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Garden Smallholding Blog

Growing mainly fruit, with some veg, and getting excited about growing chillis

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Lyminge Church

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Wot No Pinkberry

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Tagged in: Pinkberry

I excitedly ordered my Pinkberry from Suttons Seeds at the end of June and blogged about it at My Pinkberry Is On Order.

I was just doing a tick and bash on my bank statement and realised that the order of 28/06/12, the money for which was taken from my account via debit card on 02/07/12 had still not been fulfilled, and that I had not received any correspondence in respect of.

I telephoned the orders line number from their website, to their credit, the phone was answered in a few rings. I was advised that the order would be dispatched in November!

At no point during the ordering process, or in confirmation emails was I advised that the order would dispatch the best part of half a year later.

I cancelled the order immediately and requested a refund. I think that this may be my first and final order placed with Suttons Seeds, regardless of how desperately I want the pinkberry.

Maybe I just need to relax a little more?


Picking the Pineberries!

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I have waited just over a year to be able to post this - I have just picked my first pineberries!

They are smaller than I expected - roughly the same size as my thumbnail. You can get a better idea of their size by looking at my previous posts at http://www.gardensmallholding.co.uk/blogs/tags/PineberryWhite-Strawberry/

I was looking at them this morning and realised that one had started to go mouldy - its seeds were red and it had a pinkish hue to its flesh. I had been holding out on picking them as I was hoping that they would grow slightly larger. Unfortunately this was not going to happen, and the pineberry that has gone mouldly was extremely ripe. I have now picked the ones that appear ripe - seven in total. There are another couple to pick, but they are not quite ready. 

They smell like a mixture of strawberry and pineapple, and taste the same. They are sweet and very soft, the taste is not at all strong. But they are extremely nice, and if I had enough of them, I could easily make myself sick on them!

I have saved the remainder for my family for when they get back from school/work, and will post the verdicts on here.

Now I have the a large number of plants, in the best location, I have high hopes for next years crop! The most important thing I have learned is to make sure that pollinators such as bees are able to get access to the flowers. I had made the mistake of keeping the pineberry plants in a greenhouse that was pretty inaccessible to insects - I feel like a complete idiot!

Freshly picked pineberries from my garden!

 


My Pinkberry Is On Order

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Tagged in: Pinkberry , Blueberries

The new pinkberry 

 

Fruit growers have bred a new species of blueberry that looks set to brighten up muffins and pies.

The so-called pinkberry has a bright fuschia colour – a far cry from the usual deep blue shade of the superfruit.

It’s exactly the same shape and size as a blueberry but tastes much sweeter than its slightly sour cousin. 

They are said to be ideal for eating raw, sprinkling on cereal, baking into cakes and for using in drinks.

Horticulturalists in the US spent 20 years breeding pinkberries through cross-pollination and selected the Pink Lemonade variety due to its sweet taste. 

The bushes are now being imported to the UK for the first time to be sold through Devon-based Suttons Seeds.

The bushes’ pointed leaves turn bright orange in autumn and produce pale pink bell-shaped flowers, which grow into translucent white berries in the spring. 

The fruits develop into a green shade and eventually turn bright pink when they mature in August and September.

They are perfect for patios and balconies and can be grown exactly like blueberries.

It is best to plant the pinkberry bush next to other pinkberry bushes or blueberries, as this will make it grow more fruit due to pollination

The pinkberries come potted in 1.3 litre tubs and will grow to a height of 4.9ft with a 2.9ft spread.

Each bush will grow about 3lbs of fruit every year.

I have just ordered mine and cannot wait! I already have five blueberry bushes that are laden with fruit in my greenhouse at the moment. The soil in my area is extremely alkaline, so I have kept them potted using ericaceous compost.

They are being sold by Suttons Seeds - http://www.suttons.co.uk/Gardening/Fruit/Soft+Fruit/Pinkberry+Pink+Lemonade+Plant_233625.htm#233625

 


I have mentioned previously that I have handed out lots of pineberry plants to friends and relatives because the plants I originally got have put out so many runners. The rate at which they reproduce is incredible.

I would approximate that 80% of plants I have supplied have not produced fruit. I would like to think that next year things will be better.


 

Anyone that has read the Pineberry part of my blog previously will know that I only got them (the Pineberry plants)  last year when they first became available and that I was completely ignorant to them. It may also be apparent that I am becoming slightly obsessed by them too....

 

If I am completely honest, I am a bit of a useless ass in the garden. The only thing that I am completely comfortable with growing is Raspberries and Blueberries.

 

Last year, which was my first year, I got absolutely no fruit from the first pineberry plant whatsoever. Throughout last year and earlier this year, I grew lots of runners from the initial plant and kept them potted in the greenhouse.

 

This year, I have blogged describing the way that the plants have flowered, but not set fruit out. I have tried manually pollinating the flowers with a paint brush - see Pollinating Pineberry Plants , and then moving the plants from pots in the greenhouse to the earth in the polytunnel (We had to reclaim the polytunnel back from the ducks and chickens a week after the fence fire back in April andIs The Pollination Paying Off? )

 

It looks like the Pineberry plants have really thrived since being transferred to the polytunnel. It appears a mixture of home produced compost, rotted horse manure and a liberal sprinkling of chicken and duck poo has helped them on their way.

 

The pictures below give you an idea as to where the plants are up to.

 

To catch up to all posts relating to pineberries, click on the following:  pineberry/white strawberry and you will get the list.

 

Fruiting pineberry in polytunnel


Fruiting pineberry in polytunnel


Is The Pollination Paying Off?

