Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Just a trickle of tomatoes . . .

You would have thought that with nine tomato plants in the greenhouse and twelve outdoors that I would be inundated with tomatoes – not so.  This year has to be the worst I can remember for a tomato crop.  No huge trusses – just the odd tomato here and there, hardly any ripening just the odd one.  I have a feeling that by the end of the season I am going to be left with a helluva lot of green toms that I will have to bring indoors to ripen.


And if I show you a collage of my daily harvest you can see just how few tomatoes there have been.

Beans, beans and more beans – but tomatoes – no.

All in all – a bit of a disaster, to say the least.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Let’s have a beanfeast . . .

As far as I’m concerned – this year has been an exceptional one for runner beans.  I only planted out ten plants; two each of five varieties.  The usual method of growing up canes was changed – I grew them straight up over a nylon net with cross-pieces as support.  This meant that the beans hung down rather than inwards on the usual sloping cane method, and it doesn’t take up as much space.  You know how difficult it is to find all the beans that are inside the wigwam or cross-cane tied-at-the-top method – this way I haven’t missed any, so none have grown to a huge size to stop production of other beans.  After they had established and started climbing I mulched with grass clippings and made sure I watered every day.  The trench they grew in was filled with well-rotted horse manure and topped with home-made compost.


There are still a few flowers left to be pollinated right at the top – the plants have been covered in bees for weeks.


To be honest, I have more beans than I know what to do with – friends and neighbours have benefitted from the bean bounty.

And still they keep on coming – I have been harvesting a few pounds weight every day – I definitely have a surfeit that I just don’t know what to do with – the freezer is full.  Maybe I could add them to picalilli or runner bean chutney.  We have them with our meals two or three times a week, and although I love them to death and could eat bucketsful – it is starting to wear a bit thin.  I can hear my husband thinking – Oh no – not beans again.  But what a nice position to be in  - and all for so little effort really.  Definitely a must-have crop for me.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Some bumper crops and, erm, some not so bumper ones …

Cucumber close up
The veg garden is going crazy, especially the runner beans.  It seems as though the garden knows that autumn is coming and it is pushing out everything it can before the weather starts turning colder and the hours of light get shorter.
This is my harvest for last week – many pounds of runner beans, french beans, three greenhouse cukes and four outdoor ones (found lurking under the foliage).  Nine courgettes, four summer squash, the last of the beetroot.
Looks like I have got some serious kitchen-work ahead.  All the recipe books are spread out – trying to find enough different ways to use everything up before the next batch are harvested.
Of course not everything comes in huge quantities.  Five blueberries, half a dozen tomatoes and a few cucamelons – look pitiful don’t they.

Oh well, you can’t have everything!
Till next time – HAPPY HARVESTING.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Midsummer Glut . Successes and Failures . My Own Homegrown Revolution .


This is the month where you have to put on your thinking cap and decide how you are going to use up all those crops that are coming thick and fast - courgettes, runner and french beans and summer squash - to name but a few.  This is my harvest for the last week.  When you pick one or two things everyday it soon mounts up and when I unloaded the salad drawer of the fridge I was astonished at just how many beans and courgettes I had picked.

But not everything in the garden is rosy.  I have had my failures too. 



Due to the hot, dry weather – lettuce, spinach and chard have bolted and gone to seed – even though I have watered them every evening.



And worst of all, the Romanesco cauliflowers have done the same – a big disappointment, I was really looking forward to tasting these again this year.


I’m not counting tomatoes as a failure yet, even though I am a bit disappointed that not many have ripened yet, that’s just me being impatient, but the fact that they have been slow to set.  The ones pictured are Marmande, as ugly as ever, with only two trusses on the plants, which haven’t even reached the top of their canes yet. 


One of the successes have been the onions, which after a slow start are all a fair size, and they have now been pulled and are drying on racks.


Another success is the chilli plant, I only have one, but as you can see, it has produced more than enough chillis for one household.

And, surprise, surprise – I have sweet peppers.  They weren’t doing very well at all in the greenhouse, so I planted them outside and told them they would just have to take their chances.  And they did.  Look.


And as for the outdoor cucumbers, well, they are way behind those in the greenhouse – but at least they are producing fruits, although the slugs seem to have taken a fancy to them.


Now for the Homegrown Revolution bit.  I bought three types of James Wongs’ seeds.  Inca Berries which were immediately devoured by the greenhouse snail, Cucamelons and Tomatillo.  The trouble is when you are growing something that is new to you, you aren’t sure what to expect.  This is the Cucamelon plant.


It has grown huge and has practically taken over the back of the greenhouse, linking its tendrils to anything it can find to support it, but if you look closely you can see the fruits forming, here is a closer look.


The plant was really weak and spindly for ages and I didn’t think it would make it, but boy look at it now.  Now we just have to wait and see if the fruit lives up to expectation.  The other survivors are the Tomatillo plants, something else I haven’t grown before.  The fruits are hidden inside paper cases, a little like chinese lanterns, they have grown really tall and are full of flower, so I am hopeful of a good harvest.


So that’s me up to date – I have done another round of sowing; salad leaves, french beans, chard and carrots so far – oh and I’ve dug up a row of potatoes, Charlotte, and from five plants I have a bucketful of potatoes.  I’m really quite pleased with the results.

And just to finish off I though I would show you a charity shop find which I’m dead chuffed with


Not bad eh.  A lovely chopping board for herbs in solid wood with a nifty chopper as well, can’t be bad for £3.00.


What have your successes and failures been this year?

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