Tag Archives: beans

Seemed Like Summer – Briefly

Temperatures last week got into the mid-20’s degC for a couple of days and for most of the week it was really too hot to spend a lot of time in the garden during the middle of the day and the greenhouse was unbearable! Previously since my last post the weather had been cold and rainy so it was quite a dramatic change.

Despite all that there has been progress, though not as much as would have normally taken place by this time of year and some aspects are really behind.

So, what’s been done? Well the tomatoes that had germinated are now in a grow-bag in the greenhouse, rather three are in on and one in a second. Until today that was the sum total of vegetables planted in their final place. However, a burst of activity today saw me planting potatoes (‘desiree’) in the furthest bed and some cabbage and cauliflower seedlings in the bed alongside the greenhouse. I’m sorry to say I bought the brassicas from a DIY centre, well I’ve never had a lot of success with brassicas but last years cauliflowers gave me some hope. Those plants came from seedlings bought in the same place, so when I saw some this year I though they might be worth a go and they mostly fill a bed up. I’ve put one of my new larger cloches over most of them and those that didn’t fit under have clear plastic bottle halves over them to act as mini-greenhouses.

Three of the tomato plants safely in the growbag  (the fourth one is now in the bag in front)

Apart from that the seed germinating situation hasn’t been going too well with so far not too many of the vegetable seeds I’ve planted over the last month showing any signs yet. Some of the seeds sown a while back have produced though, the coriander (in a pot) is through and one! mangetout pea has appeared. The same sort of story is true for the flower seeds, though I do have some cosmos seedlings which were in a tray and now transplanted into individual pots. A second sowing in a half tray of sunflower ‘teddy bear’ (new seed) has produced a few seedlings.

Rather sadly one of the two cucumbers that had germinated and been re-potted into larger pots didn’t make it through one of the cold nights in the greenhouse so only one now. More seeds have been planted, and some from a new packet (‘cornichon’ baby cucumber ‘vert petit de paris’ – one has just germinated) plus I’ve planted squash (butternut F1 hunter) which I haven’t tried before and some french/dwarf beans as well as a couple of climbing beans. More tomatoes seeds also mostly of the smaller types (‘garnet’ & ‘sweet aperitif’) and some ‘gardeners delight’. Also sown and waiting for some to show are basil, russian tarragon. I’ve also, sown some carrots in the old tank I’ve used before (Nantes & )

The broad beans now – the slowest growing are the ones sown in the Autumn! (the furthest away)

Meanwhile the bedding plants bought online and at the DIY centre are piling up. I keep being surprised by deliveries of plants arriving at the house that I forgot I ever ordered – then having to hastily pot them up into big pots or matrix trays (which I had to do for 36 geraniums in the greenhouse heat last week!). I have made a start on clearing the borders ready for them now. It’s a shame but I’ll be pulling up a load of self-seeded forget-me-nots during the week. Normally they would be just about finished before I needed to clear them out but this year the weather has delayed them somewhat but they will just have to go.

A selection of flowers and veg seedlings under the ‘cold frame’

I did finally get round to mending the damaged raised bed at the end of last week so that’s now ready for action – though on my plan it has ‘TBD’ against it….

The repaired raised bed. The lone plant is a phlox which somehow managed to escape replanting last year – now planted in the flower border. Note the replacement side is higher quality timber – more or less accidental but there wasn’t much choice

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Feels Like Spring – Again

Now as I write this (Thursday 29th) it feels like spring, it is sunny right now, but we had -1degC last night and this weekend promises to be cold again, though not as bad a previous events!

All this meant that as I had put the cucumber seedlings into the greenhouse the other day, I had to move them onto the bench with a tube heater under to make sure the frost didn’t zap them. This morning they ;looked a little sad but did seem to have survived.

Well whats been done since my last post? Starting with the last couple of days I’ve been busy potting on 72 bedding plants (gazania & bidens) which arrived as tiny plantlets in their little plastic holders and had to be potted into something pretty much straight away.

