3 Jul 2016

Brrrr - It must be the beginning of July

Karmazyn broad beans

I haven't written much about the veg patch for a while so I nipped down to the garden on Friday evening to take a few snaps and found that not only were strong winds whipping the plants to and fro but it was really really chilly outside.  I went home and turned the heating on ... in July!!  What is happening with our summer?

I persevered on Saturday morning (equally chilly out) and, using a fast shutter speed on my camera, focusing manually and checking the focus with a little button on my Canon that allows me to zoom in on the view screen, I managed to get snaps that show where I'm at in the veg patch.

Morello cherries

There's some good, some not-so-good and then some things that I've got behind with.  Cherries are going to be brilliant again this year. Even more so than last year because the rainfall has kept the 'June drop' to a minimum. (Good, because Morello cherry chutney is scrumptious. I hope I've written the recipe down.) Plus, all this extra water seems to have brought the autumn fruiting raspberries on a treat - I've already had a small handful!

Yet again, there are no signs of any plums (while the tiny Victoria plum tree at the allotment has lots of fruit), only a few pears (but at least that's better than none!) and only one of the apple trees has fruit. Hmm, wonder what's going on there?  The quince is looking good and has held on to 8 quinces so far and my Physalis bush, aka chinese gooseberry, (grown from a seed in 2013) is just starting to produce flowers. I love this plant; the leaves are so velvety and the fruit delicious. Well worth growing.

Cape Gooseberry aka Physalis

I'm having to start again with curly kale and cavolo nero as the whole lot has been mollusc munched into oblivion but the chard, spinach and broccoli are doing well and haven't been touched. Odd. My courgette plants were grown in pots on the balcony as a result of all this midnight munching and are now ready to go out. Late, I know. Still, you never know, it might be alright - the only race I'm running is the one against autumn!

Equally, only one of my climbing beans has been slugged.  The beans were sown late and are growing extremely well. I sowed two beans, slightly apart, in each position in case of slug attack so, with luck, I'll have plenty of beans this year.  I'm growing 'Cobra' and 'Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco' - both from Chiltern Seeds.  I think I'll try some of these up at the allotment as well; they seem to be from good, vigorous stock!

I've been snacking on broad beans for a few weeks now (like everyone else, I assume!). I like to munch on the raw baby beans as I wander round the garden.  The remaining pods are bulking up nicely (again, thank you rain) and the plants are still aphid free with no squishing or squirting. Amazing. I sowed a second crop of beans in mid-May, this time a heritage bean 'Crimson Flowered' from Pennards and 'Red Epicure' (right, above) which Marshalls Seeds sent me to try. I wanted to give Red Epicure a go as the beans are red skinned and stay red when lightly steamed, allegedly. So far, all I can report is that the plants are strong and healthy and have a lot more flowers than my Karmazyn beans. Watch this space for more about these as we go.

Red Orache (self seeded)

What can I say about red orache? It comes back every year from seeds blown across the garden, doing me proud and filling a few gaps - red orache (Atriplex rubra) is both edible (aka mountain spinach) and ornamental so I've moved a few seedlings over into the 'drought' border and left a few behind in the veg patch.  And remember the achocha that crashed to the ground at the end of last summer? A few of the seeds must have popped out of the pods because I've got 3 unexpected plants that need something to climb up - and soon!

The asparagus crowns are now only putting out narrow stems which I'll let grow into ferns so the crowns can re-energise for next year; I'll carefully move the crowns up to the allotment in the winter in the hope that they'll fare better up there.  This year I must have had only a dozen spears from five crowns over a six week period. Their very existence was in jeopardy until I got the allotment plot as the bed could be better used for salad leaves (slugs notwithstanding).

And, finally, because this is such a long post (sorry), I'm growing rainbow carrots and a radish called 'Caro' - how could I not grow that one! :oD

So, there we are - the not so quick round up.  And I didn't even mention the flowers and the herbs which are just amazing this year and giving me lots of joy.  I'm wondering how everyone else is faring - slugged out, coping or already harvesting masses of edibles?

The forecast is dry for this week and I have a few days off work so this could be a good week for gardening.  And, tomorrow, I'm off to Hampton Court flower show.  Have a good week, everyone!


  1. Definitely slugged out, I've never known a year like it. But in the swings and roundabouts that is gardening, it sounds like you're coming out on top. Have a great day at Hampton Court.. oh I wish I was nearer!

  2. A mixture this year. The plum tree at the allotment, which has only been there a couple of years, has almost no plums on it but is growing like a weed. Plenty of apples, but out of the two pear trees only one has any real amount of fruit. Replacement runner beans doing well now. Climbing beans almost non-existent. I re-sowed not long ago. The achocha you kindly let me have germinated brilliantly, but when I put them out the weather turned and I thought they wouldn't survive. They're looking much better now though. I lost a lot of cucumbers the same way, I could really do with more. The garlic had terrible rust this year. I shall buy new bulbs and plant at home next year I think. The mice are eating ALL of the allotment strawberries. Or at least picking them all. I found loads of them stashed under the broad beans, rotting. Broad beans doing v well though! Tomatoes looking good, although I've planted them too close together this year. I was trying to squeeze more in and I got carried away. Herbs also doing well, and lots of figs in the garden. Gardening is always a bit of a mixed bag isn't it. I really struggled with radishes this year, they were all a bit woody. I might sow some more and see how they do. I usually find they don't do well for me sown in the middle of the summer though. CJ xx

  3. Lovely to catch up with what's growing well and what isn't, I think we're all have similar problems. My broccoli and cabbage are destroyed by slugs but the kale is doing fine...touch wood! Good that you now have the plot to move the asparagus too, it used to grow wild in my garden, but then it was grown here [Formby] for years. Just love the caro radishes!You'll have to show us them.xxx

  4. Glad to see your bounty! Never mind the slugs and snail, still a good harvest you've had. I'm glad this week is turning out to be really fine for a change.

  5. all those wonderful things! I love cherries when they just start to get their blush, it's quite pretty.
    enjoy the Hampton Court flower show!

  6. Most of our cherries dropped off and no not everyone os eating broad beans - soon though.
    Will you rearrange your growing plans now you have the allotment and grow most of your veg there?

  7. Lots of broad beans and Little Gem lettuces and Charlotte potatoes. Beetroot coming along nicely as is spinach and curly kale. Oh and blackcurrants like never before probably because I pulled out a sea of Love in a Mist in April.

  8. The allotment is horribly slugged out - peas and beans eaten, and the first achochas I planted out didn't survive. Am trying again but the new batch of seedlings look seedy - maybe a duff bag of compost?

  9. Good to see that your patch is doing okay. Enjoy the flower show and have a good week. Flighty xx

  10. We have had so many slugs and snails! After the slugs had my first sowing of achocha my second sowing has been more successful and is now climbing up the poles! Sarah x

  11. It has been a remarkably cool wet summer so far. Great to hear about all your growing - we have similar tastes I think as I'm also growing Cobra, Borlotti and red epicure broad beans. The weather has been brilliant for fruit so far too - fantastic strawberries and now summer raspberries and red gooseberries. I planted a very small quince tree in garden this year - I love the texture and colour of its leaves. My first sowing of achoca was lost to slugs (along with first sowings of almost everything!) but I have a second batch waiting to plant out so may do that today. I'm just wondering if it may be better to start with new one-year old asparagus crowns at the allotment. (Mail order they work out at about £1/crown.) Asparagus doesn't usually transplant well and you would have plenty of time to prepare a good sunny bed before planting time next Easter? Growing your own is such a roller coaster it is good to read about everyone's experience.


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