Category Archives: tomatoes

Fruit and Veg Harvesting Plus

Yes there has been harvesting over the last couple of weeks at least.

The mangetout peas have been producing quite well and they have been incorporated into cooked dishes as well as in salads.

The broad beans also, there is still one more harvest left I think, although some plants are blackfly affected and I’ve been pinching off the sections that have been attacked rogularly but even some bean pods have had a line  of blackfly on them so It’s meant picking with a cloth available to wipe the bean pods.

Mangetout, broad beans and strawberries

The fruit bushes and plants have also been producing, with several punnets full of strawberries from the strawberry bed, and one or two from escapee plants established in the nearby border. The other big producer has been the tayberry bush which is producing plenty of berries at the moment ( I had a few with my breakfast cereal this morning). On Sunday I completed harvesting the redcurrants with a second container full – now stored in the freezer waiting for jam making.

Redcurrants before harvesting

The blueberries are starting to colour up now as well and there are one or two raspberries ripening. Although the raspberry harvest isn’t going to be as good as previous years since I think I pruned the wrong canes down to the ground early in the year, and they have only grown a couple of feet high now, but they do have a few fruiting branches.

The success of the tayberry is leading me too think that I might replace some of the raspberry canes with another tayberry.

Tayberries ripening

The five blackcurrant bushes I bought ?last year (or was it the year before) anyway,  have had mixed fortunes. one never produced a shoot and was replaced with a bush I had in a container – which is doing fine. One more struggled to produce a shoot this year and seems to have given up just recently. The others are fine, and even bearing fruit, though the total won’t amount to a lot. Next year should be a lot better.

There are some gooseberries ripening on the new ‘compact’ bushes in the fruit bush bed as well as on the established bushes near the redcurrants – may need harvesting soon.

Moving on, the courgettes are flowering, and there was one courgette starting to grow on one of the plants in the ‘protected’ bed, but slugs had a go at it so that’s been removed. I guess we’ll be harvesting at least one in a couple of weeks.

Baby yellow (Atena) courgette

The cucumber plant in the greenhouse has already produced a couple of good cucumbers and there are more growing. The outside plant, in  the bed with courgette and squash plants is still just growing up a stake.

Baby cucumber in the greenhouse

The french and climbing beans are just in flower now, ar at least some of them, so again it’ll be a couple of weeks I thinbk before we start harvesting.

The tomatoes are developing well – here are some of the ‘Adam F1’ in the greenhouse

Adam F1 tomatoes

However, the weather has been rather variable and not very summer like recently. In fact the last few days have been very windy and showery with only occasional sunshine. Today it has been rainy and it looks like that will continue for a few more days yet.

That’s all for now….

Broad Beans and More

A sunny day today (12DegC) tempted me into the garden for a spell and in the greenhouse most of the broad beans had come through, only the last few I planted yet to appear. The first batches are well enough established to put in the shelter of the ‘cold frame’ (propped up door) and will hopefully be ready to plant in a few days.

The first two trays sown of broad beans – ‘De Monica’ in the lower one and ‘Aquadulce’ in the other

In the picture above, the lower tray (‘De Monica’) is the one now outside acclimatising.

Two new varieties of broad bean (to me) – ‘Meteor’ and ‘Optica’ (nearer set)

Also, encouragingly one of the first set of mangetout peas is coming through so that’s a start. I’ve added some more peas to a couple of pots today as well – this time another variety I haven’t tried before call ‘Bajka’ – should be interesting to see what they are like. The picture on the pack makes them look good, but don’t they all?

In the kitchen the cherry tomato seedlings are doing well, and I’ve planted some more seeds plus some more peppers. No sign of the first lot of peppers yet.

The two original trays of ‘Cosmos’ are still very patchy, but other seeds are starting to come through in other trays (Phlox, Lobelia and more Cosmos) – I haven’t tried Phlox or Lobelia from seed before so they are a bit of an experiment.

It was so sunny today that I saw my first butterfly (a ‘comma’) – see pic below, and a ‘bee-fly’ – very much a fly I only see in spring usually hawking over the lawn.

Comma butterfly

Bee fly (bombylius major)

More worrying, the first grey squirrel for some time appeared on the lawn the other day….

