Actually, I rather wanted to title this post 'Pomiculture' but that word relates to the cultivating - as well as growing - of fruit which, here, is not strictly true. Although I think I can make an exception where my lemon trees (now solitary tree) are concerned.
The lemon trees were a bit of an experiment; the decision to purchase a couple of frost-hardy specimens was more out of curiosity for the exotic than any real belief of seeing lemons in London. Not that we're totally gullible but if it says 'Easy to Grow' on the label, we trust that's what we'll get. Last summer the leaves were a real hit with the children - they give off a wonderful citrus odour when squeezed firmly. (I love to do a squeeze'n'sniff, or taste, guessing game with the kids, especially in the herb patch.) Delicate white flowers almost bulked up into Lilliputian lemons but were annihilated by strong winds. After my winter of discontent with the Veg Patch, one tree was definitely a goner with the other having some green-ish stems mixed in among the brown ones. A bit of pruning supplemented by lots of recent sunshine and things are beginning to look up again - we have leaves! By my standards, this is promising.
Other fruit has fared slightly better: apple trees stripped of any potential fruit last year are now, quite definitely, plumping up for a summer showing:
Ditto with the Morello cherry trees which are positively dripping with fruit - and raindrops!
Strawberries on Leigh's allotment (with all day sunshine) are ripening slightly ahead of the Veg Patch strawberries.
As the Veg Patch strawberries were transplanted in early April, this has probably set them back a little, although there are plenty of flowers so we'll see - perhaps giving us an extended, if inadvertent, strawberry season.
I have 10 raspberry canes that are new to the Veg Patch this year, as is the redcurrant, and so it's too early to tell if they're settling in nicely - new leaves but not much else. Two survivors from our first (2009) raspberry order have just started showing Proof of Life by way of tiny drupelets. The first year canes (primocanes) have been replaced with second year fruit bearing canes (floricanes):
I noticed those two ants after I'd taken the photo! Has anyone else noticed large numbers of ants this year? I'm even seeing them on my balcony which is unusual, although probably lifted there by way of the sage plant I had to resuscitate.
Blueberries are into their second year and are definitely confused. They should be bushing up nicely but are like a row of debutantes that have come out in their pearls and underwear, i.e. hardly any leaves but masses of bijou berries. Bizarrely, the bushiest blueberry is the one that is sharing it's pot with two self-seeded foxgloves. Either it's roots are enjoying the shade or it just likes having company. All parts of a foxglove are poisonous and I wonder if close proximity will affect the blueberry fruit? Not sure I'll be eating from that particular tree, or letting the children sample the fruit!
A quick backward glance at last year's fruit list shows that my trip to Capital Growth's soft fruit growing workshop has influenced my choices this year as I've added a redcurrant to the Patch and also have melon seeds sprouting! I saw melon growing in the Regent's Park allotment last August so know that it is possible to grow it outdoors here, and have chosen 'Blacktail Mountain' early watermelon (very small red fruits) and also Minnesota Midget, a small canteloupe melon which has to be started off in a heated propagator. Hopefully there'll be more to tell about these in the End of May round up.