Elma Family Garden

In the Pocket Handkerchief Garden: 23 July 2015


Space for the Butterflies - the Pocket Handkerchief Garden

This week in the garden I am very much hoping that things falling off or being cut off is not fatal.

The falling off was the courgette flowers.  I’ve got two courgette plants, one hasn’t flowered yet, but the other had two nice sunshine yellow flowers on, and I was starting to wonder whether this time I might actually manage to grow a courgette or two.  But open recent inspection, both flowers had sort of shrivelled up a bit and when I gently touched one it fell off, shortly followed by the other one who clearly just wanted to drive the point home.  There aren’t any courgettes following behind them, or even any hint of a courgette, just a nice green stem that looks as though it’s been chopped.  There are still signs of flowers to come on both plants so I’m hoping that these were a sort of pre-courgette flower that are absolutely designed to fall off, and the real ones, and the veggies themselves, will come later in the year.  Is that even a possibility?

The cutting off I’m slightly less worried about, because I was following instructions.  My lovely friend Mandy came over this week to put the world to rights with me and cherish her goddaughter (Kitty) and gave me a beautiful Ben Tirran blackcurrant bush.  I love love love blackcurrants but I’ve only got as far as strawberries in the soft fruit growing department so this was the perfect present.  It smelled amazing too; just like tomatoes plants smell tomatoey before the fruit comes, so do blackcurrant bushes.

Space for the Butterflies - the Pocket Handkerchief Garden

Well, did blackcurrant bushes in this case.

Space for the Butterflies - the Pocket Handkerchief Garden

We followed the planting instructions to the letter, including a nice long soak in a bucket of water and lots of water afterwards, and then under pruning it said “after planting, prune all stems back to 5cm above the ground.”  What! really.  You want me to chop this beautiful blackcurrant bush down to the ground.  I know all the experience gardeners will tell me it’s absolutely right and it’s to help the bush get well established and so it doesn’t matter if not all the roots like the transplant, but goodness me does it feel all wrong.

Space for the Butterflies - the Pocket Handkerchief Garden

We read, reread and read again, and finally, I took the secateurs to it.  It’s a leap of gardening faith if every I made one, more so than planting seeds, because with seeds you do at least feel like you’re doing things in the right order, Oats and Beans and Barley Grow style.

Space for the Butterflies - the Pocket Handkerchief Garden

And how is the rest of it doing?  Well the beans are getting used to their new home. I’m reliably informed that they will grow just a bit taller than the canes I’ve allowed, bit being the understatement of the century but we’ll cross that bridge as and when we come to it.  I’m still not completely confident in my ability to not kill them somehow, though I do have my first little bean flower and the promise of more to come.

Space for the Butterflies - the Pocket Handkerchief Garden

The strawberries in Patch B are turning red and being scooped off the plants by eager little fingers (and slightly larger fingers) whenever possible.  We’re getting a lovely crop off them and we’ve still plenty more ripening.

Space for the Butterflies - the Pocket Handkerchief Garden

And over on the other side I’ve weeded out the garlic bed with a thought to planting a quick summer crop, and we’re picking onions as and when we need them.  Strawberry Patch A acquired an ants nest, or rather I lifted a strawberry circle and discovered they’d moved in a while ago so the semolina is, according to the internet, a way to discourage them from eating the last few strawberries.  I may also be feeding the slugs but so far no slugs spotted and the remaining strawberries are unmolested.

And while all this goes on, the back of my mind is planning next year.  I’m thinking of either moving Strawberry Patch A or replacing it; I read somewhere this week that I can’t find anymore that you shouldn’t grow strawberries in the same spot year after year because it attracts things that eat your strawberries, I don’t know how true that is, but I am thinking of at least uniting the strawberries and having one fruit bed and one veg bed.  And if we get away without setting up another bed this autumn I shall be very very surprised!

The Pocket Handkerchief Garden so far:

16 July 2015

9 July 2015

3 July 2015

25 June 2015

18 June 2015

11 June 2015

4 June 2015

28 May 2015

21 May 2015

14 May 2015


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  • Mandycharlie 23/07/2015 at 9:18 am

    Start having a look at something called fruit cages. These are mechano type cages you can put together that will enable you to walk into your fruit area and are then covered to keep out cats, birds etx. Very expensive but can be picked up cheaply on eBay and then customised to your own size requirements.

    • Carie 24/07/2015 at 8:55 pm

      Oh that sounds like a good idea, I remember friends of mine at school having a fruit cage at the end of the garden that was big enough for us all to walk in. I haven’t quite got space for that but the concept sounds good and very cat-free!

  • Molly 23/07/2015 at 10:37 pm

    It all looks very healthy and I’m sure those courgettes will be a success! I love growing veg, although I wish I had more time sometimes to try and keep the slugs away!

    • Carie 24/07/2015 at 8:58 pm

      Fingers crossed – another couple of flowers have appeared today so maybe we’ll be in luck after all!

  • Kim 24/07/2015 at 2:32 am

    Everything looks so good! I can understand your hesitation at the pruning, but it will be so worth it. As for your zucchini (that’s what we call courgettes), those were most likely male flowers. Your plant should produce both male and female flowers, and will need to be pollinated by bees, or other insects, in order to produce a fruit. If you don’t notice any bees around to pollinate, you can hand pollinate them once you have female flowers. Do a search online and you will find information on both hand pollinating, and telling the difference between male and female flowers. Good luck!

    And your strawberries, they should produce for more than one season, and you can leave them in the same bed. Trim them back at the end of the season, cover with straw, and then put them to bed for the winter. In the spring, remove the straw, and they should start growing.

    I definitely think you will be setting up another bed this fall, you are so hooked 🙂

    • Carie 24/07/2015 at 8:59 pm

      Thank you 🙂 I think the netting might be the problem for the pollination – we’ve got plenty of bees around but I don’t know whether they like the gaps in the net – I might have to un net and try to keep the cat out with sticks to see if we can get them interested!

    • Carlin 31/07/2015 at 7:30 am

      Thank you Kim for this great advice! I have been wondering about strawberries and how they carry over…

      • Carie 31/07/2015 at 9:47 pm

        Kim is one of my gardening gurus!!

  • sally 24/07/2015 at 10:18 pm

    That pruning looks vicious, you are a strong person to have gone through with it! And Kim’s answer on the courgettes was very interesting, I’ve not noticed that on any of our plants ever before.

    • Carie 25/07/2015 at 11:14 pm

      It’s so utterly counter intuitive isn’t it – my Dad said he felt the same with his but several years later it produces bowls of blackcurrants every year and ours has started to show teeny tiny little green shoots!

  • Carlin 31/07/2015 at 7:32 am

    Yikes, I would have trouble with the blackcurrant bush too, I had trouble cutting my tomato plants down!! So glad it’s showing signs of new life.

    • Carie 31/07/2015 at 9:46 pm

      Oh me too – I’ve been staring at it hoping for signs of life!