Tag Archives: climbing beans

Autumn is Really Here

Yes the time for mass removal of dying or dead veg crops is now here.

There are a few tomatoes hanging on that may ripen, mostly outside in the raised bed near the greenhouse. There are also a few peppers trying to ripen outside and a couple that are ready in the greenhouse.

Almost everything else is finished, so I’ve cleared away the remains of the mangetout peas, also the squash (only produced 1 small squash which vanished overnight, I suspect animals rather than humans), the cornichon and courgette plants in the bed near the climbing beans, the cucumber plants (and I found a couple of large cucumbers I’d missed) plus what was left of the cabbage plants.

The courgette plants in the #part-covered’ bed are still there but looking a bit sad so they will go to compost soon…

The climbing bean plants are still growing well but after a big harvest the other day, I think there will be very few new beans now, depends on the weather really and the outlook is ok with no frosts predicted for a few days at least. The french/dwarf beans are just about finished now as well.

One other crop still in the ground is the carrots one containers is full of plants and the other where they wee planted has just 2 – don’t ask me why they were planted at more or less the same time.. but they seem to have produced decent roots so we’ll have to be eating them soon.

One job I need to do is to prune the tayberry which seems to have gone through a growing phase recently and has really long shoots now.

in the flower section lots of plants still flowering so it will be a while before I can do much clearing up there.

 

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Photos Follow up from last post

As promised in my last post here are some photos of the vegetable garden just to prove things are actually still growing and producing….

First I’ll mention the tomatoes. The greenhouse varieties are producing, especially the ‘cherry’ style variety, and the ‘gardeners delight’. The ‘manzano’ and ‘beefsteak’ are just starting to produce. Outside the greenhouse, those in the growbags again the cherry type is producing. The ones in the raised bed currently have plenty of green fruit on them.

The plants outside the kitchen, since they get afternoon sun and are sheltered have been producing for a couple of weeks and have been incorporated into salads and roasted dishes (as well will be tonight) Here’s a view of them recently:

Cherry style tomatoes outside the kitchen

The climbing beans are in full production as well, both the ‘green’ variety (blue lake) and the purple type (blauhilde). See photos below:

Blu lake climbing beans

Blauhilde climbing beans

I’m harvesting courgettes and cucumbers of course and as usual far too many for our needs.

I’ve been away recently for around 10 days. Although my new neighbour offered to keep watering my plants, I thought I would try and relieve the pressure a bit by setting up some auto watering in the greenhouse. This became all the more desirable when it became clear that the weather was going to be hot in between some showery intervals. Around the time I was considering this one of the online merchants I buy plants from offered a discount on a couple of products that looked promising.

One was a simple gravity fed watering system which used a suspended plastic bag with a tube system and adjustable ‘taps’ to feed a number of containers…

Gravity fed watering system

The bag holds a fair amount of water and the system worked reasonably well, the main problem being the adjustment of the ‘taps’ to provide a flow low enough for what I wanted. I used two of these (it was a 2 pack on offer) to keep the peppers and the cucumber watered and the seemed to achieve this ok.

The other system was rather more sophisticated and involved a box with electronics, display and which contained a small pump. This could be programmed to pump water from a bucket through thin tubes to the plants or containers that needed watering. This needed a while in operation before I could work out the optimum settings and it was used to water the growbags containing the tomato plants.

‘Automatic’ watering device

Both systems are still operating and seem to be more or less working as wanted, although the gravity fed system needs some more adjustment. The ‘electronic’ system does need the bucket refilling after a week or so, but the gravity fed system s haven’t needed refilling yet.

Sorry for the long time since last post

Yes, I know I should have posted more through the summer, but one thing and another…..

Anyway, I’ll try and bring you up to date as afar as possible and hopefully include a few pictures to illustrate if can get them sorted out.

Basically at the  moment I am at peak harvest for tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers and french/climbing beans and as per usual there are too many courgettes, tomatoes and cucumbers t deal with! The beans, though producing more than can be eaten, can at least be frozen.

