done anything with it, but again it will require some ingenuity!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Could this be my future? (part 2)

A bed of (curly/sea) kale, under protective netting. Pristine, beautiful. Enough for the whole winter! Needless to say, I'm jealous.

Early August is a perfect time for an open day. Almost everything is at its peak - the flowers certainly are, and there are still some vegetables that I associate more with spring and early summer, like broad beans, alongside midsummer favourites like runner beans, raspberries (must have been late season varieties), tomatoes, potatoes, maize, and things I'd expect to be ready much later in the year, like cabbages, kale, and leeks. The brassicas in particular were impressive - beautiful fat cabbages, perfect under their mesh protection, some silver-grey, some tinged with purple, others pale green. Onions, broccoli, lettuces - they were all represented. I was surprised how large some things were - pumpkins the size of cannonballs (mine are still marble-sized), fats cobs of corn - while others seemed late, those same crops freshly-planted. It seems the sowing and planting windows in the books and on seed packets are much more flexible in reality.

Another surprise - livestock! I didn't realise you could keep chickens and ducks on allotments - or together in the same cage! They seemed unperturbed by all the visitors. I'd love to keep both, especially ducks.

One "crop" I didn't expect was poultry. I suppose I may have heard of people keeping animals on allotments before, but it was still unexpected - clearly the rules here are quite flexible. I have toyed with keeping bantams at home, as my garden is too small for full-sized birds, but this would be perfect - there's space for them, and they provide a means of recycling waste plant material and pests like snails into fertiliser on site (and faster than composting).

Grapes weren't as popular as tomatoes, but there were a few - including the punnet I bought. Most seemed unripe, which is to be expected at this time of year. Growing them under glass means this person must be serious about fruit production, rather than just growing them as an ornamental.

Down the main avenue, I found more of the same - some plots were open, others more secluded. A big surprise was the many channels of water that ran through the site - between the plots and even under the paths, which crossed them on little wooden bridges. In fact, the whole area these allotments are on was once a glacial lake, which was largely drained in the eighteenth century, but the fact that the water was only a few inches lower than the grass paths, and was all around the site, was both charming and slightly unnerving. It had rained heavily overnight, but even so - I wonder if there is a problem with waterlogging, although none of the plots showed any sign of it (raised beds were the norm). One advantage, in either case, would be (despite piped water being provided, and water butts abounding), no shortage of water for irrigation (and I suppose you could even try growing watercress and other water-loving vegetables).

The biggest, densest, most perfect bed of strawberries I have ever seen. It ran half the length of this allotment, and although it's long past their season, the harvest was doubtless immense. Clearly the plot of a fanatic!

I have to admit, I didn't like the middle of the site as much as the first section I'd seen, as it was more open, but there were still hundreds of little corners, sheds and summer houses, secluded nooks and private spots. With fields on three sides, and a quiet road on the fourth, the whole site is peaceful, but still only a mile and a half from the town centre. I started to think, maybe this was where I wanted to be...

Concluded in part three...

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Could this be my future? (part 1)

Or: A day at the allotments

The biggest surprise: flowers! Every allotment had them - a few were more traditional, but still had the odd companion plant, but most were filled with colour.

Overnight it rained a lot. Intense pulses, battering the roof, overflowing the gutters. This morning was grey, with a chill breeze. Why did this matter? Well, it was the open day for a large allotment site within walking distance of my house, and I'd wanted to go. Last year I meant to, but didn't, so when I saw a poster in the window of the local post office, it reminded me, and I searched online. The most important one is in a week's time, but today was another - not so close, but still easily walkable, on the other side of the park at the edge of town. I decided to take a chance - and I am so glad I did...

This cabbage is perfect - probably thanks to the mesh.

I've never set foot on an allotment before. Shameful, isn't it? Well, of course, the open days are only once a year, and they generally seem closed worlds, where the lucky ones can enjoy a second life filled with fresh, homegrown produce, albeit one governed by esoteric rules enforced by aged, humourless men. I know things have changed a little - younger people have started going - even women! - and not everyone is a retiree. Still, I was not prepared for what I found behind the high hedgerow and steel fences...

A gorgeous, deep maroon sunflower - I meant to grow these myself this year, but didn't get round to it. Next year they are a must!

There were several paths leading into the site from the entrance. I took the rightmost one. Immediately, I was confronted by what looked like a garden - somewhere between a cottage garden and a smallholding. It was big - and full of flowers, mixed in with the vegetables. A low fence ran between it and the path, so I could take lots of photos - and the owners were there chatting to people about it. I carried on, and plot after plot surprised me, with their size, and the variety of what I found.

This plot was deserted and secluded. I lingered. Here are some wonderful lilies.

Some of the plots, including the one the lilies above were growing in, were a bit messy. No worse than my own garden, and clearly regularly tended (raised beds of potatoes, tomato- and chilli-filled greenhouses, flowers and vegetables thriving), but with weeds, overgrown corners, bits of junk. They were lived in. Others were nearly pristine - laid out more formally, neatly trimmed and weeded. Some were larger than others, but all were full of vegetables, flowers, and interest. Most had at least one greenhouse - some had as many as three. And the greenhouses themselves ran the gamut from small aluminium-framed domestic models, to massive timber structures, and even some that looked like they'd been thrown together from whatever the owners could find. Tomatoes were ubiquitous, but so were chillies, peppers, and cucumbers.

So many leeks! I was intrigued by how closely these were planted - dense cropping is a must when space is at a premium.