Seeds Update – Feb 15

Things look encouraging with the broad beans with seedlings appearing for all the trays except the most recent planting which I mad just yesterday (‘De Monica’, in a matrix of  6, 3 beans each ‘pot’). So if all come through I should have enough to fill the assigned bed.

Some more of the cosmos seeds in trays in the greenhouse (and in heated propagators) have come through but still quite patchy really.

Surprisingly some of the tomatoes are through on the kitchen windowsill so now I have 2 ‘cherry cascade’ seedlings and 4 ‘red cherry’ seedlings.

Outside the greenhouse and kitchen I finally got round to clearing the last raised bed left with left over bits and weeds – the one which had salad crops in last year (No 1, destined for climbing & French beans this year)). There was enough space in the bed to add the compost contents of a ‘growbag’ plus a good scattering of pelleted chicken droppings as a general fertiliser.

I’m going to have to sit down and sow more seed soon, and do a general tidy of the greenhouse as well, I need the room on the benches! Also I have 3 windows to replace as the are either cracked or broken and in one case missing. The weather needs to improve though, there have been strong winds all this week, not great for dealing with greenhouse windows.

Maybe Summer Is Here?

Well a couple of days where temperature have topped 20DegC, maybe – but we still had high winds and morning temp of less than 14DegC only the other day so I’m not yet convinced – and neither are my plants, particularly the climbing & french beans.

However the big emphasis over the last couple of weeks has been planting out lots of flowers, both perennials and annuals as in just over a week our garden will be open to the public for a coupe of days! So panic… The other major task has been sorting out the paths between the raised beds which of course I’d not bothered with when I put the beds in since there was only me wandering between them – still it’s a good thing to have got them done – almost.

Meanwhile I’m harvesting mangetout peas and broad beans plus strawberries (just enough to go with my breakfast cereal).

Broad Bean & Mangetout Harvest

Broad Bean & Mangetout Harvest

One or two minus point – I planted a half row (along the length of a raised bed) of ‘lollo rosso’ lettuce, which germinated nicely along the whole low, then I sowed the other half with a different mix of lettuce, which also germinated along the whole length – until…. a few days later half the row disappeared! Either slug or pigeons, so I covered it with an old fireguard and scattered a few slug pellets around. The lollo rosso is ok I thought – and then half that lot went! So more slug pellets and a covering – so we’ll see.

I do have one cucumber on one of the plants but the others (2 of them) don’t look like producing anytime soon. I have managed to plant two courgettes at last though.

Some other sowings have been a bit disappointing as well in particular some ‘baby leeks’ which I’ve grown before, to be fair the seed was a bit old but also the cos lettuce (maybe also got by pigeons?), leaf beet, beetroot and spinach only have produce a few seedlings.

The french beans and climbing beans really haven’t groen much at all over the last few weeks thanks to the weather – so if we do get some more sunshine now maybe they will take off – I’ve still got a few more dwarf bean plants to plant out.

The tomatoes are all going well and I’ve ‘stopped’ all of those in growbags in the greenhouse as they gave 3 or 4 trusses now and all have the first truss set at least so I’m feeding them. Those outside the greenhouse i growbags aren’t quite as advanced as you might expect but some have tomatoes on already as have the ones in the raise bed. The plants near the kitchen don’t seem quite as happy, not sure why as they get the best of the sun.

Wildlife

Plenty of frogs after rain last week and a few toads, and as usual they are occupying some of the growbag holes in the greenhouse – so whenever i water it creates a bit of chaos as they all seem to bject.

The robin (or a robin?) has appeared whenever I’ve been working in the garden – so keen that I as was kneeling and clearing some weeds it hopped right in front of me to investigate – so now I’ve learned just to stay still when it appears and it will happily hop around my feet collecting morsels. I suspect it is feeding chicks (again?) as I can hear them calling in the hedges when it flies off.

Dried mealworms are still very popular on the feeders and on the ground station plus sunflower seeds are going at a fair rate from the seed feeder and a ‘fat block’ is being pecked through with enthusiasm. It’s been encouraging that some of the birds are house sparrows feeding chicks so maybe a few will stay around.

The trail camera shows hedgehog and fox still around but no new sighting of the badger. I’ve been working in the area that they pass through so maybe the changes have put the badger off for the time being.

