Try something growing something unusual

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EVERYONE should try to grow something out of the ordinary and this year, it’s almonds.

Admittedly, this is a long-term project and one I think is doomed to failure.

The tree arrived as part of a bargain set of three.

The plum and cherry I understood, but why would a plant company deliberately send an only-just hardy tree to the north east of England? Especially when they have a plant guarantee?

This made me determined to give it a go, even though it needs a frost-free winter (ha) and hot summer (double ha) to fruit.

The best chance of success is to fan train it on a south or west-facing wall.

You’ll need vine eyes and heavy-duty wire.

Ideally, you need to create a framework of six to eight branches per side. My tree only had five suitable branches, so I had to go with that.

Hammer the vine eyes into the wall (much easier than I thought) and create a strong framework of wires at a 45˚angle to the trunk.

Then start to train the branches you’re keeping by tying them into the wires.

Any that are in the wrong place will have to be pruned out, so the tree will look very bare.

Always make sure you prune almonds (and peaches) in summer, as they are very prone to canker and peach leaf curl if you do it when the tree is dormant.

All I need now is horticultural fleece to keep it warm in the winter but I think I’ll just have to appreciate its lovely leaves!

l Congratulations to the Thompson and Morgan competition winners – first prize of a £30 voucher goes to Pamela Batty, of Burham Grove, East Boldon; two runners-up vouchers of £10 go to Mrs H Trotter, of St Luke’s Road, Sunderland and Gemma Parish, of Allan Street, Easington Colliery.

PLANTS OF THE WEEK

IT’S been a late but great year for buddleias, both small and large.

The three Buzz variety mini plants (just 3ft high) are in flower, while the common variety has self-seeded all over the garden.

The original (pictured) appeared in my “natural” hedge, where it’s grown through trellis, interweaving with clematis montana rubens, honeysuckle, everlasting sweet pea and pyracantha.

If you want something to attract bees and butterflies, there’s nothing better.

THE rotten summer hasn’t dampened the courgette’s willingness to set fruit.

Although the Cavili F1 hybrids had a slow start and a few of the first fruits rotted at the flower end, they’ve got into their stride.

All it takes is a couple of warm days for the fruit to swell to mammoth proportions.

Their delicate, creamy flavour beats anything you can buy in the shops – perfect pan-fried with a touch of olive oil, garlic, chilli and flat-leaved parsley.