Full baskets and empty spaces

We’re not vegetarians but the baskets of produce we’re picking daily now just seem to make meat irrelevant for the time being. Who needs it when there are so many scrummy veg to feast on?

Dinner time!

As well as the usual reliable favourites it’s good to taste some of the novelties. The first ‘Crystal Lemon’ cucumber was sweet and juicy but I’ve lost all control over the two cuc plants in the tunnel, they are rampaging over everything. I think I need a cunning plan for next year, maybe wires from the central roof ridge to take them upwards? Advice, please!

Cucs ‘Crystal Lemon’ and ‘Akito’ – how do I control this pair of thugs?

We have a good crop of asparagus pea, too. They’re strange little things which I really grew for their pretty flowers, they are supposed to taste like asparagus but that subtlety seems to have passed me by completely!

Asparagus pea in flower…

…and the funny little vegetable.

I’m steaming them with the first French beans, chilling them then slicing in (raw) young courgettes and tossing in a basic vinaigrette laced with garlic and chilli oil – it makes a tasty salad teamed up with crisp lettuce and a handful of shredded basil or mint. Yum!

After months of planning, sowing, transplanting, weeding, etc, etc, it seems strange to be opening up spaces in the garden again as crops finish. As I dig the dustbowl over (please, PLEASE let it rain soon) I’m reflecting on how well – or otherwise – different veg have done and I’m starting to make plans for next year.

It’s strange to see bare earth again so soon.

The autumn-planted garlic has been a huge success with 62 out of 63 cloves forming decent bulbs, albeit a few doing that funny little ‘extra’ bulb thing part-way up the stem. I’ve dried them, cleaned them and made several plaits for hanging. I’d like to grow twice as much next year as we use masses and always run out and it would be interesting to try a couple of different varieties if I could persuade it all to keep.

The onions have recovered from their earlier wobble (which I think was down to the odd weather) but those I grew from seed (for the first time ever) look far stronger and healthier than the sets which has surprised me a bit. I’m considering only growing from seed next year – what do other bloggers think? Is it possible to grow shallots from seed, too?

The onions grown from sets have been a bit hit and miss.

Onions from seed: beginner’s luck or a better idea than sets?

 My poor old brassicas have taken a bashing: first pigeons, then flea beetle and whitefly, now the inevitable caterpillars. In my absence, some of the plants have gone to look more like the lace this area is historically famous for than anything worth putting on a plate.

The damage…

 I’m checking and handpicking eggs and caterpillars daily in the hope the plants will recover but I need to think carefully about the brassica patch next year.

…and the culprit.

It has occurred to me that all my efforts to attract useful pollinators and insects into the veg patch are attracting not-so-welcome ones, too!

My cheap ‘Summer Meadow’ mix from Aldi is doing a great job at attracting pollinators to the veg patch.

Is this a visitor I should be encouraging???????

 I’m really chuffed with the French marigold seeds I treated myself to with my vegetableseeds.net voucher, they’ve gone well in the tunnel and outside: definitely two to grow again next time.

French marigold ‘Mandarin.’

French marigold ‘Red Brocate.’

The dry conditions are forcing some of our trees to have an early autumn, the hazels and chestnuts in particular are shedding dead leaves everywhere. The walnuts have a good crop and Roger has a bucket of them soaking in brine to make pickled walnuts for winter. It’s quite an involved process but should be well worth the effort.

Walnuts ready for pickling: well, it’s one way to beat the squirrels!

I’ve spotted some new ‘babies’ in the tunnel today.

Oh good, more yummy things to come! 🙂

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8 thoughts on “Full baskets and empty spaces

  1. Wow, everything is looking fabulous. I am totally jealous of your aubergines.
    Onions seem to be the one thing I have failed to grow successfully. They have done ok, but I think next year I will go for seeds. That way I can start them off in Jan (or maybe even earlier) indoors and hopefully I will do better.

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    • Mmm, I’m beginning to think onions from seed is the way to go. I started them off in trays in the polytunnel and they never looked back, despite the weird weather. Fingers crossed it works for us both!

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  2. Yes, we grow cucumbers up canes and then along other canes tied horizontally – saves on ground space.

    Don’t let asparagus peas get big – they’re best eaten very young otherwise they’ll become tough, fibrous and a pit spiny.

    Your cheap summer meadow mix was definitely worth whatever you paid for it!

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    • Ok thanks, I think climbing cucumbers are definitely on the cards for next year. From what I can remember, the flower seeds were something silly like 60p!

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  3. I have to agree; I’m far from a vegetarian but over the summer there’s not much space left on the plate between all the tasty veg coming off the plot.

    The butterfly looks suspiciously like a Small White Cabbage Butterfly from the photo, definitely not one to encourage but I don’t believe they are particularly attracted to flowers. The caterpillar on the cabbage leaf also looks like one of the small white’s offspring so I would net the brassicas quick to stop the adults getting on and laying more eggs and then continue to pick off the young

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    • Yes, we have more than our fair share of Small Whites, Large Whites too – they seem to be breeding in the polytunnel which is a problem. I’m seriously considering building mesh cages for all my brassicas next year, with any luck that would get the better of the butterflies AND the pigeons!

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  4. Us again, re onions from seed or sets: we’ve done both. We start the seed onions in January in a cold greenhouse. Last year the seeds were better than the sets and stored much longer. This year all our early onions are from over-wintering sets and the lates from seeds. So far the sets are looking stronger, but there’s still time for the seed onions to catch up. Both sets & seeds had to struggle through a very cold spring.
    We have also experimented with autumn planted shallots this gardening year; they took ages to establish and are still pretty weedy. We also started Zebrune shallots from seed this March, they are coming along quite nicely, although they won’t win any prizes for size, unless petiteness is a category! We love shallots & they are expensive to buy, so we will persist with growing them.

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    • Hi, thanks for that- plenty of food for thought! I totally agree with you about growing shallots, we’ve always thought that if the onions don’t do very well they are at least cheap and plentiful to buy whereas shallots are a different matter and SO good to eat (even the petite ones!).

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