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Late last month I detailed how I manually pollinated my Pineberry plants (see Pollinating Pineberry Plants). The latest picture of the most advanced plant is shown immediately below the text. You can see the flowers to the left and top of the picture are setting out fruit, but the ones to the bottom and right are shrivelling up, and based on previous experience will amount to nothing.

Shortly after this pic was taken, we reclaimed the polytunnel back from the ducks and chickens with the aim of reclaiming the tunnel to grow things in - rather than it being an extension of their run. The idea was to then extend the chicken and duck run into a flower bed that houses a lot of large shrubs, most of them were not visible from the rest of the garden, so the space was effectively wasted.

We emptied the contents of the fire damaged compost bin (see How The Fence Caught Fire - we think!) into the polytunnel and gave the ducks and chickens a couple of days to scratch around in the compost before sending them back to their run and preventing them accessing the polytunnel again.  The time that the ducks and chickens spent in there paid off - they did a really good job of mixing the compost in with the rest of the soil in the polytunnel. We still had to dig it over, but they really did help matters.

We then planted the Pineberry plants in the polytunnel, along with a couple of squashes, various chillis, and half a dozen different tomato plants kindly donated by my mother outlaw. The second and third pictures show either side of the polytunnel. The second is the left hand side and to the far left are various types of tomato, and the row in front is the pineberry plants - not bad bearing in mind I was only given one plant a year ago! And I have given loads of them away too! 

The third picture is the right hand side of the polytunnel - farthest away are a couple of squashes, followed by various types of chilli, with a basil plant thrown in, and then a couple of strawberries.

Fruiting pineberry plant in pots in greenhouse

Tomatoes and pineberry plants in polytunnel

Squashes and various chillis in polytunnel


Pollinating Pineberry Plants

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Last year I got poor results with my Pineberries, and I think that pollination may have been part of the problem. It looks like the same problem may be happening again this year - the lack of insects/breeze in the greenhouse is likely to be to blame.

Pineberries are like Strawberries - they are self-fertile. The Pineberry flower contains the reproductive system of the plant. They will usually pollinate themselves but normally need help from the wind, or bees etc. Have a look at the picture below - pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from the stamens, which are the male parts of the flowers, to the stigma (centre), which is the female, receptive part of the anatomy.

Picture of pineberry showing the stamen

Year on year, I seem to be seeing less bees in the garden, which is an obvious concern - bees are so important in pollination. Another thing that doesn't help is that all of my Pineberries are in the greenhouse. I leave the door and roof vents open to allow the pollinators in. So, the pollination situation is not the best, and could use a helping hand.

Today, I have taken a small artists brush and brushed from the outside of the Pineberry flower and inwards using a number of short and gentle strokes. Within a couple of days, the flower will start to wilt - this indicates that the pollen has been transferred from the stamen to the stigma, and that pollination - i.e. fertillisation has taken place.


How The Fence Caught Fire - we think!

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Tagged in: Garden , Fire , Compost

Earlier this morning, I went for a walk with the dog, and got back just before 7am. Just afterwards I heard a knocking at my front door - it was our neighbour whose back garden backs onto ours. He was quite panicked and stated that our fence was on fire. My jaw dropped, we had not burnt anything in the garden since Saturday evening see Burning Garden Waste  and that fire was very sedate, and here I am on Tuesday morning being told that my fence is on fire.

I went running down the garden and the whole fence panel was ablaze, along with a chunk of one of the compost bins. I grabbed a hosepipe (sorry Southern Water, but I think firefighting is exempted from the hosepipe ban - try spending less on director remuneration and actually something on leak fixing and bans will not be required), Gem turned it on, and I spent several minutes dousing the flames, with the neighbours wife doing the same with their hosepipe.

The amount of heat generated was shocking, as was the damage caused. Looking at the potential causes, the only one worthy of any consideration was the bonfire on Saturday 14th April evening that was finished by about 9:30pm. The fire was contained in small stainless steel pit approximately a half a metre in diameter. The sickening thing was that there was no clue that an ember had somehow embedded itself at the back of the compost bin. We had worked in the garden on Sunday, putting things in the compost bin. On Monday, Gem had spent the entire afternoon cleaning up around the compost bins, and covering one of them up with spare bits of plywood, an old PVC garden table minus the legs, and weighing the whole thing down with a disused wheelbarrow. She finished at around 6pm in the evening on Monday after about four hours work, and I returned from work shortly afterwards and surveyed the work at around 6:30pm and it looked great. At no point could I smell anything burning. On the Tuesday morning, the morning of the fire, I could not smell anything when I left to walk the dog around 6:00am, nor when I returned around 6:45am. Yet, as soon as I entered the garden after the neighbour calling, I could smell the fire immediately.

A lesson has been learned - there is a six inch gap between the back of the compost bins and the fence panels. There were a few sheets of roofing polycarbonate and a couple of fence panels stuffed into this gap. We think an ember from our fire on Saturday somehow fell down there and was held against the wooden compost bin. If you look at the second image below, you can see where the fire originated - about halfway up the fence side of the compost bin.

This is the sight that greets as soon as you walk up into where the compost bins are:

Burnt out compost bin and fence panel

Below is the view from the neighbours garden;

Burnt out compost bin and fence panel viewed from neighbours garden

Burnt out compost bin and fence panel viewed from neighbours garden


Burning Garden Waste

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Tagged in: Garden , Fire

Had a small fire this evening to burn some of the twigs and small logs accumulated in recent weeks from pruning etc.

Small bonfire in compost area of garden


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