July Eating…

It would appear I am slipping well behind with my blog posts, the above photo was taken back in mid June, after I had removed the outer skin of my first garlic, having left them for a few weeks to dry out in the greenhouse.  They are now plaited and hanging in my kitchen (better than last years solution!)

I have since pulled all remaining garlic and shallots, which are a bit weeny this year, quite frankly due to lack of water but they are still tasty and will keep us going for some time.

The beetroot from both the first (planted in gutters in the greenhouse) sowing and the second from May is ready.  I pretty much always boil or roast them,  then slice and eat with Feta cheese, Marjoram and an olive oil and balsamic dressing.  I really should try something new but I do like beetroot this way.

The first of the tomatoes are ready, there seems very little difference between the ones grown in the greenhouse and outside, all are cropping at a similar time, which rather surprises me.

The Alpine strawberries are still providing lots of little treats, you have to be quick though

as C is a strawberry addict.

We are also eating cucumbers, spring onions, courgettes, red onions and salad at an alarming rate.  I confess that already a few cucumbers have ended up in the bin, despite the fact we eat at least one a day (well, C does).

My blog is not the only neglected thing around here, the garden itself is in desperate need of attention, there is little point starting any new planting as we are away here and there and the total lack of rain here means new crops are quite high maintenance until they get going.  So, I guess there may be a few gaps in a couple of months but for now I will simply enjoy eating our lovely ready produce.

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The overall picture…

I took these photos a week or so ago, even in that time a lot has grown but I am about to start the first big dig up (such as the garlic) so here they are, oh, and please excuse the mess, it’s as much as I can manage to water the vegetable patch in this heat, let alone tidy it.

Bed 1 is as it was planned in the cold Winter, when I dreamed of hot Summer days and what we would like to grow and eat.  It has Sweet Corn with salad crops between, a single row of Spring Onion and 5 plants of Alpine Strawberry (on their first year so only lightly cropping).

Bed 2 has a double row of Barlotto Beans, with some Red Onions between (I heard on Gardeners’ Question Time that you should never plant beans with onions – oops!), Garlic, Chard and again, Alpine Strawberries (on their third year and producing masses).

Bed 3 has Sugar Snaps (about to end) and Garlic, about to be pulled out to make way for Broccoli which is sitting in pots at the moment, wilting.

Bed 4 which I stole from the cutting flowers this year, is a bit messy but contains Parsnips, Kale, Beetroot, Pak Choi, Red Onions and Shallots.

Right, I need to dash out for another watering session as we’ve had yet another hot day without any sign of rain.

Early May Round-up of the Vegetables…

Time for a quick catch-up, as it’s all go in the vegetable patch and there’s quite a bit to write about.

Finally germinated after initial failure…

Climbing French Bean – ‘Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco’ x 10

I re-planted new beans in fresh soil after the original failure to germinate, but following a bean growing project I did with Felix where we planted his beans in an old see-through yoghurt pot (planted against the side so we could watch it grow – we did this as kids in jam jars and I figured he would enjoy it) I used smaller see-though yoghurt pots, with holes punched in the bottom, that way I could see the germinating beans and not have to keep prodding in the soil.

Worked a treat and they are now planted out with canes for support, in two rows.  The rows are 45cm apart and the beans about 20cm apart, so 5 per row.  The support canes are tied together at the top and I’ve covered the whole bed in netting to stop the evil pigeons getting in.

Climbing French Bean – ‘Blue Lake Climbing‘ x 5

I haven’t replanted these although now my see through pots are free I might put some in.

Squash‘Sweet Dumpling’ & ‘Crown Prince’

I have mad mass germination of all the courgette and squash seeds that I’d given up on and emptied back in the compost bucket.  I’m not entirely sure what they all are (I’ve saved 5 by planting them up into pots) but for 2 I could see the actual seed shell still and think I’ve got 1 each of ‘Sweet Dumpling’ & ‘Crown Prince’. I will plant one on the compost pile and it looks like my ‘Butternut Harrier F1‘ isn’t really growing so the other can go in that giant pot.