A new squirrel has appeared and seems not to like peanuts so can’t be tempted into the trap for now – keeps climbing the bird feeders and wrecking the feeders trying to get at the seed etc. – I’ll need to keep an eye on that situation.

Rainy Day Update

Today has been a bit frustrating – every time I tried to do something outside that would take more than a few minute a shower would come along and interrupt play.

So – I spent some time in the greenhouse and sowed some more things. In particular, more dwarf and climbing beans as well as some more mangetout peas. I note that the maincrop peas (Hurst Greenshaft) I planted direct are coming through – but only a few of them. I’ve never really had too much success with peas planted direct into the ground, which is why I prefer to start them off in pots – I sowed some more maincrop peas into pots a week or so ago so hopefully they will be a bit more successful

I was driven into the greenhouse in any case as yet another delivery of flowers turned up today (that I don’t remember ordering…) in this case some Lamium (variegated dead-nettle) ‘Mega Purple’ which is destined for some areas that are shady and dry to act as ground cover – they came as plugs so just needed putting in some compost in a reasonable sized pot.

I also repotted a couple of sweet pepper seedlings (Gourmet) still in their original pot into individual pots.

Yesterday I filled one of the growbags I bought on week which I’d moved into the greenhouse and watered ready with three tomato plants – an ailsa craig, a marmande and a zuchero. Still plenty left though….

Also the other day I rapidly planted two rows of potatoes in the raised bed which has potatoes already coming through – one of charlotte and one of maris piper. There are still a few of each left so may just put them into the bags I’ve used before if I can’t find anywhere else.

Just to rub it in – the weather is now sunny and when I started typing this it was pouring down – April showers in May!

Weather Fine – been Plantin’ & Sowin’

A couple of days over the Easter period has seen me in a relative frenzy of activity in the garden as the weather has been pretty good (about 20degC max to day for instance). In fact so sunny it has been pretty uncomfortable in the greenhouse in the middle of the day.

So over the Easter weekend I sowed a couple more cucumber seeds, the previously sowed seedlings are now producing proper leaves in their pots now, but I want to have some ‘spare’ plants – it will probably mean a glut of cucumber though….

Cucumber seedlings

Cucumber seedlings

Other seeds sown inside were – sweet basil (some old seed which may not germinate , so its a test really), and some small sunflowers from a pack of different sunflower varieties I found the other day.

Outside I sowed a row of pak choi (next to the turnip row), and next to that a row of swiss chard. In the furthest bed away from the house I put in a couple of rows of rooster’ potatoes and a row of ‘maya gold’ (both varieties left from last year and sprouting nicely).

The mangetout peas had been outside for a day or so and I planted them in the bed nearest the greenhouse in a double row lengthwise and the aguadulce broad beans that were ready in the beds with rows of beans already.

Yesterday I planted a couple of pots of climbing beans (‘fasold’ – a variety I haven’t tried before). I probably plant some more when I see how they get on. Today, a couple of pots of chilli pepper seeds (;peruvian lemon drop’).

Meanwhile the tomato seedlings are coming on fine:

Pomodoro seedlings

Pomodoro seedlings

 

Outside today – a row of ‘lollo rosso’ lettuce (alongside the chard row). Also, I’ put another set of ‘aguadulce’ beans outside ready to plant out. Some of the existing bean plants are in flower already!

broad_bean_plants

 

In flower!

In flower!

The big job today though was pruning the holly hedge on the RH side (looking down from the house) – that hedge is more a collection of holly trees than a normal hedge – but needs the branches trimming to reduce the shading of the beds below. I recently acquired a ‘branch lopper’ which is adjustable in length, so I could lop branches much higher than I have been able to reach before, which was handy. I also had a go at the yew tree at the bottom of the garden, which has rather gone mad over the last few years and cut back a load of branches. This had the side effect of providing me with a number of ‘canes’ that I can use as supports (yew wood doesn’t rot in the ground easily) so was a worthwhile exercise.

Wildlife

Well you could tell it was warm today, I saw two peacock, a sulphur yellow and maybe a cabbage white butterflies – amazing. Also, the trail cam a the bottom of the garden revealed a hedgehog wandering through overnight a couple of days ago (as well as a couple of different cats!), Bumble bees and ‘bee-flies’ were also around today.

peacock_bfly

Peacock Butterfly

 

Birds, however, haven’t been that exciting. The great and blue tits visit the sinflower seed feeder regularly and blackbirds have been squabbling over territory plus the robins have been around (especially when I’m out gardening). Apart from that not really much going on.

