Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Beans and squash

The summer planting is finally done. This weekend, I managed to get a good bit of work done, it was rather satisfying! As I had covered the patch where the runner beans were to go, it was a doddle - turned it over, dug a trench and filled it with a box full of kitchen scraps - newspaper, veg peelings, rotten fruit etc - then filled it in and planted straight over the top. That should keep their feet moist and give them lots of nutrition over the summer! I bet anything that when I dig it over in October, I find nothing but soil... Sowed 5 White Lady beans and 10 Enorma. See what happens. The peas have just not worked, too late now, so I replaced them (except the Mangetout) with Blue Lake and Cobra climbing beans. I also sowed some Waltham butternuts and some Uchiki Kuri seeds for squash. The gooseberries were getting a bit squashed by those yellow california poppies so I cut them back, put rhubarb leaves all around the goosegogs (so far has been brilliant for keeping away the sawfly) and netted the bush. It is full of fruit, more jam, yum. The raspberries are sulking a bit but I have fruit on both the redcurrant and blackcurrant! The other crops are doing pretty well. I have good germination for the carrots and parsnips and even the beetroot. I transplanted a few beetroots to an empty patch. The lettuces are doing nicely and the NZ spinach seem to have taken, even though it has been wet and chilly. The courgettes under cover have really taken off, and the tomatoes and peppers are getting bigger despite the cool patch. The only things not doing so well are the cucumbers. I will sow some more I think. In any case, the plot is pretty tidy - I had time to cut the grass with the lawn shears (mulched the tomatoes with it), hoe and weed the onions and nip the tops off the broad beans (badly affected with aphids I am afraid).
As for harvesting, we ate - loads of rhubarb again, about 400g strawberries (despite the wet weather), a small bag full of baby leaves, a few broad beans (that unfortunately got burned in the saucepan by the family on Mother's Day!) and lo, the first potatoes! At least 600g of lovely Belle de Fontenays, and as I just firkled for the biggest ones, hopefully there will be more of that in the next fortnight. Onions and spuds:
Once the spuds come out, no time to lose, I will get sowing more French beans, carrots and beetroot. And later, the brassicas...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Hail the planting of the tomatoes

Ok that was a bit of a smart arse title, as I had no sooner planted the tomatoes than it HAILED! I had taken the day off to do the last planting out and it was a bit of a challenge as the weather was not the best, a little stormy. Still, I got down the plot at about a quarter to two, and was able to dig over the tomato bed (it had been covered so was pretty easy), add a bucketful of compost and break up the last clods of manure. A shower came so I hid in the shed, luckily I had brought a thermos of coffee. After about ten minutes, the sun cameout again so I got to work, planting 4 sweet peppers and 9 tomato plants: 2 Sungold cherries, 1 Green Tiger, one Golden Sunrise (yellow), 2 beef steaks and 2 Coeur d'Albenga oxheart types, plus a "mystery" plant that came in a packet tantalisingly called "Mixed". It looks to me like a bush type so who knows what I will get. I also spent a good while weeding, and I noticed with some annoyance that some of the onions seem affected by that stupid weevil again. I took out the curly ones with a heavy heart and planted some lettuce in its place. I also sowed some more mangetout. The peas curiously do not seem to have worked this year... The broad beans however are smashing. As the brassicas too don't seem to have worked, I sowed more and fleeced them this time. That seems to help germination. The carrots and parsnips have both germinated so a small victory there. The potatoes are also doing well, if I have time it would be a good moment to put some bordeaux mixture on them. Just as I was leaving, the sky grew menacingly black and I decided to hold off for 5 minutes. Just as well as it started to HAIL!!! I was scared for the tomatoes, but on inspection afterwards they were just splattered with dirt but unharmed, and the peppers are under cloches. Phew. The courgettes too are still under plastic so they are OK. A surprise battler is the Accocha (Fat Baby). Under a plastic bag, they are going great guns! All that is left now is to put in butternuts and a pumpkin if there is room and the runner beans. A god day's work even if my back hurts!!

Sunday, May 04, 2014


Start of summer crops

A warm spell accompanies the start of May so it's time to look after the tender summer crops. I sowed two small rows of Tendergreen French beans, and planted out some lettuce, 2 tomato plants that were getting rabid (a Golden Sunrise type and a mystery tomato from a mixed pack), two cucumber plants, two courgettes, a yellow courgette and a pattypan squash, plus 2 Fat Baby Acchoca, a new trial!!!! The broad beans have baby beans! Almost ready.
The strawberries too are starting to fruit :
I have the seed boxes on the go with brassicas and beetroot and leeks.
The garden is now a little more advanced than this, the potatoes are taller and the onions too.
I realise that the half plot is a little smaller than I expected. I think that next year I had better sacrifice some potatoes and onions or I won't have room for some of the other crops... Saw the resident vole today, he/she is bloody fat! On my expense no doubt. Now that the ground is almost completely clear, he may be dissuaded. There are also some beautiful lizards living in among the artichokes, including an explosively green one. Gorgeous.

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