Welcome back to Reads Retreat, on a beautifully sunny summers morning. I couldn't resist walking barefoot on the dew covered lawn this morning. It must be nigh on 15C already, and it's only 7.00am! The feeling of the cool dew on my feet was lovely - to me it's one of those feelings you wish you could bottle up and sell - "fortune" awaits! Armed with my camera (as usual) i set out to bring you some shots from around the plot. The first to catch my eye was this gloriously yellow shaded Pumpkin flower. The pumpkin plant has gone wild - must be about 15' long already, with numerous tendrils reaching out for support, and a bounty of flower heads just waiting to burst open! It's my 1st real attempt at growing a pumpkin so any advice would be welcomed! I've already read a bit on the RHS website and discovered the reason the leaves were rotting - they don't like to get wet! Those affected are now removed, and I'm watering directly at the root. I'd really like to find out if these plants are self pollinating, or whether a bit of intervention is required. Someone must know - so please get in touch!
This shot shows more flower heads, this time on our Aubergine plant. If you look closely you will see that some of the previous flower heads have dropped from the plant, remainders of which are visible on the lower leaves. My only idea was that the plant was drying out, and is now not only getting daily drenching, but a weekly feed too. We've only recently starting using this veg in the kitchen, and we are excited by the prospect of the taste from a homegrown version, with a zero carbon footprint! It's just too easy to go to the supermarket and buy one. You never really stop and think about which continent it might have come from, and bearing that in mind - just how fresh it actually is.
Our Tom plant (v.Tomazing) that was bought for me is the first tom plant in the garden to be colouring up. This plant was originally a tiny "plug" plant from T&M, purchased with 4 other veg plugs (including the Aubergine) for less than £4.00. It has put on very good growth outside on the patio, and there are plenty of little green toms. We expect them not to last too long though, they are right outside the patio door, at the right height for little fingers to reach out and grab them! Hey ho, Ruby seems very happy in the garden, so we will let her be. She often carries the watering can around (empty of course) and pretends to water everything in sight / reach ! Bless her. The other toms growing well on the plot are the Gardeners Delight variety, which are here, there, and everywhere we could find some space!
Our climbing French Beans (v. Blue Lake) have put on great growth during the recent hot spell. Already there is a bounty of pods all over the plants, but at a mere 2-3" long are still a way off harvesting. Traditionally, I've only grown longpod runner beans before, but again the french beans are a new addition in the kitchen and they taste gorgeous, so this year we are growing both. You may remember that I'm growing these on wigwams this year, as opposed to the traditional line of canes, and from what we can see so far, it looks like access for harvesting will be a lot easier.
Sadly, right next to the French Beans, are my wigwam of Runner Beans. I say sadly because the latter are covered in Blackfly. The good news is that the plants seem to be surviving, plenty of deep red flowers abound and the first 1" long beans are showing. I've tried spraying with soapy water to get rid of the pesky things, but so far am losing the battle. I'm just hoping that not too many transfer onto the french beans. I'm wondering if there's a variety of Runners that are more resistant to Blackfly, and will look into this. Good news: Spotted some ladybirds today!
Inspired by an article I read in BBC Gardeners World mag earlier in the year, i decided to use a hanging basket to grow something other than flowers. This little 12" basket is home to 2 Chilli (v. Cayenne) plants, and 3 or 4 Beetroot (v.Boltardy) plants. The Chilli plants are faring better at the moment ( early days yet! ) and have a few small hot ones growing nicely, about 1 - 2" long already. The fence is south east facing so gets a fair amount of direct sunlight. Beetroot doing well too, but with limited growing space they may turn out a bit small?
This is our latest bucket of spuds, 2 tubers planted just a couple of weeks ago, and already growing nicely. I planted another bucket with 1 tuber last weekend, and now have just 1 tuber left. That last one will go into a larger container and hopefully give us a slightly larger crop than we have been getting. I'm still in 2 minds as to what we do next year, but I'm erring on the side of using the raised beds again next year, but only growing first earlies, which would free the bed up for successional crops. I think these ones are Kestrel but I've long since lost the packaging!
Final pic for this morning, looking back over the raised beds. Space is now appearing ready for some further planting. The next bed to be cleared is in the foreground - the onions! Already have harvested the "Stuttgarter Giant" whites, and there's about25 "Red Karmen" and 20 ish "Bedfordshire Champion" still to harvest. There's also 2 rows of 6 leeks interspersed so will have to be careful not to disrupt them, as well as the Kohl Rabi. All in all, its been a pleasant growing year so far, but it does seem that everything is a bit later this year ? Maybe that's just me not being organized enough.
Hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it! Long may this glorious weather continue so we can enjoy more premium gardening / garden usage.
Take care all.