Tag Archives: courgette

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!

 

 

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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 is on the Blink!

We seem to be in almost a winter weather pattern with lows coming across the UK one after another. So we may have a day or so of sunny weather then rain. It’s been so bad that I only finally was able to mow the (still wet!) lawn this evening after more than a couple of trying to do it when the grass was dry. I finally cracked this evening when I was rain forecast more or less for the rest of the week.

6 days later

Since then we’ve had a shower or more almost every day and the grass is growing like mad!

The vegetables are growing well though and I’m harvesting plenty of climbing beans, together with the french/dwarf beans (almost finished now though). Only a few mangetout peas at the moment although I have one new seedling to plant out (only one out of four came up!). I’ve sown a couple more pots full today.

Climbing beans – note the different varieties

The tomatoes are producing well, especially the small ‘sugar plum’ types but some of the larger ones just ripening now.

Some of the current crop of tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomato plants outside the greenhouse – these are ‘Marmande’

We’ve had plenty of cucumbers as well although just at the moment there aren’t any new ones ready but the courgettes are producing and as usual if I’m not careful picking them while they are small we’ll have a glut.

Baby courgettes – they need watching!

 

One unfortunate side effect of all the rainy days is that I haven’t yet harvested the garlic even though they are ready, but they really need a chance to dry out once I’ve dug them up.

The broad bean plants are still there just in case the flowers on them just now actually produce some beans… unlikely but you never know.

Over the last couple of weeks I have harvested all of the blackcurrants and gooseberries (some of which were immediately cooked into gooseberry ‘cobbler’). The raspberries are just about over, but the blueberry bushes are full of ripe berries – and the birds haven’t found them yet! There are a few strawberry flowers so there may be a late crop. The brambles are ready now as well – I’ve had a few already with my breakfasts.

Some of the blackcurrants and gooseberries

 

 

I’ll close this now and add more in a couple of days….

 

 

Now Cropping

Yes production has ramped up in the vegetable zone so that now the climbing beans are being harvested, along with the cucumber (too many for us to eat, so some being given away), broad beans (just about finished), climbing beans (looking a lot better now), mangetout peas (the first plants will soon need replacing), raspberries (providing some for most breakfasts) and the tomatoes just started (one of the small varieties in the greenhouse). The strawberries have also been producing pretty well over the last couple of weeks and we’ve had several pounds of fruit, but now that flush is over. There are a few flowers on the plants now so there will be some more.

The courgettes (2 plants only this year planted out) will be producing soon and the tomatoes will soon be arriving in real quantity, especially if the wether stays sunny.

Over the last couple of weeks it has been mostly fine with rain just at the right moment when the garden was getting a bit dry. In fact one useful shower arrived just after I’d finished watering the whole garden! Typical!

The ‘salad’ bed continues to be poor. A few radishes only, more beetroot, a few Swiss chard – growing very slowly, a few pak choi (trying to flower), and a row of mixed lettuce – not too good in the middle. A row of ‘mixed leaves’ planted a while ago has failed to appear though. Nothing yet ready for harvest.

Salad bed – not too good though

The kale has grown well though:

Kale bed – we haven’t started eating it yet though

The garlic leaves have all laid down now and are ready to harvest – I just need to check for a few days of dry weather so they can dry properly.

I’ve planted on of the four cucamelons that germinated out under the ‘door’ protection (where two cucumbers and one of the courgette plants are placed) and another is in a big pot in the greenhouse. Not decided what to do with the others yet though.

Cucumber under the ‘door’

The climbing beans have finally started to produce and look a lot better.

Climbing beans now producing well

The bed of cauliflowers planted as a bit of an experiment has actually been producing heads of cauliflower, though not all look like ‘normal’ cauliflower as it was a mixed selection – we’ll need to see what they taste like.

Cauliflowers – quite successful

The tomatoes are just starting to produce now, with some in the greenhouse ripe (zuchero) and others outside just turning.

