Sunday, 29 July 2012

Kale not Tomatoes!

A few weeks ago I pulled up some tomatoes.  No, they weren't blight infested... They were just really small.  I didn't think they'd do anything in the current position and crops that don't crop just simply are not pulling their weight.

Bless them, it's not their fault we're having a cool, wet summer.  Its just not the right conditions for them to do their thing.

I wasn't completely ruthless.  I didn't have the heart to chuck them in to the wormery for future plant food - I transplanted them into pots which I placed on the patio near the house.  Its a sheltered spot and a suntrap (when we get it) and are looking a lot happier in their new home.  At present I have hope I may have about 5 tomatoes from my plants!

And what did I do with the new found space in my plot?  The space left was 50cm x 100cm rectangle and I've planted kohl rabi, several varieties of kale, rapini (a bit like kai lan) and some welsh onions.  The welsh onions haven't arrived yet but all the brassica seeds have germinated in lightening speed (a few days - I was just excited by their speediness!)

They are all still babies at the moment but I'm sure these babies will grow into plants pretty soon.  Especially if we get the week we're forecasted - another rainy one coming after our last week's heatwave.  And as I write the drizzle is starting.  Enjoy you little beauties.

On the rest of the plot the rat tail radish and kai lan are both doing well already - both brassicas of course so that will by why.  The kai lan hasn't really made it to the stove as it is so sweet and lush, it's been grazed on on the plot!

This is the first year I'm growing on a veg patch in about 5 years (it's a different mindset in a container garden) so I've started to think about what will be finishing when and what other winter crops I can sow in the new spaces.  Veg that is coming to mind is cavalo nero (this was a good friend through winter last year), garlic (any good varieties that grow the flowers you can recommend?), broadbeans, tree onions, maybe some mustards and winter salad... 
I've already been growing leeks through the summer.  I have a good feeling about the patch in winter and spring, possibly because I only started this patch in May (after deturfing in April) and I have a feeling the patch will be looking much more established by early autumn.  Hopefully the soil will start to improve also.  It's a loam soil but I think the grass that was growing on it when I arrived had depleted resources from the soil somewhat.  The beetroot, chard and carrots are small and not doing well and the radish were quick to bolt.  I've been regularly feeding with worm tea from the wormery as a feed but its not giving as much ooomph as it usually does and so my concern began.

Any soil tips?  Maybe some green manure over patches in the winter - but which ones?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Radish Pods - HSL Rat Tail Radish

This year I've been experimenting with radish pods.

About 2 years ago, I had some radishes that went to seed, gave a stunning show of flowers and then grew seed pods which I couldn't resist trying.

They had a wonderful flavour - fresh like a garden pea but with that hint of peppery radish flavour.  It was a wonderful flavour - it soon became a regular in our salads.  The radish variety was just your common garden breakfast radish.

Now when radishes go to seed I don't worry - there's a wonderful treat to follow - both for the eyes (the beautiful radish flowers) and followed by those delicious pods.
Browsing through my Garden Organic Heritage Seed Library catalogue I've selected the rat tail radish on several occasions (a radish cultivated especially for their seed pods not their roots).  But they are too damn popular - I always get my second choice radishes instead.

Last summer I was volunteering at the Capital Growth Regent Park Allotment Garden and saw a magnificent specimen growing in their Heritage bed.  I asked about it and mentioned I'd never been able to get some seeds.  Amy kindly offered for me to help myself to the dried pods to save some seed.  And this is the first year I have had the opportunity to grow them.

Things taste sweeter when you've had to wait - and they taste wonderful with that peppery flavour, crisp freshness and a satisfying crunch.  Even my chilli addict boyfriend loves them.

They've grown brilliantly in our disappointing summer but they are a brassica after all which love the wet.

If you like radish I think you'll LOVE Rat Tail Radish!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Successes and poor performers in a challenging summer

Despite the long awaited sunshine we have even enjoying this week, we have had a rather challenging year garden wise so far this year with many commenting "what summer?"!

Which got me thinking - what is doing well in this cool, wet summer?

We are a good few weeks past the mid year mark so I thought now would be a good time to reflect.

So my stars of the patch so far are definitely all the beans (broad beans, peas, French beans) these were slow to start and were impacted by the lower than usual temperatures but perhaps not so much by the lack of sun and they would have certainly enjoyed all the rain once the temperature was warm enough.

Parsnips also are doing well, as are the Egyptian walking onions and the globe artichokes have been steady. Kai Lan is quite happy in these conditions, as are salad crops and the HSL rat tail radishes have done really well whilst adding a lovely floral display if you like that kind of thing!

Of the low performers it has to be the tenders - I am still waiting for the big luscious leaves of the squash plants and the flowers haven't made an appearance yet - that's the ones that escaped slug and snail fest! And I've been feeding those squash lots of worm tea feed but I think the rain washed most of it away! Beets,chard and carrots have been incredibly slow growing and I don't think I'm going to get a tomato glut this year!!

It will be interesting to see what the top performers will be in August after they've all settled after our current heat wave.

How are your veggies faring?

Monday, 9 July 2012

We have crops! Broadbeans to the rescue!!

Finally a moment of elation this growing season!!!

We have broadbeans big enough to cook with!

Its the first year I've grown these and last weekend all of a sudden I noticed there were pods big enough to eat.  I meant to check them with my taste buds there and then but gardening jobs distracted me.  But tonight was the night I finally checked them and as soon as I started to open the furry jacket to try one I got nostalgic smells from childhood.  No doubt my father grew them for us when I was a child on the small holding.

Here's a pic of the first beauties I've brought into the kitchen - there were more I could have harvested but would like to savour the others fresh in another meal.

I grew them in a sack container in 50/50 vermicompost/spent compost mixture and the seeds were planted last October.

After many knock backs and trials and tribulations this season my passion for gardening is rushing back in leaps and bounds - even in a year as tough as this it really is worth all the graft.  There's nothing better than eating something you've grown from seed, fed with your homemade compost and your homemade fertilizer and finally savoured in your kitchen.