August 24, 2009

We haven’t measured the sunflowers for a while but the ones in the main bed have turned into a mass of messy multiple heads. More attractive are the ones grown in the flower beds that have to compete for light and space - they have lovely low level but perfectly formed flowers, small for sunflowers but big compared to everything else in the garden.

We returned from holiday to several over-ripe courgettes and turned them into perhaps-a-bit-too-thick-cut courgette chutney (in the jar on the left). I pulled up two of the plants as six really is too many so now have two yellow ones, one green and one wrinkly yellow one, grown from seed given to me by Sarah. These are the latest to fruit and the one pictured will be the first one to mature. The flowers are a little different too and I’m curious to know what they taste like.

We also had vines full of tomatoes and some tell tale signs of blight, so we made six jars of tomato jam - an odd mixture of ripe and green tomatoes, vanilla, star anise, cloves and sugar that boils down into something really wonderful. The tomato pictured is the biggest I’ve ever grown - a summer cider - so looking forward to it ripening up.

We’ve now eaten all the varieties but for garden peach, which seems to be the most susceptible to blight, though there are loads of green fruits on the plants. The most prolific variety is the snowberry - I’ve left one of the plants to get really big and bushy and it’s fruiting off every shoot. The orange and brown berries are probably the most delicious, the green zebras are producing the least and the vintage wine and summer ciders have massive, squishy fruits that are great for cooking and jam.

An olive, of which there are few. Curious to see what they turn in to though.

An olive, of which there are few. Curious to see what they turn in to though.

August 5, 2009
I pulled up the dwarf french beans the other day and am going to dry them to sow next year (we never got round to eating them). The climbing beans have done much better though - there are red ones and yellow ones, all wrapped round canes and sunflowers, and we’ll dry them out when we get back from holiday (they’re shell and boil up varieties rather than eat fresh ones).

I pulled up the dwarf french beans the other day and am going to dry them to sow next year (we never got round to eating them). The climbing beans have done much better though - there are red ones and yellow ones, all wrapped round canes and sunflowers, and we’ll dry them out when we get back from holiday (they’re shell and boil up varieties rather than eat fresh ones).

Not the most exciting photo, but this is the first courgette. I’ve got three yellow-fruited plants, two green and one wrinkly one, though the latter is yet to produce any female flowers. They’re all tucked in the one box so we’ll see how they do - at the moment they’re looking very aggressive.

Not the most exciting photo, but this is the first courgette. I’ve got three yellow-fruited plants, two green and one wrinkly one, though the latter is yet to produce any female flowers. They’re all tucked in the one box so we’ll see how they do - at the moment they’re looking very aggressive.

These are the first carrots I’ve successfully grown, which should have been pulled a little earlier. There’s another plateful still in the half-barrell they were grown in.

These are the first carrots I’ve successfully grown, which should have been pulled a little earlier. There’s another plateful still in the half-barrell they were grown in.

Having only planted two cucumber “Burpless” seeds this year, I’m delighted with the results. The first plant to fruit produced one short cucumber and has since died, but the other one is now on its fourth good-sized fruit.
They’ve been grown in the greenhouse and in a tub that has no drainage holes, just crocks in the bottom. They need loads of water when there’s fruit on the plant - at least a can a day in hot weather. 
Flavour-wise, they’re not bitter at all and are perfect in cucumber salad.

Having only planted two cucumber “Burpless” seeds this year, I’m delighted with the results. The first plant to fruit produced one short cucumber and has since died, but the other one is now on its fourth good-sized fruit.

They’ve been grown in the greenhouse and in a tub that has no drainage holes, just crocks in the bottom. They need loads of water when there’s fruit on the plant - at least a can a day in hot weather. 

Flavour-wise, they’re not bitter at all and are perfect in cucumber salad.

The tomato-growing experiment is proving very successful. So far we’ve had a few a day for about a week and I’ve learned the following:

1) The cherry varieties fare really well if left to sprawl - brown berry, snow berry, orange berry and gardener’s delight have all fruited so far and there are plenty of trusses on the plant.

2) The larger tomatoes should have been looked after better - they’re a mess and the fruits are too heavy for the stems so there’s been lots of falling over going on. I’ve cut back quite a lot of leaves to let light through to the fruit - at one point they were all attempting to ripen in shade.

3) I should have labelled them better. It’s quite hard to know when a green tomato is ripe if you’re not aware it’s a green tomato. I’ve picked two of the summer cider variety so far and both have been a bit rotten on the base, presumably because they were picked too late - they’re ripe when they’re apricot yellow.

4) So far, so blight free. The system of planting in pots over gravel so that the roots can seek out their own water, keeping them near a fence to stop too much rain falling on them and watering with tap water seems to be working.

5) This year they’re all been fed with BBQ ash only, despite the huge bottle of tomorite in the shed. The flavours have been universally excellent, but the yield on the larger plants could be improved. With better labelling, it would be good next year to feed some of the bigger ones. The cherries are sweet and very productive with what they’ve got.

The daisy patch in the corner near the greenhouse is my favourite - the plants are shorter and neater than the taller ones with the floppy petals.

The daisy patch in the corner near the greenhouse is my favourite - the plants are shorter and neater than the taller ones with the floppy petals.

It’s hard to get a good picture of this, but it’s something I’m very pleased with - poppy heads, poppies, cornflowers and dried grass have all come together in a nice old mess. Need to keep the dahlias in pots next year though - they’re far too glossy for their neighbours.

It’s hard to get a good picture of this, but it’s something I’m very pleased with - poppy heads, poppies, cornflowers and dried grass have all come together in a nice old mess. Need to keep the dahlias in pots next year though - they’re far too glossy for their neighbours.