Sarah (possessor of much gardening wisdom) popped round for lunch today. The weather was just right for pottering about down the allotment, and I took the camera along so you can see how things are progressing.


The tomatoes and courgettes are ripening nicely, and at least some of the beans survived the Evil Slug Attack which decimated many of their comrades in their early stages. I love the beautiful blue borage flowers, and am pleased that the bees like it just as much as I. (Perhaps we need to get our hands on a bottle of Pimms?) After some enthusing about the flourishing leeks, and commiserations about the non-existent lettuce (slugs again – bah), we sowed “pronto” beetroot, chinese radish, and a few more varieties of turnip (my neep obsession deepens daily). Sarah inspected the pond. The resident frog did not appear, but I know he’s in there.


Her sweater makes me want to knit another one.

In the greenhouse, the grapes are abundant, and fill me with consternation. I can’t believe that the unruly woody thing I chopped back and trained across the roof a couple of months ago is producing these wonders. Now, I inherited this vine from Billy (the allotment’s former gardener), and, never having grown grapes before feel something of a novice. While poking about in my books tells me that these grapes are likely to be bianca, or black hamburgh, I don’t know how to distinguish grape varieties, and really have no clue what these are. Nor am I sure if a grape should look like this at this particular stage of growth. I’m a little worried by those black specks on the fruit too. . .


Can anyone help me out? Should I be concerned by the specks? Any tips that you may have for successful greenhouse grape-growing would really be very much appreciated. I have been happily dreaming of Tom incorporating these beauties into a tasty home-brewed beverage later in the season, and must make the dream A Reality.

Talking of making dreams reality, thanks so much for your support in my quest for the “promotional non-cereal breakfast product” (to paraphrase Liz), also known as The Dorset Cereals Eggcup of Dreams. This wee clip from Father Ted pretty much sums up my feelings.

(now available to watch on 4 OD)

Thanks, everyone! Now we must wait and see. . . .

* Gardener’s Question Time

19 thoughts on “GQT *

  1. Wow! Your allotment sounds even better than it did before! I’ve always wanted a greenhouse and now you’ve put the idea of a grapevine in my head I want one even more…

    I think I saw on Gardener’s World that slugs like borage, so you can collect them from underneath the leaves and dispose of them. Beer traps seem to work for us, but they’re so gross I make Chris empty them!


  2. You have such a lovely looking garden, and I am really enjoying looking in on your web site! I am going to try making your owl sweater in the next few months, and when I get up the guts to try fair isle knitting, the sweater above!

    The spots on the grapes are only cosmetically unpleasing, the grapes will probably be fine. The nice thing about borage is once you grow it, you will never not have it–and it is great for repelling pests from tomato plants and attracting bees.


  3. You can gladly have my vote towards an egg-cup! I’ve just been catching up with your recent posts, (always so interesting), and I especially love the glorious photos of your trip to Islay. It’s a long time since I last visited Scotland and your description makes me ache to be there again.
    Those bee-friendly borage flowers are a delight and so is that sweater!


  4. As a fellow gardener, I am delighted to see photos of your bounty growing so well. Allotments are not common here, and I am curious to learn more about this system. Also, you have my vote in the great egg cup quest, if they count Canada.


  5. Slugs are a pest but I find that disposing of their eggs in the winter and laying black plastic in early spring helps a lot. They collect under the plastic and you can then either pick them off or sprinkle (organic) slug pellets under the plastic where the birds won’t get at them. Your early sowings will appreciate the warm soil, too.

    Good luck with the allotment, it looks like a nice site.


  6. The grapes look fine. I’m in the states and our grapes on the arbor pretty much look like that now. Usually they don’t get ripe until mid-September. The black specks look like where the flower was attached. Pretty much the same as that baby tomato you are showing earlier in the post.


  7. I’m also unsure about the specks, though it’s probably OK. I’ve grown native grapes in my garden (in Canada) and they look exactly like that before they darken and ripen. Not to worry!


  8. So happy to see this progress and particularly like the borage, bees and frog.

    I would not worry about the black specks – I doubt whether there is anything you can do about them anyway as we are so subject to the weather here. We had grapes at our Manor Gardens plot, an inherited vine. Over the years, it became more prolific and some of the harvest was made into wine by the brother-in-law – he never shared it, alas. The grapes were sweet and latterly prolific, but not long lasting, and very much dependent from year to year on the weather.

    I’d say go with the flow. And make the most of the vine leaves too.



  9. Well done on your success with growing things on the allotment!! Sorry, can’t help with the grapes. Our grape vine (in a pot in the garden just for decorative purposes!) has little grapes about the size of peppercorns – but they are ripening!!


  10. Everything in my garden failed with the exception of two chilis, and so many tomatos I fear the combined tomato-loving appetites of myself, my boyfriend, all my friends and family and even a professor or two won’t be able to make a dent. Anyone in Northern Colorado need some tomatos?

    Grapes! How exciting- I’d love to give that one a try some time.


    1. I know what you mean, it’s hard to keep up with tomatoes! And you know it won’t be long before you’re craving a fresh, juicy tomato in the dead of winter and there’s nothing but watery ones at the store. I’m thinking of trying my hand at canning this year, but seems such an undertaking!


    2. We had what we thought was an overabundance last year, and we ended up just freezing the tomatoes — which made for fabulous fresh-tasting sauces through the winter.


  11. Your allotment looks splendid – I’m so impressed you have sheds, greenhouse and a pond with a frog. I don’t know anything about grapes but I look forward to seeing the brew that Tom makes with them!


  12. can’t help with the black specks but my black grapes are at an identical stage to yours – and somewhat further north ·(Moray Firth), the only time we tried to make wine it was undrinkable – more our lack of expertise than quality of grape.


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