Cucumbers – ‘La Diva’ & ‘Tasty Burpless’

All new seed germinated well, they are waiting in the greenhouse to be potted up.

Aubergines – ‘Turkish Orange’ & ‘Violetta Ferenze’

Again, the new seeds have germinated, some only just but I should get at least 2 of each plant.

Still in the greenhouse…

Are all the salad seedlings (or plants as most are now).  I am waiting for the nights to get a bit warmer then I’ll plant them up into final pots, most will be grown in the greenhouse but some (half the tomatoes, the cucumbers etc) will go outside.  The tomatoes have made an amazing recovery from their limp earlier selves and potting them on deep has given them good strong stems, so that’s great news.

Newly planted in the greenhouse…

Melon – ‘Edonis‘ x 3

Kale – ‘Red Bor‘ x 2 & ‘Cavalo Nero‘ x 2

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – ‘Rudolph’ x 2, ‘Red Arrow’ x 2 & Late  Sprouting x 2

Kai Lan

Sweet Corn – ‘Sweet Nugget‘ x 12

Beetroot – ‘Pronto’ & ‘Burpees Golden‘ in a gutter for planting out later (second sowing).

Pea – ‘Sugar Snap‘ in a gutter for planting out later (second sowing).

Finally…

I moved the potato barrels out last week as they are getting quite heavy, they need ‘earthing-up’ as the foliage grows, which as I plant in containers simply means keeping the stems covered in soil so they are kept in the dark and potatoes can form all the way up.  I simply tip John Innes 2 in every so often, making sure I leave the top leaves free.  Once the soil reaches the top of the barrel I will start the feed the plants but more on that later.

I also found this strawberry/herb pot in my local garden shop and have used it to plant some of the Alpine Strawberry plants that have been sitting in the greenhouse since last year.  The Strawberry pot is really rather small but it’s better than letting them got to waste and as Charlie is addicted to picking them off the plants in the raised beds, he has a few more plants to go at.

I noticed that Crocus have a brilliant ‘Young Plants Collection‘ collections for anyone who has left it too late to start from seed, this would have been my back-up had the tomatoes not recovered and I have resisted the urge to buy anything I’ve missed as really there is no growing room left in the garden once everything is planted out.

OK, kids to feed, laundry to do.  Hopefully we’re getting to the end of the lists and this blog will get a bit more photo and recipe orientated over the next few months 🙂

March Vegetable Planting…

It’s been busy around here, as well as getting the Squash/Pumpkin on the way (see last post) I have been a busy bee making the most of the warm (ish) weather and have started off all the March seeds.  So, this month I have sown:

In the greenhouse (under cloches)

Climbing French Bean – ‘Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco’ x 10

Climbing French Bean – ‘Blue Lake Climbing‘ x 5

Pak Choi – ‘Mei Qing Choi’ x 5

Pak Choi‘Joi Choi’ x 5

In the house

Courgette‘Soleil’ x 2

Courgette‘Defender’ x 2

(and the Squash – again, see the last post)

Direct in the garden

Spring Onion‘North Holland Blood Red’ x 2 Rows

Radish – ‘Cherry Bell’ & ‘Sparkler’ (I mixed the seeds in the packet) x 2 Rows

Lettuce‘Red Sails’ x 1 Row

All the above are the usual tried and tested, and all are planted with at least 2 seeds per pot so the weakest seedling can be removed.  I have learnt to only grow small amounts of most things, enough for us to eat but not get totally bored and so quite often seed carries over from one year to the next.  The only new items on the list are the Climbing Beans, I quite fancied ‘Barlotto’ as the beans are so pretty and they are good for drying and the ‘Blue Lake’ have been sitting around for a while so they need using.