More Seeds Arrived

My second lot of seeds ordered online (special offer!) arrived the other day prompting a trip to the greenhouse (the weather wasn’t up to too much outside anyway). Most of the seeds needed sowing inside anyway so I needed to be there in any case.

All I got sown in the end was some calabrese (‘belstar’) and aubergine (a small variety, ‘galine’). I’ll see if some of the aubergine plants can produce outside this year. I did get outside though and planted some pea seed (‘hurst green shaft’) in the raised bed nearest the greenhouse (only about a third of a row, along the length of the bed I’ll plant more in a couple of weeks.

Speaking of peas, the magetout growing in the greenhouse will need to go into the same bed in the next couple of days and then I’ll sow some more. I’ll also need to plant out some of the broad bean seedlings (‘aguadulce’) that are now big enough.

Some good news as far as tomato and pepper seedlings go, one or two more tomato seedlings have struggled through but more important two pepper (‘gourmet’) have appeared. Meanwhile I’ve potted on the nine ‘ailsa craig’ tomato seedlings, so that’s 18 tomato seedlings – too many already!

The Last Bed Is In

Beds 9, 10 and the new one, 11, furthest away

Beds 9, 10 and the new one, 11, furthest away

Eleventh raised bed

Eleventh raised bed (more compost has now been added)

Yes, at last the last, and eleventh, raised bed is now in place and filled. This one I’ve filled with a mixture of compost from one of the compost bins, which seems to have a high soil content anyway, plus the contents of four grow bags from last season. Not sure what I’m going to grow in it yet – and I really need a plan for all of them written down, I’m just carrying vague thoughts of what is going where in my head at the moment.

The other aspect of getting all the beds in is to redo the ‘garden map’ and to number the beds in some logical way.

The other big task now, is to get the paths around and between the 6 beds on the ‘new side of the central path sorted out – which is going to be quite a bit of work I think.

Of course, getting the bed in place isn’t the only work that I’ve done, although not much else  outside in the garden, there have been developments in the greenhouse.

As I mentioned in the last post, more tomato seedlings have appeared now, and since then a couple more have appeared. No sign of any peppers yet though. Just today I potted on 9 ‘pomodoro’ tomato seedlings and both the cucumber seedlings.

I’ve also got four varieties of potato ‘chitting’, some are saved from last year (‘maya gold’ & ‘rooster’ – they are both well on) plus some ‘maris piper’ & ‘charlotte’, which I bought today, so they will be a week or two before being ready for planting. I finished potting on the marigolds the other day, so that’s two trays full.

I noticed today that some rocket seedlings have appeared in the bed in front of the kitchen, no sign of any coriander yet though.

Things are beginning to look very spring like in the garden, lots of leaves appearing on the blackcurrant bushes and on the gooseberry bushes.

Gooseberry leaves

Gooseberry leaves

The fruit trees are also getting close to having open buds as well.

Plum Tree buds breaking out

Plum Tree buds breaking out

Spring flowers have been making a show in the ‘wild’ part of the garden.

Primroses

Primroses

 

Really Autumn Now

The weather has really turned now – last week at this time we had temps getting into the 20’s, which carried on until the end of the week – which was good as I spent several days taking folks around the country on tourist trips in the sunshine. As of Sunday, when there was an early morning temp of 2degC we’ve had rain and temps scarcely rising above 10degC with wind as well – so leaves are coming down from the trees in shoals (what is the collective for falling leaves?).

Mind, the rain was welcome in the garden – it had been so dry that I actually got the hosepipe out a couple of weeks ago and watered the flowers in particular, which brought on an overnight shower of course….

