Tag Archives: french 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


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….



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.


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…..

Weather Lousy Again

We have northerly winds and rain – not good for the garden.
But progress has been made and plants have grown regardless

The last tomato seedlings are now planted out – so there are now three growbags outside the greenhouse (pomodoro & marmande), but three plants are just in pots in the greenhouse for the time being as the weather is so crummy.

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse

Tomatoes outside the greenhouse

I have been planting out a lot of flowers though – mostly bedding plants but a few perennials. It has been a struggle making sure the slugs and snails don’t get them – I’ve even had to sacrifice some beer to put into pots put into the ground to capture some of them. The pigeons have also mad a nuisance of themselves – I had somne phlox plants in one of the raised beds temporarily until I had sorted out space and they were shooting ok until the pigeons found them. I’ve now tried to protect them with shiny CDs and a partial cover.

The pigeons have also had a go at the lower leaves of the climbing beans but hopefully they should survive as it is only the lower leaves they can get at. The problem is I have three more small bean seedlings which I need to get planted out as soon as possible and I suspect they will need some protection if they are to survive the pigeons.

The climbing beans

The climbing beans

There are also another set of pea seedlings to put in as well but they seem less prone to damage. On the other hand I have a whole tray of dwarf beans (bought) and they may well need protection when planted out in the next few days.

The mangetout peas doing well...

The mangetout peas doing well… (that’s sunshine on the right)

All bar one of my pepper plants – both sweet and chilli are now in pots in the greenhouse although some may need re-potting in bigger pots when they have grown a bit.

The spinach has grown enough for us to have a harvest from it although there has been some damage from either slug or pigeons.

Spinach - you can see some damaged leaves

Spinach – you can see some damaged leaves

Meanwhile the potato plants are well through now and I have have earthed them up as far as possible.

The potatoes have sprung up!

The potatoes have sprung up!

Some of the broad beans had grown quite tall so I’ve had to add canes and string to support them – not added the polystyrene ‘eye protectors’ yet though.


Broad beans with support now

Broad beans with support now – though before the string added.

The resowing of the carrots has paid off, most of the seeds seem to have germinated, though I have kept a glass cover over the ‘tank’ to protect them.


Not much to say – though I think I saw a goldfinch on the nyjer seed feeder today which would be a first for this year. Also, many ‘small blue’ butterflies about.

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.


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.

Summer temporarily missing

Over the last couple of weeks the weather has taken a turn towards autumn with cooler temperatures, wind and rain. We’ve had some storms as well.

The main activity has of course been harvesting. As predicated, there is now a courgette glut and I have too many cucumbers. The tomatoes are building up as well, despite my efforts to eat through them. I’ve been incorporating courgette into stir fry, together with climbing beans (now coming to an end), and mangetout peas (also nearly finished). The tomatoes and cucumber have been incorporated into salads together with the cut ‘n come again’ salad leaves still growing well.

I have now picked all the blackcurrants, but am still working my way through the brambles – still loads I could pick, it’s just finding the time…. Then there are raspberries, a useful addition to my breakfast cereal, plus a few strawberries form the ‘climbing’ plants I got a while back.

Basically I just haven’t had the time to much more than harvest stuff, even the weeds are winning right now – especially after the rain. I’ve also been rather distracted by dealing with flowers as well.

The only thing I’ve planted recently has been some parsley as we never seem to have enough, and unusually it seems all the seed in three pots sown a few weeks ago have come through.


One or two red admiral butterflies appeared on the buddleia over the last few days, but the flowers are just about finished now. The other big event is the return of the goldfinches – just in the last couple of days I’ve seen some on the nijer seed.

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?


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


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.