What has finished producing are the strawberries (weeks ago) raspberries (last few just ripening), tayberries and blueberries (birds had most of them!). Also the mangetout peas are just about over and most of the plants are now composting. Also reaching the end are the salad crops, lettuce, mixed leaves etc. I didn’t have to chance to plant anything recently so there isn’t anything to replace them right now, though I may get round to it in the next week or so. All the garlic has now been harvested, and the potatoes are ready and hopefully I’ll get them dug up in the next week or so. There are a container full of carrots as well probably ready, but I haven’t checked.

The weather has been rather odd as well. We’ve had periods of intense heat for a week or so, getting up to te low 30s C followed by windy wet weather with anti-cyclones reminiscent of autumn rather than summer. Right now we are going through a hot spell but the weather is about to break in a day or two. So they have been periods where the hosepipe has been needed to keep things going then periods where there was too much rain if anything – all very annoying really.

That’s as much as I have time for just now – photos will have to follow as I need to do a bit of processing first.

Lots of planting and growing

In the interim since the last post things have moved on a lot as you might imagine. Several times I’ve intended to post, and even taken photos but finding time to actually write the post has proved difficult.

Anyhow, here is a more or less up-to-date review.

Almost everything grown form seed or purchased as seedlings is now planted out. The only exception now really are the courgettes and they should be in during the next few days.

So, how are things situated?

Well, starting at the furthest end of the cultivated part of the garden – the garlic in bed 5 is now at the point where the ‘autumn’ garlic (remember it was transplanted from last year’s bed) is now almost ready for harvesting. The spring planted variety has a bit longer before it will be ready.

Next to that bed are containers in which carrots are supposed to be growing, but I’ve only just got round to sowing seed in one of them so nothing is up yet.

Next in bed 4 are the potatoes, ‘Mayan Gold’, all the plants are up and earthed up as far as they can be.

Bed 6 near the greenhouse, has the ‘excess’ tomato and pepper plants in it. In particular three tomato plants ‘Alicante’ (x2) & ‘San Marzano’. Plus five pepper plants, some bought as seedlings (when I was paranoid about any of my seed germinating), and some from seed. The varieties are ‘Bendigo’ x2, ‘Capino’ x2, plus my seed grown ones planted since the photo was taken. The remaining space I’ve yet to fill.

The ‘extra’ pepper plants & tomatoes

Alongside the greenhouse there are the usual grow-bags with tomatoes (see below) and from right to left the tomato varieties are:

Sparta, Alicante, San Marzano in the LH bag and then Gardeners Delight, Cherry Cascade x2 in the RH one

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse

Next to bed 4 is the area with the blackcurrant bushes, the new ones planted at the end of last year are all sprouting bar one, which so far hasn’t produced a shoot – so it’s looking like I’ll need a replacement. There will be no blackcurrants from theses bushes this year of course.

Next, bed 3 has the broad bean plants, now very much all in flower or with small bean pods already.

The broad bean plants in bed 3

Bed 2, the next in line has only just been aroused from its winter sleep, covered with an old blind. It is destined to hold courgette and squash plants, and I’ve forked it over to incorporate some bonemeal and chicken dropping pellets ready for planting. The courgettes are just about ready and the squash plants should be ready by the end of this week.

Bed 1 is for beans and the picture below is a few days old and shows the dwarf/french beans, mostly ‘Tendergreen’, some bought as seedlings and some I’ve grown, plus a few ‘Safari’ which are also home grown. Since the photo was taken I’ve planted four climbing beans and another four are ready to go in.

Dwarf/french beans, mostly ‘Tendergreeen’

Moving across to the other side, bed 9 has the brassicas. There are cabbage (far end), cauliflower (near end) and broccoli in the middle. However, the cauliflower and broccoli have been heavily attacked by pigeons. I had them covered with chicken wire at first but took that off when I thought the plants were big enough, only to find all of them, except the cabbage plants, with leaves that were almost shredded in the last few days, so I’ve put the wire back over again!

The brassicas – before the attack of the pigeons!

Next, bed 8 is the one that acts as a kind of cold frame with the old door covering it. At the moment only one cucumber plant is planted and the rest is taken up with various seedlings in trays and pots. A courgette (Atena) is ready to go in though.

Bed 7 nearest the greenhouse has salad crops in it, and I need to sow more seeds really. At present there is only some lettuce plants (bought as seedlings) and some radishes I sowed and now ready to harvest.

