Monday, July 31, 2017

The Full Salad

Its the big day finally, the full home grown salad is ours. The tomatoes are starting to ripen!!

This weekend saw the first bowl of toms heading for salad, the Lidl, Choc Cherry and Gardeners Delight are delicious. A few have split thanks to all the heavy rains but they still taste good.

In fact not a bad harvest all round and to top off  today I had the first of the sweetcorn, Ambrosia F1. A two tone number with good sized kernels and good sized cobs, also a good cropper with 2 or 3 cobs per plant. Sweetcorn and home grown salad...result. This is when all the work pays off.

I love this time off year, tomorrow sweetcorn and new potatoes!

We have a quiet weekend coming up so if the rain holds off we'll get a few hours in tidying the farm which looks a little neglected, however productive.

Anyone need a courgette!!!

Happy gardening folks :O)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

July Update

Today was like Wimbledon on the farm, a few strawberries, started with sun and finished with us being rained off.  To be honest social engagements and rain have meant it has been pretty much picking visits only off late, just trying to keep on top the crops. Luckily the weed prevention measures are keeping those largely at bay. The harvest is in full swing so here is July's update.

Bed 1

Also known as the Amazon squash forest. 

The courgettes as you can see are showing no signs of slowing down, anyone who gives the slightest hint that they like courgette gets one! Along with courgette brownies, fritters and stir fries we are just about keeping on top of them.

The marrows are slow but steady, only 1 has reached full size so far but with the recent rain I don't think it will be long before we see some more.

The Uchik Kuri pumpkins have runners about 18 feet long and half a dozen fruits per plant, they are making a break for the plot next door so the growing tips will have to bee nipped soon which will also allow the plant to concentrate on making the fruits bigger. Heather stores these for winter consumption.

The Butternut squash we bought don't seem to have produced anything yet, a few flowers, nice long runners on one, but no sign of fruit which is a little disappointing, maybe a big shot of feed will help.

The carrots are about 4/5 inches long so just getting to be a useful size. No sign of carrot fly damage so far which is great. I roasted some whole Sat night with a little white wine, butter, sugar, salt, a splash of water and a shake if cumin. Cover and roast for about 45 mins at 200 degrees. We seem to have some daisies growing in there too.

The fennel is doing its thing and I've no idea if the celery is going to be ready anytime soon as its the first year.  

Bed 2

The Rocket early spuds have been ready for a few weeks now and I was worried if we left them in the ground much longer they might start to fall apart when boiled, but no signs of this yet. We have about a row and a half left so I'll keep on an eye on them. You don't get many to a plant but they can be huge, jacket spud sized.

I haven't investigated the King Edwards yet but curiosity will get the better of me soon.

I've started the new frame around the asparagus, rain stopped play on that one. Once finished I'll top it up with top soil. We might grown some more from the seeds the ferns are producing to fill the gaps left by this frame being bigger.     

Bed 3

I give up on peas...... we weeded, replanted, watered and feed, so far we have about 10... I give up..

The runner and french beans are getting going now. They don't seem to be as prolific as last year but they are different varieties. The Bluelake French variety are stringless and not bad, but not as good as the Cobra from previous years. The Amethyst purple dwarf are nearly ready, looking forward to those! 

The leeks have taken nicely, all looking healthy.  There are courgettes and lettuces in here too that are happily doing their thing.

Bed 4

This one is rammed, not a bit of soil to be seen. 

The brassica cage is doing its job, the fine netting is keeping the butterflies out and there is no sign of whitefly. All the plants look healthy and the weed control fabric means no weeding so far. Which is good because its crowded in there and a clumsy person like me could do some damage with the size 12's! 

We are loving the Burpless Tasty Green cucumbers, even when they get to a foot long they don't get bitter and don't need peeling. They are pretty heavy croppers too. I used to grow Marketmore but I think I'll stick to these. 

It looks like we are getting a good crop of spaghetti squash this year they are winding in and out of the sweetcorn and there is another one every time we look.

Talking of sweetcorn, they are 8 foot high and have 3-4 cobs each. The tassles are just starting to brown so another couple of weeks and we might be lucky.

We have 2 large pumpkins hiding in the corn too, I'm quite pleased with these as they came from seeds in my Asda bought pumpkin last year.

Bed 5

The beetroot are all coming good now, they seem to have taken an age this year but at last there is more than one at a time. The turnips are getting large, I haven't used many for some reason. the big news here is that finally the spring onions are big enough to harvest.... finally, these things have defeated me for years!! Wahoo.

With the recent sunny weather the tomatoes are just starting ripen, all 4 varieties are on the turn. The choc cherry are nice and sweet so I'm looking forward a nice tomato salad soon. 

