11 Aug 2021

While I was away ... how my garden fared

It’s always a worry when you go away in midsummer and leave the garden or allotment to fend for itself, especially with the fickle weather we’ve experienced this year. I’ve been away for a few days in lovely Lancashire where it rained quite a lot. (Important for such a beautiful green county!) I gather heavy rain was not exclusive to the north so, as a priority on my first day back, I went to assess the veg garden.  

Leafless stalk of cabbage plant
Pigeons or slugs - who’s the vandal here?

As ever in food growing, there are thrills and spills. Can I blame rainfall for the devastation? Munching molluscs would have slithered easily towards my brassicas (or was it pigeons?) - regardless, my cabbages have been thoroughly enjoyed down to a stump, as have all my dwarf french beans and courgettes - even carrots are now leafless. I'm not happy.  

Is it even worth trying again with the beans at this late stage? The garden is feeling distinctly autumnal but the weather might decide to give us a bit more summer yet. I once grew a lovely bed full of Kelvedon Wonder peas in the late summer and had a good harvest before the end of autumn so I’m tempted to give more dwarf beans another go but my memory could be as fickle as the weather.

Curiously, and thankfully, the celeriac and leeks have been ignored by the munch bunch - do they have a secret weapon, I wonder? Leeks were planted out recently, following the advice of Carol Klein to grow leeks in modules until they reach pencil thickness. Mine looked more like barbecue skewers than pencils but have plumped up nicely since being transplanted. I may get only baby leeks but at this stage any veg would be something to look forward to. 

Did someone say summer pudding?

But let's not dwell on the negatives! Looking on the bright side, as I like to do, the Swiss rhubarb is looking lush and healthy, ditto my redcurrants and raspberries, plus there are sweet juicy blackberries ripening in the hedgerows. I’m tempted by thoughts of marrying those fruits with last year’s frozen blackcurrants to make a summer pudding (red fruits cooked inside a bread crust which absorbs all the juices - delicious with cream!). A few late picked stems of that red rhubarb could also become rhubarb and orange marmalade; a friend was given a jar recently and made it sound so wonderful that I went in search of a recipe. If I never speak of it again, you'll know it wasn't a success! 

Once bitten ... (grrr)

And what of the tree fruit? As happens every year in August, my Braeburn apples look temptingly tasty long before they’re properly ripe. The result? They get picked, one bite taken and then the fruit is discarded; It’s so annoying. A sign is needed when I have the time ... possibly along the lines of ‘poisoned apples, eat at your own risk’.

But now for some good news - hurrah!  Regard the Solitary Plum. Yes! It’s turned purple. Whoop! A gentle squeeze has let me know that it’s not ripe for picking yet and I will keep my fingers (and toes) crossed that nothing and no-one will have it away before I can try it myself.  

- - - - - - - - 

Today I’ve been to Suffolk to wander among the veg and flowers in the trial fields of Mr Fothergill’s seeds. Expect photos, new seeds for next year, more photos and a few top tips from the growers.  


  1. Oh goodness, your poor brassicas, beans courgettes and carrots, pigeons go for brassicas here but not the other veg, could it be a squirrel or maybe even a person? Loving your soft fruit and your plans for them. Every year sure has it's ups and downs. A curse on all apple-plucking-biting-discarding people.xxx

    1. I have a feeling my veg suffered a group onslaught - pests taking it in turns to have a nibble! I don't like the look of netting but I might have to consider it in future! (Love the curse you've put on the apple thieves! hahah!) xxx

  2. I haven’t been away from the plot for more than a day over the last 2 years, so the changes aren’t quite so noticeable. It’s quite nice to see a big change between visits but I do love my working from home lunchtime plot visits!
    I would blame pigeons for that brassica devastation, but slugs are never far behind on the blame list this year!
    You definitely need to label that “poisonous plum”! Otherwise it’s just tempting 🙂


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