Monday, 6 July 2015

Harvest Monday

This week saw me picking Broad Beans again. This time it was the last few of the "De Monica" and the first of the "Imperial Green Longpod". The contents of this basket weighed 1.1 Kgs.

"De Monica" (top left), plus "Imperial Green Longpod"

Another first-of-the-season harvest was this fine pair of purple Kohlrabi ("Modrava").

There was more Broccoli too. These are mostly side-shoots from the "De Ciccio" plants. They are a lot spindlier than I had hoped, but at least there are quite a few of them.

I got another batch of Radishes. They were a bit of a mixed bag - some juicy nice ones (mostly the long-shaped "Flamboyant 5" ones), but also some rather woody ones.

My few Strawberry plants have produced a surprisingly decent quantity of fruit, like this little lot:

As usual, lack of quantity is compensated for by quality.

I am now harvesting one or two batches of potatoes each week. The First Early potatoes are finished now, but I have loads of other types, so I will be harvesting for weeks to come. These ones are "Balmoral", a Second Early variety.

This lettuce is "Ice Queen", an iceberg-type one:

Actually, many of my lettuces have bolted because of the recent very hot weather. It's a good job I have got lots more coming on.

This is my entry for Harvest Monday, hosted as always by Daphne over at Daphne's Dandelions.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Broad Bean harvest

Although my harvest of Broad Beans is not large, it is very welcome. So far I have harvested 2.6 kilograms of pods, and I expect I will get about another kilogram before they finish. I reckon to use about half a kilo of beans to serve two people, so that means we will have had about seven meals' worth of beans.

My beans this year are of two different varieties. One of these is "Imperial Green Longpod", the seeds of which I bought at the Hampshire Potato Day in January. The plants produce long slim, very green pods, with very little "internal padding". Each pod usually has about 6 or 7 beans.

The other variety is "De Monica", which were kindly supplied by the people at Marshalls. "De Monica" has produced short, fat pods, each with 4 or 5 beans, and lots of soft "internal padding".

Some of the pods however have been very strangely-shaped. I attribute this to the sap-sucking antics of the swarms of Blackfly that have infested the plants. These mis-shapen pods delivered just a couple of beans each.

The colour of the beans is very different too. The "De Monica" ones are very pale grey-green, whereas the "Imperial Green Longpod" live up to their name by being a bright (Jade?) green.

"De Monica"

"Imperial Green Longpod"

In terms of flavour, I can't say that I can discern any difference between the two varieties, but that is probably because we don't typically eat Broad Beans on their own, so the flavour may be altered by the presence of other flavours.

I know that this has been a very bad year for Broad Beans because the Blackfly has been so prolific.

Many of my gardening contacts have said that their Broad Beans have been a complete washout, so I reckon I have done quite well! I must confess though that I am slightly disappointed with the yield from my plants. They produced masses of flowers, but only a modest proportion of them were pollinated. We hear all the time about the decline in the bee population, so I guess this is evidence of it.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Potting-on the PSB

My Purple Sprouting Broccoli is destined to follow on from the Broad Beans. The latter are just producing their harvest now, so I have to keep the PSB waiting for another week or so. I had most of them in 5-inch pots, with one or two spares in 4-inch pots, and they were beginning to look distinctly unhappy. No doubt they were beginning to run out of root-space and nutrients. You can see here that a few of their leaves were looking pale and discoloured.

I have now "upgraded them to superior accommodation", so to speak. The 'A-team' ones are in 8-inch pots and the reserves are in 5-inch ones. The same applies to my "Mira" Cabbages. Here you can see one of each type.

The table on the patio is overflowing with brassica plants!

Fortunately I have seen hardly any white butterflies so far, so I have not (yet) had to provide my plants with netted protection.

Meanwhile, I have another type of brassica on the go. These are little seedlings of Brokali. For those of you who don't know this vegetable, it is a cross between Broccoli and Kailaan (Chinese Kale).

