Things are hotting up in the veg plot, and with the weather too. A bit of sunshine has seen things take off and it’s now a job to keep up. I am still mainly in the first half of the growing season, although I do have a few things growing away in pots ready to plant out for the latter part of the summer and into autumn. My veg plot is quite small, just three 8’x4′ raised beds, so my aim this year has been to jam it full of veg and see what grows well and what doesn’t.

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This is the plot plan for the first half of the growing season. Blue is planted out, growing, with wildly varying degrees of success, purple is harvesting underway, other colours are not yet in the ground.

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So, where to begin.
Sown, not yet planted out.

Leeks – still small, still in their pots in the greenhouse. They are growing, just tediously slowly. Whilst they aren’t yet pencil thick, I think I might plant them out anyway. Impatient with them now.

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Salad – I’ve left these for too long in their modules, I must plant them out this weekend to give them a chance to grow on a bit before the existing plants are exhausted.

Shallots – from seed, looking a bit unhappy. I think I will grow from sets next year.

Kale – a 2nd half crop, these will go in once one of the current crop is done. I have way more seedlings than I can use as these plants get quite big. I only need 2 or 3.

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Tromboncino – a courgette masquerading as a winter squash. I’m looking forward to these, they grow to 1m long if allowed and can be stored over the winter like a squash, or you can eat like a courgette when small. I need to wait till I harvest some garlic from the beds before I can plant these out. Won’t be long now, they are almost ready.

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On the plot

Broad beans – the first sowings are now producing beans for harvest. I’m always a little disappointed by yield per unit plant with broad beans. But they are so easy to grow and one of the first things you can plant out, salving those winter growing blues. The second sowings are podding up too, but not yet ready to harvest. I am a little impatient, I’d like to dig them up and plant out the next crop, choi sum and some carrots. Sigh, carrots. More on that later.

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Beetroot – the first sowings are a bit rubbish, I think I planted them out too small and they have failed to establish. The second sowings went out bigger, and later too which probably made a difference. Some are a little pecked looking, my fault for not netting them. No harvest yet.

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Salad – mixed results. The red leaves have been fabulous, supporting frequent pickings of outer leaves, they are still going strong. Others have bolted, particularly the rockety-types, too sunny and dry for them perhaps.

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French beans – beginning to flower now, these beans are a dwarf variety, ‘velour’, and the plants are certainly small, maybe 1′ tall. I planted these out in a spot where some snap peas were supposed to go, they didn’t grow very well.

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Sweet peas – these have been a joy, and have a few weeks left to run I think. My first year growing these in an organised fashion, they were sown in October last year and planted out in March. I have daily flowers from the two wigwams I have. I will do the same again next year I think, but will be more discerning in my choice of seed – this years were just whatever was left in the end of season sale at the garden centre.

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Uchiki kuri – a small squash, this is grown as a climber, I have planted a bunch out around the base of the sweet peas, the idea being that they will grow up the canes as the sweet peas are going over. I will plant runner beans on the other sweet pea wigwam, I haven’t got round to planting them yet.

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Beans, runners and borlotti. Both sets of beans have achieved the summit of their available support, so I will nip out the tips.

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Onions ‘electric’. Grown from sets started in modules last year. They are telling me they are ready as the foliage has collapsed. They don’t look very big, but then I was planning for medium size given the spacing I planted them at. I shall pull them up and dry out this weekend.

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Carrots. Or chuffing carrots as they shall henceforth be known. The first 4 (yes 4!) sowings of chuffing carrots produced 3 lonely plants, dashing my hopes of early carrots. I think the first two sowings succumbed to the very cold spring weather, but the latter two? Not a scooby doo. Slugs, lack of water, fickle root vegetable gods? Not to be outdone by the chuffing carrots, I have sown some more, but this time in paper tubes in the greenhouse. Happily, I can report they are germinating well. My plan is to plant them out in their tubes when there is a good set of foliage. I should do another batch I think as I have quite a bit of chuffing carrots planned for the second half of the season. Chuffing carrots…

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Parsnips. Poor germination for the first couple of sowings, I had another bash with somewhat (but only just) better results. I have a few plants, possibly enough for Christmas day. Pfft.

Swede – another pesky root vegetable. I sowed these direct in mid-May, there are a few plants now, beginning to establish a foothold. I think this might be the last hurrah for swede on my veg plot – they occupy space for very limited value yield wise. I could be growing something else with a higher yield that I enjoy eating more.

Garlic – I am very happy with my first attempt to grow garlic. I have some growing in sacks which I have begun to harvest, and a couple of squares on the plot, which should also be ready quite soon. I’ll have a crack at storing the soft-neck types and will have to use the hard-necks. I think I have that the right way around. I’ll definitely be growing this again next year – so easy – plonk in the ground in November, leave alone till June.

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Rhubarb – my lone crown has established well this year, we have had a good few pickings, with one or two more feasible I think. I would grow more if I had more space.

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Peas ‘blauwschokker’. The first sowing are cropping now, with the second sowing not far behind. So far I have harvested as rather decorative purple mange-tout rather than letting them pod up for peas. I think I’ll do that for the duration as I want that space for later crops.

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Onions, from seed. A fail for this year. Not sure why. I think I have one bunch which might come to something, but generally they have been a waste of space, literally.

Squash ‘Honey Boat’ Still small plants, but now out on the plot, ready to climb up the bit of old trellis I have installed for the purpose.

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Courgette ‘Ambassador’. I have planted just two out, a glut of courgettes being something I’d like to avoid this year! They are growing on quickly, I’ll need to check they don’t swamp the squash which is just next door.

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Potatoes – earlies. The first earlies I planted in buckets at the end of March are now beginning to crop. I turned out two buckets of ‘Lady Chrystl’ last weekend, very nice they were too. I have two kinds of second earlies, ‘Nicola’ and ‘Charlotte’, but they won’t be ready for a few weeks yet. I had 34 buckets in total, so I am looking forward to several months of new potatoes.

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Potatoes – mains. The ‘Sarpo mira’ are growing on strong in the big sacks. They won’t be ready until the autumn, but they seem to be doing well. I planted a few beans in the tops of some of the sacks, with the idea that they would crop well before the potatoes were ready. They are doing OK, but are getting a little swamped by the potato haulms. I will have to hunt around in the forest of stems for beans when they are ready.

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I also have tomatoes and chillies on the go, which I am covering separately. The tomatoes are going pretty well, considering, but the chillies are far behind where I hoped they’d be at this time.

That’s the tour round the plot, a somewhat mixed bag, but generally I’m pretty happy with how it is going this year, my first properly organised growing season.

How are things on your veg plot?

I’ll be back next month with another update from my back garden plot.

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