Welcome back to the dangerous, subversive blog that brings corporations to their knees. Alternatively, welcome back to the blog that potters around the garden a bit, picks some organic veggies, then wanders back indoors for a lovely cup of tea before getting the dinner on.
Yes, it’s a garden round-up. Woo! Due to a six-month hiatus I’ve missed being able to log a whole growing season, which is seriously rubbish, but I do have a few pictures from the middle of August so garden fans can have a quick nosey at what was happening in high summer. Of course, high summer is a term you can only use loosely, but we’ll come to that later.
First up, most of my outdoor herbs:
We have par-cel (a leaf celery I’ll grow again next year), chervil, oregano, Moroccan mint (for tea, bought as a seedling), chives, a revived rosemary, marjoram, sage, thyme and coriander. I grew lots of fancy varieties last year, but this time around I stuck to the things we eat the most of, resulting in quicker garden prep and less waste. Didn’t bother with sorrel this year as the local snails attack it like crazy.
One strange success story was this butternut squash. They were beyond pathetic last year, but for some reason I decided to chuck the last spare seed into some leftover compost, thinking nothing would happen and I’d have a pot free for salad leaves. It grew like crazy and if you look at the top left of the pic there’s a healthy butternut hanging from the vine.
This shot of the decking shows cucumber, gartenperle and tigerella tomatoes, Greenbush courgette, Jay-BeanZ (the pot of runner beans with rocket around its feet), a red kuri climbing winter squash (aka Japanese onion squash or uchiki kuri), yellow pear tomatoes, and sweet peppers. Disco Biscuit the cat has taken a few moments out of her hectic schedule to have a quick disco nap in the sun too.
The windbreak behind the beans is made up of old opened-out hessian shopping bags, and the metal band around the top of the bean poles is from a broken old barrel (I saw this done on a posh frame the previous summer and thought it looked great so I made a lo-fi freebie version out of salvage).
The beans did very well in July then stopped producing, unlike their namesake, so I added a top dressing of compost and watered with half-strength tomato food (they make their own nitrogen so ordinary plant food isn’t needed) and they staged a successful cane-topping comeback. Music to my plate. The courgette has fed us well too, living on a mixture of last year’s chopped up tomato and potato leaves and stems, some growmore pellets and a bit of compost.
I’ve tried to make the garden as low maintenance as possible, so there’s lettuce around bigger plant stems and black plastic sheeting to keep in moisture, plus old two-litre plastic milk cartons with pinholes in the bottom half-sunk into most of the plant pots to make watering easier, less frequent and less wasteful (reduces evaporation and is less likely to cause loss of plants to ‘damping off’).
Here’s Beanyonce, Jay-BeanZ’s girlfriend. If you look closely you’ll see she has a halo. She has lettuce around her feet too, and salad burnet. This pot contains fine french beans (Blue Lake variety, to J-B’s Scarlet Emperor runners), and a few borlotto beans. She also went a bit useless in late July but was revived with the same tonic of compost and tomato food. Last year’s beans were almost done in by blackfly but this year there were almost none, probably due to a lack of ants ‘farming’ the little blighters. There have been minor attacks by tiny snails, but these are easily removed and relocated.
First time I’ve grown vine tomatoes in this garden. This Marmande beefsteak plant (donated by lovely Natasha De Vil) has gone beserk. I’ve ‘stopped’ it by nipping out the top of the main stem but haven’t been all that ruthless with every side shoot. A couple ripened in July (nyom) but the rest are sitting there looking glossy and stubbornly green so I’ve resorted to picking the biggest ones and bringing them indoors to sit on a sunny windowsill. Lots of other people seem to be having similar problems this year.
A Gardener’s Delight tomato grew very strongly and made lots of fruit, but again is refusing to ripen. Might start a petition to have it renamed Gardener’s Peeve.
The Marketmore outdoor cucumbers are making about one a fortnight, and they just need a good scrub to remove the spines rather than a traditional peeling. I’ll grow at least four of these next year, they’re so tasty.
This Minibell is a dwarf cherry tomato, supposed to grow 8 to 10 inches high. It’s two feet high and rising and has at least 100 toms on it at the moment, so it’s a very happy plant. Many thanks to Matt H who swapped it for pepper plants.
These are Yellow Pear heirloom tomatoes. They’ve been the only consistent ripeners this year, and look and taste beautiful. Will grow them again next year.
This weirdie is a yellow crookneck summer squash plant. Turns out they’re easy to grow in pots, and give you funny-shaped nutty-flavoured fruits. I’ll grow them again too since they’re so tasty.
I grew some sweet peppers outdoors and in the mini-greenhouse, and was surprised that the most flowers and fruit came from the outdoor plants. Normally it’s supposed to be the other way around as they prefer to be warm and sheltered. You don’t get many but they have great flavour. Growing a couple of different types of aubergine in the greenhouse too, but they are annoyingly finnicky and not a sign of any fruit yet. Probably won’t grow them again next year.
To make the most of the small space there’s cut-and-come-again salad in hanging baskets along with edible flowers (nasturtiums shown here).
Other plants not shown: spring onions, Shimonita onions, basil in with all tomatoes to prevent whitefly, Autumn cabbages, mangetout peas, Early Onward peas, mixed radishes, Paris Market stubby carrots, baby White Spear parsnips, vegetable fennel, wild flowers, lamb’s lettuce, and purple and white sprouting broccoli. I’ll write about the windowsill garden another time if there are any takers.
So, gardeners, over to you. What have you been growing this year?