Vegetable Trials in a Small Garden: August Update

It has been quite a while since I have blogged anything at all so I'm going to grab a little time and write an update on how things are going with the vegetable & herb growing. My thanks to Bella for enquiring how things were growing and spurring me into blogging again! So where to begin?

Back to the runner beans I suppose. They have been very good and well worth growing with lots of beans, mostly healthy. I must say that the mangetout and sugar snaps have been less generous. The mangetout in particular, although they looked very promising, didn't really perform all that well. The leaves ended up drying out and yellowing, even though they were being watered well and were in an adequately large pot. I have pulled the plants up and replaced them with some of the french beans (a dark purple variety called 'Blauhilde') which Cat and I have grown from seed. Apart from a few issues with slugs and caterpillars, these seem to be doing OK; no flowers on them yet but at least they are growing reasonably well. We don't have any problem with the sugar snap peas and the plants have been healthy enough. They don't seem to be giving an awful lot of fruit though and I think this is a result of growing so few plants - we only have three or four in a planter on a wall. Given the space needed to grow enough to be worthwhile, I think we will probably leave them off the menu next year.

I am so chuffed with my tomatoes this year. It's the first year that I have grown any and these were generously donated by one of my gardening clients who grows a lot of fruit and vegetables, all from seed. I've not pinched out the side stems on any of the plants as I didn't want them to get very tall, preferring them to be bushy. We have about four trusses already beginning to set fruit with lots more flower trusses still coming out. I've been feeding them sporadically with liquid tomato food, to complement the fish blood & bone which was mixed in with the compost when they were planted out. I think the position is the most important contributing factor to them doing so well - they are planted in a large plastic trug which sits on a south-facing cast iron bench. They get a lot of afternoon sun and the bench must heat the trug's compost from underneath, helping them to grow very well. I hope I'll be able to find time to blog when the fruit actually ripen and let you know how they are going.

Most of the salad leaves have now been eaten and I've had to empty the pots out and re-sow with fresh seed. With the weather being much warmer now, eveything germinates so much quicker than it did earlier in Spring. I'm going to try to keep growing the salad leaves for as long as I can. Or as long as it's worth my effort anyway! I think that Cat and I have only bought maybe three bags of salad from the supermarket since April. Usually we would have bought about two or three bags of salad a week and ended up having to throw a third of that out as it went past its best. We actually used up the last of the rocket yesterday in a rocket & parmesan risotto, so I'll be sowing some more this weekend. (Apropos of recipes, you could do much worse than finding a copy of the Italian cooking bible, 'The Silver Spoon' - it has receipes for absolutely everything and great for that unusual bunch of vegetables bought from the farmers market which you have no idea what to do with!).

The last thing to mention is the fruit growing. We were given a couple of blueberry bushes from my father & step-mother last year, to go with the one that we already had. There has been so much fruit on them that we're both delighted; indeed, Cat is now thinking of taking on a quarter allotment (sharing a half-allotment with our neighbour) to grow blueberries. She remembers going blueberry picking in the States, filling galvanised buckets full of the fruit to take home and make blueberry pies. I'm really surprised that we don't seem to have had much fruit, if any, stolen by the birds this year. I wasn't expecting any of the fruit to stay on the bushes long enough for us to pick, but we've both been nicely surprised.

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Tags: andrew, containers, excellence, fereday, garden, gardening, growing, small, vegetable

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