Tag Archives: Broccoli

Frostbite

The temptation at this time of year, with the greenhouse stuffed full of plants, is to get everything out into their final positions.  A word of warning though, a late frost can strike, even down here in the balmy south it can come calling up to the end of May.  It’s forecast for tonight so I’m on frost protection duty later covering any susceptible plants with fleece and newspapers – thankfully it’s only my potatoes and dahlias that I need to worry about!

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My father kindly built this potting shed for me whilst we were away on holiday last year. It comes off the north facing end of the garage and was a piece of unused land up until that point. During April and May it’s my main workstation where plants are sown, pricked out and potted on. An invaluable space that gives some protection from the weather whilst allowing me to be outside with the greenhouse door only a few feet away.

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As you can imagine the greenhouse is pretty full now. I’ve started to put the tomatoes – Alicante and Gardener’s Delight this year – into their final positions. There’ll be a couple of cucumbers at the end of the bed eventually. The tender crops – celery, beans, courgettes, pumpkins, squash – are all waiting to go out. There’s also some bedding plants to sort out as well. In a couple of weeks I’ll be left with the chillies, peppers and aubergines in pots on the staging with the tomatoes and cucumbers in the raised bed on the other side of the greenhouse. It’s amazing what you can fit into an 8′ by 6′ space.

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I have a few Savoy Cabbage that are starting to take off. Cabbage is a much maligned veg but I love them and will always eat plenty of cabbage and caulies through the year.

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You’ll remember I sowed parsnips and carrots in February. They’re starting to come on now and I’m hopeful they’ll be ready for the New Forest Show at the end of July.

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The parsnips are getting strong now.

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And finally my favourite veg for next month is broccoli and I’m looking forward to a good crop from this little lot. I plant quite close (9 inches) due to space limitations but I’ve found I still get a great crop. Cut the main head first then harvest the side shoots. Keep cutting before any of the heads flower to prevent a bitter taste developing. Can be frozen if you have too much!

That’s all for now, hope your growing season is going well with the promise of some fantastic harvests this summer.

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!

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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Growing Fast!

With the wet and relatively mild weather we’ve had recently everything is growing fast and the plot is looking lush and green.

Cabbage

The cabbages (Dutch White) are starting to grow now they’re established and well rooted. I’m hoping these will be good sized cabbages and possibly a pair for my end of August show.

Brocolli

One of our favourite family veg is brocolli (calabrese). These are planted 9″ apart and the central heads are just starting to form. When they’re slightly bigger than fist size I’ll cut them to encourage the side shoots. They should be ready in a couple of weeks and then we’ll have a continual supply for 6 weeks until it gets too warm towards the end of July.

Shallots

The shallots (Hative de Niort) are starting to fill out. These will the biggest I’ve ever grown and the trick now is judging when to lift them to try and achieve a matching set. This is not as easy as it sounds as the bulbs continue to grow slightly after lifting and can become “pregnant” which spoils the perfect rounded appearance. They taste great as we have had thinnings over the last few weeks.

Parsnips, Carrots

I need to thin the parnips and carrots that I sowed directly into one of the beds. I’ll be spraying with Garlic Wonder to ward off the carrot fly as these don’t have any mesh protection. Hopefully that will work. The Spring Cabbages behind them are ready now and have provided a tasty, nutritious veg whilst we wait for the broccoli to come through.

Long Carrots

The long carrots are looking good, a cane and some clips for support.

Long parsnips

And the long parnsips in pipes are also doing well. They’re getting plenty of water so I’m hoping for a good set in a few months.

Tomatoes

The Sungold tomatoes have been planted out in the greenhouse on a bed of manure and compost using bottomless pots. I also plant French Marigolds as I find the smell means I don’t have any whitefly and there are a few comfrey leaves rotting down to give them a boost.

Salad

We have a few herbs (chive & parsley) along with lettuces growing in a three tiered stand. It’s great having this by the kitchen door and using “cut and come varieties” such as Salad Bowl means there’s always leaves when we need them for sandwiches or salads.

new project

Sorry for my lack of posts recently I’ve been busy with my new project. I’m converting a section of the front garden next to the road in a vegetable area (possibly a fruit cage eventually). You may remember I had one bed here before (where the broad beans are). As this is in the part of the garden we use the most (as it’s south facing) I’ve gone for better quality timber rather than using the cheaper gravel boards. There’s a 12 ft by 4 ft and a 12ft by 6 ft bed at the moment with a 10ft by 6ft bed to go in behind. More on this later but you can hopefully get an idea from the photo. Have a great Bank Holiday weekend everyone!

Plot update

It’s been a while since my last post as I’ve been very busy in the garden. Things are moving on quickly now as the weather is warming up.

Brassicas

The brassicas are coming along well. There’s 4 cabbages – Dutch White, a few broccoli – Aquiles, and Cauliflower – a Romenesco variety, the purple Graffiti and the standard white variety Cornell.

Cabbages

And the spring cabbages are almost ready to start cutting. I usually cut a cross in the stem from which more spring greens will sprout. Very nice with a Sunday roast and also great shredded as an alternative to rice if you’re watching the calories.

Long carrots

The long carrots are starting to take off now, still fairly small but they will put on loads of growth in the next few weeks.

Shallot thinnings

And finally I thinned my exhibition shallots down to 3 shallots per plant and these have been very tasty in our lunchtime wraps over the last couple of weeks.

After recent renovations of the front garden I’m planning some new raised beds – more of this in the next post – needless to say the extra work is keeping me very busy!!

Shock News – Plot flourishes whilst I’m away!

Just to prove how little value I add with my nurturing of the veg plot in my absence the plot decided to have the best two weeks of the season so far. Thankfully I arrived back just in time to harvest some of the benefits.

The plot was starting to look like a jungle by the time I got back.

It’s the first time I’ve grown Mangetout and they are doing really well.

And the harvest, a couple of large broccoli heads, 3 cauliflowers, a load of broad beans, mangetout, asparagus peas and some garlic. Not bad at all! We were very fortunate to have a friend and neighbour keeping an eye on things although not much watering was needed with the rain we’ve had. And the strawberries and raspberries just keep on coming, definitely the best year for them so far. I should go away more often!!

First Cauliflower and Broccoli

We’re off to France very soon and are taking as much veg as possible with us in the cool box. I’ve cut the first cauliflower and broccoli today which I am really pleased with. Pretty much the same size as the supermarket but I bet they taste better!

There’s loads to follow so I’m hoping the rest will develop over the next two weeks and I’ve told our friends who are looking after the garden to take what is ready. There’s never a good time to go on holiday when you have a garden (although I say anytime is a good time for a holiday!). I’m sure there will be loads of veg coming to harvest just when we are away but it means I’ll be back to man the defenses against the cabbage white invasion later in the season. I’ve just cut the main head off the first broccoli so it should now sprout more heads to follow on. It’s the first time I’ve grown them so it’s all new but I am very happy with the results so far!

Elsewhere in the garden the rambling rose is in flower.

And the first cornflower.

The Red Orach are between 4-5 foot tall now but the Sweet Peas are catching up fast.

And the Dianthus dotted around the flower bed are in full bloom.

One thing I think I’ll miss in the next 2 weeks is my first Dahlia flower as there are quite a few buds on the ones I started in containers in the greenhouse back in March.

Fingers crossed we’ll all see some good weather over the next two weeks, it’ll be “cracking the flags” as I would say.

I’m also starting a footnote on posts to keep a record of what I’m harvesting.

Harvesting: Spring Cabbage, Lettuce, Rocket, Radish, Courgette, Squash, Calabrese, Cauliflower, Strawberries.