Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Potatoes come good
GINA PARKINSON welcomes a glimpse of the sun, wonders about her lawn and celebrates the first potatoes.
WHAT a relief it was to see the sun last weekend with a perfect English summer, blue sky, occasional clouds and a light breeze keeping the air moving.
In our area there was the sound of mowers and digging and children playing as everyone went outside to enjoy their gardens.
It has been difficult to keep on top of the grass so far this summer as it always seems to be raining when I’m ready to roll out the mower.
Like the rest of the garden, the grass has kept right on growing, uncaring about the cold and the wet; on occasion it has been a challenge to get it done. Now perhaps we can get into a mowing routine and shape the mossy, weed-strewn mess into some kind of order.
I’m not too concerned about having a pristine lawn – it’s nice when the odd daisy pops up – but it would be good to see a bit more grass growing among the Prunella vulgaris or selfheal that has infested areas of the lawn.
Prunella is a low-growing plant with clusters of purple flowers on creeping stems. It spreads quickly as the stems root into the lawn as they grow.
A few applications of lawn sand should help to get rid of this weed, but this is usually done earlier in the summer. So for the moment I’m hoping mowing more often and removing some by hand will stop it from spreading any further.
In the veg patch
LIKE many this year, our vegetable garden has been horribly disappointing.
It has been too cold for slightly tender plants such as French beans and courgettes to get going, and slugs and snails have caused a tremendous amount of damage.
The bright light in our garden at the moment are the potatoes, which look tremendous and last weekend we had our first taste.
We didn’t plant any earlies, an oversight on my part which resulted in us getting main-crop varieties only, but my husband was keen to root about in the soil to see if anything was happening. He found three beautiful potatoes, deep purple-blue skinned, smooth oval vegetables that looked almost too pretty to cook.
The variety is Sarpo ‘Blue Danube’ – an early main-crop type formally named ‘Adam Blue’ – and they cooked well keeping their shape but losing most of the colour from the skins. The flesh is waxy and white.
We chose Sarpo potatoes – the other two we have growing, ‘Mira’ and ‘Axona’, are also this strain – because they were described as being good for poorer soils. Ours is sandy, as well as having good resistance to potato blight, virus, disease and drought.
This year has been a good test to see if these claims are true. This is because we had a water shortage in spring when the potatoes were getting going and now, with the rain of the past few weeks, blight is in the air. Fingers crossed.
• Weekend catch-up
WITH vegetables in mind, it is worthwhile sowing leftover seeds of French bean, runner bean, carrot and courgette as they may well produce a crop in September, should the weather stay warm and sunny. Lettuce, spinach and chard may be even quicker to get going in good conditions so all may not be lost this year after all.
• Open gardens
In aid of the National Gardens Scheme
Low Sutton, Sutton Lane, Masham, HG4 4BP, 1.5miles west of Masham. A modern cottage garden with a concentric floral circular colour wheel surrounded by roses and clematis. Plus fruit and vegetables grown in raised beds, fruit cage, greenhouse and coldframe, perennial border, grasses and fernery all set within a six acre small holding. Open 1pm-5pm, admission £3.
Maspin House, Hillam Common Lane, Hillam, LS25 5HU, seven miles west of Selby . Large country garden with secluded sitting areas among scented plants, borders with unusual plant combinations, wildlife ponds and modern rill, orchard, meadow and woodland. Open noon-5pm, admission £3.50.
Queensgate Allotments, Beverley, HU17 8NN, the allotment site is on the A164 leaving Beverley towards Cottingham. 85-plot allotment site with a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and flowers. Some holders will be on site to chat. Open noon-4pm, admission £2.50.
Thorpe Lodge, Knaresborough Road, HG4 3LU (not for sat nav), one mile south of Ripon on the Ripon-Bishop Monkton-Knaresborough road. 12-acre country garden with extensive colour themed borders, walled rose garden, pleached hornbeam walk, courtyard with exotic shrubs, woodland walk and picnic area. Open 1pm-5.30pm, admission £5.
• Gardening TV and radio
8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.
9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.
2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Peter Gibbs chairs the programme from Brixham, Devon and is joined by panellists Toby Buckland, Bunny Guinness and Matthew Wilson.
8pm, ITV1, Love Your Garden. In the last programme of the series, Alan Tichmarsh and his team create a garden for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in South Yorkshire using the riverbed setting at Lathkill Dale in the Peak District as inspiration.
3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Eric Robson, Bob Flowerdew, Anne Swithinbank and Christine Walkden are in West Sussex where they answer gardening queries from the audience at Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens in Chichester.
8.30pm, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Monty Don looks at growing scented plants in the garden, Rachel de Thame visits the RHS and Carol Klein finds roses growing wild in Lancashire.
Saturday, August 4
7am, BBC Radio York, Julia Booth. Julia Booth and Nigel Harrison hold their weekly plant surgery.