Veg Patch

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

Friday, 1 August 2014

August Already

If you live in the UK, you don't need me to tell you we have been experiencing the best July since records began. Its amazing, the sunshine has meant that the garden has gone mad, stuff growing at rapid rates and prolifically. That is part of the reason there have been no blogs lately as I have been struggling to keep up, of course I have also been making the most of the weather and getting out and about having a wonderful summer. 

So whats been growing, well all the usual stuff plus a few new things, so its mostly the new stuff I will write about today. 

Beetroot. Its like Marmite, love it or hate it. In this house we have a 50/50 split. I love it Jim hates it. but I planted some anyway. As I have already written about, the leaves were attacked by some sort of maggoty thing, but once I picked them off, they grew rapidly again. 

So here they are, my first beetroot

I found a nice recipe to roast them with some of my homegrown shallots and thyme, so thats what I did. I left them cooling in a bowl in the kitchen, and some time later wandered back to find this

If only I could persuade Jim to try them, they were delicious, but as you can see he has pretty strong views about beetroot. 

So other newbies in the garden include corn on the cob.

And a selection of unusual squash that I got from an American website. They are all growing really well. 

This is a baby Blue Hubbard Pumpkin, it could reach up to 40 lbs.

And this is a Custard Squash, they took a while to get going and the early ones all dropped off, but the plants seem to have got the hang of it now and are growing these perfect little things, they taste like courgette.

Here are a few pics of the summer staples, tomatoes and courgettes, so many I can't keep up. And the spud crop this year was the best yet. 

And flowers, so many flowers, they are just glorious, I am running out of places to put them and people to give them too.

I have grown Zinnias this year for the first time and I think they are heading towards the top of my favourite plant list. Look at this beauty

And another beauty is my Mongolian Giant sunflower. I entered the 2014 challenge, run by the lads at the Vegetablism blog . They sent me the seeds and left me to it. I planted all the giants but only two germinated and this is the bigger of the two. Its huge!!

The stem is close to 8 feet now and the flower head is over a foot wide. I will definitely be growing these again, they look amazing. 

So thats about all from the garden, out and about its been perfect weather for an  old British sports car, so we have been enjoying using her. This month our club run was to the historic village of Bucklers Hard in the New Forest. Not really much of a run for us as its only up the road, but we went anyway, because we had been given permission to drive the cars onto the historic High Street. Not something that happens very often. I think you will agree that the cars looked amazing in this wonderful setting. 

If you are ever in the New Forest the village should be at the top of your list of places to visit. 

And finally Gibson. He hasn't been on top form of late. At the beginning of July he developed a bit of a limp. He had an infected pad, and so two weeks of antibiotics followed. They didn't work, but the swelling went down enough to see he had something in his paw. That meant surgery, so he had it a couple of weeks ago. Its healing very slowly, he can't walk on anything other than grass, so he has been trapped in the garden. Hopefully this week he can get out and about again.

Lets hope we get the best August on record as well. Enjoy the sunshine, wherever you are. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Season of Plenty

Several dry weeks, warm and sunny as well, means that once again the veg patch is full of beautiful things to eat, look at and smell. 

I believe I may officially call myself a gardener. Touching a piece of wood, I must say that so far apart from the beetroot issues, nothing has gone wrong. Everything is growing in the right place and appears to be what I was expecting. No dwarf peas, instead colossal peas.

And no pumpkins growing up the "Leaning Tower of Barton". Just delicious courgettes.

The broad beans survived this year and are also delicious, although the first time I picked them, I managed to disturbed something that was on the flowers and I was stung quite badly on the back of my arm. I have no idea what it was, but can't be cross as it was busy pollinating my plants. 

It always happens, everything is ready at once, but for some things I have actually managed to plant small numbers of plants at different times, so hopefully this year we won't be trying to eat loads of one thing before it goes off. 

This plant has been very successful, cape gooseberries or physalis 

If your not sure what it is, it is one of those bright orange fruits with a brown papery covering that you get on the side of your desert in swanky restaurants. Someone gave me the packet of seeds. They had received them free with a gardening magazine. they are very pretty and hopefully will taste good as well.

All of my chillies are growing very well, covered in fruits. This is the first plant with any of a reasonable size, it is a cayenne pepper. 

And so far this year I have managed not to kill my mange tout, by overfeeding them. 

All of the interesting squash I bought from America are growing well, lots of small ones, but as yet not showing any of the characteristics of each plant . The Blue Hubbard pumpkin has loads of little green pumpkins on it. I really hope they grow as its going to be interesting to see them. Hopefully I will get a huge one as the packet predicts. 

This is what I picked on Sunday. 

And then the flowers. More than I know what to do with, I have been giving them away to friends and neighbours and even to a local bride who gave me a lovely donation to Oakhaven Hospice in return. 