Just as varied was the methods of growing those tomatoes - some had their leaves stripped, some were rampant. Most were still green, some already red, others yellow. I didn't see any more exotic kinds, but there was every size from currant to beefsteaks larger than two fists together. Some were in beds, some in pots, there were shelves, different supports, different watering systems. It was fascinating - it's very easy to get stuck in your ways, even if you read about other people's methods and experiences. Seeing it in action - and how every technique seemed to work - was an inspiration.

Continued in part two...

Friday, 5 August 2011

An August day

A few photos I took today sum up the day so well, I decided to do a quick photo post:

Trusses of 'Jaune Flammée', some ready to pick, and to the left, 'Snowberry', still green.

Everything I picked today was orange or purple! Blackberries, purple French beans (the first of the year), edible flowers (nasturtium and Calendula), tomatoes ('Jaune Flammée' and 'Costoluto Fiorentino')

And where some of that produce ended up. Millet, served with tomatoes, mesclun, French beans, and edible flowers.

It was a pretty good day - what I hoped, but didn't dare expect of this time of year: picking homegrown fruit and vegetables at their peak, and eating them for dinner. The more I do it, the more I am inspired to try. The icing on the cake? I sold my first plant! I'd like to do this a lot more, supplementing my partial self-sufficiency with a moderate income from selling spare plants. Enough to cover my costs would be a good start!

Tomato update: beginning of August

It's a good time in the garden. The weather has been typical of high summer - humid, warm, alternating between intense sunshine and torrential rain. We're not basking in heatwave temperatures like the southeast of England, but it's warm enough, especially when the clouds break. In the greenhouse, a new temperature record was set since the last tomato update, of 39.3ºC. Rather than harming them, it seems to have spurred the plants in there on to maturity - fruit abounds, and some of it is turning golden and red.

This has its downsides. The tomatoes require regular attention - a barely-visible sideshoot can grow to half a foot long in a few days. Watering and feeding are major undertakings - although the outdoor tomatoes haven't needed extra water, when I fed all my plants at once recently, it took at least 150 litres of water, and more than half a bottle of feed. Still, they respond to this treatment quickly, by greening, growing, and flowering so profusely, it seems as though they're thanking me. This weather won't last long - maybe six more weeks - so every good deed now counts extra.

I have, as I said in the last harvest update, picked my first fruit
s. 'Gardener's Delight' and 'Jaune Flammée' have proven themselves tough and vigorous, and have earned a place in next year's lineup (yes, I've already started planning). Both were delicious - obscenely concentrated, fragrant, sweet and sour all at once. I can't wait to have enough to cook with. And today, I picked 6 more - five 'Jaune Flammée' and the first 'Costoluto Fiorentino', which was a smallish one pressed against the greenhouse glazing (and was also utterly delicious).

As almost all varieties have set fruit, I've changed the format of these list
ings slightly - with categories for the progress of set fruit, rather than just a tick or a cross. As time goes on, I'll start including harvest totals for each, so I can keep track more accurately. I have also gone back to basics and recounted all my plants, as I felt I'd made some mistakes before, so don't be surprised if it doesn't seem to follow on from what went before...

Black Cherry

planted 1 • plant 108cm tall • flowers open, 9 small fruit set, still green

Cherokee Purple
planted 3 • tallest plant 74cm • approximately 4 fruit set, medium-sized, still green

Costoluto Fiorentino
planted 4 • tallest plant 156cm • 22 fruit set, medium-sized, one harvested, another taking on colour

Cream Sausage
planted 3 • tallest plant 96cm 22 fruit set, medium-sized, still green

Gardener's Delight
planted 5 • tallest plant 120cm • 117 fruit set, two harvested (total 7g)

German Orange Strawberry
planted 5 • tallest plant 60cm flowers just opening, no fruit set

Great White
planted 1 • plant 92cm tall • 1 fruit set, still tiny

Green Zebra
planted 4 • tallest plant 95cm • 20 fruit set, still smallish and unripe

Jaune Flammée
planted 5 • tallest plant 144cm • around 54 fruit set, some taking on colour, 6 harvested (94g)

planted 4 • tallest plant 43cm flowers open, no fruit set

planted 4 • tallest plant 160cm • 36 fruit set, medium-full sized?, still green

Sub Arctic Plenty
planted 4 • tallest plant 74cm • 15 fruit set, medium-sized, still green

Summer Cider
planted 4 • tallest plant 124cm • 13 fruit set, small, still small and green

Sun Belle
planted 3 • tallest plant 210cm 82 fruit set, full-sized?, still green

Super Marmande
planted 4 • tallest plant 133cm • 25 fruit set, medium-sized, still green

I did a thorough census - measuring the height of every plant, and counting all unripe fruit (anything that had certainly started to swell, not including tiny fruit that may yet abort). I'm glad I did. Most have grown a lot - one must have been mis-measured last time, as it lost height, but the tallest plant is a scary 2.1m (nearly 7ft - I am having to train it along the underside of the greenhouse roof!). And a total of 420 fruits, at various stages - many tiny, a fair few approaching full size (especially on the smaller varieties). I picked enough today to have as part of my lunch (on a sandwich) and my dinner (a salad with millet and 'Jaune Flammée', adapted from this delicious recipe). A total harvest of 101g puts me at a shade over 0.2% towards my goal of 50kg - so some way still to go! Nonetheless, I am feeling very positive.