Tag Archives: Butternut Squash

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.

Squash Harvest

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Well Autumn has well and truly arrived. The squash have been harvested with a couple of marrows thrown in. Not bad from the 6 foot square area I put a few plants in at the beginning of summer. Butternut squash soup will be very welcome on a cold and wet day!!

What a Year!

Well 2009 was a big year with the arrival of our 2nd daughter, Emily. I can’t believe that was nearly 12 months ago, wow how time flies!

2009 was the first proper year of my veg growing and I’m been thrilled with how well it’s gone. The family have eaten every type of vegetable that I have grown, nothing has failed although some have been more successful than others. The only thing still to harvest is the purple sprouting broccoli, I hope it’s survived the snow of the last couple of weeks and we can look forward to tender purple spears for the first time!

My Top 3 most successful veg 2009 were:
1) Brussel Sprouts, I can’t believe how many sprouts you can get off just half a dozen plants. We’ve been picking them since November and still going!
2) Courgettes, with the mild Autumn they produced from mid-May right through to the end of October – 3 plants gave us all we could eat.
3) Cucumber – great variety, 2 plants in the greenhouse produced cucumbers from May, the last one picked early November.

My 3 least successful veg:
1) Carrots – pretty useless harvest, I need to rethink my tactics!
2) Parsnips – good harvest but variety was smaller than I expected, I’ve picked a different variety for this year.
3) Leeks – variety wasn’t as big as I’d expected, a new variety this year I think.

Resolutions for 2010:
1) Get my eldest daughter, Chloe, more involved. She’s 3 this year so is old enough to have her own mini-patch. Also I’ve got a much better idea of what she likes to eat so I’ll be planting a lot more cauliflowers this time round and calabrese for the first time.
2) Root veg, I need to do better on the parsnips and carrots, both for the table and exhibitions.
3) More showing, I really enjoyed entering my local Horticultural Society’s Summer Show and I’d like to do more this year.

2009 list of vegetables:
In the greenhouse: Lettuce (Salad Bowl, Little Gem & Lollo Rosso), Cucumber (Carmen F1), Tomato (Moneymaker, Garderner’s Delight & Marmande), Chilli (Cayenne & Jalapeno), Peppers (Etuida).

Radish (French Breakfast, Albena), Beetroot (Detroit), Salad Potato (Charlotte, Juliette & Anya), Broad Bean (Sutton), Runner Bean (Scarlet Emperor), French Bean (Dwarf – Ferrari, Cobra), Courgettes (Aurelia F1), Summer Squash (Scallop Mixed), Butternut Squash (Cobnut F1).

Chard (Bright Lights), Brussel Sprouts (Maximus Hybrid), Cabbage (Golden Acre Primo & Savoy), Carrots (Amsterdam Forcing), Parsnips (Tender & True), Garlic (Purple Wight), Onion Sets (Radar), Shallots (Griselle), Broccoli (Early & Late Purple Sprouting), Kale (Dwarf Green Curled & Scarlet), Swede (Virtue), Cauliflower (Snowball), Leeks (Musselburgh), Jerusalem Artichokes (variety unkown).

Surviving the Storm

Well last night was the first real storm we’ve had for a while and I’m glad to say the veg plot survived pretty much unscathed.  The purple sprouting took a bit of a battering and are now leaning slightly but as they were packed in pretty tight together they seem to have held each other up.  The fence panel by the small bed came down, luckily this is were the beans were this year and I had just cleared it a couple of weeks back so no damage done.  By 10am a new panel was in place (I have a few spares in the garage as our garden is fenced on three of the four sides).

Small bed 6' x 6'

You can just see the new panel behind the small bed.

Large bed 18'x 6'

The large bed was mainly brassica’s this year and is still pretty full.  From front to back there 3 rows of parsnips (tender & true), a couple of rows of brussel sprouts (think the variety is maximus hybrid?), 2 rows of swede (virtue), a row of chard (bright lights), a row of cabbage (golden acre), 2 rows of kale (dwarf green curled and scarlet) and then about 8 purple sprouting brocolli plants (mix of early & late).  It’s all packed in there but we’re now starting to harvest the winter veg as the nights are drawing in and turning colder.

Leeks

The leeks have been poor again this year.  I’m going to try a different variety next year.  These are Musselburgh and are not as big as I expected. 

Spring cabbage plants

I’ve planted out a few spring cabbages about a month ago that I’d sown in trays in the greenhouse and they’ve started to grow on.  The variety is Pixie and they are dotted about wherever there is space.

I’ve also put in a couple of varities of lettuce over-winter (artic king and winter density) both in the greenhouse and outside, first time I’ve tried this so I’ll see how it goes.

The next job is to clear the front bed of squash and courgette, the courgettes in particular have been amazing this year, I had 3 plants (2 yellow and 1 green) and estimate around 40 courgettes per plant from mid-May to end of October.  The strawberry plants have run amock and need sorting out and the last 2 or 3 butternut squash will soon succumb to the oven!

Front garden bed

Overwintering?

Well a lovely mild October has turned into a horrible wet November and my plans for getting in some veg to over-winter have been scuppered for now!  Last year I planted shallots (Grisselle) and onion (Radar) sets, garlic (purple Wight) and broad beans (Sutton) all in November.  All grew really well, within a few weeks the beans were a few inches high and the sets had lovely green shoots on them that saw them right through the winter including a pretty heavy snowfall in February (for Salisbury area that is – we don’t often see snow around here!).  We were eating broad beans in April and the onions, shallots and garlic were lifted at the end of June (some of the garlic and shallots are still in store).  This time round I’m tempted to leave it until March, if it dries out over the next 2 or 3 weeks I may have a go.  When I plant my sets I raise the soil up into a long mound and put the sets in about 4″ apart – the theory with the raised soil is more warmth and better drainage.  I then cover the area with low net to keep the birds off, removing when the shoots are a few inches high.  Well worth getting what you can in now as you reap the benefits next spring and have an additional area for sowing around July time when you lifted the onions.  I’ll post some photos if I manage to get them in in the next few weeks.

Veg currently in the ground on the plot are leeks, carrots, spring & savoy cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli, kale, chard, swede, brussel sprouts, parsnips and butternut squash.  All can be harvested now bar the purple sprouting which will be ready in late winter/spring (really looking forward to that as last year’s crop was devasted by caterpillars and pigeons – not this time round, the crop has been netted and plants range from 3-6′ high already.  We ate the first of the brussels the other day and they were superb, well worth the wait!