Showing posts with label seasonal veg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seasonal veg. Show all posts

24 Apr 2023

GardenWatch: April in the Veg Patch

After a winter that seemed to go on for ever, I've barely started sowing and it already feels like the summer solstice is drawing near! Let's see what's happening in the garden...

Yep, it's blossom time again. The pear trees never fail.

Now that we're half way through the spring months, the air temperature is warmer making it a real pleasure to potter around the garden as the plants put on some very vigorous growth.  I have two garden spaces that I look after here in my urban Eden - the veg garden which is languishing while waiting for sowing and planting to begin, while the car park garden is verdant with colour and greenery from the hedges, perennials, bi-annuals and spring bulbs. 

Pretty little spring veg patch

But it's not quite true to say that the veg garden languishes ... flowers to encourage early pollinators have been blooming - daffodils, violets, forget-me-nots, tulips ... while on the food front, late summer planted purple sprouting broccoli is doing me proud with regular pickings of delicious sprouts and there's also some chard that has stood over the winter.  The PSB was planted out so late that I honestly didn't expect the plants to produce anything. They didn't have time to grow to their full stature before winter so to see heads forming and sprouts shooting up this month was genuinely and unexpectedly thrilling. 

And then there's my expanding patch of wild garlic leaves - so delicious in a risotto or used to make pesto.  I bought one plant almost a decade ago from Jekka McVicar's herb farm that now covers a metre and a half under the fruit trees. As it's away from pollution and organically grown, I can harvest without worry.  Am I concerned about it taking over? No. Besides, is there such a thing as Too Much Wild Garlic?  For now, there's little landing space for any seeds as the wild garlic is growing through Cerinthe (Honeywort), Ajuga and leaves of Hemerocallis (Day lilies). 

PSB, rhubarb, gooseberry flowering;
Sweet Cicely, Wild Garlic, Sweet Woodruff (all edible!)

A rare week of warm weather interspersed with heavy rain has done the garden (and me) the world of good; the fruit trees are a riot of blossom (until spring storms blow it all away), rivers of Sweet Woodruff and Sweet Cicely are about to flower, ever dependable rhubarb has appeared, honeyberry and gooseberry bushes are flowering. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for plums, as usual. 

Where I'm at with seed sowing ...

So while there are a few plants to pick from, I have to confess that I neglected to grow many other veg that could be filling the hungry gap at the moment. To remedy that, I've just sown kales, butternut squashes, leeks and Chioggia pumpkins indoors.  

As ever, I long for a greenhouse. It wouldn't be empty for long if my tiny balcony is anything to go by.  Currently filling every nook and cranny are trays of beetroots,  nasturtiums, courgettes, spring onions, salad leaves, tomatoes, lamb's lettuce, beans, and pollinator friendly annuals of cosmos, calendula, gypsophila, verbena, sweet peas and echinacea.  If I can find space for them, I also want to grow Bunny Tail grass for some winter wreaths. 

I'm keeping veg sown into modules in the shelter of my balcony for now but outside the soil is warm enough to sow some veg (and flowers!) direct ... at least in the south of the UK. In the past week, broad beans have gone into the soil, garlic and onions that were overwintered in modules have been planted, the Jerusalem artichoke hedge is in, and peas, radishes and carrots will be next. 

Spring has truly arrived with all its thrilling moments!  

20 Dec 2021

Belated Book Review: Veg from One Bed - an excellent book for new veg gardeners

This is not a newly published book but having recently discovered it for myself, I wanted to highlight it for readers of this blog because it provides a foolproof way of building confidence and growing success for a beginner veg gardener.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid for this review; as ever, all opinions are my own. 

8 May 2015

Peering over the veg

This year I remembered not to get fooled by the warm weather we've had in April. I've done that in previous years and lost beans, sweetcorn and tomatoes to the strong May winds that can whip through between the flats here.  No, this year I decided to play it safe and bide my time to plant out my seedlings. Just as well because the garden has been absolutely lashed this past few days with winds gusting to 42 mph and bouts of torrential rain.