Since only 2 cucumber seeds germinated, botth the same type (baby), I’ve planted the remaining seeds from the ‘burpless’ variety in a pot (in the kitchen) to see if I can persuade them to produce.

The flower seeds in one of the heated propagators – 4 pots of various sweet peas and 4 pots of various sunflowers haven’t produced much unfortunately. there are  only 7 sweet pea seedlings (out of a possible 16) and no sunflowers. So I’ve sown some more sunflower seeds (teddy bear) and they are in the kitchen with the cucumbers in a plastic bag – hopefully a better environment.

Sweet pea seedlings at the back – sunflower pots nearest with no seedlings!

It’s not the only failure, a half tray of cosmos (2 varieties) in the lounge near the french window have not produced anything. A second half tray, split between nicotiana and rudbeckia, has produced just 8 rudbeckia seedlings – not very good at all.  new batch will need to be sown pretty soon though and I think I will need some new seed.

Also, I’ve sown some coriander in a pot in the greenhouse to see if they produce (oldish seed so not sure of the viability). Plus a pot of mangetout peas (oregon sugar snap) so hopefully to get peas soon…

Also, I’ve now plated out the remainder of the broad bean seedlings into the bed, which is now full (see below)

Broad bean bed now full – mostly ‘De Monica’ nearest and ‘Aquadulce the further half

Last week I had a good go at the ivy and branches of the old pear tree in the middle of the veg garden, hopefully before any serious bird nesting has occurred (the ivy is pretty thick around the trunk and is nested in every year) – it needs to be kept trim so there is less shadow over the beds in the summer.

The garlic bed is now looking pretty good now I’ve filled it up:

Garlic bed – 2 types, bigger plants were planted last year

Finally, I have taken the time to try and properly plan the raised bed contents so I have an idea what other seeds to buy, if any. More on that later when I’ve had time to properly document it.

The very first raised bed I constructed (from a kit, had kale in it last year) suffered some damage to one side over the winter, basically one side has rotted enough to more or less fall off, so I’ve mad a start at moving the soil away so I can add a new side, just needs me to buy the wood now!

Broken side of raised bed

I found some rather large fancy cloches/cold frames in a local shop recently – unfortunately slightly shorter than the raised beds and slightly wider than half the width, but they were a bargain and are over a couple of the beds now – we’ll see how useful they are.

New cloche/cold frame (green) with my old cloches nearest

I think I know which bed the potatoes will go in, and the ‘chitting’ potatoes (desiree) on a tray in the greenhouse have shoots on, but still pretty small, with the weather still pretty poor I guess I won’t plant until after Easter any way.

Wildlife

A review of one of the trail cameras at the bottom of the garden revealed that at least one hedgehog is active. which is encouraging

Another surprise turned up on the bird ground feeder the other day – I took some photos of a bird with my zoom camera, not because I recognised it but it just seemed to be behaving differently from the usual robin or dunnock. Then when I looked at the photo  I could see it was a blackcap (after I’d consulted my ‘bird book’) – as the photo was taken through the kitchen window it isn’t as sharp as it could be but here it is:

A surprise blackcap

 

 

 

After a week of gardening – Winter Returns!

As I write this first draft (Sunday 18th)  there is a covering of snow on the garden and a temperature of -1degC! Yesterday I was working in the garden in a temperature of 12degC. Quite some contract. We now have a ‘mini-Beast from the East’ affecting our weather this weekend.

Broad bean bed after snow!

As I mentioned, during the week it was fine and I managed to get a few jobs done in the garden. Threee more raised beds are now clear of weeds, had some pelleted chicken manure added and some ex-growbag compost added (if soil level was low enough). That leaves the bed with kale in to sort out – it has some damage to the retaining plank along one side that needs a repair. The only other bed not touched so far is the one nearest the house. That bed has had carpet over it for most of the winter so should n’t need much weeding, though it may need topping up with compost.

The beds here are clear of weeds – honest!

