Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cucumber flowers--hopefully cucumbers to follow!

Photo of young cucumber plants, climbing up sticks and mulched with chopped straw
Cucumbers in the cold frame
My patio cold frame was a riot of cool weather salad-y things such as miner's lettuce, arugula, and lamb's lettuce this spring--nearly all self-seeded.  Half of it still has self-seeded calendula (tons of pretty orange flowers), but the other half has been cleared away entirely.  I mulched it thickly with chicken bedding (manure and straw, maybe a month old) and planted up my cucumber seedlings. 

I stuck in some woody trimmings from elsewhere in the garden for the cucumbers to climb, and they are growing nicely--and beginning to flower!  I still have my upturned plastic bottle waterers to keep them moist, and the mulch helps retain water too, as the cold frame is in a very warm and sheltered spot, and can dry out quickly if it's a hot day.

Last year I planted my cucumbers in the ground in the main veg patch, and most of the young plants got eaten by slugs;  only one survived and we only got one or two fruits off it.  Only small fruit, I should add.  It was a fairly warm summer, but the first two weeks after planting were still cool and rainy, and the plants couldn't keep up with the slug damage.  The one that survived was also badly damaged and took a long time to recover.

This year I planted out later, and decided not to put them in the ground at all.  It's been an unusually dry spring and early summer, and slugs haven't been as rampant as the past few years--I probably could have got away with putting them in the ground after all.  Still, in the cold frame's best, as it's the warmest spot in the garden and has plenty of good chicken manure (and lots of red worms--how did they get in there?) to make the plants grow.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Planting in succession

Photo of a small patch of broad bean plants next to a patio
Tall broad beans, small broad beans
Since the Peas/Beans bed is followed on in the same season by Brassicas, it means ruthlessly clearing away plants as soon as they've finished producing.  I did this a few days ago with the first batch of early peas:  I pulled them up and immediately resowed their patch with rutabaga seeds. 

The broad beans are nearly finished too, and I've already cut down about half of them, but won't replant/resow the bed until they're all gone--probably within the next week. 

Lastly, the mange tout peas are also just finished, only they're a bit harder to get out--they're fully entangled with the maincrop peas!  The early peas too were mixed up with the maincrop, but as they were only about 18-24 inches tall, it was fairly easy to distinguish them.  Not so with the mange tout, which are the same height as the maincrop:  about 5 feet tall.  Oh well, I'll give it my best shot, and if all else fails, I can cut them down but leave them on the maincrop peas.  I'll still be able to plant under them.  I'm leaving the maincrop for drying anyway, so it doesn't matter if they're a bit smothered.

As for the spent pea and bean plants, they got chucked to the chicken yard, for them to scratch over and pick at.  They should be lovely compost in a few months.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Let the vegetables begin, 2017

First broad bean harvest, May 2017 (now in June, they're nearly gone!)
We had bought our last vegetables of the season last weekend:  a bag each of carrots and onions, and a rutabaga.  We will henceforth eat only garden veg, hopefully for the next five months (till 20 November) as per my One Year Goal.

Truthfully, we could have stopped buying a couple weeks ago:  things are really taking off!  I harvested the garlic (loads!) the day before I went to the hospital;  I was away from home for a week and the husband picked (to give away) a big bunch of peas, broad beans and a very respectable cauliflower.  The chard has also taken off, and it's really time to think about thinning--and eating--the summer cabbages. 

The only thing we're lacking right now is a good source of onions.  I have a few small spring onions, but the maincrop onions aren't much bigger, and the shallots are still green and growing.  I have a lot of little leeks but we won't eat them till winter/spring.  I suppose I could sow some more spring onions, but I just don't seem to have the knack for them--they mostly don't appear:  slugs, I suspect.  Maybe I'll try them in a pot.

As I'm not quite up to full strength following my hospital stay, I'm glad most of the hard work is already done in my garden.  Time for harvesting and enjoying, and hopefully a bit of preserving;  I've already frozen some extra broad beans, and I think I better start drying chard leaves (they go great in a stew or casserole).

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Taking a break

Photo of a garden bed with a cabbage and cauliflower, both in front of flowering peas
Big cabbage, center; smaller cauliflower to the left (and one hiding behind); peas flowering at back
I've got a non-emergency, non-life-threatening health condition for which I need a hospital stay.  I can't say just how long I'll be away;  hopefully no more than a week or two, but right now things are a bit uncertain so it may be longer.  I've still got a few garden tasks undone, which the husband may have to take over! 

As it is, I won't be updating here for just a little bit.  Hopefully I'll see you back here very soon and don't worry about me, I'll be just fine.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

May 2017 garden recap

Photo of a block of young celery plants in a garden bed
Celery in its trench in Roots bed (herb bed behind)
Roots

I've harvested a couple garlic bulbs now:  both good size.  I'll probably get all the rest in June and cure for storage;  some will go for eating, some will go for planting in October/November.  The shallots in this bed are flowering and look fantastic above ground, but I didn't tried pulling any yet to check their bulb growth.  I think they are meant to be harvested once they die down;  they aren't even close, unlike the garlic.