Do you remember, that last autumn I went over to see Georgie, at Common Farm Flowers and she gave me some of the dahlias that she no longer  needed. Apparently they were the wrong colour for this seasons brides. Well I am delighted with them. They have grown beautifully and are already flowering. personally I think the brides are missing out on some lovely flowers. 

Here are a few of the posies I have made for myself, my neighbours and anyone who wants them 

Sunday was International Lonely Bouquet Day. A lady in Belgium started it several years ago as a way of encouraging florists and people who grow flowers to give some away to strangers. 

I decided to join in this year. The idea is you make a bouquet, or in my case a posy, and then pop a label on it and abandon it somewhere for people to find and take home. I made 5 to leave around where I live. 

I cut all these flowers

and made these

Then I drove around sunday morning and left them for people to find. I have no idea who found them as no one has been in touch, but I know that 5 houses around here have a beautiful little posy of flowers from my garden and someone else, is having the chance to enjoy them. 

And finally. Last week was clean club night at our car club. Freda is not working at the moment so we couldn't take her, but we went along anyway. Here are a couple of the class winners from the evening,  they are beautiful machines I think you will agree

Triumph TR5
Triumph TR2
Have a great week.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

What has happened to the veg?

I made a conscious decision when I start writing this blog over 2 years ago that I would only write when I had something different to say, this is my third season growing and to be honest, I am growing pretty much the same things and in the same way, so what would be the point of writing about them again? 

I have been quietly, (well if you don't count the iPod playing at full blast all the time, through speakers, with my favourite 70's and 80's disco classics) getting on with the business of growing us some food. So far this year there has only been one problem, and that is with a new crop for me. Beetroot, or as Jim calls it "The food of the devil" . His mum was a school dinner lady and it appears that she always brought home leftovers for tea. Poor chap not only did he have to eat school dinners for lunch, he got them at home as well. Anyway, through most of the summer it would appear that pickled beetroot was high on the schools menu list, therefore he has a deep aversion to it. I decided it might be nice to try and get him to eat a home cooked, sweet earthy beetroot, so I planted some. 

They started well and were growing at a reasonable pace, then a couple of days ago I noticed that loads of the leaves looked dead. 

After posting a picture on twitter last night I was left with two possible causes, either the leaves had been scorched or they were suffering from a leaf miner infestation. 

I popped out this morning for a closer look at the leaves and quickly found this

So leaf miner it is then. I have cut off and destroyed all of the offending leaves and shall keep an eye on the remainder. Apparently, though we can still eat the beetroot, so Jim will still get his chance at Beetroot rehabilitation. 

Those of you who read regularly will remember last summers frustration when my peas, wouldn't grow up my beautifully constructed "Great Wall of Barton" . Dwarf peas were never going to make the top, Note to self, always read the packet properly. So this year I deliberately purchased a variety called "Colossal" in the hope that things would be different. I am happy to report that they are. These are growing like mad

Elsewhere, the "Leaning Tower of Barton" has been relocated to another bed and this year definitely has three trailing courgettes growing up it. No pumpkins this time, Although it was very entertaining trying to stop pumpkins dropping from 5 feet up . I am happy to report than in a week or so if this weather keeps up we will have a courgette glut. 

The potatoes and onions are ready to be dug up, in fact I may do that in the morning. 

And this year, my broad beans have survived and are currently covered in fattening pods. 

In the greenhouse, all the usual suspects are growing furiously, I already have a few tiny tomatoes and the cucumbers are growing really quickly, some straight and others not so straight..

The one in the top photo became our first summer crop of the season and was consumed yesterday evening for our tea. 

Chillies, it goes without saying, are taking up loads of room

Waiting for them to go red always takes an age . The whole greenhouse looks very different to a few weeks ago when it was full of plants of the hospice sale. 

I have posted loads of pictures of flowers already this year but here are a few more. our house, and all the neighbours are already full of wonderfully smelling blooms and there are many more to come yet. The Sweet Pea's have finally started to come thick and fast and there are so many cornflowers. 

The Dahlia's I got from Georgie at Common Farm already have buds on them and the hanging baskets I planted up are looking splendid.

In fact it all is

I have just been and picked these so shall be having them with some ice-cream in a bit . 

In other news, Woody the baby woodpecker fledged last saturday. He spent a day or so hoping from tree to tree calling for his parents, and then just like that he was gone. The nest is silent, but I know they will all be back and hopefully have babies again next spring. 

Gibson has been spending a lot of time with his friends Flo and her puppy . I think I told you about the puppies who were born on St Patrick's Day. They all had Irish names for a while, but one by one they left all except for one who was originally named Conner. My neighbours decided to keep him and he has been renamed Dodge . He is a sweet little dog and he adores Gibson who is very gentle with him. Each time he comes to visit , Dodge hops into bed with Gibson for a cuddle, its very sweet. 

Right that is all for now, I am off for Strawberries and Ice-cream . Enjoy the sunshine.