Veg Patch

To read the story of my Veg Patch in chronological order use the links in the Blog Archive

Saturday, 24 August 2013

How do you dig up potatoes?

In true British fashion this weekend is the August Bank Holiday and its raining. I cant remember the last time we had a glorious sunny one. We had planned a beach barbecue today with friends and neighbours but we have had to cancel. so this morning instead of planning a day of fun and frolics, I find myself writing my weekly blog update and getting the ironing board out .  

This last week the early mornings have been feeling decidedly Autumnal, so with that in mind it was time to start getting more stuff out of the garden ready for winter. 

I mentioned that I needed to dig my potatoes. I have taken two rows out slowly as we have needed them, but three more now needed some serious attention. 

Its a tricky job lifting spuds. The ground was quite hard, so I needed to break it up, but every time I stuck my fork in, I ended up with a potato speared on the end, which is such a waste. How on earth do you get them up without damaging them? I am sure someone must have invented a tool for the job. I shall have to spend some time with my best friend, Google, and find one. I ended up on my knees digging them up with my hands. Not great on the fingernails .

But it was worth the effort. I am very pleased with my Sarpo spuds. 

Lots of different colours and sizes. In my usual fashion, I had labelled the rows with varieties, but only the initial letters as they were quite long names. And now I have lost the leaflet that listed them, so I have no clue what these varieties are. There was one called Blue Danube. You cant see any in this picture. That is the only one I wouldn't grow again. They really are blue and they didn't have any flavour at all.

I ended up with nearly a full sack which are now stored away to be eaten over the winter. Hopefully by us and not local wildlife. 

The nice empty bed is ready for the addition of some more compost and manure,  then I shall plant my onions in it. An empty raised bed is a sad looking thing. Makes it feel that summer is almost over. 

Compost is very important in the garden, especially here where the land has never been cultivated like this before. I showed you my two Daleks last blog, then purely by chance, one of my neighbours offered me two more, that they had found abandoned behind their shed. 

Sadly only one still had its bottom plate. I shall have to buy a new one for the other, so for now its sitting empty . The whole one needed to go in straight away. 

I cleared a space next to the others and had to make a small adjustment with a large saw , to the path edging to get it in. 

A bit of heavy pruning to the conifer and it was in, and is already half full. 

Another vegetable glut is underway. I have been moaning that my tomatoes wouldn't go red, now you cant stop them. I have so many, I made a huge pot of passata yesterday and froze loads to use over the winter. 

I also found another monster courgette hiding under some foliage. It was so large I actually measure it. 12 inches long!! 

The rather wrinkled offering next to it is one of my rude chills ( Cant name it anymore! too many dodgy search engine links) . It should be red, but I accidentally knocked it off a plant when I was rummaging around in the greenhouse. 

I decided to give it a try. I must say so far the other varieties we have tried, have been disappointingly mild. I love a hot chilli, so was hopeful this time as I popped a rather large chunk in my mouth.. Blimey!! this was one hot little fruit. I cant imagine how they will be when finally ripe, but I shouldn't have to wait long as some are nearly there. 

The Habanero are beautiful colours

and this is my first ripe Chiltepin from the chilli trial. 

This was also very mild, but it didn't have any seeds in it, and was tiny, about 1 cm long. hopefully some of the others will be hotter. 

In other news, My seedypenpal parcel arrived from a lady called Jenny. She sent me lots of interesting seeds including some from Ireland. I was pleased to note that one packet contained peas which she says grow to at least 1.5m. These should cover The Great Wall of Barton much better than the dwarf ones I planted on it this year . Jenny is a very talented artist and included a beautiful card she drew herself. 

Go and have a look at her website, you wont be disappointed Thistledown Art & Designs

Out and about this week we had another of our New Forest Adventures with some friends. We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful National Park, and as such it is a huge tourist area. That means we have open top bus tours. This summer they introduced a third route to take in the coastal area, and the stop is right at then end of our lane. It was silly not to go for a ride. After some consultation with the timetable, we were able to plan a journey that would go almost the entire way round all three routes. 

We had a wonderful day out , lots of ducking as we went under low trees in the forest, It was a little windy but in the afternoon it got nice and warm and sunny. 

Gibson came with us as they allow well behaved dogs. He had a wonderful time. We tried to always get the front seats so he could sit in the aisle and look out. He loved it. Horses and cows grabbed his attention all day long, and to see his ears blowing in the breeze was hilarious. 

I tried to get a picture. Its a little wobbly but shows him having a great day out

If you are ever in the New Forest I very much recommend the bus tour. Have a look at the website here. New Forest Tour

Finally I like to try and tell you something you didn't already know ! I always thought the best way to kill a slug was to drown it in beer!!  Well yesterday, I cut a lettuce and was merrily washing it in the sink when out fell a tiny slug. I ignored it, as I assumed it would drown.. Well I was wrong. A few minutes later, I noticed it had done a nifty breast stroke to the side of the sink and was starting to climb out!! Fluke I thought, so I knocked it back into the water , It did it again!! 

It was in 6 inches of water right on the bottom, so not only could it swim, it could also hold its breath. Well who would have known. I eventually got bored and pulled the plug, so its swimming happily somewhere in the village drain system now. 

thats all for now, so have a great holiday weekend if you are in the UK and I hope those of you in the rest of the world enjoy it as well 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Its Glut Time!

