Monthly Archives: June 2015

Calabresy

I’ve mentioned a few times that calabrese is my favourite early summer crop.

calabrese 2015

There’s 14 plants in a 6 foot by 4 foot area – I plant 9 inches apart and this will produce main heads that are 1/2 kilo in weight when cut. So they can be packed in and still yield a really good crop. And as it’s early summer they’re relatively pest free so just a quick rinse under the tap and they’re ready for the steamer or stir fry. Even when planted at the same time there is a natural spread in the timing the plants are ready although you have to like your broccoli as once they are ready the cropping is thick and fast! Fortunately we love it as we will be eating every day now for a few weeks!

The plant on the right of the picture has been cut with the one on the left developing. It’s just a case of keeping a close eye on them and judging when they have reached their full size. They must be cut before they start to flower so it’s best to cut a little early if you’re unsure as there’ll be plenty of size shoots to follow. Keep cutting until the new shoots become too small to be any use. They need plenty of water in this dry weather we’ve been having but will reward with a huge harvest. The main heads I’ve been cutting have been much bigger than anything in the supermarket and can be cut every 1-2 days over a 3 week period with side shoots to follow.

I normally record one or two gardening programmes during the week and flick through to the bits of interest. Yesterday’s Beechgrove Garden did illustrate the huge difference between growing in Southern England and Scotland. Whilst I’ve been harvesting the calabrese for a couple of weeks now theirs had just been set out and looked similar to my post at Easter.  Even though I do complain about the cold nights that have affected the last few weeks the relatively mild southern weather means we’re fortunate to be harvesting a number of veg already.

Another highlight of the last couple of weeks have been the gooseberries.  From one – very neglected – bush I harvested 4 lbs of fruit last week leaving the rest to swell and I should get a similar harvest from the rest over the next week.  The blackcurrants are almost ready too, time to dig the jam pan out of the back of the cupboard!

Half way point

June is the half way point of my growing season between sowing the long parsnips & carrots back in February to harvesting the last of the chillies & peppers from the greenhouse in October.

Unlike last year it’s not been a great spring, relatively cool until recently and with high pressure currently there’s still chilly nights to contend with. This has meant the veg for the New Forest Show at the end of July is behind, particularly the long roots – disappointing as I had great carrots this time last year but was on holiday at the time of the show. Ah well you can’t predict the weather, and that’s one of the pleasures of growing your own you never know from one year to the next which keeps it interesting. Still there’s plenty on the plot that is growing well and loads of jobs to keep up with.

celery

I’m currently putting collars round my celery (Morning Star). This is thin corrugated cardboard 15 inches high which will make the celery draw up and also blanch the sticks. Not that popular these days but I do eat quite a bit during the summer and any left over will be chopped up and frozen to use in the base for stocks and stews over the winter.

broad beans

The broad beans (Longfellow) are doing well, I now need to wipe off the blackfly and pinch out the tops to encourage the pods to form. Next to them you can just see the dwarf french beans (Hawkesbury Wonder) which hit a set back after planting out affected by the cold nights they dropped some leaves but are starting to come back now. One of our favourite veg and great for freezing also. As it grows I’ll support with split canes and string to keep the pods off the ground.

potatoes

The potatoes are finally starting to get going. Next job here is to put up some canes and heavy duty string to keep the haulms upright. Lots of water and feed over the next few weeks.

calabrese

Another favourite of ours is calabrese and the plants are full size now with the heads between golf and cricket ball size. When they’re the right size the main head is cut encouraging side shoots to form. Then it’s just a matter of keeping up with the cutting not allowing any of the heads to flower as this gives them a bitter taste.

carrots etc

I also need to thin the parnsips (Panarama) and carrots (Sweet Candle) and then cover them to protect against carrot fly. Environmesh will do the job and I also spray with Garlic Wonder to put them off the scent. Behind the carrots is two types of beetroot, Pablo and Choggia with Savoy Cabbage at the back.

carrots

The long carrots look healthy but not as far along as I would like. The foliage is supported by onion clips and split canes. Watering from the top only at this stage, as they grow I will put a pipe into the middle of the sand box and then start watering through this. Other tasks is making sure none of the tops are exposed to sunlight and checking for sideshoots which need to removed.

parnsips

The parsnips are looking good as well but behind schedule like the carrots.

lettuce

Alongside the greenhouse I have a narrow bed with lettuce and mizuno growing. I grow various lettuce dotted around the plot wherever there is a gap. Here it’s Lollo Rosso, elsewhere is Salad Bowl and Little Gem.

tomatoes

Inside the greenhouse the biggest tomatoes are four foot tall. I’m growing Alicante and Gardener’s Delight this year. There’s also a couple of all-female cucumbers at the end of the bed.

apache

Regular readers will know chillies are a favourite of mine. This variety is Apache.

chillies

I’m growing quote a few chillies and peppers this year. The chillies are Apache, Cayenne, Jalapeno, Hungarian Wax, Hot Thai & But Jolokia. Peppers are Californian Wonder and Corno di Torro Rosso. Hopefully we’ll have a nice, warm summer to get a good crop from all these plants. There’s also a couple of Aubergines (Money Maker) which hopefully will produce a few fruits.

Hope you’re all having a good season so far. The plot is now full up and I’m just sowing some lettuce now and then to keep a supply going. Other than that it’s just a matter of watering, feeding, weeding, supporting/training where necessary and harvesting. Looking forward to a great summer!