Six on Saturday – The vagaries of mail order and spring weather


Wooh, one day shorts, the next duffle coats! And this wind today looks to be pretty much the end for all that lovely snowy blossom bedecking the apple, pear and cherry trees in the garden. Plants are certainly having a very confused time of it this spring. Still no sign of proper rain here either. I met a women out walking today who was saying that she felt ridiculous having to go out with her watering can wearing her heavy winter overcoat. Enough weather talk? I think so, so it is on to my Six things for this Saturday: A fun meme organised by The Propagator to encourage people to share interesting gardening tales, vignettes, jobs and plants etc. It’s a grow community, just take a look here.

My first is:



A few weeks ago I responded to a Mr Fothergill sale for unusual fruit and am now the proud possessor of two Actinidia arguta ‘Issai’ or kiwiberries (self-fertile, with fruit the size of grapes and they are delicious, ‘cos I tried some of the fruit last year). The plants are now hardening off next to the greenhouse before I plant them out against the white painted back wall of the garage. I have to say that I was very pleased with the size and quality of the plants and happy with their packaging and handling. Makes a nice change to be able to say that (see also Gill’s recent post on some purchases)!

2) Oca


Good quality was sadly not the case for the (admittedly sale) Orange Oca tubers I ordered from another supplier (who have a reputation for better). The tubers did arrive promptly, but they were shrivelled (OK that I could understand) and quite frankly almost completely covered in necrotic patches (not so acceptable). The only healthy looking pieces were tiny offsets that had been knocked off in transit. I nevertheless planted them all out to see what they do (in separate pots) and guess what? Three days later the tiny offset tubers have already broken through the compost surface to put forth leaves, but only one of the real tubers has shown signs of life and recovery. I’ll have to try again next year.    😦

3) Ramsons


A couple of years ago I got keen on trying to forage Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum, aka Ramsons) after reading a recipe by Nigel Slater which extolled the virtues of this plant. However, when I found a wonderful looking patch at the edge of some local woods I saw the damage that indiscriminant foragers can do and I walked away. Happily a friend was able to provide some plants from her garden in Scotland about this time last year and I potted up the bulbs and waited to see if they would come back. Well, they have, which means that this weekend I am going to make wild garlic gnocchi. Yay and yum!

4) Protecting the plot


I’ve decided that I need to do more than bemoan the devastation that muntjac deer do in the vegetable plot, so we’ve scrubbed out the ‘protective’ laurel hedge (originally planted to stop footballs wrecking the produce). It only provided sustenance for the deer anyway. The laurels may not have had many leaves left, but they sure had big roots! Now we are waiting for our local handyman to come and install an enclosing picket fence, with wire at the bottom to stop rabbits etc. Only thing is that after a quick look he hasn’t come back to measure up, so we may yet end up doing it as a May Bank Holiday project!

5) Vampire Chillis


What is black and purple and ‘fangy’? Yes, it’s Chilli ‘Vampire’. This is one of three over-wintered chilli plants I saved from last year (along with a Lemon drop and a Heatwave). All three are once more flowering and setting fruit already, so it was a worthwhile endeavour. Chilli ‘Vampire’ is a handsome plant, with large purple flowers, dark leaves and black fruit, so it looks suitable gothic and pleasing.

6) Staphylea pinnata (otherwise known as European Bladdernut)


A while ago one of the people I work with at Wimpole offered me some puffy seed pods from a shrub that she said would be covered in scented long white panicles. Well I can’t resist trying grow new things, so I took them home and sowed the seeds. Many germinated and I potted up half a dozen plants. This is the one that I planted out in the garden and it is flowering for the first time this year. Hurray! It’s too windy to assess its scent though, but I am optimistic that it is will waft thickly through that corner of the garden.

That’s my six. What are yours?


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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21 Responses to Six on Saturday – The vagaries of mail order and spring weather

  1. Susan K. Hagen says:

    I really like your willingness to give sale items and gifts a try. The true sign of a gardener.

  2. susurrus says:

    It’s always that bit more special to have a plant you’ve grown from seed, but when it is scented too… 🙂

  3. Lora Hughes says:

    I love the smell of ransoms in the woods, but never thought about eating them. But then, I’m not a cook. Your recipe sounds delish. Your vampire chillis, how hot are they? They look so pretty, it may not matter how hot they are, come to think of it. Good luck w/the new fence!

    • Lora, happily the vampire chillis are only mid-range on the heat scale, so exactly right for me. When I used to run a plant stall for the local school Christmas bazaar, I discovered that bright coloured chilli plants (like Numex Twilight) sell really well on appearance alone and look lovely on the kitchen windowsill, whether used in food or not!.

  4. fredgardener says:

    Your kiwais are superb and well ahead of mine, planted in the ground They let appear a second set of leaves (the first set having been burned by the cold snap, 10 days ago… luckily they recovered)
    Very nice flowers of vampire chillis !I hope they are tasty and no too hot…

    • Hope your Kiwis are doing better now that we have had further warm weather. How long do you let their branches get before tying them in?

      • fredgardener says:

        Like kiwis, this is how to prune kiwais: It’s better to prune at the end of winter. Cut after 2-3 buds of each branch that didn’t give fruit last year. For branches that have had fruit, cut in autumn one leaf after the last fruit you have harvested.
        I think it’s too late to prune now. Leave the branches and you will get some fruit too. (That’s what I did last year by forgetting)
        Mine has recovered now and I don’t see fruit buds yet….Patience…

  5. cavershamjj says:

    Chilli vampire! Looks fab. My two overwintered chillies seem to be doing ok despite being ravaged by aphids.

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    A great six. I think the picket fence will look well around the garden. A shame about the Oca. Won’t the supplier replace them? They should stand behind their product one would hope.

    • I am sure the supplier would, but I suspect they were really the very last of their stock (so no replacements possible) and the cost was very little. In fact I now have shoots emerging from all bar one tuber, so the experiment is ON!

  7. March Picker says:

    Your gifted plant seed has become a graceful swan. I hope for you that there is a delightful scent. And no, never too much weather talk because we are gardeners after all!

  8. Heyjude says:

    I have never thought to overwinter chillies. I shall do that with my new batch!

  9. Chloris says:

    I love your six. You are very adventurous with your food plants. Chili ‘Vampire’ is new to me. I love growing new things from seed too, how exciting that your Staphylea is flowering.

    • That first flowering is such a thrill, especially with shrubs and trees. I finally received my RHS seed selection in late April and I am currently cosseting emerging Berkheya and Abutilon, which is super exciting!

  10. Pingback: Six on Saturday – Ripe for the picking | Frogend dweller's Blog

  11. Pingback: Six on Saturday – Good news, bad news | Frogend dweller's Blog

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