As far as plants and seeds go, the first lot of broad bean seedlings are now in the bed with the seedling from the overwintered plants. I’ve filled in the gaps of the ‘Aquadulce’ seedlings with the ones from the greenhouse – and they look a lot better than the plants from the autumn sowing. The other seedlings were ‘De Monica’ and they are all in. The bed isn’t yet full but there is another tray of broad beans just coming through in a greenhouse propagator. I was thinking of turning the power off but it’s just as well that I didn’t!.

Broad bean bed – with some of new seedlings in. All are now in

The picture above shows how much better it is to start the plants in pots rather than planting beans in the autumn…..

Meanwhile in the kitchen I have tomato seedlings through and cucumber as well. They rather took me by surprise, I hadn’t bothered to look inside the plastic bag covering the post (it wasn’t a clear one) and when I did the other day was rather surprised to find the seedlings already a bit etiolated and about 2 inches tall. Now the cover is off they are looking a bit more normal. Basically it is a 50% germination, 2 each of the tomato seeds (I think I put 4 in each pot) and 2 cucumber seedlings (‘Baby’) in one pot, the other (Burpless’) none so far. The tomatoes are ‘Alicante & ‘San Marzano’.

Kitchen seedlings just after bag taken off. The cucumber seedlings are upright now!

There is a tray of sweet peas in the other propagator and yesterday it looked as if they were starting to come through – well a couple at least.

More updates soon – as I finish this on Tuesday the snow is all gone and temperatures as high as 8degC today so there is some chance of getting something done in the garden again…..

Just to provide a bit of spring – here is a daffodil (taken before the snow):

 

November Catch Up & Review

I feel very guilty at not updating the blog for so long. I could give the excuse that I’ve been very busy but that wouldn’t be entirely true. I just keep forgetting when I get in front of the computer even after working in the garden.

To be fair, over the last month I haven’t spent that much time in the garden. Most of that time has been spent cutting hedges or removing dead plants and carrying out the last bits of harvesting.

So, all the tomato plants are now in the compost bins and the growbags are now stacked on one of the raised beds ready for the contents to be used to bulk up some of the raised beds. The only plants left in the raised beds now are some lettuce which has managed to survive the couple of frosts we’ve had, some beetroot in the same bed which just hasn’t been harvested and are probably become too woody to use now, and the bed of kale, (there is just too much to use).

Having harvested the bed of potatoes a few weeks ago, I noticed the other day that one of the ‘potato bags’ hadn’t been emptied, so that may be a few more spuds! The ones harvested have been very welcome in the kitchen and quite a reasonable crop.

Overall I would say it’s only been an ‘average’ sort of year from the point of view of produce from the garden. The tomatoes were really only ok, no glut this year, and no big glut of courgettes, though that was partly because I missed a few and they became huge while hiding under leaves. The climbing beans were ok, though didn’t produce enough to fill the freezer, the dwarf beans didn’t produce too much and the broad beans were pretty poor. The sweet peppers in the greenhouse weren’t bad – kept us in peppers for a couple of weeks. The mangetout peas also weren’t as prolific as previous years, but did produce enough – in fact there are a couple of plants of a second sowing still alive!

No carrots survived this year, despite several plantings and the salad crops were pretty poor as well with the exception of the cucumber plants which produced enough to keep us going through the summer and into the autumn.

Now I have to clean up the beds, a couple are covered with old carpet so at least the weeds will be suppressed, and the potato bed has been dug over of course but the others will all want de-weeding and probably compost added.

There is also some planting to do of course. Broad beans and garlic in particular, once I’ve decided which beds (the garlic harvest wasn’t brilliant either this year). Plus I’ve a load of narcissi and tulips to get in as soon as poss, though they will be mainly going into containers.

Wildlife

The trail cameras have turned up another fox, different from the one seen a couple of years ago with a very thin tail. The hedgehogs have been active until recently as well.

The birds  have not been very active just recently, though a robin seems to think I’m only in the garden to produce food for it – it appears a feet away from me within minutes of me working in the garden and will keep ‘chuntering’ at me until I stand still and allow it a few minutes to collect any worms & grubs I’ve revealed.

Plus my usual battle with mice in the greenhouse has kicked off…..