Bed 7, radish plants nearest and lettuce at the far end

The mangetout are in bed 10 across from bed 7 and are varieties I haven’t grown before. Both of them seem to grow much higher than the varieties like ‘Oregon sugar snap’ that I’ve been grown before. They have at least now started to flower so I guess they won’t get much higher now. It’s now about the time I should be planting some more, which I’ll start in pots like all those in the bed.

Mangetout peas  – much taller than I expected!

Next to that bed is the bed with strawberry plants in and there are lots of berries waiting for some sun to help ripen them.

Strawberry berries – nice when ripe…

Lastly, outside the kitchen is the pot with more tomatoes in it – there are tow Red Cherry and two Cherry Cascade plants, so hopefully later on they will provide us with lots of small tomatoes during the summer.

The ‘kitchen’ tomato plants

The other major development is that I’ve extended the ‘open compost’ heap which is handy as I’m pulling up lots of weeds at the moment and all my compost bins are just about full – I’ll add a photo when I update.

Wildlife

The birds have been busy, partly I guess because they are feeding chicks. Lots of mealworms being eaten as well as seeds. There have been a bunch of house sparrows which is good news, plus the usual blackbirds, great and blue tits, dunnocks, and the odd greenfinch. The more worrying activity I’ve noted is that magpies have been visiting the feeders and scaring off the small birds, plus I’ve seen a jackdaw as well.

Meanwhile the trail cams have shown that hedgehogs are active along the ‘highway’ at the bottom of the garden but a camera at the front has picked one up crossing the front garden as well! I suspect it is also moving along the side of the house from our garden and I have a camera now watching that route to check.

The trail camera has also picked up a fox crossing along the ‘highway’ as well.

The End of 2018

A last post from 2018 and a kind of review of the year plus what’s been happening in the garden recently.

Well the year has been ok, though successful in the ‘flower’ part of the garden I feel there were a few less than perfect beds in the vegetable area.

There was a very good show of annuals and perennials in the flower beds, with the cosmos (mostly from seed) and dahlias (that survived the winter) being the stars I guess, the the geraniums were pretty spectacular this year and they lasted well into November as well.

The penstemon bed was reasonable, though I had to plant plenty of new ones in the spring  as many hadn’t survived the winter, even though it was mild. They are still growing well, though not flowering, even now thanks to the mild weather so far this winter. It’s a bit annoying really as they will need to be cut down soon to allow the under-planted daffodils etc. to flower.

In the vegetable area the garlic was a bit disappointing, especially the autumn planted ones. Having said that, around a dozen garlic plants have sprung up in the bed during the autumn from garlic bulbs I must have missed! I have now moved them to the designated bed for garlic this year.  Perhaps just as well since one of the online garden companies I had ordered garlic from for autumn and spring planting recently cancelled the autumn garlic part of the order….

The salad bed was disappointing, although we did have some meals with salad leaves from it some of the rows planted had a poor germination rate. The best was a row of ‘lollo rosso’ bought as seedlings. However, there are still some usable leaves available from a few plants even now.

The strawberry bed produced a good crop for a couple of weeks but the dry summer really had an effect and there were very few berries after the first flush.

Right next to the strawberry bed (towards the greenhouse) was a bed with cucumber, squash and courgette plants. The cucumber produced ok, in fact with all the cucumber plants we had a real glut and gave away more than we ate. The squash was a disappointment though, despite the wonderful summer, On the other had, the courgette plant – a short ‘tubby’ variety – produced well.

Next to that bed, partly, is the part covered bed which I use as a cold frame in the early spring. This had two cucumber plants and a courgette growing in the bed, all of which produced well and of course along with the other courgette and cucumber plants produced a glut. Bear in mind there was one more courgette, in the end of the garlic bed (the ‘spring’ garlic had been harvested) planted into the bed still in a pot.

Next to the salad bed I had mangetout peas, and again they could only be described as poor to moderate, with the early planting producing well and not too much after that. As with other years I grew the peas from seed in the greenhouse before planting out.

The next bed had one lonely squash plant and a few pots with bulbs in compost being kept over the summer. Although like the other squash plant it produced plenty of growth only one usable squash cam from this plant.

