Thursday, 28 July 2016
Not a good year for the onion family in the garden. Various impediments meant everything was planted much too late and alliums do love their spring growth. This is onion Rose de Roscoff although probably I shouldn't call it that, since we're in Normandy and there is now an Appelation d'Origine Contrôlée on the type. It's probably one of the biggest we have despite being started from a set. Most of the others are going to be more at home in a pickles jar. I dream of the day when I'll have those 300 good sized onions that I calculate we get through in an average year, and then some for the condiments.
The elephant garlic did get an early start and seems to have done well enough, although the plants have taken rust now. I'm never sure whether it will help to remove the flower heads or not, but the insects love them so they're usually left. The leftover leeks are also flowering at the moment and it makes a lovely lilac show amongst the weeds.
The true garlic was in a sorry state when it went in March. The bought in seed garlic was practically dust and the last saved bulb of garlic bought on the market last summer nearly as soggy. As a result there's barely anything to harvest but a few of the market sourced cloves have formed roundels - undivided bulbs - which can be used. If I was desperate to retain garlic I'd grow them on again next year for bulbs with cloves but it's probably easier just to buy some new seed garlic this autumn. The end times haven't got so close yet.
The Babington leeks are in a patch which is achieving a renewed state of nature. Considering the competition from thistles, nettles and grass they're doing o.k. but I should rescue them and replant in a clean bed before the summer is out. The heads of bulbils are still green and tender. They make wonderful flavouring for all sorts of seasoned vinegars and dressings at this stage and are just right to add to jars of fermented pickles as they develop. Take them young or they form a hard skin that is impossible to remove and nasty to eat and keep at least one head to renew your stock with for next year.
The pot of shame. This is the very last walking onion. I thought I'd lost the lot but found this final specimen in a box of discarded compost on its way to the heap. Carefully nurtured it should be possible to turn its fortunes around. I hope that I don't forget it again. The little plant in the pot is an Erysimum cutting that I must have slipped in there at some moment when I'd broken a shoot and didn't know what to do with it. Serendipity is everything in the garden.
Thursday, 21 July 2016
It might be small but it's perfectly formed. This year's strange weather has seemed at times to be completely minacious to growing vegetables, too cold, too wet, too hot and now too dry, but there are some old favourites that slugs and deer aside can be relied on to come through and give a crop.
These are the first Ice Crystal wax beans to arrive. Named for their almost glistening pale colour, these are short beans on bush plants which try to climb in some seasons producing scrambling floppy growth that can hide the pods. Best taken very young like this they are magnificent in a dressed bean salad but even when a little older and larger will make a good vegetable if you have the patience to string them. The seeds are tiny, rice beans, but the flowers are prolific and it's easy to shell out a couple of hundred grams of dried beans for soup at the end of the seaon from a 3 metre row. I'm very fond of these beans and recommend them.
Another first harvest. These are the beans with no name - they are so good I can't believe they're not a well known variety but I only know them as Riana's bean from Corbieres. Long fleshy green pods without strings on plants that truly enjoy hot weather, their only downside is that it takes a long time for the pods to mature and dry. I've started marking the first few pods of each plant at the start of the season to ensure that enough pods mature to collect viable seed for the next year.
I can't believe I grew three courgette plants this year. And what plants! Determined to get white 'cousa' type fruit I picked an F1 seed variety - I forget the actual name - and the vigour that comes from this sort of breeding is frighteningly apparent. At the moment I'm picking one or two 15cm courgettes from each plant every day. The hot weather predicted for the next two weeks might slow that down but it's far more courgette than this lone diner can contemplate. Must dig out that recipe for pickles.
The salmon flowered peas are growing on me, even though I was less than impressed earlier in the year. They are pretty during their brief flowering and are prodigious croppers of quite pleasant peas. They need better staking than they got this year, the top heavy plants fall over as the peas swell but I'll grow them again, perhaps in a block instead of a row to make them self supporting.
Monday, 11 July 2016
We've had visitors and the sun, although unreliable has been giving some warmth and joy for a few days, so little work has been done on the various projects for a while. These bright red pelargoniums make a bold show in a re-purposed mail box but fickle as I am I've decided I'd prefer deep purple next year. Just enough willpower stayed my purchasing hand last time I was at the garden centre buying more Bordeaux mixture but I will upgrade my colour choices for 2017.
The Japanese wineberry that I was given by a permaculture gardener neighbour of Incredible Vegetables when we visited in the spring is looking good. It was one of my mother's favourite plants but when she tried to sneak it into my aunt's glorious garden it was relegated to a back corner and faded away into obscurity. This specimen will have a happier future than that.
First flowers on the Tigridia pavonia - also known for its edible bulb cacomitl. It was introduced to me by Rhizowen but although I read his blog closely I was still amazed by the size and splendour of the flowers. I shan't be taking a harvest of bulbs this year but the blooms are a lovely addition to the vegetable patch.
Amongst the oddities I tried this year, the baobab. Of six seeds only this one has germinated but that just makes it more special. If I can keep the slugs off I'm hoping for great things from this baby.
First fruit on the Indigo Kumquat tomato. They look very dark at the moment but I believe they will develop some orange flushing as they ripen.
Butterflies are still rather scarce but examples of all our regular inhabitants can be spotted. This lovely White Admiral was fresh and new when I snapped it a couple of days ago which makes a change from the tatty specimens that we usually see.