So, as a result of my ‘tourist guide’ work I haven’t had much time in the garden but one or two jobs have been completed. I’ve cut down the old raspberry canes from the batch that I bought this year – one set of three has quite large new shoots already, the other set (near the greenhouse) has only v small new shoots, but I’m sure they will come. I might say I’m still harvesting fresh raspberries from the old’ canes alongside the hedge, I had a few with my breakfast cereal this morning, along with some strawberries which were still ripening on the ‘climbing’ variety in the container – though I suspect they won’t be ripening as much now (might move them into the greenhouse if I can find room).
Also I’ve harvested the last of the potatoes – one lot (maris piper) in a growing container and the rows that I planted very late in a new raised bed. It did show that the container cropping isn’t very good compared with the ones in the raised bed (couple of rows of ?maris piper and one row of ‘Maya Gold’) – pictures below:

maya_gold

Maya Gold potatoes

maris_piper

Maris Piper potatoes

I have planted some more cut ‘n come again salad leaves in a container, they are just coming through now – but as with the strawberries I’ll try and get them into the greenhouse as soon as I can.

Otherwise, I’m still harvesting tomatoes – I’ve a container full of large one waiting for me to prepare some Bolognese sauce today for instance. One or two courgettes – although another massive one I’d missed went straight to the compost, there is a limit to what can be usefully done with large courgettes (?courges?) There have even been a few climbing beans to harvest and a few flowers still, but again the change in weather may well have kyboshed what is left. Inside the greenhouse there are still tomatoes, esp. The ‘pomodoro’ variety to harvest.  The aubergine plants are flowering! But I suspect now I’m just growing for compost as there is basically no chance of aubergines now.
I’ve still got a load of autumn/winter bedding plants growing on in the greenhouse – mostly primula and pansies – waiting to plant out so they are clogging up space rather in the greenhouse.
Speaking of flowers, they are mostly still doing well, the climbing nasturtium in particular is still going berserk but the change in weather will probably slow it down somewhat.

climbing_nastertiums

Climbing Nastertiums – really climbing!

Wildlife
Even as I typed a squirrel appeared on the lawn – so the trap is now out. I suspect it is a mate of the one I took on holiday a couple of weeks ago – so hopefully they can meet up again soon….
The covered ground feeder is working well and the dunnocks and robins have been working their way through the food fairly well – not seen any blackbirds recently so no idea if they have worked it out yet. I’ve just seen two great tits arguing over access to one of the hanging feeders as well. Still plenty of frogs and toads hopping about as well, though I haven’t seen any of the greenhouse poulation for a few days – they’ll be there somewhere though.

Photos and spelling corrections to follow – I’m typing this using the android tablet WordPress application, and a separate bluetooth keyboard (really good I can recommend much better for typing many words than stabbing at the screen). Haven’t found out yet if I can turn on the spelling correction stuff so I’ll have to open this post in a regular web page to check later.

Mostly Tomatoes

The last couple of weeks I have been mainly harvesting – tomatoes. With the odd courgette and cucumber. One courgette again was a monster before I spotted it. One so big the only thing to do with it was to cut it up and put it into the compost bin! There are still a few carrots as well – just enough for our meals when needed.

The tomatoes have been ripening at more or less the rate we can use them, either in salads or for home made pasta sauce mostly. There loads more to come yet. Three problems have arisen this year. Firstly, the small tomatoes have been in many cases too small – to the extent that today I cut off a truss with tiny tomatoes still ripening and put it straight into the compost bin – they really were too small to be useless. Secondly, many of the small tomatoes have split – not a problem if they are picked quickly enough, but they do start to go mouldy if left very long.

Small Tomatoes

Small Tomatoes

Thirdly, many of the Ailsa Craig tomatoes have been affected by a sort of skin affliction (I’ll add a photo) and have basically been a bit weird – though mostly edible.

Not so good Ailsa Craig

Not so good Ailsa Craig

OK Ailsa Craig

OK Ailsa Craig

The Pomdoro tomatoes have been producing quite well though

Pomdoro Tomatoes

Pomdoro Tomatoes

I’ve left the climbing french beans in as the recent sunny and fine weather has encouraged them to produce a few more beans – in fact it’s been so dry over the last couple of weeks I had the hosepipe out last night and watered the flower area mostly – whereupon it promptly rained overnight! Though not a lot….

Raspberries are still being produced in enough numbers to be handy with my breakfast cereal, plus the odd strawberry or two from the climbing strawberries.

Raspberries

Raspberries

Other activities have involved planting 100+ spring bulbs (and more to go yet) plus planting out winter flowering pansies and primulas. Also, I’ve just planted some more cut ‘n come again salad hoping that the good weather continues…

The nasturtiums have suddenly had a new lese of life because if the good weather (see below).

