Tag Archives: Climbing French Beans

Lovin’ the Veg!

I’m lovin’ the veg at the moment! This is what I’ve just picked for the next day or two. Cucumber, runner, french and broad beans, squash, potatoes (Charlotte & Anya), courgettes and the first red chilli of the season. Should keep us going for a while!

Go for it!

With temperatures soaring into the high twenties I decided to go for it today and get everything planted out. So in went the courgettes, squash, celery, runner beans, french beans, cabbage, sprouting broccoli and kale.

But first I had to mow the lawn and then get some of the bedding plants in. I started by emptying 3 stone baskets we have on the front verge by the road. I filled them up with fresh compost and planted a mix of bedding plants in them. Petunias, Busy Lizzie, Gazania, Pansies and Antirrhinums all went in which should give some nice colour and make the front a bit more presentable. The rest of the bedding will go along the edges of the drive entrance and wherever I can find a space in the flower beds.

Next it was onto the front bed which I built recently and was half full with brussel sprouts, beetroot and sweetcorn. In went some squash (Scallop Mixed and Sunburst) around the sweetcorn (Sweet Sensation), about 10 celery plants (never grown celery before), a couple of rows of cabbage (Golden Acre Primo) and some early white and late purple sprounting broccoli.

Then onto the other beds. The kale (Scarlet and Dwarf Green Curled) went in alongside the spring cabbages (as soon as they are ready for harvest I’ll start replacing with another batch of calabrese and cauliflowers). I earthed up the spuds and ripped out most of the sprouting broccoli at the back of the large bed. It had started to flower. As you can see from the photo they were huge, this one is 7 foot tall.

This is were the beans were to go. Not ideal as you’re supposed to have a trench running over winter getting filled with kitchen waste. I dug a trench anyway and chucked my last bag of well rotted chicken manure in along with some pellets, I’m hoping that will be enough to feed the beans. Up went the A-frame of 8ft bamboo canes and in went 4 runner beans (streamline) and six french beans (blue lake). I planted a runner per cane and 2 French beans per cane. Around the spare canes I sowed some more french beans (our house prefers them to runners).

In the front bed there are strawberries, raspberries, a gooseberry and blackcurrant bush. Along the house wall I’ve planted a row of gladioli (Mexico & Passo) which are starting to poke through. The rest of the space was filled with Squash (Scallop Mixed) and Courgettes (Zuccini, Black Beauty and F1 Orelia).

Then I turned my attention to the onion bed which has been subject to some unwelcome visitor over recent weeks. I’ve narrowed it down to a rat, next doors cat or my dog Polo, so I fenced off the bed last weekend to fend off the cat and dog and some rat poison went down under next door’s shed. Some of the onion sets have been dug up so I chucked them and made sure the rest were well in and had some fresh soil around them. I also removed the soil around the shallots which are coming on really well. This will allow them to form, I may also remove some to allow the rest to grow bigger.

I thinned out the parsnips.

In the greenhouse the tomatoes are in their bottomless pots on a bed of gravel (ring culture) and some will go outside in grow bags next week. There’s also chillies and peppers, aubergines and my back-up cucumbers are coming on, the first batch sucumbed to the cold.

The herb area is looking good. It’s handy having it by the back door and I also put the mixed salad there so it’s easy to get to. There’s flat leafed parsley, basil, chives, rosemary, bay, oregano, sage and thyme which will brighten up our cooking over the next few months.

I really pleased with these dahlias. I’m growing these in pots, I have some more tubers in the front flower bed and some grown from seed to go in.

Elsewhere in the garden the clematis are starting to flower.

And the rockery is in full bloom.

So a busy day. All the beds are full now until the spring cabbage come out and I’ve still got leeks and pumpkin to plant out and swedes to sow. A friend up the road has some space so I may have to plant them out there. Now time to put my feet up and enjoy it, barbie tomorrow I think!

So much to do!

Now is the time of year when everything on the plot comes to a head. The weeds are growing, space in the greenhouse is at a premium, plants need hardening off, watering if it’s hot, keeping an eye on the cold nights still to come, successional sowing, potting on, the list is endless. So whilst I’m indoors keeping an eye on the girls whilst Rach is out I thought I’d take stock of where I am and what needs to be done this weekend.

The large bed is full up. The front half is potatoes, Charlotte, Anya and Desiree. Then cauliflowers and calabrese, broad beans and, at the back, the purple sprounting brocolli plants which will be replaced with runner and french beans eventually.

The shallots and onions are doing well. Some of the garlic didn’t come up so I’ve filled in the gaps with onions that I grew from seed.

The front garden bed gets full sun most of the day. Strawberry plants line the edge and are in full flower. There’s some raspberry canes at the back and I’ve planted gladioli all along the house wall. There’s also a gooseberry and balckcurrant (I will be getting a couple more of these to put in). This will also be the courgette and squash bed, there’s one courgette already in and it’s protected at night by the water cooler bottle.

In the middle bed the spring cabbages are coming on, I planted them out quite late so they are not as big as I’d hoped yet and I desperately need the space for other plants that are in the greenhouse.

I’ve not been very successful with carrots so this year I’m growing some in containers, these are Amsterdam Forcing.

The purple sprouting is in full flow now, eating it pretty much every night.

The lettuce are coming on well, there’s a mixture of Artic King, Winter Density and Little Gem here. I’ve also sown salad bowl, lollo rosso and red deer’s tongue.

The greenhouse is full to bursting point as always!

