Friday, 3 August 2018

Courtmoor plot - end of July update

The long spell of hot dry weather finally came to an end last weekend, with our first significant rain in two months. It's such a relief not to have to spend hours watering the plot every other day!

My efforts with the hosepipe seem to have paid off though, because I have been bringing home some nice produce.

The most prolific crop has been the Dwarf beans. I have been giving alternate pickings to my hosts, but we have certainly not gone short. Interestingly, the "Jean's Beans" unknown variety grown from last year's harvest have not been very good. They have produced very small, often tough and stringy pods. I think maybe they are inbred. I've also had some "Canadian Wonder", which have been a lot better. I think "Jean's Beans" may have to just softly and silently fade away.

I have been very good with my "Successional sowing". I now have four little blocks of Dwarf bean plants, one of which is just about finished, one is in full swing and then I have these two lots, planted only about one week, and two weeks ago respectively:

The shelling beans are doing well too. Their leaves are just beginning to go yellow, and the pods are shrivelling.

Cherokee Trail of Tears on the wigwam (L) and Tunny Beans at the end of the main line of beanpoles (R)

Cherokee Trail of Tears pods looking dry-ish

Tunny Beans

The "Boltardy" beetroot are doing OK, though they have developed slowly. I have been pulling a few here and there, choosing the bigger ones for us to eat, and the gaps caused by this will allow the remainder to swell. I suspect they will take off now that we have had some decent rain.

This week I took the first harvest from my Kaibroc plants. You may remember that they are my second sowing, since the first batch all succumbed to Cabbage Root Fly.

I'm wishing now that I had more of this stuff. The long slim spears are really succulent and tasty, but I think each plant will only produce about 8 or 10 of them.

The squashes are coming on nicely, kept going by my watering efforts, I'm sure. I now have two Crown Prince fruits, three Uchiki Kuri and six Butternut Squash.

"Crown Prince"

Now that we've had some proper rain at last, I'm expecting these to have a growth spurt too - which would be nice.

"Sweetmax" Butternut Squash

Over last couple of weeks I have managed to harvest 3 more small cabbages. They were the "Golden Acre" and "Greyhound" ones, which nearly got killed off by the pigeons a couple of months back. Some of them were so badly damaged that they haven't produced any hearts at all - just some rather weirdly-shaped leaves - but some of them have still been worthwhile, even if smaller than normal. Each one has only made about two servings, which is about half of what I'd expect.

"Golden Acre" (foreground) and "Greyhound" (background)

In similar fashion, some of the Red Cabbages have recovered, albeit very slowly. One or two of them look as if they may eventually be worth using, perhaps in about two months' time.

"Red Drumhead"

The other cabbages, the ones I planted after I had learned my lesson about anti-pigeon measures, are looking much more promising. I have a few of "Predzvest" (a Czech variety) and a few of "January King".

2 x "Predzvest"

My Huauzontle (Aztec Broccoli) has grown to about 3 feet tall now, and is recovering from a serious leaf-miner infestation.

Aztec Broccoli in foreground, towering over the Squash plants

The friend from whom I got the seeds for this vegetable tells me she has harvested some of hers, and eaten it stir-fried with garlic and chilli, so maybe I'll soon be doing the same. You pick the small flowering shoots, just like PSB, but perhaps in greater profusion.

The Maincrop potatoes are definitely ready for harvesting now. Their foliage on most of them has died back completely.

I'll try to get round to lifting them very soon and will report on the result - I'm prepared for it to be very poor!

The last thing I want to show you today is this clump of shallots:

These are the result of planting the final one of the 45 very bedraggled shallots I saved from last year's harvest.

It was very slow to get going in the Spring - last by a long way - and when it was ready for planting out the main shallot / onion bed was full, so I just stuck it in at the end of a row, near the fence. I really didn't expect it to do much, but I was wrong - it has turned out to be one of the best of the crop! It has produced 11 'babies'.

This plot at Courtmoor Avenue seems to be well-suited to growing alliums, so I think next year I will plant a lot more onions, more shallots and probably some garlic too.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent harvest, Mark - it just shows what regular watering can achieve (and your experience as a grower, of course). The Courtmoor plot has so much potential! I think I'll grow shallots next year rather than onions; I bought white onion sets on a whim last year so grew those but actually buy a lot of shallots in the supermarket. I'm going to try overwintering some cabbage having got free seeds from a magazine (Cabbage Offenham) - well the packet says sown in August so there's nothing to lose! Maybe I'll do better with my winter harvests than the summer ones!


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