28 October 2012

This week in the Country Garden...

...I gardened in the rain yet again.  Although when it got really heavy I retreated inside with a glass of sparkling to watch the rain over the vines, until this rainbow that told me it was time to get back outside!
 I harvested 3.5kg of broad beans, on top of approximately 1kg already harvested and another 1kg still left on the plants until next week.  Now I just have to pod and freeze most of them...
I sacrificed some of the brassicas that have been a bit disappointing this season, to try to get a crop out of the rest, creating a bit more light and air around them, and providing space for the new season planting.  Many of the cabbages haven't yet formed hearts, or have been savaged by slugs.  The broccoli which thrived, outgrew the brussels sprouts, so they didn't get enough sunlight and space to grow.  I did harvest the first cauliflower though, with a couple more on the way.  I've planted zucchini, squash and cucumber seedlings under the remaining brassicas, just to get them in the ground.  Hopefully they can survive together for the next week or two.
The broad beans were hit badly by wind in the last couple of weeks, so after harvesting all the beans that were ready, I pulled out everything that was finished and tied the remainder together to stakes to get them through another week or two of growing time.  Not very pretty at this stage, but my love of broad beans outweighs the aesthetics!!  Even though I planted out the broad bean bed in phases, they all seem to have ripened at once.  I also tried three varieties, with seeds from the Diggers Club producing the most.  I must remember to just plant those ones next year.  The metal towers in the photo below are to grow Scarlet Runner Beans up to give height and colour in the garden this summer.  The flowers last year were superb, even though the beans were rubbish!
The tomatoes are all in.  I have now staked them all and planted basil, parsley and marigolds around them.  After we seriously over-planted the tomatoes last year, we've tried to be sensible this year, spreading the plants out and just putting the herbs around the edge of the beds.  The potatoes in the third new bed are thriving, with straw being added to build up the bed as much as possible.  As soon as the other brassica bed finishes we'll plant out that as well, hopefully giving us a much longer potato season than last year.
We try to keep up a good supply of lettuce for the restaurant all year.  We've managed to keep the oakleaf going all winter and the rocket is rejuvenating after the last lot finished.  Last year we did really well with cos lettuce, but have struggled this year, expect for this one beautiful specimen that no-one can bring themselves to pick because it looks so great!!
My planting plan (that I have rejigged a bit this week as we planted an extra bed of tomatoes not originally planned) says that it's time to plant the capsicums, but the weather this Spring has had other ideas.  The bed they are to go in still has last season's brassicas, and the seedlings are progressing slower than expected.  Hopefully with a bit of warm weather this week both will get their acts into gear and realise they are running behind my schedule!

6 comments:

  1. Ooo, definitely envious of your Broad Bean success. We call them Fava Beans here. I love them sooo much and they're sooo expensive. I must make sure they're on my list for next year.

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  2. well done with the broad beans! One thing that's really helped my seedlings get started this year is having a small greenhouse, just a little plastic thing, but its kept the temperatures more even, as we've had some crazy swings lately (for example yesterday was 30degC and today is 20degC!). Its so tricky to get the timing right with crops finishing and seedlings starting, I've just been trying to keep starting more seeds in case something happens to the seedlings I've planted out (eg chickens dig them up, grr).

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    1. Getting a greenhouse is a really good idea. We did put the seedlings under the covers of the large garden beds but even that hasn't really been enough. Even in the last month there have been a couple of frosty nights. They survived but haven't thrived, but seem to be coming good now with warmer days. I'll definitely look into that for next winter.

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  3. My cabbages struggled this year too, growing slowly and then bolting. Your broad beans harvest sounds great, I'm still awaiting my first ones - I reckon they're about a week away. Really looking forward to them.

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  4. We were drowning in broad beans last spring, I still have some in the freezer! Looks like you'll be enjoying yours for many months to come. I'm glad I'm not the only one that plants unplanned extra beds of tomatoes. Although, you've just planted yours, and I'm getting ready to rip ours out for the season!

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    1. Thanks for your tips on freezing not drying the beans. It took quite a bit of work, but I think the result will be better. Even though there seemed to be so many, and I picked another 1.5 kilos in the last couple of days, I'm sure we'll still get through them pretty quickly!

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