Tuesday, 27 July 2010

First Lillies

I have been waiting for my lillies which I have in pots to bloom. I could have sworn they were all out by June last year and was beginning to think my semi-shady garden was having a bad effect on them. But after speaking with a friend who also has them, he said his weren't out either.

All of a sudden, there they were - beautiful slightly scented white lillies. I thought they were deep pink heavily Stargazers but my memory must have mis-served me. No matter - they are GLORIOUS !

Am now eagerly awaiting the stargazers which are just beginning to show the tell-tale colour in the large buds.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Well that didn't work

When I saw my first cabbage white butterfly a while back I decided to net my brassicas in the hope that it would deter future cabbage whites. It didn't. I've been finding their eggs on the underside of leaves for many days now....on and off...and have resorted to inspecting the plants every day and squishing any new batches found.

Although they are very small, because they are bright yellow, they stand out very well against the dark leaves so are easy to spot. A bit laborious but as the little blighters are quite capable of stripping a leaf completely, well worth the effort. In a weird sort of way, it makes me glad that I only have a small patch to contend with. Never thought I'd hear myself say that!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Exciting times

For me, this is one of the most exciting times in the veggie garden because I can see the fruits of my labour.

In an earlier post about brassicas, I was waxing lyrical and said by Autumn I hope to be tucking into some great produce. Well by the looks of things, I think I will be harvesting the first of my broccoli in a week or so.

I'm not that keen on normal big broccoli - to me its too much like eating a bunch of immature flowers which, of course, is exactly what they are! I grow the "tenderstem" type which has long edible tender stems (as the name implies) attached to a smaller floret-sized head which, as far as I'm concerned, cook up much better than the normal kind. It also has the advantage that once you've picked the main centre stem, it breaks out into lots of extra stems which go on producing for ages providing you pick them regularly.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

First Bean

Yes - I do mean bean in the singular....but not in a bad way.

I didn't really look at the plants closely for a couple of days and in that time, many of the lovely red flowers on my runners are bringing forth beans. Most are still tiny but there is a rogue one which seems to have been on steroids or something as it is much bigger than all the rest (you can just see it in the bottom right hand part of the picture).

I know from past experience that if I wait until the others are large enough to harvest, this one will have become much too large so I'm afraid it had to be sacrificed for the good of the other beans and the plant on the whole. I reckon it won't be long now before my first good crop of tender young runner beans.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Better than spinach

Yesterday I harvested (and ate) the first of my Swiss Chard crop. It was so delicious. As far as I'm concerned, better than spinach and much easier to grow plus you get the edible stalks which, once they've grown large enough, can be served as a vegetable in their own right.

I had serious doubts as to whether it would grow in my shady garden - the chard bed which is about 2ft wide by 3 ft long only gets sun for a couple of hours a day - but they don't seem to mind at all. Better still, the plants are very close together so I have around 24 plants which, judging from the first harvest, will feed the two of us throughout the season and, possibly even have some to freeze.

This is a great crop as you only harvest a few outer leaves from each plant at a time, and the plant just keeps on putting on more leaves.

Although the leaves look very pale, they darken up when cooked and look just like spinach. The taste is similar too.

Of course, when growing so intensively, they need a feed every week but that's a small thing to ask in return for such a wonder vegetable.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Friends and Foes

I spotted my first ladybird a couple of days ago. A welcome sight indeed especially as I've also spotted some aphids and blackfly.

I also unfortunately spotted what seemed to be a lone cabbage white butterfly. I was horrified as, from past experience, I know what immense damage their offspring can cause to brassicas and with mine doing so well, I immediately started chasing it around with the first thing that came to hand...a 30cm/12" pea stick. Must have looked hilarious.

I really am against spraying my crops with pesticides, so in an attempt to lessen the threat, I've netted my broccoli and cabbages. There are gaps at the sides, but I'm hoping the cabbage whites in this area aren't very bright.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

A promise of things to come

My runner beans are romping away and the original ones which were sown indoors at the end of April have well passed the tops of their canes. The "runner ups" which I sowed directly in the ground in June are also doing well, having now grown to about 60cm/2ft, so I think my plan to extend the harvesting period by sowing some indoors and some outdoors may work out well.

The flowers started appearing at the beginning of the week and every day more and more are coming out. If you click the picture it will enlarge and show the beutiful red blossoms more clearly. Fresh green beans....YUM.