Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Non stop harvests - yummy ! 10.09.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, our guide to growing your own veg in Raised Beds. It's been a while since the last update, and there's so much to tell you about. Our main news - regular readers will know - is that on 17th August we took over a 10 Rod Allotment, and joined the local Sheppey Horticultural Society. This has taken a large chunk of our time, but progress is slowly being made. Check out the link (see right) to our new blog, and follow our progress as we start from scratch. It's a really exciting time - lots of planning and lots of hard work to follow! 10 Rods - to you and me that's 300 sq/yd's. That's a lot of digging. Continuing with our home plot theme, we are going to use raised beds to raise our crops. The current good news is that all our crops at home are coming to fruition. This pic shows the towering growth of the 2 French Bean (v.Blue Lake ) wigwams. We are harvesting now on a daily basis, being creative with their culinary uses, as well as giving them away to friends and work colleagues. The crop has been great so far, and there's still bucket loads to come! These will be making an appearance on our new venture next year.
On a slight downer, the Runner Bean crop's this year have not been so successful. This may be due to late planting, after my first plantings were ruined by frost, but it may also be due to the absence of Bee's in the garden until about mid August. There's been plenty of flowers - both Red and White, and even now there's also plenty of tiny beans forming, and I hope we will still get some good beans to harvest. Next year I will grow these on the allotment, but will not use a wigwam for them again. Unlike the French Beans that are easy to spot / harvest on wigwams, it's been really hard so far to find the runners. Mind you, access is restricted on my garden plot, despite the raised beds layout and all the pathways I've put in this year. Someone said "you learn by doing" - they were right!

You have to look hard, but amongst the dense green foliage of these tomato plants (v. Money Maker & Gardeners Delight) there are some nice red toms getting ready for picking. Indeed, on an almost daily basis we get about half a dozen. All good news as I'm not a great fan of Green Tom Chutney ! The pot of picked toms therefore, is now filling up. Hopefully we'll get enough to make some Jamie Oliver esque ketchup, as well as all the other delights that secret squirrel is planning to make !

Amidst all the harvesting, there's still lots of new growth around! To the far left, there are 2 rows of Beetroot (v. Boltardy) which were planted out early August. These are a staple dietary addition for SS's Peanut Butter sandwiches, and these 2 little rows should provide enough for a good few sarnies. Between the rows of Leeks, there are 2 more small rows of Kohl Rabi. Still a bit of an experiment as they were planted so late, but they are growing on well. Hopefully they will mature before the really cold weather sets in. The Leeks themselves are doing ok too, although a good few did start to bolt. Those affected had their flower stems removed, and have seemingly recovered. The trailing leaves that were touching the ground have been cut away, to avoid slugs getting onto them. I plan to leave these in the ground till well into the winter months, though we couldn't resist harvesting one for last sundays lunch. It tasted good, but the core was very tough - maybe due to the bolting ?
Our hanging basket of Chili Peppers (v.Cayenne) are growing unbelievably well, and today we harvested our first Red one, savouring it's taste in a bowl of chili con carne at tea time. Not as hot as we thought it might be, so next time we'll leave the seeds in the pot too!
The sunflower on the right was Ruby's first gardening exploit - didn't she do well. The seed was planted in a plastic cup on one of her visits to playgroup, and grew into this fine specimen. Chip off the old block !

Here at Reads Retreat, we're collectively proud of these 2 little Aubergine's. Its gonna be a wee while before they are big enough to use, but having lost so many flowers from the plant, we were overjoyed when not only did these 2 flowers stay put, but they also turned into the fine specimens you see here. Having been reliably informed by the FIL that they would not grow in our climate, it was nice to prove him wrong!
Not sure we'll get many more, but with all the extra space we'll have next year, we will definitely try and grow some more of the delicious veg next year. Now, where did we put all those seed catalogues !!

My crowning glory for todays update is my small plot of Turnips (v.Golden Ball). These plants really are growing well, and now stand between 6" and 8" tall. Approx 30 seeds have survived the snail and slug attack and continue to put on some good growth. The edge of the bed was planted up with Chard (v.Zilver) and this too is growing well, although it has been somewhat shadowed by the Turnip's growth. I read in a book recently that you can harvest the turnip tops whilst leaving the root in the ground, where it will send up new shoots. Can anyoe give me any advice on this ? There's also 1 last bucket of spuds to be harvested - maybe this weekend ?

Thats about it for now. I'm trying to build up a blog record of the allotment, so please take a look when you get a chance. Hope you are all still enjoying the fruits of your labours. Enjoy your gardens while the weather lasts.
Take care all and see you again soon.


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