Thursday, 19 July 2012

Fruit harvest and planting out

The latest crop of fruit was great. We took lots of blackcurrants, some strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries. We also took a lot of broad beans. There are still gooseberries, blackcurrants and beans to come.

We have had a proper go at growing broccoli this year. We sowed the seeds and grew them on at home and now they are ready to go out. We fitted one batch in next to the cabbages, there are more to go out yet. I want to reuse the space the broad beans are in for some of the plants and we have some other spaces elsewhere.

I want to plant out the broccoli in blocks because they will certainly need to be covered, which is easier for blocks than a few plants scattered here and there. They will become pretty tall, all being well, so the frames I've used may not be big enough yet, but since we have not managed to grow broccoli before we will have to see what happens.

Saturday, 7 July 2012


Lovely young broad beans
One of my favourite crops of the year is starting to be ready, broad beans. They have been a bit battered by the heavy rain, so I've propped them up a bit more. They have plenty of pods and a I could feel the beans in some, so I took them. I'm trying to take them as the beans are small and sweet. That means you get less beans by weight, but they are so better to eat it is certainly worth it. There were still some black fly on some stems, so I cut them off, but they have not done much damage, unlike last year.

Everyone seems to be losing plants to slugs, mice and pigeons, much more than recent years. A few people have suffered with rabbits too. One thing that has not suffered with pests is our fruit.

Our raspberries, in spite of being badly damaged over the winter, are still providing some fruit, with lots of shoots for next year too. Our blackcurrant bushes are weighed down with fruit, all beautifully swollen by the rain. We took our first half kilo today and they look superb. The gooseberries too look very good, with lots of fruit which is beginning to ripen, but not quite ready to take yet. All of the fruit bushes have put on a lot of growth, so they will need carefully pruning later in the year. The disappointment are our strawberries. They needed more sun and warmth I think. We should get some, but not many and they are getting eaten by slugs too. Time to think again about how and where we grow them and whether to buy new stocks.

The next big job is a weeding session. The various covers make weeding awkward and the rain has helped all sorts of weeds shoot up. many hours weeding will be needed this week if the rain holds off for long enough.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


A quick trip to the plot on a cool, gray, cloudy day gave us some spinach. I sprayed some bindweed and nettles in the hedge with Glyphosate - it really is badly overrun. If there was a decent hedge it might help to keep the weeds down, whereas now I think the weeds are strangling what there is of the hedge.

Something that is doing very well are our brassicas. The cabbages that are covered are growing nicely. They don't seem to mind the cool, wet weather. The soil is well drained so I'm hoping their roots don't get waterlogged. At home, in a cold frame, we have our broccoli growing in pots. It looks strong so I hope it will make the transition to the plot safely. It will need a lot of protection if it is to make it to late next winter. It is a favourite caterpillars, slugs, and, in the winter, pigeons too. If we protect it until next February, we will be taking spears from it, at a time when not much else is available.

I checked the broad beans. The pods are swelling, but the beans are still too small. I do want to take them when they are small, soft and sweet, but they still need more time before the first will be ready. A few raspberries are reddening and a few blackcurrants are ripening as are a few gooseberries. The strawberries need more sun; there are lots of berries but they are not ripening and the whole area is wet and dank. i fear they may rot before they are ripe.

We gave up on the mange touts. We took off the covers and left the stumps in the open, tomorrow I expect there to be nothing remaining. There are a few flowers on the dwarf French beans and a couple of very small fruits on the courgettes. Leeks are recovering under their protective netting and onions look good.

We do need a good weeding session to see us through the summer. Usually when the weather warms up and the ground dries out the weeds slow down, but this year they keep growing strongly, but we don't have to water anything at he moment.