Time to Harvest

The vegetable garden is doing well despite the whole month of May being a bit of a wintry wash out, but looking around everything is catching up and we’re harvesting things for dinner.

One of my favourite vegetables to eat in summer is kohl rabi because they’re simple to prepare and great in a slaw. They’re odd-looking but rather beautiful at the same time, especially the purple variety. A member of the brassica family they need some protection from pecky pigeons and cabbage white butterflies which lay eggs on the leaves, but the bit you actually eat is the stem which swells as it grows. They taste just like cabbage but take up little room, pick them small, somewhere between a golf ball/tennis ball size is ideal otherwise they go woody. There are many ways to eat them but we love them raw, simply grated with carrot and other root veg (try it with celeriac, yum!) with a squeeze of lemon juice and blob of homemade mayo. The leaves are edible but I usually give them to the chickens as a treat.

I mentioned in a blog post in May the pea plants were being targeted by pigeons. I surrounded them in fleece which worked well for a short while, but as they grew taller the pigeons found other ways to get at them which involved fly diving from the fence with belly flop landings which caused much squashing, then the pecking action commenced. I witnessed all of this and wasn’t impressed, even though it was quite a clever strategy. I resorted to throwing netting over them (the peas, not the pigeons) and that worked too and now we have a lovely pea harvest to enjoy.

The first sowing of beets that I was concerned about are swelling nicely now, I’m pulling them small and sweet, just how I like them. I like to keep sowing beets throughout the year, we get through a lot during summer and autumn and I like to have some in the ground to see us through winter and early spring. I find Boltardy overwinter well.

One of the carrot varieties we’re growing this year is Rainbow Mix, which is a mix of purple, orange and yellow carrot varieties. It’s great fun not knowing which colour will appear when pulling them up, although I worked out quickly which ones will be purple. Can you see a clue in the photo below?

Strawberries are very good this year, I suspect the wet weather of May and scorching start to June played a key role.

Some of them are huge!

Apart from snacking on them as I work in the garden (head gardener perks), we’re picking plenty for our needs and giving some away. They’re so prolific this year as well as the slugs who are also enjoying them for late supper and early breakfast, any damaged ones we find get tossed to the chickens. Some are rotting already due to plenty of damp weather again.

Immature onions multi sown from seed are being used as salad onions, I planted them out in clumps to maximise yield. As we pull the smaller ones it creates more space for the stronger onions to bulb up. This worked really well last year but this year is very different in terms of weather, also, I planted them out much later so I don’t think they will be as big as last years onions.

Spring sown broad beans are ready to be picked, we had a good crop of autumn sown broad beans from the allotment so I will blanch some for the freezer. Second early potatoes have finished flowering and the foliage is just starting to go over, I might have a little poke around in the soil this week to see if they’re ready. Exciting!

May-Hem

Being a gardener I welcome rain but it hasn’t stopped since my last blog post, it’s very soggy now with no sign of letting up and the forecast through to next week is more heavy downpours and gale force winds thrown in for good measure, slugs are just loving it and I can’t keep up with the weeding, especially at the allotment. I was a bit behind with seed sowing due to holding off because of the weather, but you know you’ve caught up when the squash and pumpkins are germinating. I’ve just finished sowing sweetcorn into pots in the conservatory where it’s warm and toasty, but I’ll hold off with beans for another week or so as I plan to sow them direct.

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In the vegetable garden there’s plenty of life and lush growth, it’s just a constant battle to keep it all safe from pests. The first sowing of peas are just beginning to flower now and the next batches are catching up in growth but I’ve had to be very creative with protecting them from pigeons who are determined to get them before we do, the usual twiggy deterrents just haven’t cut it this year.

protecting peas from pigeons

To prevent the lower leaves being stripped and clumps being pulled through the twigs, I’m using single sheets of fleece loosely wrapped around the pea sticks and tied with a knot, it all looks a bit of a faff but it seems to be working plus the fleece does help to accelerate growth. Next year I may have to use some sort of net frame and grow all the peas in one bed to keep them protected, I prefer to dot them around the garden on the ends of raised beds to save growing space but I may have to change the way we grow them.

 

protecting peas from pigeons

protecting peas from pigeons

Carrot and parsnip seedlings are up and still tucked up inside the tunnel cloches during the day to protect them from being smashed to bits by heavy downpours, at night we put panels on the ends of the cloches to keep slugs and snails out otherwise we’d lose the lot, the end panels are just off cuts of roofing sheets held in place with a short cane.

carrot seedlings

parsnip seedlings

Beets are growing but very slowly compared to other years, I wasn’t particularly happy with the first sowing of beets as I’ve said previously, they seemed very weak for some reason. The next batch are much better and hardening off ready to go outside but I’ll hold off until the weather settles down a bit. Onions were planted out last week, much later than last year, this will be the second year growing onions from seed and hopefully they’ll be just as good as last years crop.

potato leaves

Second early potatoes ‘Charlotte’ are looking strong and maincrop ‘King Edward’ are just poking through. Strawberries are looking fantastic this year, the growth is so lush. Clearly loving the extra water!

strawberry flowers

seedlings

The greenhouse is filling up but little bit behind in growth or I have sown later than I usually would, but hopefully it will all be ok and catch up. There’s little point putting too much out at the moment, it’s already a 5* restaurant out there for slugs!

Hopefully next month will be more settled. Fingers crossed.