Saturday 23 June 2012

Fruiting and seeding

I am not harvesting much at present. I'm waiting. Waiting for that elusive bumper harvest which is going to happen when the weather bucks its ideas up (so probably never, then).

If we got a bit more sun, these chillis would soon ripen:

Chilli "Hot Portugal"

Actually the chilli plants are looking pretty luxuriant, as a result of the huge amount of rainwater they have
consumed recently. Bang goes my plan to make them hotter by putting them under some stress by giving them less water. This plant has naturally divided itself into four main growing points. This should mean that it produces lots of fruits. The only trouble is the fruits will not set if they are not pollinated, and I don't see many pollinating insects flying around at present. I've seen hardly any hoverflies so far, and only a few bees.

See how "weathered" this chilli flower looks. What self-respecting bee would find that attractive?

However, on the plus side, the Blueberries are OK, and the fruits are swelling-up nicely. They actually enjoy moist conditions.

When is the best time to prune Blueberry bushes? Does anyone know? A couple of mine are getting very tall and straggly, with lots of new growth at the top, but little down below.

The fruit is borne predominantly on new growth, so pruning out some old wood from time to time is desirable, and besides, I'd like to make the plants more compact. I suppose it would be silly to prune the plants before they have finished fruiting, but will that be too late in the year for them to recover from pruning and put out some new shoots?

By the way, one of my blogging friends, Veggie PAK of  Back Yard Organic Vegetables, has recently published an article about how he protects his Blueberries from birds, which is well worth a read.

The plentiful rain has meant that the Asparagus has continued to put up new spears. It doesn't produce as much as I would like, but it's definitely worth having because it is just so nice! I'm going to stop cropping it soon, to give it time to build up its strength for next year.

Photo taken through the protective netting, hence a bit blurred!

Of course, some other plants have already "done their thing" for the year, such as the Snakeshead Fritillaries, whose seed-pods are now ripening and distributing their seeds:

It would be really nice if I could establish a permanent patch of these very striking flowers.

Elsewhere, my Rhubarb flower finally peaked at a height of 1.92 metres, and has now set a vast quantity of seed. Has anybody out there successfully raised Rhubarb plants from seed? Is it worth a try?

I already know that this next plant has little difficulty in reproducing. It is the herb Good King Henry. Every year I pull up from the raised beds vast quantities of little GKH seedlings.

So then, patience... Sit back and wait for stuff to happen.


Late addition: I have harvested a few more strawberries. This time I think even Mr.Tesco couldn't reasonably complain about the shape, colour and uniformity of these little beauties:

Now if only I had a kilo of berries like that....


  1. You don't have to worry about your peppers being pollinated. They self pollinate readily. When I used to save seed from them, I used a screen cage around them to keep them from being cross pollinated. They set fruit just fine under the cage without any insects.

    I cut down the rhubarb flowers that had grown way too tall. I didn't let them fully set seed. I did it for the heat wave though. They are close to the air conditioners. I was afraid it would prevent too much airflow.

  2. The peppers and strawberries look great. I liked seeing how the rhubarb seeded too. Oh and your asparagus is wonderful!

  3. The strawberries look delicious. It looks like I'm in for a good harvest from my blueberries after a meagre harvest for the last couple of years. I've never pruned mine, and they look very like your's, spindly at the bottom with more top growth.

  4. Can you take some of our sun and share some of your rain, please? Today forecast is for 42C, and same for the whole week! Anyway, everything looks just so green and fresh. Mark, I have a question to ask you. My cucumbers had a beautiful flowers and healthy green leaves but no cucumbers. I know the possible reason: all plants were the same male "gender" in the seed package. Did it ever happened to you? any advise? Thank you!

    1. Marina; Most cucurbit produce both male and female flowers on the same plant - hopefully simultaneously, but some varieties are bred to be "all female". I don't think I've heard of an all-male cucumber variety though. If the male and female flowers don't coincide, you won't get any fruits. You may have to resort to artificial pollination using a paintbrush.

  5. Blueberries will fruit next year on wood that has grown this year. Pruning is recommended when the plant is dormant between November and March. Late February to early March is supposed to be the best time - see this article by the RHS

  6. When I see your vegetable plants , and today Asparagus, I recall Barbara Kingsolver's book(Animal,Vegetable,Miracle).

    Well done!

  7. I am looking at your asparagus and berries with envy. Someday... Squirrels seemed to have eaten all my onions and chives. They must not worry about their breath.

  8. It looks so good! The strawberries are perfect! Still looking for space for rhubard.

  9. I'm interested in your blueberry question Mark as I have a blueberry plant that I've planted into the ground. I only bought it last year and it's doubled in size... well height really. I wasn't sure whether to prune it now as we're in the dormant months. I didn't see any fruit last year but only bought it quite late on.
    I have my fingers crossed for the next season.
    Mr Tesco will be knocking on your door any moment ~ those strawberries look perfect!
    Have a good gardening week ;D

  10. Once your rhubarb seeds turn completely brown, carefully place a brown paper bag over the whole stalk and cut. Seeds have very close to 100% germination and last for several years. I'm still using 7 yr old seeds with close to 85% germination.


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