I decided to plant out the 2 gutters of Beetroot started in the Greenhouse in early February (I should mention, I went to do this only to realise I hadn’t allocated space in the veg beds – duh! – so have planted them in flower Bed 1 between the Spring bulbs where there was still some space).  They have mostly germinated and are still at the seed leaf stage but I need the space and they need better light.  I have ordered some slug nematodes the first of which arrive in April (I think) so it’s a little risky to be putting out such small seedlings now, they may well get munched.  On which note (sob!) the blooming things have eaten my Kale, the ones that had survived a whole winter only to get eaten when planted out into it’s nice new raised bed, grrrrr, I still have one growing but it’s pretty small and I will simply plant up new seed next month.  Correction, I have none left as on going out to photograph the second, that has also been eaten 😦

The last thing to mention is the Rhubarb, which is going crazy!  It’s only on the third year, it cropped well last year although I left a lot of the stalks in place, as you are supposed to do in year two, but they obviously (both the ‘Champagne’ and ‘Timberly Early’) must like their little spot as they are definitely thriving.

Quick update, I wrote this post earlier this week and today the slug nematodes arrived.  I have the repeat (3, I think) batch order so they will arrive at intervals and hopefully keep the slugs under control without having to resort to other means.  It’s great timing at we are set for warm (above 5 degrees at night, only just mind!) temperatures and rain which is the ideal conditions for the nematodes to more around in the soil.  I wont chat too much about them as the link above tells you everything you need to know, but they are worth buying if you suffer from slugs.

And it all begins again…

The garden is starting to take up time again and not just sitting around looking at seed catalogs, although I do enjoy doing that bit!  My shallot ‘Longor‘ sets arrived last week, as did my potatoes (‘Charlottes‘, as I usually grow and still my favourite) ready for chitting.  I need to get the shallots in so will do a re-cap on last years planting but I am already struggling for space in the raised beds so I’m not sure where they are going yet.

Today I put my first group of seeds in the germinate.  The February list consists of:

Tomatoes

Sungold x 1

Brandywine x 2

San Marzone x 3

100’s & 1000’s x 3

Tigerella x 3

Aubergine

Violetta x 2

Turkish Orange x 2

Sweet Pepper

Mini Red Skin x 3

Topep Rosso x 3

Chilli

Hot Stuff x 2 (well that’s what is says on the packet!)

Cucumber

La Diva x 3

Tasty Burpless x 3

As you can see, I don’t plant anything in large quantities, we just don’t have the space plus I really only want to grown what we can eat fresh with a bit for use in pickles etc.  I am also quite lazy when it comes to sowing seeds, this year I have used small plant pots filled with an organic (none peat) compost.  I don’t sow many extra pots, only what I hope to grow to the final vegetable, I would rather add extra seed and prick out any extra that germinate, if I want to keep them, or throw the extra seedlings.

The pots have now been covered and left in the kitchen which with it’s underfloor heating is nice and warm, once the first signs of life appear I’ll uncover them and pop them in front of our ‘glass wall’ where they can get plenty of light and annoy the heck out of Marcus by turning the kitchen into a temporary greenhouse 🙂

I did so badly germinating cucumber seeds last year that this time I am doing it ‘properly’.  They need a high heat to germinate, ideally 21-24 degrees so I have potted them up, put them into a box (as it was handy) to block out the light and they have gone next to the radiator in our bathroom which is the overflow radiator so it’s always on and the room temperature is a constant and rather barmy 21 degrees.  We’ll see how they go.

Lastly, I planted up 2 gutters with Beetroot (Pronto & Burpees Golden) seeds in the greenhouse.  I forgot to check the weather forecast (doh!) and see now that we are due a cold spell this this was probably a mistake, however, the seeds have gone into old rain gutters filled with damp compost, 5 cm apart, then tucked up in the seed bags for warmth and to keep out the light.  If they germinate I will thin to 10 cm, before moving them outside and into their final position in one of the raised beds when it’s warmer.  Oh and I soaked the seeds for an hour or so in warm water before planting.

That’s it, enough for today and I really need to make time to plan my vegetable beds so I can get Parsnip seeds in this month.  Right, off to cook a chicken.