Summer Harvests

We’re currently reaping the rewards from the vegetable garden, picking and eating fresh delicious food as needed. Abundant harvests such as broad beans and peas have already been blanched for the freezer.

Beetroots, courgettes, carrots and onions are just some of the lovely things we’re harvesting regularly, also herbs, salad leaves and soft fruits. I was surprised to see autumn raspberries ready to pick yesterday, just a few, they never made it to the house. Yum. Greenhouse tomatoes are forming and some of the lower trusses are just starting to colour up, being the only tomato lover in our family I get to eat them all, lucky me.

Second early potatoes ‘Charlotte’ (salad type) have now been harvested to make room for a winter crop. The tubers vary in size at harvest time from baby potatoes to quite large, this lovely lot is from 16 seed potatoes grown in a 6×4 ft bed.

After harvesting we sort through them and put the larger ones in a hessian sack to store in a dark and cool pantry cupboard, the baby ones are used up quickly in potato salads or just on their own with a little butter.

After such a slow start to the year it’s incredible to see pumpkins forming already, I can’t quite believe how well they’re doing, Crown Prince in particular. Beans and sweet corn are growing well too.

The orchard looks promising for fruit, particularly the pear trees which were a failed crop last year. In spring we replaced a plum tree we lost with 3 more plums of different varieties, looking forward to tasting these as they mature.

I hope your summer garden or allotment is rewarding you too! Happy gardening x

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!