7 Jul 2015

The food growing garden in June

Now there's a beautiful sight - bug free broad bean tops!

You've got to love June for the lushness of the garden!  I'm finding lots to sigh with pleasure over, despite June having been a completely manic month for me: going to shows (GrowLondon and Hampton Court), normal working life, son home from uni, masses of emergency watering needed (not of the boy. Although … ) and, at the beginning of the month, I was away in Hampshire for a couple of weeks because my elderly Mum was hospitalised after a fall, now safely back home with my dad.

There hasn't been a lot of time for gardening so I can thank my perennial veg and early sowings for food on the table. I've recently let the asparagus grow into fronds as I turned towards artichokes for a meal time treat. (Yes, I'm now a dab hand at cooking artichokes which is not as fiddly as it seems.) Kales and mange tout have been abundant and the broad bean pods are filling out nicely. In fact, they've filled out so quickly with regular watering and sunshine that I may pop down to the garden in a moment to see if any are ready for picking. Like everyone else, I've found black aphids to be prolific this year. Not every plant was affected but as I felt the need for some deep watering last Friday after days of tropical heat, I linked up the four hosepipes needed to reach the garden, connected these to a far away tap and squirted and squished the aphids on my beans into extinction.  Then it rained all night. Sod's Law and all that. It was still worth the effort to have clean, bug-free beans. (Plus, the tops are delicious lightly steamed with butter, salt and a grind of pepper.)



With the warm/hot weather, it's been even more of a joy to while away the still-long evenings in the cool of the garden. There's a lot to catch up on but I've gradually been moving plants off my balcony and into the ground. Timing has been crucial for this; when I took the beans and achocha down to transplant, it was too windy.  When I took the tomatoes down, the soil was like dust. When I planted out flowers, there was just enough light rain to bring the slugs out.  The usual run of the mill stuff we gardeners face.

Unbelievably, I still have more tomatoes to go out (multiple plants of 10 varieties - that's what happens when old seed stock is used up) and a courgette which I hope won't be too pot bound to grow successfully. The autumn Cavolo Nero in pots is ready to go out, which is just as well as one of the current Cavolos is in flower.  I'm not wasting these flowers, they're delicious in a salad (if they make it that far - I usually munch on them as I garden.)

I also want to sow seeds for more beetroot, peas and chard as the last lot have finished. It feels as though the gardening year is running away but it's only just July so there's still plenty of opportunity for planting and sowing.  And, in a few weeks, I hope to be eating potatoes, broad and french beans, the first of my cherry tomatoes and, by mid-August, even sweet corn.  The preserving jars are being made ready … :o)  (I have a great recipe for pickled beans which I'll post when the french beans are ready.)




The strawberries have not been good. Oh, there's been plenty of fruit but it's all been small and disappointing. I don't think there's anything wrong with the varieties I'm growing, it's the lack of water. Until I can properly sort that out, I'm thinking of giving up on strawberries.  Raspberries, on the other hand, never fail to please!  My autumn raspberries have been fruiting for the past few weeks - they have a tendency to start in June and fruit until November.  It starts with just a little bowlful now and again to which I can now add blueberries and honeyberries … and cherries if I can find a way of making sour cherries more palatable.  I've been reading that sour cherries are best for cooking as the levels of sweetness can be adjusted.  Some research and practise is needed, obviously, after last year's major fail of a cherry crumble.



And, to end on a high note - I have seen pears!  Admittedly only two or three but, hey, that's a start.  And enough to earn the trees a reprieve. If only there was also some plums …    I'm going to a summer fruit pruning workshop at Wisley this coming weekend and you know I'll be reporting back with my findings!










20 comments:

  1. You sound so busy, hope your parents are ok & your mother recovered completely. My broad beans have been bug free but the fox gloves have been smothered with them! I love artichokes but mine are jarred at present, I have some baby plants growing on so fingers crossed I shall have my own harvests one year. Take care x

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    1. Hi Jo, my mum is so pleased to be back at home where she feels safe. Nasty business falling at her great age but she seems to be none the worse. Gosh yes, life is busy - usual summer stuff though! Aphids have been a real nuisance this year, thankfully at least my foxgloves and other flowers were spared and the beans were salvaged. Clear a BIG space for your baby artichoke plants - I grew mine from a seed and it just keeps getting bigger! I hope yours do well, they're tough plants once they get going. Caro xx

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  2. You've been very busy indeed but still so much bounty from your previous graft!