Photos next time!

 

 

Bean Harvesting Plus

The climbing beans have been producing like mad and I harvested a huge amount the other day plus several cucumbers and a large courgette – it had managed to escape my gaze somehow despite being bright yellow……

Climbing beans (3 varieties), cucumbers & courgette

Meanwhile the tomatoes are coming to an end – the ‘tumbling tom’ variety is still producing, and one plant at the bottom of the garden in a container (planted late as I couldn’t decide what to do with the seedling) is just starting to fruit. The bigger fruit varieties however have only a few tomatoes left to ripen.

Tomato plants in greenhouse – almost finished now

As mentioned the courgette plants are producing and I’m trying to avoid the usual glut by picking them quite early. Most are ending up in stir-fries along with some of the climbing beans.

The pepper plants in the greenhouse now have one or two peppers almost ready for harvesting.

Pepper plants

The cannellini bean pods are quite big now but are they ready I wonder?

Cannellini bean pods

Wildlife

Finches are working through the bird seed like mad and the trail cameras have revealed that the fox with the thin tail is still around plus several (more than one you can tell by the size) hedgehogs wandering backwards and forwards. Plus of course the usual cats of course.

Summer – Phew What A Scorcher!

Well after the poor weather reported in the last post things have taken a much warmer turn. We’ve had temperatures over 25degC the last few days and exceeding 30degC yesterday and today. The prospect for the rest of the week s for temperatures between 25 and 30. All this means that is is far too hot to work in the garden during the middle of the day and afternoon and of course there is plenty of watering to do!

Nevertheless it all has to be done and the good thing is of course that we are in the period of maximum daylight at the moment so working in the garden is possible until just about 10pm (and of course from about 5am if necessary).

The flowers are looking good as a result, but keeping the climbing and dwarf beans well watered has been quite tricky. The bonus point about the good weather is that it has brought on some serious harvesting with some of the crops, most notably the strawberries as you can see:

The strawberry bed and fruit

One of the strawberry harvests (since had one with over a kilo of fruit!)

Elsewhere the mangetout peas are producing and we’ve been eating them in salads and steaming them with other veg for hot meals:

Mangetout peas waiting to be harvested – note the ‘eye protection’ on top of the cane.

The climbing beans had one ore two almost ready to be picked, but the plants themselves still look a bit scrawny and in fact one of the the original plantings had to be replaced with the more recent sowing as it clearly was not going to amount to anything even though it was still alive – just!

Climbing Beans – overview plus Cucumber plant

Climbing Beans – almost ready for picking

What were baby cucumbers a couple of weeks ago have suddenly become the size they should be picked!

Cucumber – should be pick I think

The dwarf/french beans seem to be hardly growing much, though all bar one are surviving:

French/dwarf beans – compare with the last post – not much change

The tomatoes in the greenhouse meanwhile are coming along nicely with fruit on all the plants:

Tomatoes in the greenhouse

The bush style plants near the kitchen seem to be doing ok with a mass of foliage and flowers:

‘Tumbling Tom’ plants growing well

On top of all this I had to hastily get the mesh cover over the redcurrant bushes at the end of last week as the redcurrants were ripening rapidly. If I don’t get them covered in time the birds will have them!

Ripening redcurrants – protected!

Plus the gooseberries aren’t far off being ready

Ripening gooseberries

I’ve also planted some more mangetout pea seedlings since starting this post yesterday and harvested a foot-long cucumber. I’ve also harvested a large enough quantity of mangetout peas to warrant blanching and freezing (too much for us to eat just now) and over 1lb of strawberries! This means we’ve probably harvested around 2 kilos of strawberries altogether – pretty good really.

In top of all the above had been the routine maintenance of course, mowing the lawn, cutting the hedges and weeding of course. The rainy period followed by sunshine has just encouraged growth of course. So it’s a pretty continuous process – once I’ve cut all the hedges etc. it’s about time to start again. Also, the hedge cutting in the ‘flower’ end of the garden right now is more tricky than ever as all the border plants, which grow right up to the hedges, have to be protected while cutting – it’s a real nightmare.