Beyond the blackcurrant bushes (now replaced) the next bed had beans, climbing and french/dwarf beans. The climbing beans were from seed but the french.dwarf beans were from a pack of around 20 seedlings. They were planted as a ‘border’ round the bed with the climbing beans in the middle. The dwarf beans did produces quite well, a contrast with other years when they have tended to produce a few beans then stop producing any. The climbing beans, while they did grow ok, weren’t quite as prolific as other years so we haven’t ended up with much in the freezer.

The last bed in  that sequence had potatoes in (??) and these produced as well as expected in a small bed and provided a number of meals worth of potatoes along with those planted in growing sacks kept nearby.

Near the east side of the greenhouse were the brassicas in a bed, some cauliflower and some cabbage. We had two or three cauliflowers and also cabbages, in fact, thanks to the mild autumn, there are still cabbages in the bed and we finished one only yesterday.

Next to the greenhouse was the bed with broad beans – I think I have made the comment earlier that the autumn planted beans didn’t grow or produce any better than those grown for the bean in spring – the bean production was around average I guess.

Inside the greenhouse and outside the tomatoes did quite well and kept us going with tomatoes well into the autumn plus of course the plants outside the kitchen. Another cucumber in the greenhouse also produced well. The peppers were split between the greenhouse and outside. One outside in the garlic bed, plus three in a growing bag perched on the end of the brassicas bed. All produced well and we had a good supply of peppers from late summer into autumn.

Situation Now

Most of the beds are clear and the majority have been forked over and had compost or the contents of one of the growing bags added. Three are covered with old blinds to suppress weeds over the winter. As mentioned above one has the ‘accidental’ garlic plants moved from another bed See pics below:

Worked over bed in foreground with added growing bag compost

Covered raised beds, salad bed in the foreground.

 

Wildlife

Not too much to say. The birds have stepped up their eating from feeders and fewer from  the ground just now, although some seed is eaten from the ground tray. Few squirrels and hedgehogs as autumn has progressed. I haven’t checked out the trail cams for a while but will report in the early New Year.

 

 

Now we have drought!

Since my last post we’ve had almost a month of sunshine and no rain. Nice to have good weather at first and did help get the plants going after the poor spring, but now it has become rather annoying. It’s too hot to work in the garden after mid-morning and it never really cools down. To make things worse it has been a period of intense preparation for our ‘Open Gardens’ weekend recently so I needed to spend a great deal of time not just getting things ready, but thanks to the weather, I needed to spend a lot of time watering as well.

Anyway, although the Open Gardens has been and gone (with several hundred visitors over 2 days) I’m busy harvesting as well as watering.

So, how are the vegetable coming on I hear you say. Well I’ve managed to keep them watered well enough and many are now producing.

So here is a fairly complete description of the current veg situation.

The garlic, which were of two types, spring sown and autumn sown has survived  (bed 9) and rather oddly the spring sown variety was ready first and so already harvested  This variety has only produced small bulbs, they are all hanging in our outhouse now ready for use but so far not used so I don’t know about their flavour. The autumn sown variety is certainly ready, I just haven’t had time to do it yet so we’ll see….

Garlic harvest

Meanwhile I’ve put one of the courgette plants (atena variety) into the space left by the garlic plus a sweet pepper plant since I had several I needed to locate somewhere and it will act as an experiment like some of the others to see it they produce – with weather as it is I would have thought there was not excuse!

Atena Courgette in the foreground, garlic to the right and cucumbers plus courgette & cornichon above (see below)

Taking the bed next to the garlic (bed 11), the strawberries have produced a decent crop around 2 weeks ago but the dry weather has really affected them, despite watering, little or no fruit is to be found now and not many flowers.

Next is the bed connected to the strawberries, nearer the greenhouse (bed 10). This has a courgette (Green Griller), cucmber (Baby), a squash (F1 Hunter) and a ‘cornichon’ (small cucumbers, Vert de Paris) as well as the collection of dwarf and cannellini beans that finally germinated. The are just starting to produce. The courgette has already produced a couple, and the cucumber. The cornichon not quite and the squash has yet to flower.