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    1. Yes, it's only little tastes, Mark, from a garden this size but much appreciated for all that!

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  3. It's all looking wonderful, despite how busy you've been. I do hope your mum is on the mend now. My broad beans were decimated by black fly, as usual, and I've had terrible aphid trouble on the tips of the apple trees at home as well. You've reminded me I should sow some more sugar snap peas. Lovely to see how productive it all is. My strawberries are all disastrous at the moment. I don't know why, but neither the plot ones nor the home ones are doing well. So frustrating. The raspberries have had better years as well. For some reason things are being a bit tricky here this year. I'm sure your courgette will do fine, you know what they're like, in a couple of months you'll have fourteen courgettes in the fridge and no idea what to do with them all. Enjoy the rest of the week. CJ xx

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    1. Oh aphids have been the bane of the garden this year, CJ! One of my apple trees was affected as well as the plum trees (again) - too many leaves to squish the aphids away and the fruit seems stunted as a result as well. The weather has a lot to do with it - too wet one year, too dry the next. I'm trying to cope with climate change, if that's what it is! I can only hope for plenty of courgettes but not to worry if I don't get them, I seem to be inundated with things to eat from the garden! C xx

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  4. Yes, this is the really productive time of year - harvests are starting to roll in. Not a good year for fruit though. I have the grand total of TWO pears on my tree! Due to the hot, dry windy weather lots of things are bolting - lettuce, endives, beetroot etc. Nightly watering doesn't seem to be enough.

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    1. Haha! I think I beat your two pears with my THREE! Not bad for a first fruiting after seven years although lucky I'm not relying on the produce! I've given up on leafy salads in the garden until the weather calms down a bit, everything bolted as you say, even though I was hand watering morning and night! Tomatoes are doing well though … :o) x

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  5. Nice tour of the garden. And yay pears!

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    1. Thanks, Bek - and yes, I think I'll have to share those pears out very carefully!

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  6. It looks, and sounds like you're doing pretty well at the moment. I sighed when I looked at the first picture as I pulled up and composted my blackfly infested broad beans this morning.
    Happy gardening. Flighty xx

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    1. Ohhh, Flighty, I hope you were able to harvest the pods before your beans were pulled up!! So frustrating to have everything swamped with blackfly. For me, it was well worth the effort of getting the hosepipes out for that task alone. Hopefully your other crops are less affected and your enthusiasm undimmed. Caro xx

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  7. Artichokes are so elegant, I'd grow them for their looks alone.

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    1. That's exactly why I wanted to grow them, Jessica - the harvest is a bonus but I've left several fruits to seed for wildlife.

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  8. Looks like your garden is coming along very well overall. I've always wondered about sour cherries. They are supposed to be more dependable than sweet cherries (of which I have one tree) but I wouldn't' know what to do with them as I'm not a fan of maraschinos. I'm looking forward to reading about what you learn at the pruning workshop - I'm one of those hesitant pruners, always afraid of making a mistake.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret, It does seem to get better every year - or maybe just fuller every year! Sweet cherries are more favoured by birds and get pecked off but I don't have that problem. I really want to put in a couple of sweet cherry trees which I would keep small and net in the summer. Such fun for children to pick the fruit fresh from the tree! I've made Morello jam with mine, just a few jars as I find home made jam too sweet for my tastes! Also some chutney which I think will be interesting - I have to store the jars for 8 weeks before it's ready.

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  9. I do love artichokes....growing in the garden and in the pot!
    Yes, it's a nightmare trying to get plants out at times isn't it? I have all sorts wasting away in pots too....
    So glad to hear you have pears, my strawberries have been small too......I love the look of those cherries, I am doing well on that front too!xxx

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    1. Sometimes the days just get filled up with stuff other than gardening - and everything always takes longer than you think doesn't it! What to do about strawberries though, Dina? I like having them in the garden but not when they're taking up valuable space and being non-productive! Decisions will have to be made! xx

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  10. Oh so sorry to hear about your mum's fall Caro. Worrying times. Small strawberries here but I'm putting it down to my neglect in watering. I still would not be without them. Hurrah for your pears!

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    1. Thanks, Anna. It wasn't too bad but, living far away, caused a bit of a panic in my dash to get to the hospital! That's life with elderly parents for you. Yes, I think I need to man up on the watering front, it often gets left in favour of other gardening tasks - I wonder if I could rig up an irrigation system for next year? Hmmmm, thinking caps on!

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Caro x

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