Wildlife

No trail camera results really since last post and no real changes in the birds arriving at the feeding points. I have seen some baby blackbirds being fed by their parents on the lawn though and I suspect the robins may have a second brood (or a different nest  judging by the noise coming from the hedge on one side.

One squirrel made into the garden and has been taken on holiday…..

Summer Was Brief….

Hopefully this will be an up to date blog on the garden after the delayed last post.

Anyway, we were having a couple of weeks or so of sun and some really hot days – to the point where I had to use the hosepipe (temps up into the mid twenties C). It coincided with a period when there was lots to plant out, mainly bedding plants in the ‘flower’ part of the garden but there were also dwarf beans, climbing beans and cucumber plants to get planted.

Now summer seems to have temporarily gone away. We have rain and wind today and more predicted for this week – not altogether a bad thing as it helps get all the recently planted flowers and veg get well established.

There are only a few things left in the greenhouse to plant out now – some more climbing beans, and more mangetout peas so there is now some room to put the peppers and a cucumber plant into bigger pots and locate them in the greenhouse. One pepper plant already has a fruit – a very curious plant as it is only a few inches high…

Anyway some pictures to illustrate the progress:

Broad Beans – with some beans now

The broad bean plants are finally protected with string, however the plants are not too tall (The Sutton) but the dry weather in May may have prevented some bean pods from developing – certainly I can’t see as many as I would have expected.

The cauliflower plants are doing well, not attacked too much as yet apart from one or two – we’ll see if the ‘heart up’ later. They are a mixture of types.

Cauliflower plants

The potato plants have really grown and form quite a forest now – I just hope some potatoes are developing

Potato plants in raised bed

There are three ‘potato bags’ with plants in as well – I just have a problem as to where to put them at the moment – they are just outside the greenhouse and in the way at the moment.

The mangetout peas are in flower and I’ve just planted another eight plants so we should have mangetout to eat over quite a while.

Mangetout peas plants – a mixture of two types – Oregon Sugar Pod & ??

The tomato plants outside the greenhouse are surviving:

Tomato plants outside the greenhouse

I know the plants in the far growbag look a bit scrawny, they are a new variety to me – ‘rainbow blend’, but I think they are ok. There are a couple more of that variety inside the greenhouse looking much the same. The more leafy plants are ‘marmande’ which I’ve grown before.

Tomato plants in the greenhouse

Can’t remember the mixture of varieties right now but the nearest are ‘rainbow blend’ and there is at least one ‘pomodoro’ in there and the one ‘gardeners delight’ that germinated.

Tomatoes are already developing on the ‘rainbow blend’ :

Rainbow blend fruit already developing

The kale plants seem to be slow growing but are at least surviving, although as you can see at least one has been ‘got at’ by slugs or pigeons:

Kale plants ok apart from near left plant

The dwarf beans (two varieties) I planted out only a week or so ago seem to have survived ok – in addition there are four of ‘cannellini’ bean plants (right at the back), a type I haven’t grown before. There are a couple more seedlings just ‘hardening’ at the moment which I’ll add in a couple of days.

Dwarf and cannellini bean plants

The climbing beans are struggling a bit and at least one looks as if it might not survive – not sure whether the current rain and lower temperatures help or hinder that – one though does have flowers and is climbing ok. The only saving grace is that I have several seedlings in the greenhouse waiting to go out so I could cope with one or two of the planted beans not making it – but I’d rather they survived!

Finally,  two cucumber plants are under the ‘door’ protection are doing well and indeed one has flowered and a proto-cucumber is visible:

Cucumber plant with developing cucumbers

I will get round to weeding around it eventually….

Wildlife

The recent trail cam videos revealed only one cat, which is a surprise and steady hedgehog traffic plus a squirrel which still hasn’t made into the rest of the garden – which has saved it from an enforced ‘holiday’!

Birds – much the same as the previous. More butterflies (when it was sunny) and plenty of bumble bees, but very few honey bees. I guess there are no hives nearby.