3 Jun 2012

June, so soon?

I'm hugely relieved to have an extra day off work this weekend.  Dare I say that I won't be celebrating? Much as I think Her Maj is a wonderful, decent, long-suffering and hard-working woman, I have too much to do to make time for jollifications and revelry (never mind the ensuing hangover!).

Early morning veg patch
~ End of May veg patch; this quarter looking very lush in the sunshine! ~

My feet seem to have hardly hit the ground in May; between work and garden, my cup has indeed runneth well over (leading to many post-midnight bedtimes, so exhausting...). I've been potting on seedlings in the mini-greenhouse or starting them off, weeding in the veg garden and harvesting cauliflower sprouts, kale, cabbage, herbs; transplanting raspberry runners, moving strawberry plants, topping up raised beds (and potatoes in sacks) and filling large pots for overflow veg, squishing or squirting blackfly on the broad beans and fruit trees, and, finally, sowing flower and radish seeds outside - and, of course, watering, watering, watering.  More or less the same as every other gardener, I imagine!

So, apologies if this is boring and more to aid my memory than blog interest, a quick recap of where we're at in the little London veg patch:

Chilli in window
Chillies, capsicum and bell pepper seeds sown into modules at the beginning of April, two to a module, all germinated successfully and (because I hate to waste a perfectly good plant) all potted on successfully in mid-May into J. Arthur Bower's seed and potting compost (recommended by Which? garden as the top compost in their trials last year).  Total: 3 Purple Beauty bell peppers, 3 Orange bell peppers, 4 Chilli Corno di Torro Rosso, 1 Hot Banana chilli, 2 Chilli Guindilla Roja and 3 Hamik capsicum.  One way or another, it will be a hot summer!

Coral poppyPurple podded peas have gone out a few days ago; courgettes, sweetcorn, popcorn, mangetout, kidney beans and dwarf french beans to follow before the weekend is out.  The Lazy Housewife bean (growing in the safety of my balcony at the moment) is about 3 feet tall, much to my relief.  Borage seedlings have been planted out under the fruit trees, several Violet de Provence artichokes have gone in at the back of the walled border (yum, looking forward to eating those!) and radish seedlings have appeared amongst the broad beans only days after the seeds were sown.

Nasturtiums (3 varieties) are growing well, californian poppy seedlings have been set amongst the herbs, orach, calendula and geums are adding a pop of colour to the sea of green veg, and a Coral poppy bought last year is now looking very gorgeous - can't wait until the flowers unfurl as this will be the first year of flowering!

Cabbage heart My efforts of last year are still rewarding me: Hearted cabbage is still waiting to be eaten and I'm picking tender kale leaves for lunch and for the freezer as those plants look as though they'll flower soon. I've discovered a fabulous River Cottage recipe for kale: simmer the leaves with finely chopped garlic until soft, drain and chop finely, pile onto toast and adorn with shavings of parmesan. Quick and delicious!  One word of caution though - caterpillars!  I carefully picked over the leaves, then left them in a sinkful of water.  After about 10 minutes I found 8 tiny caterpillars at the bottom of the sink. A further soak in a water/cupful of vinegar mix netted another 4 caterpillar babies. And I thought I had good eyesight!

The perennial cauliflowers are a story in themselves and I'll post about them this week.  They've now spectacularly sprouted, some have flowered and look beautiful, others were covered in grey aphids so have been chopped back to the ground - and are beginning to resprout!

My teenager just asked if he could help me in the garden (think Bob a Job week, accelerated to millenium rates of pay).  After a quick think about what still needs to be done, I've said yes; despite what felt at times like re-enacting the Labours of Hercules in May, there's still a border to clear, 2 walled beds to dig over, strawberries to move, seedlings to be planted, bean towers to be built and 2 raised beds to be constructed and filled.  Yes, I will be more than happy to have his help ... I might yet stand a chance of enjoying a chilled glass of wine while standing back to watch the veg grow on a warm summer evening!

Enjoy the Jubilee folks - I'm off to celebrate being in the garden!

Cavolo Nero and Red Orach
I love the colours of the kale and red orach next to each other! 


  1. It's a hectic time of year, Caro. I'm glad to hear you've found a helper, although it sounds like it's going to cost! I was tucking into a salad last week that had been washed to discover greenfly still there. Oh well I thought, a bit more protein. Not sure I'd eat a caterpillar though. In fact I'm certain I wouldn't. Picked my first 2 strawberries today in the pouring rain. Does the weather know a bank holiday is coming? I feel so sorry for all those people who have worked so hard to organise events and then the heavens open. Looking forward to reading about the perennial caulis. WW

    1. My helper won't cost me much unless he gets out of bed in the morning! Yesterday, after high hopes of getting a lot done while the skies were dry, I found myself alone in the garden - really, teenagers make me chuckle!
      I'm now making sure to wash all my salads very thoroughly as the wet weather has doubled the pest presence in the garden. My fruit trees are suffering and I'm not seeing as many ladybirds as last year, more's the pity.

  2. Your Cabbages and Kale looks amazing!

    1. Thanks Philippa - and delicious too! Last year I made sure to plant winter veg as soon as I had the space to do so and can thoroughly recommend doing this. It's been so lovely to have really fresh veg right through to the summer!

  3. You must be well pleased that it's all looking, and sounding, as good as it is. Flighty xx

    1. I'm not sure I've got the balance right yet, Flighty. There's an awful lot of work going on with not much eating (bar the caulis and kale). There's always something new to learn in the garden; for me, it's that I need to plant or sow more flowers in the Autumn so that I have spring colour... and maybe have some more cloches for early salads. xx


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