Still no evidence of parsnip.  A few beets growing, and more beet seed sown in May.  I put down some coffee grounds on top of the rows after sowing to deflect slugs, although it looks as though it needs topping up again after a few rain showers.

Onions in clusters looking happy and strong, though still small.  Celery planted out in a trench at the end of May, growing well.

Peas and beans

Starting picking broad beans at last!  More to come.  The spring sown plants are much bigger than the autumn sown ones, and seem to have formed their pods pretty much at the same time, though the autumn sown ones flowered first. 

The first batch of early peas flowered quickly and is now covered in tiny pods, with some flowers yet to come.  Mange tout peas also just started forming at the end of May, but none harvested this month.  Maincrop peas just beginning to flower at the end of May.

Sowed pre-sprouted French beans and runner beans towards the end of May, and French beans began popping up, though no runner beans yet.

Second batches of early and maincrop peas still short and not doing much (we had an unusually warm and dry May, which may have affected their growth).

Brassicas

Of the seven original cauliflowers, three are looking leafy and healthy, and one is still clinging on;  the others disappeared completely.  Summer cabbages in the holding bed are growing quickly, as are the broccoli and Brussels sprouts seedlings.  There seem to be two winter cabbages still in last year's Brassicas bed (this year's Misc bed), which were hiding under the sprouting broccoli.  I cleared away the sprouting broccoli in May and suddenly those cabbages have started into action.

I sowed trays of more winter cabbage, kale, and sprouting broccoli in May, all intended for winter/spring eating.

Miscellaneous

With the last of the spring sprouting broccoli cleared away from the Misc bed, I now have a nice clear space for planting out.  However, the tender plants (tomatoes, squashes, etc) stayed in my kitchen window for the month, waiting until the middle of June to plant out. 

Chard transplanted earlier growing well, as are half the leeks (the other half are in the holding bed, probably to be planted out in late summer).  The spring sown shallots are not as advanced as the autumn sown ones in the Roots bed. 

Lettuces sown early in the year still producing (cut and come again types), but later sowings keep disappearing, even in trays up on the patio table. 

Potatoes

Potato plants growing huge (mid-thigh height) and some forming flowers already!  Just letting them get on with it, and not planning on digging them up till autumn (or till they die back).

Fruit

Fruit growing well but sparsely on:  plum, sweet cherry, both apples, fig.

Fruit more abundant on sour cherry, but tree looks a little stressed;  it was moved over winter, and May has been a dry month, considering.  Lots of nuts on almond tree.

Lots and lots of berries on redcurrant and blackcurrants.  Modest amounts on the few strawberries and alpine strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blueberry.

No fruit on Williams or Asian pears.

The seven year old helped me drape bird nets over both cherry trees (both are about as tall as me) and the redcurrant (nearly tall as me).  I netted the strawberries on my own (ran out of netting so did it DIY style).

Perennials and herbs

This year's artichokes from crowns began putting out good growth in May, at last.  However, the two rhubarb both look very sad--too hot, maybe?  The one forced into growth earlier in the year looks almost dead.

Asparagus from seed sprouted up but very small and spindly (pre-sprouted it, then sowed it in a bed with annual lupins).  Lots of sorrel growth.

Rosemary has had some die-back, but hopefully will continue growing.  Lots of chive, chervil, thyme growth.  Sage looks like it's died (rotten birds!).  Mint, parsley, tarragon and bergamot growing well.  Dill (in a pot) small but growing.  Still no sign of summer savory, sown in a pot.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

May 2017 Food Totals

Photo of a small vegetable bed with two rows each of young cabbages and broccoli seedlings
Brassicas in the holding bed, May 2017
Vegetables:

49 oz sprouting broccoli
10.5 oz salad greens (red lettuce, baby chard, miner's lettuce, arugula)
39 oz broccoli leaves
4 oz mizuna
22.5 oz leek
13 oz kale
3.5 oz young garlic
5.5 oz mixed herbs (chervil, sorrel, thyme, leek, garlic, etc)
10.5 oz chard
3 oz broad beans

Does not include fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, chives, chervil) which were too small a quantity to weigh, i.e. less than 0.5 oz.  

Total: 160.5 oz

Note:  I weigh all my vegetables after preparation:  peeling, trimming, etc. 

Fruit: 

No fruit harvested this month

Eggs:

Total: 201 eggs from 12 hens
Total feed bought: 2 bags layers pellets (40kg total), 1 bag chick crumb (10kg total)

Preserves:

1 medium jar salted mixed herbs (thyme, sorrel, leek, garlic, etc)

Homebrew:  

Cider, elderflower wine, rhubarb wine, elderberry/blackberry wine still fermenting. No new homebrew begun