Winter Pruning Apples and Pears

Between Nov. and early March in UK.

Winter pruning of apples and pears is best done while the trees are dormant, usually between November and early March in the UK. Here are three useful articles from the RHS that explain what to do for different types of pruning:

Restricted forms like cordons and espaliers are managed by summer pruning.

Cucumber Soup

A good use for a giant cucumber

A good way to use up that cucumber that hid away behind the leaves and grew into a giant. Sally adapted the original recipe from our ancient “Menus & Recipes for Vegetarian Cooking” from Sunset Magazine.

  • 3 tbs butter
  • A cucumber, peeled, seeded (if necessary) and sliced.
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 or 3 cm chunks
  • 2 cups lettuce leaves, coarsely sliced
  • 4 spring onions, including tops, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1 cup natural yogurt
  • Salt + pepper
  • Fresh dill sprigs or parsley

Melt the butter in a large pan and sauté the cucumber and potatoes for 4 or 5 minutes, then add the lettuce, spring onions, dill and stock and simmer until the potatoes are done. Purée the soup, and stir in the milk and yogurt. Heat it to the serving temperature, season, and garnish with dill or parsley.

Joe Foster

Hosepipe Ban – Correction

It affects allotments, too.

Several people have pointed out that the itv article was incorrect (thanks!), and we are allowed to water our food crops with a hosepipe:

A hosepipe can be used for watering food crops but not for general flowers and plants. Where you can, we’d encourage you to use a watering can to save on the volume of water which is used through traditional hosepipes. It’s best to water in the morning or evening, as that means the water won’t evaporate quickly in the sunshine.

Yorkshire Water web site.

Watering dry, bare soil requires patience. It can take a long time for the water to soak in, as shown in this clever little video.

A layer of mulch helps prevent evaporation from the soil, and it also helps the soil soak up water more quickly. I’ve seen a great little video showing this, but I can’t find it just now…

Exhibiting Vegetables and Fruit

Tips for showing veg and fruit.

Our member Peter Blakey has put together some useful tips for showing your produce in our annual allotment show.

Show judging is usually done according to the RHS Horticultural Show Handbook, which you can buy online. At Hollin Lane we have our own rules which follow the RHS ones fairly closely.

Peter has picked out the advice given by the RHS for some of the most popular vegetables in our previous shows, and included some photos of his exhibits in a recent show organised by the RHS.

ClassTips
French BeansStraight, fresh pods with stalks, even length, good colour, no outward sign of seeds.
Runner BeansLong, uniform, straight, good colour, with Stalks, no outward sign of seeds.
Globe Beetroot60-75 mm in diameter, taproot in place, foliage trimmed to about 75mm.
CabbageFresh solid heads, 50mm of stalk.
CarrotsFresh, no sign of side roots, foliage trimmed to about 75mm.
CauliflowerHeads fresh and solid 50mm of stalk.
CourgettesAbout 150mm long 35mm diameter.
Leeks Clean, firm, long barrel.
MarrowsFresh, less than 350mm long, tender.
Onions - over 250 grams Large, well ripened, thin necks, intact root plates.
Onions - under 250 grams Firm, thin necked, blemish free bulbs.
ParsnipsLong, free from side shoots, taproot intact.
PeasLarge, long, with stalks, well filled with tender peas.
PotatoesAbout 175-225g, few eyes, clear-skinned.
SquashYoung, tender, well matched.
Sweet CornFresh, well set including the tips, straight rows
Tomatoes (medium)About 60mm diameter, ripe but firm, calyces attached.
Tomatoes (small)Less than 35mm diameter, calyces attached.

Here are some photos of Peter’s exhibits.

4 Onions
6 Medium Tomatoes
6 Peas
5 Coloured Potatoes
Runner Beans