Nastertiums

Nastertiums

Wildlife

I sat in the kitchen a week or so ago and watched a squirrel happily squeeze through the grid on the ‘ground feeder protector’ (see this post – scroll right down) and start nibbling the bird food. Now I should explain that two sides of the protector are adjustable for width of grid – and I’d left them at the widest setting, which only ‘juvenile’ squirrels are supposed to get through. What was worse was that there was not one but two squirrels scampering around the law -hmmm. Anyway, I adjusted the sides to a much smaller grid size and yesterday I saw a squirrel going round and round the protector unable to get in – success. The squirrel didn’t get away with it though – walked into the squirrel trap later on and has now gone on holiday some distance away.

Ground feeder protection

Ground feeder protection

Meanwhile the dunnocks and robin are happily hopping through the grid sides to get at the food. Not seen a blackbird trying to get in yet, but int theory they should be able to get in. Not many pigeons about either but I have seen one go round the protector looking rather puzzled.

That’s enough for now…..

Summery Again

Thanks  to an extended period under high pressure (well a week or so) we now have daytime temps into the low 20’s (C) but night-time it drops to below 10 deg so a bit chilly first thing in the morning.

The other effect at this time of year of course is the shortening day – there hardly enough time in the evening to get things watered and one or two simple jobs and it’s already dark (before 8pm already too dark to work).

I’ve also had lots of things to do inside – like work and decorating – so outside work has taken a bit of a back seat. It’s been frustrating as well since the weather has been fine and sunny. It’s not that I don’t have plenty to do – there are over 70 ‘winter bedding plants’ in trays in the greenhouse which will soon need planting out.

Meanwhile I can scarcely keep up with harvesting the tomatoes, though amazingly by having pasta sauce made with our own tomatoes, we’ve been able to keep on top of the tomato situation. However, that isn’t so true of the courgettes, though production is slowing down now so maybe we’ll catch up.

The other bit of routine harvesting that has been handy is the raspberries – this time from just one cane I’ve had a few years, it is an autumn cropper and is quite prolific – so I’ve been able to have raspberries with my breakfast cereal several mornings each week, just picking the ripe ones just before breakfast – yum!

After finding a rather disappointing harvest of ‘Maya Gold’ potatoes from two bags the other week – scarcely enough for a couple of meals – with small portions. I emptied one of the bags with Maris Piper in the other day. This proved a bit more productive (see pic below)

Maris Piper harvest

Maris Piper harvest

So we had them mashed (with roast pork)

What’s the most depressing thing about wandering round the garden is the weed situation – boy have they proliferated – although the flower beds aren’t too badly affected, its mainly the areas around the raised beds and those bits I haven’t cultivated this year that are affected. I think an assault with the strimmer is called for….

I have harvested the grapes from the greenhouse  (pic to follow) but haven’t weighed the crops, seems like several pounds though. I’m now desperately looking up things to do with them – looks like gape juice or jam/jelly at the moment.

Wildlife

A major development for the birds is a ‘squirrel and pigeon proof’ enclosure to put over a ground feeding station (picture to follow) purchased from the RSPB. Within hours the dunnocks and a robin had worked out that it wasn’t a problem – haven’t seen any blackbirds inside yet – in theory they can get in. Sadly the pigeons have failed to appear (or a squirrel) since I put it out so I haven’t been able to gloat over their inability to get at the food yet.

Speaking of squirrels, one appeared last week, so the trap duly went out. Next morning I could see something was in it – but it was a hedgehog! So I rolled it out and after a few minutes it decided  the coast was clear and wandered off I have a picture which I’ll add). It does at least prove the hedgehogs are still around, so it served a useful purpose. Needless to say the squirrel hasn’t made another appearance, at least while I’ve been watching…..

Hedgehog just moving back to hide

Hedgehog just moving back to hide

Climbing Beans A-Plenty

Just thought I would harvest some climbing (and dwarf) beans for our dinner this evening – and this is what I came up with:

Plenty of Beans!

Plenty of Beans!

Only slightly deceptive as there is a courgette and a few mangetout peas lurking at the bottom of the basket – but nevertheless more than we can eat today or even tomorrow, or the day after…

The broad beans were dying back so I pulled them up today and rescued a few pods left over.  I always feel slightly guilty as some of the plants were shooting and flowering from the base and yes I know you can cut the tops down and maybe get a few more beans – but in my experience it doesn’t work too well. Anyway this many beans are to be incorporated in our meal:

The last broad beans...

