I don’t have many years of veg growing experience to compare it to, but this year seems to have been particularly challenging. An extremely cold spring slowed down or kyboshed the start of the season for most things, and for the last two months we have had relentless heat to contend with, and very little rain to boot.  Let’s take a quick spin round the plot. I’ll divide it into the two halves of the growing season as we are well into the 2nd part now.

First half of the season.

This is the plot plan for my three 8’x4′ raised beds.

veg 1 jul18

In order of fabness:

  • black is fully harvested and cleared
  • purple is still being harvested
  • blue is growing away but no harvest yet
  • red is abject failure

Carrots – oh dear God, carrots. I hate carrots. Well, I like carrots to eat, but I hate growing them. Every year I say I won’t bother, then every year I tell myself not to be such a wimp.  This year I was thwarted mainly by the extremely cold start to the spring which put the mockers on my early sowings. I eventually gave up sowing direct and put some seeds in paper tubes.  More on that later…

Parsnips – little better than their pointy orange co-conspirators, but at least some germinated in the ground, and I have a few decent plants. I’ve since added to that with some grown in paper tubes in the greenhouse. I’ve planted them out, just dropping the tubes into a hole made with a big dibber.  Not many, but enough that if I end up with good roots, I think that will be my method of choice in the future.

Peas – meh. I got some, a couple of meal’s worth. The conditions weren’t great and the plants began to wilt in the heat. I don’t rate the Blauwschokker variety that highly. They looked pretty but I found them a little tough and not very sweet, even when eaten as mange tout. Not one I’ll grow again.

Garlic – a winner!  Lots of bulbs, some a bit small, maybe I lifted them a few weeks to soon, maybe they were planted too close.  I have a big untidy bundle of them tied up in the shed. They should last a good while. If they are still in good condition in late Autumn I’ll plant out some of the cloves for next year’s crop.

Onions – rubbish.  I was so looking forward to the onions this year. Even those grown from sets were a disappointment, just a few onions of any useful size resulting. I will try to grow from both sets and seed again next year

Shallots  – that’s ya lot. See what I did there?  I sowed some seeds in modules – a little late – then lost track of watering them in the heat, they died. Fail. Sigh.

Courgettes – always a winner, good old courgettes. The plants are giant, just two of them. The first batch of ratatoiulle has been made, plenty more to follow. I’ve been trying to pick the fruit at a smallish size, but found one yesterday that was well on its way to being a marrow.  Only got to turn your back on them for 5 minutes…

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Runner beans – these have started cropping, and I’m happy with the variety, Snowstorm. I think I’m right in remembering that it’s a cross between a runner and a french bean.  I can report that the beans are not stringy, tender and very tasty.  I should have beans through to about September.

Borlotti beans.  Second year running from the same batch of seeds, even worse this year than last. To add insult to injury, the blackfly are voracious and omnipresent. I have 4 or 5 pods, not worth the effort.  I shan’t bother next year.

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Swede – the last time I’ll try to grow these. What a waste of space. Weedy looking plants, pecked or nibbled to within an inch of their lives. A big fat no for next year.

Sweet peas – I’ve enjoyed growing them this year, I shall go again next year. It has worked well to grow squash and more beans up the same canes. As the sweet peas finished I was able to remove them and tie in the climbing veg which are now romping away.  I’m looking forward to choosing seeds for next year. Only a few months till they need sowing!

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Leeks – I had a plan to grow baby leeks then a separate sowing for maincrop.  Nah.   The cold put paid to that plan.

Second half of the season

veg 2 july 18

Things are just getting underway here. Blue is either growing on or just recently sown. Other colours are yet to be sown or planted because the space is still occupied by first half veg.

Carrots – I have planted out the 30 or 40 plants that I sowed in paper tubes. I just have 5 square feet of plants like this. We’ll see how they get on. Glutton for punishment that I am, I have sown several more squares direct. I was given a tip to really tread them in firm to be sure the seed is in good contact with the soil.  I hope that they’ll be up by the time I get back from holidays.  I also hope the slugs don’t get em.

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Squash – tromboncino. Wow, what a plant!  I’ve put four in, all four have romped away up my wholly inadequate support, my last 4 8′ canes. They are almost at the top of the canes and fruiting away. Mainly for entertainment value I am letting the first one grow large, they get up to 1m long. I’m afraid the prurient teenager in me can’t help but find the shape amusing.  They will store over the winter and are good eating, all the seeds being in the bulb at the end. I’ll be able to use that next year.  I’ll mostly harvest at courgette size, they can be used in a similar way.  Great! More courgettes!

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Squash – honeyboat and uchiki kuri. All growing well up their supports, lots of flowers, but no fruit yet.  I remain optimistic.

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Beans – I’ve planted out or sown plenty more bean plants. It seems I can grow beans on my plot like a boss, so I’ve doubled down.  I have dwarf and climbing bean varieties.

Salad – oriental leaves. I have sown a lot of oriental greens to provide a good supply of salad leaves well into the autumn, and in some cases through into the winter.  Not grown any of them before so not sure what to expect. I will just hope that Mr Slug stays away.

Kale – sown but not yet doing owt. These are cavolo nero ‘Black Tuscany’. They are good looking plants, getting pretty big. If they grow right, I should have good leaves through the winter.

Spuds – Almost forgot about the spuds. I have been able to have one or two meals worth of new potatoes for well over a month now, with about 10 pots left. The yields haven’t been outstanding, but pretty low-effort so I’m happy enough.  The maincrops, Sarpo Mira, are growing well, a couple of months before they are ready.

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I’m a bit worried about not being able to water the plot while I’m away for the next couple of weeks, but hope that I’ll get some rain. That’s the whistle-stop tour round the plot for this month. How are you getting on with your veggie growing?  I’ll be happy to hear from you in the comments below.

I’ll be back in August for another veg plot update.

 

 

 

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