I planted all the tomatoes on the same day , so it should be expected that they would all be ready to eat at the same time.. I have been waiting weeks for my greenhouse toms to go red. Last year I was picking at the end of June, but here were are half way through August and I was still waiting. Finally they are all going red. 

I was planing to use them to make Ratatouille with my Aubergines, I have loads,

but I now find I have used up most of the courgettes. I am hoping that with another predicted sunny few weeks, I shall get more growing. 

I did have a couple though, so I picked everything ready for my first batch of the season. 

I was very pleased with how it came out. delicious. Hopefully there will be more by the weekend. 

The beans were also all ready to be eaten. Some were getting a bit big as we cant eat them quickly enough. I decided that I would pick them, blanch and freeze them .

I ended up with 10 portions in the freezer. I shall enjoy some with my Christmas ( Yes I said it) Dinner. 

I mentioned previously that my potato's were ready and in need of digging, I sent off for some Hessian sacks to store them in, they have arrived and are rather smart. 

I have been very pleased with the spuds we have eaten so far. I only used Sarpo varieties  They are tasty and blight free. 

WIth the prospect of an empty raised bed, I decided that this year I would try and overwinter some onions. Off I went to the Nursery and bought a couple of varieties

I got out my trays and then realised I didnt have enough compost. Well thats not true, I didnt have enough shop bought compost, what I did have however were the Daleks.

The two I installed when we designed the patch, have been consuming kitchen scraps and hen poo for the past 18 months, and to be honest, although I have put stuff in the top, I had never looked in the bottom. 

Time to have a look and see

Worms!! loads and loads of them. That must be good. it looked a bit wet, but I haven't put any water in it so I suppose it has made that itself. 

I didn't need much so I dug a few shovel loads out, but I didn't want to put the worms in with my seeds . It took me 20 minutes and I picked out 113 worms!! and dropped them back in the bin. 

I mixed my home made in with the shop stuff and it looked very nice. 

Let see how well the seeds grow. The grow sure ones were interesting  They had a blue coating to them, so it was really easy to see where you had dropped them . 

4 trays are planted and hopefully that should give me a nice crop of Onions in the spring. 

Thats it for this week. The flower patch is starting to come to an end. The plants still look pretty but there are not many I can cut now. 

Finally, This is the Seedypenpal parcel I sent to Linda. She seems very happy with it. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Its all about seeds..

I couldn't do anything in my garden without seeds. They are the most important thing here. The arrival of this weeks seedypenpal email ( more later) , once more brought them to the front of my brain. I have planned to try and collect as many seeds as I can from my flower patch this year, and so today I started that job. 

There are not too many flowers ready yet, but there are a couple so I set about collecting what I could. The candytuft was an early flower and are the first to have finished. 

I had saved some brown paper from an amazon parcel, to make some paper bags to catch the seeds in, so I picked a loads of seed heads and made a bundle with string.

This was put in a marked bag and set aside . The Calendula has also started making seeds so they were the next bunch. 

Finally the coriander.

The bags are now hanging in my nice warm and dry summer house, to finish drying and drop the seeds for me to use next year. 

Next job was to deal with the Mange Tout I murdered about a month ago. I shall be very careful in future how much feed I use on a plant. It seems odd that something that was supposed to make it grow, has done this to the plant. 

It tried valiantly to regrow but couldnt get going again. So it finally has ended up on the compost heap. 

There were a few edible pods so we are having them for tea tonight.

Once again the frame was naked. 

And I have planted a few late peas to fill it again. 

I have also planted a few more lettuce to finish off the year. 

Its time to make another visit to my squash disaster area. You should by now, be very familiar with the tale of the climbing Vegetable Spaghetti!! well it gets better. I am occasionally a complete plonker, and this is one of those occasions. After 4 days away, we came home and I took a stroll to find out how things were going. The squash suspended in mid air, had grown again.. and now it was quite obvious, that they are actually , PUMPKINS!! I couldnt have picked anything bigger to hang 5 feet in the air. And of course, they are nowhere near full size. The poor bamboo canes are groaning. I don't know how long its going to stay upright. There is now also a third that needed to be helped, so I have three bits of net now, acting as Pumpkin Hammocks. 

The flower patch needed a bit of a clear up. The candytuft and corncockle were in a real state and after a bit of thought I decided to pull a lot of it up to make space for a September planting.

And here are a few new arrivals in the garden

There are still plenty of bees in the garden. The cosmos were covered today, and I think this one had nodded off, as he was on this flower for a good half hour. 

I mentioned SeedyPenpals at the start. This round, I am sending seeds to Linda and receiving them from Jenny. I have picked out what am going to send but wont put it on here yet so I dont spoil the surprise. 

If anyone wants to find out more or join the scheme you can sign up here 

Out and about - Jim and I went to our first classic car weekend. It was the TR Register International Weekend at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern Wells, Worcestershire. 

This meant that Gibson was also having a weekend mini break. He went to stay with his Mum, Rosie and her owners  Paul and Ciara .

He had a wonderful time. Goodness knows what he was doing but he is pretty tired and is currently snoring his head off in his bed. 

We stayed at a wonderful hotel called the Cottage in the Wood and this is the view from our very pretty room


The show was very interesting sadly, Freda wasn't with us as she is still in the garage but, it looks like we shall have her back later this week. We collected some bits  at the show for her. 

If you were wondering what a show looked like, here you are

And finally some beautiful cut flowers to finish. 

Have a great week