Beans, courgette, cucumber & squash

Next to that bed is a bed of broad beans, in front of the greenhouse (bed 7). These are almost finished and we’ve had quite a few pods, in fact I’ve picked some today but some plants have been affected by blackfly, but not enough to be a big problem. They are a mixture of ‘Aquadulce’ and ‘De Monica’ but no real difference in the pods that I cansee.

Broad beans

Finally, on that side of the path is the ‘cold frame’ bed (i.e. covered with a glass door, bed 8). That has 2 cucumbers (? bought & Baby), cornichon (Vert de Paris) and a courgette (?, bought). I’ve had a couple of cucumber from the ? variety, likewise from the ? courgette. Also, the ‘baby’ cucumber has been producing (yes we have too many cucumbers just now!, and the courgette glut is about to hit….).

In the greenhouse I have 5 tomato plants in growbags, 5 pepper plants (one in a growbag, the others in pots. There is also a cucumber plant (mini F1, bought plant) trained up a cane, which I suspect has more or less finished producing after growing 3 cucumbers. The tomato plants are Alicante (x2), Cocktail (small fruit type, bought) and San Marzano (x2, large fruit, Italian type). The peppers are all plants bought in when I thought none of mine would germinate, Capino (x4) and Bell Boy. The peppers seem to be doing well with peppers on at least three of them, and the tomatoes all have plenty of fruit and should be ripening soon.

Greenhouse tomatoes with the pepper plant in the grow-bag nearest

On the other side of the main path, starting near the flower section, is a ‘salad’ bed (bed 1) with a couple of rows of ‘cut and come’ salad leaves (now probably past their best), some Lollo Rosso lettuce (bought as seedlings) and a row of pak choi just getting big enough to use. There is a row of mixed salad lettuce just coming through and a row of salad leaves that seems to have  mostly failed to germinate!

Salad bed with pigeon scaring CDs – there should be a row of seedlings nearest but the weather has meant poor germination

Next to that is a bed of mangetout peas (bed 2), some of which (Sugar Snap) were bought as seedlings when mine didn’t seem to be germinating. The others and a mixture of Oregon Sugar Snap and Sweet Horizon grown from seed. They have been producing for a couple of weeks now and are a very welcome addition to our meals.

Mangetout Peas

The next bed has a squash (F1 Hunter) and a courgette plant (Atena) (bed 3). However, the courgette has been severely got at, I suspect by pigeons and I have put some netting round it today. Part of the bed is occupied by pots of tulips and other bulbs ‘resting’.

Here is a harvest collected yesterday from cucumbers, courgette (Green Griller , Atena plus unknown) and broad beans

Harvest courgettes, cucumbers & broad beans

Beyond the blackcurrant bushes – the berries just getting ripe at the moment – is a bed with beans (bed 4), ‘fine’ beans (bought as seedlings, again when when mine weren’t germinating) and climbing beans (some ‘various’, and blue lake). The fine beans have been producing for a couple of weeks and the climbing beans have just started producing.

Beans – ‘Fine’ beans round the edge and climbing beans in the middle. The labels were to help visitors

The last bed has potatoes in it (Desiree, bed 5 ), and I imagine the crop won’t be too good after the dry weather, despite my watering.

Across from the potatoes is my raised ‘tank’ with carrots, but a poor showing this year despite several sowings, the rhubarb, which is doing really well and has produced several pickings and a container with more garlic waiting to be harvested.

The next bed  has cauliflower and cabbage plants (bed 6), both bought in as seedlings. The dry weather has affected these as well I think with the cauliflowers just beginning to show now. On the end of this bed is a grow-bag with three sweet pepper plants.

Cabbage on the right, cauliflower on the right with pepper plants in the grow-bag

Outside the greenhouse are two grow-bags with tomatoes and one pepper plant. There is a mixture of tomato types all bought as seedlings apart from the Gardener’s Delight – F1 Shirley (largish fruit), Outdoor Girl (many small fruit), Totem (bush type),  and a Bell Boy pepper, which has heavily attacked by slugs to start with and is just about recovered. There is also another unknown bush type tomato in a container.

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse

Finally, near the kitchen is a container with three tomato plants – Tumbling Tom (bush), Sunbaby (small fruit) and Sweet Aperitif (small fruit), bought in as seedlings.