This is a quick-maturing vegetable, suitable to Summer cultivation. My intention is that it will replace the "De Ciccio" broccoli when that is finished. With space in my garden being fairly limited, I have to make maximum use of it by replacing plants as soon as they finish.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Early July Update

July came in very dramatically here in the UK. 30th June and 1st July were both very hot days - especially Wednesday 1st July, which was a record-breaker. Here in Fleet the temperature reached over 35C. This is in stark contrast to the generally cold, dull, windy weather of which we have had so much this year. Our poor plants will be even further confused!

My chillis will enjoy the extra heat though. Many of them are producing flowers now, like this "Brazilian Starfish":

The Broad Beans are maturing rapidly, and I have picked a few batches. These ones are "Imperial Green Longpod", whose beans are bright green.

The Runner Beans have mostly reached the tops of their canes, and are now producing flowers, so hopefully I will be harvesting beans before the end of this month.

Lots of the tomato plants are setting fruit now. This one is "Maskotka".

I am very anxious about my tomatoes this year, after last year's disaster with the contaminated compost. So far everything looks OK, except for the fact that many of the upper leaves are tightly curled inwards. I attribute this to weather conditions, but I may be wrong. Several of my gardening contacts have reported the same issue.

I have lifted quite a few of my potatoes, which has freed-up a few pots, enabling me to plant the remaining Sarpo seed potato tubers. They are very keen to catch up with their siblings and popped up through the compost in just a few days. This one is "Kifli".

The successional sowing of Lettuces is going well still. We have eaten several of the mature ones, and more seedlings are awaiting their turn to be planted whenever a space become available.

I had a look at the Carrots and Beetroot, but neither of them is ready yet. They are doing fine, but I just need to be patient.

I have lots of flowers in bloom now. The Hydrangea is colouring-up very rapidly and is going to be a deep pink this year:

Elsewhere, the "Summer" colours are beginning to appear. My "Flighty's Favourites" Calendulas are already putting on an impressive display. Last Autumn I scattered some of their seeds into the borders, so I have some there as well as in pots:




This is one of the French Marigolds that I bought on Fleet market.

Tagetes, French Marigold.

The first flowers are opening on the Coreopsis and red Geranium too:

Not very impressive just yet, but once they get going these plants will soon be covered in flowers.

This is another one I am eagerly awaiting -- Dahlia "Bishop of Llandaff", whose first bud is just showing a bit of red.

As you can see therefore, the garden is filling-out very rapidly!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The self-pinching Cucumber

The other day I wrote about one of my Cucumber plant developing droopy leaves:

Well, the whole growing-tip of this plant shrivelled up and died.

But further down the plant, several healthy side-shoots are appearing. People sometimes deliberately pinch-out the growing-tip of a plant in order to promote the production of side-shoots, but this one has done it for itself!

The next-door "Mini Munch" plant already has its first fruits forming.

Last weekend I put two more plants into the Cucumber container, to join their older siblings. I now have two each of "Diva" and "Mini Munch".

Four Cucumber plants in the same container may sound like a lot, but I think they'll manage OK - it's a big container (about 70cm in diameter).

And in other News... we have Tomatoes forming.


Wednesday, 1 July 2015


My garden is going through a "pale patch", with lots of white / pink flowers in evidence at present.


The Philadelphus (Mock Orange) is in full bloom at last, about a month later than normal.

I have noticed that most of the flowers are infested with little black Pollen Beetles. Anyone know whether I should be worried about them? Are they harmful?

The White Rose is looking nice too. The buds have a definite pink tinge to them:

Hydrangea flowers are green when at the bud stage, like this:

But then they take on colour as they get bigger. These ones of mine are just beginning to turn pink.

Lots of my potatoes are flowering too. This light mauve-coloured one is "Sarpo Axona":

And this is "Sarpo Shona":

Soon the colour palette will turn towards the reds and yellows of high Summer, but that's a story for another day...