The last broad beans…

Plenty of small tomatoes are now in the fridge as well as four courgettes at the last count – another surplus building up I think. Also, the cucumber are being more successful this year, only two plants but looks like they are going to produce faster than they can be eaten as well, already had a couple with more growing on the plants – not so easy to store either.

Raspberries are still producing well, but I noticed this morning that the birds (I presume) have had all the blueberries now, even the ones not quite ripe, so that’s a lesson for next year – they need netting!

Other fruit – well I’ve picked around a pound of brambles (blackberries) and there are plenty more waiting to be picked. The climbing strawberries are still producing, though only the odd one or two at a time – still they are good to add to my breakfast cereal when available.

Weather

We’ve had some showers over the last few days which have been quite welcome as it has meant I haven’t had to spend so much time watering – especially as I wanted to rush in as fast as possible to watch the Commonwealth Games…. Still quite warm though, and sunny and dry again today.

Wildlife

Not much to say, the buddleia has still been alive with Peacock butterflies, I counted over a dozen at one point, and I spotted a couple of Red Admirals today.

Tomato Glut Comin’ On

Here we go – the tomatoes are ripening, just a few at the moment but many are close, just turning orange. I suspect many will be ripe soon and based on previous performance lots will be ready a once – I can see a batch of tomato sauce (for pasta) being prepared soon….

Ripening tomatoes in greenhouse

Ripening tomatoes in greenhouse

Meanwhile there are many dwarf and climbing beans ready – we’ve been working through a batch harvested last Sunday and I can see there are plenty more ready, together with a load of mangetout peas. It wouldn’t be a problem, I’d simply freeze the excess, but we haven’t eaten all the frozen ones from last year yet! Seems wrong to start putting this years crop into the freezer before finishing off all the old ones.

Elsewhere the broad beans have just about finished, and very strangely many of the pods I picked last weekend were empty of beans, although they looked as if they had beans in them. I’ve had the odd pod like that before but never as many as I’ve found this year. Can’t really see any sign of disease so I don’t know what has been going on. I’m still harvesting carrots as well.

Recent harvest of beans & carrots

Recent harvest of beans & carrots

The courgettes have been producing male flowers like mad – very pretty bu not much use, I think there is one courgette starting on one plant though – next thing there will be a glut of courgettes…..

Courgette flowers

Courgette flowers – but no courgettes yet…

We do have at least one cucumber coming on – so we won’t need to buy any for a while hopefully.

There is a cucumber in there

There is a cucumber in there

Haven’t had to buy much lettuce recently either as the ‘cut ‘n come again’ leaves are producing enough to keep us going (though the rocket is now flowering).

Cut 'n come again salad leaves

Cut ‘n come again salad leaves

I harvested around a dozen garlic roots the other day – now hanging up to dry and this year they are quite substantial so we won’t be buying any garlic for a while I suspect. They are now hanging up and ‘curing’ in the outhouse.

On the non-crop side, I have now dug in the ‘summer green compost’ on the raise bed after chopping it up as much as possible with shears.

The fruit harvesting, especially the raspberries is now in full swing. There are about 1lb of raspberries in the fridge currently picked over the last couple of days, mostly from the new canes – and there are plenty more to come.

Raspberries ripening

Raspberries ripening

I’ve had a few strawberries from the new ‘climbing’ plants as well, and there are plenty ripening.

I picked several pounds of blackcurrants last weekend, and there are several bushes to deal with yet – they are in the fridge currently awaiting a decision.

Some of the blackcurrants waiting to be picked

Some of the blackcurrants waiting to be picked

A disappointment is the blueberries – plenty were ripening around 10 days ago – but the birds got to them first! I’ve moved the containers now in the hope that the new position (near the greenhouse) is less bird friendly/

To cap it all, the brambles are ready I notice – however, picking them is something that will have to wait until the evening as it is way too hot to be on a stepladder by the hedge picking them just now – we are in a period of temperatures over 25degC at the moment….