Last of all here are two berry harvests, redcurrants (around 2kg) harvested a couple of weeks ago) and just yesterday gooseberries (around 750g) from one of the two bushes (the other not quite ready):

Redcurrants

Gooseberries

Phew! that’s all for now folks…..

Basking in Spring Sun (mostly)

Gosh – is it a month since I laast posted – that’s terrible.

Anyway as you might imagine there have been a lot of developments over the last month especially as the weather has been mostly good, with a few exceptions. Indeed it’s been so sunny especially the last couple of weeks I’ve had to get the hose out and it has been used in earnest a few time. Having said that, we’ve had rain today (quite welcome actually) and it has been mostly cloudy the last couple of days, and tomorrow doesn’t look to be much better.

The really big effort has gone into the flower beds with loads of annual bedding plants going in and a fair sprinkling of perennials as well, especially as quite a few didn’t make it over the winter.

A couple of pics of the flower borders – it was cloudy so colours a bit dull

Right now the lupins are just coming into flower, which is good as it’s the first winter I’ve had lupins survive so well (after several previous plantings), and of course lots of the bedding plants are in flower.

Lupins really doing well this year

Meanwhile on the vegetable front I’ve just about recovered from the terrible germination period, only in some cases by buying in seedlings. Laughably, I now have too many courgette and cucumber plants as many of the second sowings germinated! Only one more of my tomato seeds produced though, a ‘gardeners delight’. Also causing me much embarrassment is the germination of several sweet pepper seeds after I’d already bought some seedlings – I’m trying to work out where I can put them and the courgettes/cucumbers since there isn’t room in the greenhouse.

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse – just the ‘gardeners delight’ to add…. (it’s in front of the blank opening

 

Tomato plants in the greenhouse – note the courgette/cucumber/squash plants in front, still to be relocated somewhere. There is a pepper plant and a cucumber growing to the left of the tomatoes as well (they are staying)

It’s the same story with dwarf/french beans where I’d bought a pack of seedlings then plenty of ones I’d sown (second batch) decided to appear so they are in two other beds now. At least the second sowing of the climbing beans produced seven seedlings, and they are already out in one of the beds. A third sowing looks like at least two more plants might become available.

Dwarf bean (bought in as seedlings) and climbing beans in the middle – just starting to climb

More dwarf beans….

More dwarf beans – the ‘tent’ on the right covers some courgette and cucumber plants just put in)

The mangetout peas have been a bit better and around ten plants ore out and already climbing up twigs, with another four or so almost ready to join them. I really need to plant another pot full now to keep things going.

Mangetout peas – two varieties – ‘Oregon sugar pod’ & ‘Sweet Horizon’

The salad area didn’t look too good, particularly as I couldn’t seem to find the time to do any sowing initially. So again I bought in some ‘lollo rosso’ lettuce seedlings to mean that I would have something at least, and now they are just about big enough to start harvesting some leaves. Subsequently I did plant three rows of mixed salad leaves from three different packets, and of those two have produced but the third nothing. Just the other day I sowed a row of ‘pak choi’ from an old pack of seed so we’ll see if any of those come up. A couple of rows of ‘rocket’ near the kitchen have produced one plant! I’ve resown one of the row to see it I can get some more…

Lollo rosso lettuce and two rows of ‘cut n come again’ salad leaves

The broad beans are now producing pods so some of the early ones should be big enough to eat in the next few days (the whole pod)

Broad bean plants – you can just see some small pods…..

My potatoes (desiree) are through now and have been earthed up as far as I can in the restricted bed:

potato plants looking good

Not pictured above are the courgettes and cucumber plants under the ‘cold frame’ (door), one of the plants has baby cucumber already.

Wildlife

The last review of the trail cams a couple of weeks ago revealed (apart from the cats) that hedgehog activity is pretty intense now, with at least two and probably three going backwards and forwards plus one sighting of a fox.

The birds have been active and there are at least two robin nests in the hedges, as I could hear the chicks and the robins were pretty keen to collect food from around me when I was gardening. The dunnocks seem to have nests as well somewhere in the hedges. No ‘unusual’ birds have appeared recently though but the dunnocks, tits and robins are all going through mealworms at a great rate.