Category Archives: vegetable crops

Kitchen garden blues

It’s turning out to be a pretty unsuccessful summer in the vegetable garden. Although we had no late frosts, the weather, which had been unusually warm in April, became cold and sunless in May, and everything newly planted or waiting in the greenhouse to be planted just languished without growing for a few weeks. Most of the cucumber plants died and I had to resow them.

Now, the greenhouses are doing very well. The cucumbers are late, but growing strongly and I’m picking every day, enough to send a few to the shop (though usually I’d have a dozen or more a day). The tomatoes were early and delicious – the varieties are Stupice, Red Brandywine, Black Russian, Minnesota Midget, Czech’s Excellent Yellow, Green Zebra (haven’t had any of those yet), Golden Sunrise and Gardener’s Delight (most of these are outside and so were sown late, and aren’t ripe yet).

There are several varieties of pepper, both hot and sweet. I haven’t picked any Jalapeno yet, not Tobago Sweet Seasoning (those took some time to germinate), but Georgia Flame, Spanish Spice and Hungarian Hot Wax (which is my favourite variety name ever) have cropped well and Al has been selling them. So have the sweet peppers: King of the North, Orange Bell and a yellow pepper whose seeds I brought back from Venice last year. Okra is all right, but with nine plants I only get a few fruits at a time, not enough to do much with. The physalis (Cape Gooseberry) plants are huge and full of fruit, but some of them are dropping – they taste fine unripe actually, but are pale greeny orange at present. I’m sure there will still be plenty to ripen.

The not-so-good news is outside. Peas didn’t grow very tall, but at least they are cropping well, unlike the Sugar Snap peas which (admittedly a short variety but they should still be 2 – 3 feet) only grew to about 6 inches, produced a few flowers and peas and then got overwhelmed by very small weeds. Broad bean plants grew well enough, but there has not been a good set, neither in the first sowing nor the second – a reasonable crop, but only because I grew a lot. However, I wonder if this is connected with the fact that I didn’t get around to pinching out the tops this year? We had a few blackfly, but ladybirds moved in keenly and they were gone within days. Sweetcorn is a disaster. Only a couple of feet tall and few cobs. Usually, one gets three or so cobs to a plant, but most have one, some not even that. Another sowing did better, but this was a free pack of popping corn seeds, and of limited use.

French beans are lacklustre. The pencil-podded ones have hardly grown and don’t look like climbers at all (they are not bushing out either, so it’s not that I got the variety wrong). The purple beans and flat podded ones look better, but aren’t cropping much yet – some of the flat bean plants died so I won’t get many. The runner beans have finally, in the last couple of days, started to set.

The cabbages look open and not likely to heart up, but maybe they’ll be all right. The Swiss Chard is all right, but the spinach (leaf beet, perpetual spinach) is starting to bolt, which is very unusual at this time of year. The early leaves looked scorched and yellowed by the sun and were not usable. I think I’ll make another sowing for the autumn.

The early potatoes (all I grew) didn’t grow very big, but they are an ideal size for new potatoes. The tops have mostly died down now, but we’ve still got plenty to dig as we need them and they are lovely, although the crop is not heavy. The courgettes are finally coming on, rather late, but will be fine now. Some of the squash plants didn’t survive and it doesn’t look as if many fruits are coming yet.

And, after all that rain in June, the soil has dried right out and I will have to start watering soon unless it pours again. I’d rather do that and have the sunshine, but the forecast is not good for tomorrow.

Sorry to those of you who are still with me but are stultified with boredom. I realise this post is of limited appeal!