Much of the morning was spent clearing up, and burning, a mass of old Bamboo canes and prunings from our several rather large clumps. It was disconcerting to suddenly have the Fire-Brigade wandering round the garden looking for the inferno that a well-meaning passer-by had reported some 15 minutes earlier. Admittedly I was taken by surprise when the large heap went up like a rocket, exploding away as if it contained a box of Fireworks and some live Ammo thrown in, with the flames reaching over 30 feet. More extraordinary was the complete lack of smoke, and a very intense heat. The lovely Firemen were disappointed to see nothing but a tiny blackened heap left. I should not like to live in a house made of such flammable material.
Waking up to a sharp ground frost, the first thing was to see how the emerging potatoes, flowering strawberries and seedlings in the Greenhouse had fared, whilst kicking myself that I hadn’t protected these vulnerable plants, bearing in mind that we gardeners had been given plenty of advance notice of low nighttime temperatures.
You can see that the potatoes are a little the worse for wear, and the affected leaves are already turning black, but I shall earth them up well before tonight. They WILL recover, but be set back somewhat. Rather strangely it is the Maincrop Potatoes which have roared away and now are the most vulnerable. You are supposed to plant them later, although I always do the whole lot in one go, and perhaps Early March is too soon for these. I grow Epicure and International Kidney for my earlies, and these are only just peeping through. Also I grow Charlotte, Pink Fir and Arran Victory, all of which perform really quite well on my incredibly light soil. I have given up growing Desiree, as though I love it, I can buy a couple of sacks of much bigger ones from an Essex farmer.
The Mara des Bois Strawberries are going to be fine, and I don’t think the flowers are going to turn black, but time will tell. I have had this patch for about 6 years now, but although getting a bit scrappy and old, they still keep coming up trumps. This is a super, tasty, easy strawberry,and being a close relative of the wild strawberry suffers few diseases. I also have a new strawberry patch on the go in the fruit cage , planted with cold-stored runners of Cambridge Favourite and some more Mara Des Bois. I always buy my soft fruits from the Suppliers called Ken Muir of Weeley, whom I find to be most reliable.
Luckily the Greenhouse population looks ok, despite being unheated. You can see above in the photo, Alicante Tomatoes, Sweetcorn, Corno di Toro Rossa Peppers( akaRedBulls Horn), Apache Chilli Peppers, Leeks, Broccoli, Crown Prince Pumpkins, Butternut Squash and Defender Courgettes all bursting to go outside, although it is FAR too cold for them at the moment. These tender plants really don’t want to go outside until you can comfortably sit at night without wearing a Jumper! Above are some of my Cucumbers which I grow inside, 3 to a large tub of homemade compost topped up with about 6” of bought compost as it has slightly less weed seeds than mine. I will never grow the old-fashioned varieties again, as I always miss the odd male flower , ALL of which you MUST remove to avoid getting bitter cucumbers. Go for an all-female , preferably a Japanese F1 variety. These ones growing here are Femspot F1