Monthly Archives: June 2014

Plot update – Halfway point

With the dry weather we’ve had over the last few weeks I’ve been very busy on the plot keeping everything watered, hence the lack of blog posts, and with the warmer conditions the veg has really come on and I’m harvesting everyday now.

Firstly you’ll remember I put three new beds in the front garden, two of which have been filled up with soil and crops were planted a few weeks ago.

Beans

The runner beans and french beans (both climbing and dwarf) are doing well with lots of flowers on them. I keep the runner beans well watered and support the dwarf french beans so when the beans develop they are off the soil.

Brussels

In the adjacent bed the brussel sprouts are looking strong – I’ve earthed them up for stability – and there’s a couple of rows of swede squeezed in before the broad beans with a few squash dotted around that will start to scramble over the paths. Everything is looking great, dark green and lush which bodes well for harvest time.

Cauliflower

I’m particularly pleased with this cauliflower (Cornell) as I’ve found them hard to get right in the past. This is one of Darren’s spares and has turned out really well.

Brocolli

Alongside the cauliflowers the broccoli just keeps on coming. For productivity in such a small space over a relatively short growing season it’s one of the best veg in my opinion. The whole family love it and eaten fresh from the plot is incomparable to the stale supermarket version.

Cukes

I constructed a makeshift greenhouse for my cucumbers and they love the hothouse conditions all sealed up with a good daily watering and weekly feed. They’re over 6 foot high now and we should have the first cucumbers in 10 days which will see us through to the end of October.

fruit

The fruit has been the star of the show so far this year with the raspberries providing a phenomenal harvest, we can’t keep up with them! There’s also strawberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries as well.

Raspberry muffins

We all have produce gluts from time to time and rather than eating the fruit and veg straight off the plot it can be made into something gorgeous like these raspberry and white chocolate muffins that Rachel made. And if, like us, you have a 10 year old bottle of Limoncello lurking at the back of the cupboard from that long forgotten Italian holiday why not try raspberry and limoncello semifredo which is in the freezer at the moment, can’t wait to try that!

Peppers

The chillies and peppers look great as well and have lots of flowers coming into fruit. I have high hopes for these and it’s certainly the most plants I’ve grown in one season so fingers crossed we will have a good harvest come September/October.

Toms

And last one of my favourites the tomatoes – Sungold – are around 6 foot high now and we’re starting to pick the first of those wonderful golden cherry fruits which will come thick and fast now over the next few months.

I’m sure you’re all harvesting loads of great produce at the moment. The Two Chances harvest list at the end of June is lettuce, rocket, radish, shallots, broccoli, cauliflower, courgette, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants. Next I need to dig up some potatoes to see how they have got on. It’s a great time of year to see everything growing so fast and so much lovely fresh food to eat!

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First broccoli of the season

Calabrese (Broccoli) is one of my favourite veg to grow as it’s relatively fast to mature and the whole family loves eating it.

I cut the first heads at the weekend which is around 11 weeks after sowing. The seeds (variety Aquiles F1) were raised in the cold greenhouse, pricked out into small pots and then planted in the final positions 9″ apart. I’ve found that this spacing gives me the size of head I prefer whilst allowing me to get as many plants as possible into a small space. I’m growing 8 plants in all which will keep us supplied with plenty of broccoli for the next 6 weeks. You can see here what they looked like a month ago.

At this time of year I find the plants aren’t affected by pests and there’s enough rain usually to mean additional watering isn’t necessary.

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Once the central stem is cut this will encourage side shoots to develop and you can keep on cutting from the same plant a number of times. There’s still spring cabbages being harvested and once these have finished the cauliflowers will be ready – I’m growing a Romenesco type and also a standard white-headed variety (Cornell).

Finally we have a number of different birds in the garden attracted to the feeders that I put out and our favourite is this Great Spotted Woodpecker which has become a regular visitor. A lovely sight in the garden.

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Pest Control

There are a couple of main methods I deploy to keep pests at bay on the plot.

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The first is Environmesh which I use to cover brassicas such as cabbage, cauliflowers and brussel sprouts. It can be made into tunnels as I have done here or can just be draped over canes and weighted down at the sides. Whilst it’s not that much of a necessity at this time of year it is essential from July to September to ward off cabbage white butterflies from laying there eggs unless you are picking them off by hand daily or spraying with insecticide which I don’t like to do. I’m still vigilant in case one has got in somehow and will pick off any caterpillars as soon as they emerge and deposit them on the bird table.

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I’m using a couple of sprays this year which are organic / biodegradable. The first is Garlic Wonder, an organic garlic concentrate marketed as the natural solution for healthy vigorous plants. The other is SB Plant Invigorator, marketed as an environmentally friendly growth stimulant and pesticide. I use Garlic Wonder every 2 weeks as a foliar spray on my carrots to ward off carrot fly as they are not covered. Time will tell if this has been effective. SB Invigorator is used in the greenhouse, again as a foliar spray every couple of weeks, particularly if I see any aphids or whitefly in there. It will also control spider mite and mealybug according to the label.

What forms of pest control do you use?

But the main pest I can’t seem to control is a neighbourhood cat which must visit early in the morning and attempt to dig up one of the beds – at the moment it’s the leek bed that I’ve just planted out. I’ve sprayed a cat repellent around but this hasn’t worked. Any ideas?

Don’t forget Open Farm Sunday tomorrow. You’ll find local farms are opening their doors and there’ll be plenty of events on up and down the country. I’ll be at our local community farm – River Bourne Community Farm – in Salisbury between 10am and 4pm. Looks like the weather is set fair for the day so why not pay a visit?

And finally a few photos of flowers in bloom in the garden at the moment. Have a good weekend everyone!