Zuchero tomatoes ripening in the greenhouse

 

 

 

 

 

Tomatoes outside just ripening

Meanwhile, since my last post we have had the annual ‘open gardens’ weekend for our area and several hundred people tamped through the garden over tow days and mostly seemed to be sort of impressed.

Some of our visitors on our ‘Open Gardens’ day

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…..

More Pulling Up!

Just an update really. The weather has been a bit up and down since the last post although at the moment it seems to be stable and looks good for a couple more days at least.

I’ve not had much chance to work in the garden over the last few days while there has been fine weather, but did manage to spend a few minutes today and removed the courgette plants which had been zapped by the couple of cold nights we’ve had recently (down to 3deg a couple of nights ago). Also pulled up is the cucumber plant, not completely dead but clearly not going to produce any more. Still they are all going to produce good compost hopefully.

In the greenhouse I’ve been able to harvest a batch of small tomatoes together with a few pomodoro tomatoes, but the plants outside the greenhouse are now done for and will be the next target for pulling up and composting.

Almost the last tomato harvest

Almost the last tomato harvest

Pulling Up Stuff

It had to come – I have managed to get into the garden and clear some of the raised beds. So a couple of weeks ago I got rid of what was left of the broad beans, since then I’ve cleared out the mangetout bed, and taken up the three tomato plants growing in one bed. The garlic bed was cleared a few weeks ago (see below) and I have begun to harvest the potatoes – just 2 of the rows so far and we had some for dinner on Sunday.

The garlic bulbs hanging ready to use

The garlic bulbs hanging ready to use

First harvest of potatoes (though some had been cooked already before this picture)

First harvest of potatoes (though some had been cooked already before this picture)

The dwarf beans and climbing beans will be next (actually since writing this I’ve pulled up the dwarf beans, so that’s another bed done).

Where the mangetout peas were...

Where the mangetout peas were…

The tomato harvest is mostly over and we’ve had to prepare only one batch of tomato sauce, mostly based on the ‘pomodoro’ variety. Altogether though I don’t think it has been a brilliant year for the tomatoes but they haven’t overwhelmed us. Can’t say the same for the courgettes – still producing and I have four in the fridge and several more on the plants – and a few massive ones that escaped attention until they were too big just went straight to the compost. Dreadful I know but there isn’t too much that can be done with courgettes. Oh and I found one more cucumber (‘burpless’) today – though I suspect it is the last.

Greenhouse tomatoes now a bit bare

Greenhouse tomatoes now a bit bare

The grapes I harvested have now been converted into grapes juice, very nice too, I had some with my meal this evening.

I’m now harvesting sweet peppers from the greenhouse, better crop this year we’ve already eaten on large pepper which had turned orange. The remainder aren’t quite as big and are only just starting to turn colour but are good enough to use. Meanwhile the chilli peppers are still turning red, and the variety doesn’t start green but a sort of greenish-white.

Sweet peppers - waiting to ripen

Sweet peppers – waiting to ripen

Chilli peppers (prairie fire) ready to ripen

Chilli peppers (prairie fire) ready to ripen

Chilli peppers - becoming ripe!

Chilli peppers – becoming ripe!

I’ve been finding a few raspberries and the odd strawberry to add to my breakfast cereal, but I don’t think there will be many more now.

I’ll have to do some planting soon though, mostly spring flowers pansies and suchlike as the tiny seedlings are now big enough. Also, the containers some of them will be planted in are now at the end of their flowering period so I’ll be emptying them soon.

Spring flower seedlings - ready to go in now

Spring flower seedlings – ready to go in now

Just to show that flowers are still hanging on in the garden, here are a couple of pics taken today:

Nicotiana

Nicotiana

Penstemon

Penstemon

Wildlife

Just birds to report – greenfinches still going through the sunflower seeds, and I can hear long-tailed tits quite often plus the odd house-sparrow on the seed feeder. Also while I’m in the garden I can hear robins complaining with their alarm call all the time from the hedge nearby.