WONKY VEGETABLES

This year my vegetables are doing very well, looking somewhat strange but tasting even better than before. I was sure the ground I prepared for the carrots was well dug over and free of stones but they are very strange. Huge – yes but the shapes…..20191003_161950

Very tasty! The tromboncino is great and keeps well.

JUNE

After a fairly dismal start everything seems to be growing well – not quite everything, the carrots, parsnips and beetroot didn’t germinate well, I had to re-seed them and even that is struggling. Never mind, I live in hope.

The squashes are doing much better though. As usual I will grow my tromboncino and zucca da marmelata and I add some new ones to it – zucca Hubbard and a Maltese pumpkin.

The squashes had a lovely structure last year but as one zucca da marmelata was about 7 kilo it pulled the structure down – with the help of a fairly fierce wind. Back to the drawing board then and I have constructed a new structure this year, in fact three of them. Much sturdier and I very much hope they will last a few years.

I planted a couple of squashes beside each vertical and with a little bit of coaxing they will climb.

After this I harvested one part of the garlic plants, purely to get it out of the ground to clear a square piece of land to implement my plan.

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I have rescued two raised beds – they were abandoned on an empty plot so I thought I’d give them a chance to be useful. And useful they are for me – they are made in such a way that the corners are hinged so they can fold flat. Well, they’re not flat any more, I have put them on the plot, ready to plant with the autumn broad beans. That means that I can cover them with some netting as last autumn the pigeons ate all of my broad bean plants!!

THE LATEST HARVEST

As ever, my unusual plants didn’t let me down.

My long green wonder is Dutch croockneck – I knew it as Tromboncino. Never mind, it is very tasty roasted. The yellow ball is my favourite Zucca da marmelata. This is only a juvenile – 4lb. Last year the biggest one was 14lb. Again, very good roasted.

I did an experiment – somebody had some chitted potatoes left from the spring planting. A very good variety – Wilja. As I had a recently cleared piece of land after harvesting onions I decided to chance it and plant them to be ready for Christmass. I did this a couple of years ago and it worked. I’ll have to keep an eye on the weather and cover them if it gets too cold. Hopefully new potatoes for our Christmass dinner.

 

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

I like this time of year. Everything seems to be bursting out of the ground, shouting at me “pick me, me and me….”

I took on a neglected plot in the spring; I didn’t plan it but the people who were supposed to have started there gave up, I didn’t want our site look in a bad way – this plot is right next to the fence and nowadays everybody who walks by can see in.

I wasn’t quite sure what to grow. When in doubt, grow potatoes. They were a huge success as I had more space I planted them quite far apart and the result is that I have fantastic baking spuds. The rest of the ground was filled with courgette and squash plants.

The soil is great there and now the whole half of the plot is covered with huge courgette and squash plants – like an invading army, slowly marching across.

I planned to grow my favourite monster – Tromboncino courgette – but this one went a step too far.

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There are other shapes and sizes, my next favourite is the flying saucer – New Zealand squash. The packet of seeds I have a few years old, Mike and Nicky brought it from their holidays there. Obviously tough seeds, keep on growing!

Another of the squashes gave me a bit of a shock, it appeared all of a sudden…

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The best thing about all these monsters is that they taste great. I roast them in the oven, cut into chunks, sprinkled with olive oil and spices and just about 10 minutes before the end of cooking I add Halloumi cheese, cut into pieces, the result is very tasty indeed.

PREPARATION TIME

I think this year I have finally managed to do what I knew I should be doing – not to get carried away when deciding what and when to sow.

In the past years I was sometimes way too early and then plants got leggy or just died so I didn’t gain anything or I simply sowed too many seeds and was then swamped.

This year is different – I’ve got quite a few kohl-rabies and cabbages, purely because I wanted a lot of them. As I have my brassica nets on the allotment, I shall have enough space to house them all and, as I have read in the RHS information pages about mushroom compost, that is excellent for brassica growing because it means that the plants are less likely to be affected by club root.

In the brassica line I’ll have cabbages – white and red, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, kohl-rabi and cauliflowers.

All of these are neatly transplanted into bigger pots and there they can take their time to grow, ready to be transplanted into the cages.

The tomatoes are doing well too, again the same rules apply – less is more and I’m quite pleased. I managed to find some purple tomatilloes, delighted about it as so far I only managed to find the green ones. It will be very interesting. I have got a few chilli peppers and sowed some sweet peppers today, just to make sure I’ve got a bit of everything.

I’d like to grow the tomatoes and tomatilloes on the allotment, inside the net cages – these do offer some protection and the fruit is much more tasty having been grown outside.

Apart from the veg I’ve got some sunflowers coming up, I’d like to plant them out on the allotment to encourage the bees – we have got a hive there, hopefully the bees are still in.

READY…

It would have been a shame not to go and work on the allotment.

First of all I decided to dig out the rest of my parsnips. They survived very well in the ground and the soil wasn’t either too frozen today or too soft. The result – reasonably clean parsnips. I had so many of them I could only carry half of them home, in my nice new bag (a Christmas present –  I’m that obvious).

Tha nice weather and the state of the soil encouraged me to do more. I had a nice area covered in horse manure. That has been there most of the winter so I decided to fork it in. The soil was just lovely and I managed to do it without compacting the ground at all.

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If the weather keeps, as the forecast says, I could have it all done by Friday. There is only one small area to dig – it has green manure on it and I’d like to get it ready for the potatoes.

My raised beds are empty now, I had some swede there which I had to cover to protect from our ever present pigeons. The harvest was good but now I cannot have brassicas there. I have decided to put my courgettes there and make them climb. Two of the beds will be filled with the courgettes, one has some strawberries in and the last one, which has a net structure over it, will house my outdoor tomatoes and peppers.

First two beds were topped with a lot of leaf mold which I just forked in and in one of them I erected a climbing frame for the courgettes. Tromboncino will love it, they do very well, I know that from last year.

The last thing was to prune the Asian pear. I had a great harvest last year, fantastic fruit. One of my gardening magazines – Kitchen Garden-  suggested how to do it. I think I managed to follow the instructions, it all makes sense and I hope we’ll have some more fruit. However, if it’ll behave like other fruit trees, it might have a rest this year. Watch this space.