Also, this year is a year for the damsons at the bottom of the garden (they only seem to fruit well around 1 year in 5) and they are clearly ripening just now

Weather

As I’ve mentioned, we’ve had a period of sunny days now, only interrupted by some stormy showers last week – it’s meant that I’ve used the hosepipe a few times over the period – especially as some of the perennials I’ve planted recently still need to get themselves well rooted and wilt very quickly it it’s dry and hot for more than a couple of days.

Wildlife

Notwithstanding the sunny weather, there are plenty of froglets and toadlets as well as full grown frogs & toads so every time I start weeding in the flower are I seem to be disturbing several. There are more frogs and toads making use of the growbags both inside and outside the greenhouse this year – so whenever I water they will jump out looking slightly cross to be disturbed. Amazingly ss well a mouse appeared in the greenhouse the other day, very unusual in the summer (quickly taken care of though).

Greenhouse toad

Greenhouse toad

The buddleias are fully in flower at the moment and plenty of peacock butterflies on them, hopefully some of them are from the caterpillars on the nettles – also, the teasel flowers are very popular with bumble bees just now.

Not too many birds visiting the feeders though, but thankfully no squirrels just now (unless they are around before I get up of course).

Photos added later (too hot just now to go out with the camera!)

Mainly Harvesting

Not as much to do in the way of planting and so on at the moment, though I’m sure I should be doing some.

The focus has been mainly on watering and harvesting really. So what has been ready? Well, still picking broad beans and mangetout peas but added on the climbing French beans, carrots, and raspberries (see pic below for what we had with out dinner last Sunday):

Broad beans, carrots mangetout peas and French beans freshly harvested

Broad beans, carrots mangetout peas and French beans freshly harvested

The new raspberry canes are loaded with unripe fruit, but one or two are starting to ripen (see pic below). I did have around a dozen ripe raspberries from the old canes with my breakfast cereal the other morning.

Raspberries ripening

Raspberries ripening

Blueberries and blackcurrants are starting to ripen as well. All the redcurrants have been harvested and eaten now.

Blueberries starting to ripen

Blueberries starting to ripen

 

One of the courgette plants is flowering, as is one of the cucumber plants, but the courgette flowers are all males so far:

Courgette plant with flowers

Courgette plant with flowers

Inside the greenhouse some of the small tomatoes are starting to ripen. Let’s hope we don’t get a rush of ripening – last year my wife spent a lot of time making tomato puree/chopped  tomato for pasta and freezing it to cope with the surplus.

Ripening tomatoes in greenhouse

Ripening tomatoes in greenhouse

Elsewhere, the ‘green manure’ in one of the new raised beds is big enough to dig in now:

Green manure plants - ready to dig in?

Green manure plants – ready to dig in?

Wildlife

While weeding the other day a smooth newt emerged from one of the plants, and after the recent rain there are a lot of baby frogs to be seen:

Smooth newt

Smooth newt

Baby frog

Baby frog

I always have a few teasel plants – they self seed and I let some grow as they are good for bees (flowers) and birds (seeds) – here one of the heads in flower with a bumble bee:

Bumble bee on teasel flower

Bumble bee on teasel flower

Weather

The weather has been mixed, mostly sunny and I have needed to use the hosepipe a few days, but some showrs as well which have been welcome.

 

Photos to go with Previous Post

I did say in my last post I’d add some photos – well rather than insert them into the post I thought for a change I would just put them together…

Broad Beans - we've had a couple of servings so far

Broad Beans – we’ve had a couple of servings so far

 

Tomatoes outside greenhouse - doing well, mostly

Tomatoes outside greenhouse – doing well, mostly

New raised beds - nearest sown with summer 'green compost', other with potatoes and onions

New raised beds – nearest sown with summer ‘green compost’, other with potatoes and onions. The mesh was to keep the pigeons from eating the seed.

Now some flowers from the garden….

pansy

Pansy

 

pansy flower

Another pansy

 

Geranium flower and Bee

Perennial geranium – and bee

 

aqualegia

Aqualegia

Finally – at the bottom of the garden there is a patch of nettles – now as tall as I  am – I allow them to grow for the benefit of the butterflies etc. that need nettles as a food plant – and here are some of the baby caterpillars I spotted the other day:

Caterpillars on nettles

Caterpillars on nettles

Finally, a baby starling enjoying some ‘suet bits’ and a sparrow waiting:

Starling feeding, with sparrow waiting

Starling feeding, with sparrow waiting