Monday, 16 July 2007

Odds 'n' Sods And Exotics

I've had a few pots hanging around for a while and finally got round to planting them up in a mixture of peat-free compost and the contents of a spare grow-bag. I've now added a cucumber, chilli-pepper, squash and some more runner beans to the vegetable garden.

The runner beans were left over from the ones I planted in the SFG last month. I was going to put them with the rest, as I have a gap but as they seem to be being attacked by the dreaded snails, I thought an alternate location might give them a better chance, so they're now in a large pot by the back door.

The cucumber is a ridge variety which has a much better flavour than the usual greenhouse variety. Not that I've ever grown them before so this should be an interesting challenge - especially as it's late in the season, so I'll be hoping for a late summer to help ripen them up.

The squash are all butternut and are what's left having not been ravaged by the snails from the one's I grew from seed. I've planted up three small plants but I'm not expecting them all to grow and will just pick the strongest one. I think I actually ended up giving the best ones away.

As for the exotics - the chilli-pepper is a jalapeno - I don't eat a lot of chillies but assuming any of them grow - I'll attempt to dry them and perhaps even use some fresh in cooking. I've never grown them before but saw several different varieties being grown by a friend, so thought why not. Not having a green house I haven't gone for the bell peppers.

Even just after a couple of days - they've all suddenly grown - shows just how restricted they were left in their pots.

My neighbour has also carefully nurtured three tomato plants that appeared in her flower-bed - having been smuggled over in my compost. She's now returned these to me ready planted up in pots, so I'll be inundated with tomatoes at some point once they all start ripening, especially as I've already got four plants growing well. Of course, I've no idea what variety the 'home-grown' plants will turn out to be.

Better start collecting those jars for chutney.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

... And My First Beans And Courgettes

Yes, despite all the fits and starts and hardships in my endeavours to grow beans this year - I have finally picked my first Dwarf French Beans. Having trouble standing upright (they're meant to be self-supporting) which would be hard to do with all the recent wind doing it's best to keep them horizontal but at least the slugs haven't got to them. Not even a handful, just about enough for a salad nicoise, if not enough for a full blown meal yet but these are just the first. Hurrah!

I've also just picked another couple of courgettes and they're coming along well with at least two being picked every few days, helped by all this rain. They're certainly not going to win any prizes at the local village fete - here's the haul so far. Sadly with the rain the flowers don't look their best - the one's that don't get knocked off.

Once the tomatoes get going (there are small green ones forming) I'll be able to get the ratatouille going.

Freshly picked blueberries for breakfast!

Well, you can't get much better than that. My blueberries have suddenly started to ripen in quantities. One or two have been ripening slowly but with the sudden spell of sunshine they are all starting to ripen at once.

I popped out this morning and picked a good punnet full of blueberries already washed by the morning showers, to have with my breakfast cereal - plus a handful of raspberries (sadly not my own).

The Blue Crop variety seem to be larger and ripening more slowly while the 'general' variety are smaller and have ripened in bunches.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Salad Pickings

Two more courgettes picked today and they're growing well so I expect to be cropping them regularly soon.

I've just started picking the first of my salad vegetables. Just a few spinach leaves and a couple of rocket leaves. Only a couple because that's about all there is! Mixed in with my basil and the lettuce and tomatoes provided by the Veg Box scheme.

Gosh, isn't there a difference between a freshly grown, freshly delivered lettuce and one brought in a supermarket, presumably grown in a controlled, pest free environment - they don't come with earth, blackfly and slugs but it's nothing a good wash in a bit of salty water won't get rid of and besides ... it's added protein.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

OK - You Can Stop Now!

Call this July, not only is it still raining but it's windy out there too. I returned from a few days in Cornwall to find that with all the rain, although the garden was flourishing it has also taken a bit of bashing from the wind and of course with all the damp weather those slithering pests have been having a field day.

I picked two more courgettes just in time, while also cutting off a few of the first stunted fruits and with plenty left to come. Despite getting blown about both plants are now growing well. The runner bean that had been munched just before I went away is fighting back and attempting to climb back up the pole. I was sure I was going to have to replace that particular one. Most of the others are managing to cling to their supports, although a couple have been unwound by the wind and the dwarf French beans are having a hard time trying to stay upright but actually have some tiny beans on them. I didn't even notice the flowers. The broad beans have surprised me and seem to have shot up by at least a foot since I went away. No sign of aphids yet but they've probably been blown off!

The tomatoes are growing nicely too but needed to be tied to their stakes as they'd collapsed and were growing at right angles to the way they should have been. The variety I thought was tumbling - but isn't, is doing it's own thing and going off in all directions, so I haven't bothered pinching out any shoots (as you're meant to do). I do my best but I usually manage to miss one and then end up with two main shoots. Not doing too badly this year. I'm impressed with my home grown seedlings which are doing pretty well. Even the Ailsa Craig plant is now looking better.