The next crop of brassica seedlings and lettuce are coming through. I’ve not sown direct as I don’t have the space at the momemt. At the back are some more sweet peas and various pots with the mixed salad leafs from the BBC DigIn packets coming through. To the right are pansies ‘Joker’ that I’ve grown from seed.

The squash and tomatoes are coming on nicely.

It’s the first time I’ve grown Red Orach, they are ready to plant out now.

The chilli and peppers need potting on too.

And finally the dahlia tubers I put in pots have sprouted.

There is so much to do, here’s my list, I’m sure I’ve missed something!

1. Plant out / pot on courgettes and squash.
2. Pot on brassica seedlings (space not available yet).
3. Move beans into bigger pots until space becomes free on plot.
4. Tie up sweet peas and plant out remainder.
5. Pot on greenhouse tomatoes into final bottomless pots which will go on top of the gravel bed.
6. Plant cucumbers in their final spaces in the greenhouse.
7. Plant more gladioli bulbs.
8. Plant out unsprouted dahlia tubers.
9. Harden off and plant out rest of bedding plants that have been growing on in the greenhouse.
10. Mow lawns and tidy up edges.
11. Weed everywhere.
12. Sow successional radish, lettuce and beetroot.
13. See what is surplus to requirements for the Horticultural Society plant sale on May 22nd.
14. Pot on chilli and sweet peppers.
15. Plant out Red Orach.
16. See what containers are available and what I can plant in them to save space.
17. Get last of salad potatoes into compost bags.

Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday weekend whatever you’re doing and we get some sunshine in between the showers.

Planting up

Finally got some plants in today and a tour of the veg plot is showing a very healthy position indeed. I’ve planted out a row of broad beans that I grew in toilet rolls next to the couple of rows that I sowed direct that are starting to come through. Next to them 18 cauliflowers, (Snowball), and 6 calabrese (Aquiles) have gone in. The rest of the bed is now full of spuds, Anya and Charlotte and a couple of rows of maincrop (think they’re King Eddies). At the other end of the bed are half of dozen PSB, my nemisis, but a close inspection revealed loads of tiny purple heads so it’s getting quite exciting now as I should be picking PSB in the next couple of weeks! Only 12 months after I planted them, they better be good!! As soon as they are harvested the runner beans and climbing french beans will take their place. So that’s the large back garden bed full up.

In the medium bed there’s the long carrots, a few spring cabbages, some salad crops (lettuce, salad bowl and red deer’s tongue, spring onions Lillia and white lisbon and a mix of radishes) and finally parsnips, which have germinated! So that bed is full up as well, I will just replace the spring cabbages with something when they are ready. The small bed is full with onions, shallots and garlic which have all sprouted nicely.

I’ve also dug over the front garden veg bed and flower bed so they are ready to plant up. More tulips have come out today which is great to see.

I’ll be planting dahlias in the front flower bed in a few weeks.

The BBC DigIn seeds arrived today so more sowing to be done!

I also managed to mow the lawn and Dad popped up and jet washed the patio and conservatory for me so all in all a good few hours work. It’s great to see some nice warm weather at last. Grand National and FA Cup Semi Final for me from 4 o’clock and a family day out somewhere tomorrow.

Shower dodging

A day of showers today so I could only do the odd bit here and there after we got back from shopping in Salisbury. I noticed Homebase had 20% off and I picked up a pot of 4 runner beans for 78p (they’re well ahead of mine as I’ve not sown any yet!) and a tray of 10 celery for £1.60. I had no intention of growing celery before I popped in there but I couldn’t resist something I’d never tried before (will have to read up on it as I have no idea what I’m doing). In Poundland I bought a blackcurrant and a couple of rose bushes along with some pots and string. Chloe’s feet haven’t grown as much as we thought so there was no need to buy shoes which was a result!

In the ground went a globe artichoke I bought the other week, and the blackcurrant and rose bushes. I’ve now filled up the greenhouse and mini-greenhouse with more potting-on as you can see. On the veg front I sowed dwarf and climbing french beans in toilet rolls.

Elsewhere in the garden I spotted this flower tucked under a hedge. I think it’s from the hyacinth family.

I’ve been struggling to identify this one, I think it’s Scilla?

The first tulip is threatening to bloom.

And finally if you need a cheap way of keeping young children amused get one of these ‘tinfoil’ emergency blanket things available in Poundland, it kept our two happy for ages!

Veg tips!

Here are some tips that I have learnt recently. Some I’ve tried and others I haven’t got round to yet. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these.

Marigolds – great companion plants but it’s the dead flowers you want. I only found this out last year after diligently de-heading them like a good gardener!

When sowing carrots sprinkle in some vermiculite to ward off the dreaded carrot fly.

Grow a white flowering variety of runner beans, they’re self-pollinating so you’re not reliant on the insects. Don’t use a wig-wam for runners, only climbing french beans.

Tomatoes – when the first truss forms tap every day to self-pollinate.

To boost your greenhouse production you need to up your CO2 – fill a pot with manure, clingfilm over the top with 6 pencil holes in, this should be enough from October to May. Not sure how PC this one is??

Rotting onions or parsnip canker? Try using a small amount of vermiculite mixed with flowers of sulphur in the seed drill or when planting onions.

Clean tools with tomato sauce – apply with a coarse brush and leave on the tool for 2 hours then wash off and dry thoroughly.

Use the cress test for manure from a new source that may have been contaminated with herbicides – also use for testing your water butt quality.

5-6% full fat milk in water is now used to control many pests and diseases.

That’s all for now……………

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).