Katherine Crouch


Grow your own wine

I cannot instantly recall a more tiresome spring for raising plants. The frosty nights and dry days of April slowed down seedling growth to near standstill, tender plants like tomatoes suffered when put outside only for the day, then the constant rain and cold of May set the whole season back by a good two weeks.

Wisteria is usually well in flower in the last week in April and this year some of the buds got blasted by the frost, so there are fewer flowers than last year. Worst of all, the vines in Bordeaux and Burgundy got hit hard by the frost, turning emerging buds to powder. To stir up the air, bonfires were lit in the vineyards and army helicopters deployed, but with limited success. The grape harvest is forecast to be the lowest for 70 years, 40% below normal years. The Champagne region was not affected so badly, so civilisation as we know it will continue a while longer. Read more

vegetable garden


A rainbow of soft fruit

I promised to write about more soft fruit this month, and it is the turn of cane fruit. It is still too wet for serious gardening. I potter out to look at the early snowdrops in the drizzle and potter back in again sharpish.  I will spend more time planning new varieties of plants for the allotment and home garden. Cane fruit mostly have lax growth that requires either a hedge to sprawl through, or post and wire supports, or a fence to be trained against. Read more