We also have a few chillis and quite a few cape gooseberries, how these will ripen as the days shorten we shall have to see but for a first attempt at the CG's I'm pretty happy. They somewhat more bushy than I expected so could have done with a little more room.


And finally... the reason I grow so much more than we need is because I enjoy giving it away. I actually think its important. We are so much a supermarket culture and used to the small number of varieties and types of veg available that people know so little about their food. Handing over something different and seeing peoples faces is something I like a lot.

This was Fridays picking being divided up for distribution.

Happy Gardening Folks!!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Veggie Armageddon!!

Its that time again, here comes the glut. Things are picking up nicely now and more crops are starting to come to maturity, all I need are the tomatoes and I can have a self sufficient salad, there are plenty but no sign of red/yellow yet. The Burpless Tasty Green cucumbers are lovely and don't need peeling.

The Rocket early spuds are proving popular and I'm wishing I'd planted second earlies rather than mains in the rest of the bed.  Runner bean (Firefly) have had the first picking and the French beans (Bluelake) aren't far behind. It's a pity the peas are proving a failure.

The star of the show is of course the courgette, as you can see from the leader board the Zuchinni have jumped into the lead and show no sign of letting up. Once again we were away at the weekend and returned to 18 oversized fruits (plus a marrow and 4 cues). It's rained since so we are expecting that to jump again. Good job our work and gym buddies are taking them off our hands, for now at least.


Happy gardening folks!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The Courgette Leader Board

Those readers who joined us last year or have read the older posts may remember the post on the courgette glut we had last year. It's HERE

Well silly season is on us again, and just for fun I thought we'd have a courgette leader board to see which variety produces the most.

We have ten plants this year, 3 Easy Pick Gold, 3 Floridor and 4 Zuchinni. So in theory the Zuchinni has a head start... but lets see.

The leader board is over on the right....on your marks, get set, GO!!!!!

Happy gardening folks!!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Less is more

When is comes to work  and veg anyway.

One of the aims for this year was to cut down the amount of time required to tend the farm, to cut down the digging, weeding and watering. While last year did produce a healthy harvest we certainly put in the hours. We were determined that this year would be a little more pleasure than pain!

So far so good, when we go away everything seems to survive, the weeds seem manageable and apart from when feeding is due the watering hasn't been too much of a challenge. In general the hours required to get our crop to this stage are a lot lower this year.

So how have we got to here?

Well the plan started at the end of last year. We started last season on the back foot with a plot that hadn't been properly closed down, dug, covered, manured or cleared the previous year. We put in a lot effort at the end of  last season to clear the ground, manure and tiller it before covering it for the winter.

The covering of weed control fabric or thick plastic damp proof membrane certainly made for an easier start this year, the earth was still pretty weed free, a good texture requiring no digging, just a quick going over with hoe to break up any lumps where the bricks held the covers down, and lovely and moist. It has been a case of rolling back the plastic a few days before you need the ground, apply some growmore and/or pelleted chicken manure, rake it in then plant or sow a few days later. A lot easier and quicker than the previous year.   

A good purchase for any gardener is a moisture meter. A quick run round the plot probing the ground can save a lot of time watering plants that don't really need it and can help to identify the heavy drinkers. You'd be surprised how often you can skip some areas, and every can saved is time and effort. They can be bought on Amazon quite cheaply but always look in supermarkets at the end of the season. I'd recommend the single probe models such as this one HERE. We'll see if it helps with the blossom end rot my tomatoes always seem to suffer from.

And finally....mulching. This year we have been trying to get to grips with mulching, and experimenting with growing some crops through weed control fabric. The results have been good.

A generous covering of grass cuttings has made a huge difference to the amount of weeding required around the plants and helps retain moisture.

Weed control fabric looks good and does make a difference but it a bit of a pain to plant through. In our sweetcorn we have also found that we have some kind of creeping weed that still grows and puts in an appearance though the holes we made for the plants.

I find grass cuttings easier and cheaper, its just a case of generating the volume from a small garden. A word with friends and neighbours in exchange for the odd courgette certainly helps. It's useful to sink a old bottle with the bottom cut off into the ground to aim your water into when mulching. Maybe the no dig method next year.

This week has been busy and we've only had a little bit of time to pop down, feed and harvest. We did clear the broads, dig over the area and add some compost so we could finally plants out the leeks. I didn't want to risk putting them in the same best we lost all the garlic and shallots in.

I've included some pics of the harvest/progress just so its not all words. As you can see from the Currently Picking list we are finally coming out of the quiet patch. The first spuds and cucumber were delicious and courgette silly season is upon us!! More later.

I hope the advice above it useful to anyone struggling to maintain their plot, as we refine the process in the future we'll keep you posted on the progress

Happy gardening folks!!!