Yesterday morning I went to inspect the damage, notebook in hand. I still have a lot of over-wintered veg and herbs growing and I'd planted out a small tray of kale plants that I'd bought to fill the gap between my winter and spring sown kales. (I do eat a lot of kale!) It actually wasn't too bad - a snapped stem on the gooseberry bush, some damage to the kale plants and very bruised blossom on the quince. I'd recently bought a Tigerella tomato plant from the local City Farm, grown by a friend there. It was in the lee of my compost heap and had been well-hardened off so even that survived intact! Whew, what a relief! (My home grown toms are still safely indoors.)

I'm really enjoying a bit of seasonal eating.  Instead of having empty beds over winter, I've had brassicas, spinach and kale to eat - and baby chard too if wanted. Now that the broccoli plants have been cleared (just one left), the chard underneath is growing away. Two rows have become four as I've transplanted the runts of the litter into a space of their own. And just as the broccoli is fading, the asparagus appears. One stalk poked its head up days before the others so I picked that to steam with other veg. There's another 6 stalks ready now so I'll be looking forward to dinner tomorrow! This is the first year I've been able to pick any asparagus - does it work like sweet peas that the more you pick, the more you get?  Can anyone enlighten me, please?

The red russian kale is coming to an end (I'm going to miss its frilly green and purple leaves); instead I have more Cavolo Nero producing good sized leaves now and the beetroot I sowed last autumn is beginning to bulk up. I may pull a few small beets to allow the others more space although I rather like the burst of yellow that the Burpees Golden brings to the patch. Once I started thinking about dinner, I couldn't resist pulling a few carrots as well.  They were tiny but so so delicious.

I wasn't going to grow potatoes this year but there were some moochers from last year that sprouted so I've planted them up in a sack and we'll see what happens. So far it's all looking very promising. This is the growth since I earthed up to the very top a couple of weeks ago.

I have to confess that I've been a bit slack in getting on with my seed sowing. I think it's because I've had (and still have) plenty of veg in the garden so there's less urgency to refill the beds. Reading around other blogs it seems everyone else has got windowsills and greenhouses stuffed full of little plants waiting to go out. Not so here.  I have three trays - broad beans, tomatoes and brassicas with amaranth. Plus sweet peas for cutting. (Err, that makes four.) Today I'm going to spread the contents of my seed box across the floor, make a few decisions and get my hands dirty with soil. Once germinated, I should have seedlings to plant out by mid-June and received wisdom says that they'll catch up soon enough. That will hopefully give me time to figure out where I'm going to put  it all.

Hoping for some more good weather and wishing everyone a good gardening weekend!

5 Aug 2010

Eating - and growing - seasonally

~ downpour imminent … look at that sky! ~

Yesterday's on-off downpours over North London (yes!! hooray!) had the added bonus of me being able to sit, guilt-free, in front of the computer for a while.  I was distracted by the Garden Organic newsletter - they now have a Facebook page in which the One Pot Pledge is mentioned so I had to check that out.  From there, I found a page in support of a UK company called Freshly Forked (take a look, it's quite a good page to bookmark) who highlighted a website called Eat Seasonably, which brings me to the purpose of today's keyboard tappings.  Am I the only person not to know about this?  Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that I have found it before one or two other veg growers - in which case let me introduce you to a jolly good website if, like me, a little advice or timely reminder is always welcome.  Have a look under the 'what to grow now' tab: there's pages of advice, offers, events, etc.  I sent myself an e-postcard to spread the word, which I was hoping to show you, but it hasn't arrived yet… 

For buyers, rather than growers, of fruit and veg there's a fun interactive calendar (find it here) which shows what's in season in which month (see below, plus you can download it as a poster).  You choose by month or by veg;  I'm thinking this could be fun in teaching kids what's in season (they could try guessing before pressing the button) and also perhaps tempt them to try new seasonal veg? (Okay, so I'm an optimist…)

Personally, I found it quite intriguing to see what I should have ready in the Veg Patch, or the possibilities for next year. 

Although, that said, I've been hauling in a good harvest of beans (runner and french), lettuces, radish, potatoes, garlic and beetroot all this past week.  Although I probably could save quite a lot of it (freezer, drying, soup making, etc), I really enjoy giving it away to the people who have been so encouraging over the past months.  It's such a simple gesture and yet it seems to build bridges.
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