Six on Saturday – 14/7/2018

SOS529Growing your own food is very satisfying, eating it even more so. When you can pile a plate with salad, accompanied by a baked spud, nine different crops in total and all harvested that day from your own garden or allotment, then follow it with blueberries and raspberries, well that is hard to beat.

This is new territory for me. I’ve had the allotment for a few years and I’m still experimenting, still learning and hopefully still getting better at it. Still a very long way short of all year round self sufficiency too.

A lot of watering and feeding has been necessary, but I have had a good season with fruit and veg. I thought it was time I picked some out for a Saturday six.

Just before I do, and every bit as satisfying as my veg, is the fact that a pair of swallows found the broken window on my allotment shed and built a nest inside

. When I checked it yesterday, it had eggs in it.

Tomatoes. ‘Sungold’, sown 19/3, now growing in my polytunnel. We’ve been picking for about a week. I got them into 10 litre pots and realised that was too small when this hot spell hit; I was watering 3 times a day. So I potted alternate plants into 20’s and stopped the remaining 10 litre plants. The unstopped ones I shall train across the roof of the tunnel.

Cucumbers (and Chillies). ‘Carmen’, sown 31/3, now in 10 litre pots, should have had 20’s. Watering three times a day. Probably should have kept two and got rid of the others but last year I started with five and managed to kill four so I was reluctant to ditch any. The Chillies are ‘Apache’ and ‘Ring of Fire’. I’m going to OK for chillies for years to come. I shall make sauce, how hard can it be?

I shied away from growing lettuce on my allotment for a couple of years because I thought it would have no chance against the slugs. I do get some damage but have grown loads of good lettuce and we eat a lot in summer salads. ‘Oakleaf Navarra’, a very dark red lettuce, has been the star turn, supplemented by green ‘Salad Bowl’ and ‘Lollo Rosso’. I’ve found them to be remarkably tolerant of dry conditions, eventually running up to flower but only when they’ve been usable for a month or more.

Sweet Corn. I’ve grown two varieties, ‘Earliking’ and ‘Goldcrest’, sown 11/4 and 6/5 respectively, in hope of a long cropping season. Looking very good so far. These have had a lot of watering; thorough soaks every four or five days. First picking is eagerly awaited.

Blueberries. A third of my plot is given over to a fruit cage, in which I have blackcurrants, raspberries, redcurrants, gooseberries, strawberries and blueberries. The gooseberries weren’t great this year but everything else is loaded. I have spent many backbreaking hours picking the stuff, more hours picking it over and doing something with it. Freezing, cassis, cordial, jam. Blueberries crop over a longish period and most get eaten fresh. This one is ‘Darrow’, which has huge fruits. I also have ‘Bluecrop’ and at least one other.
Purple sprouting broccoli. Most years my peas come ready over at least a three week period and I am reluctant to pull them out until I have harvested almost all the crop. Last week I did a picking on Monday, another on Wednesday, and that was it. I cut them off, leaving the roots in the ground and planted PSB, which I had growing in 9cm pots, into the pea row. I usually struggle to give that sort of follow on crop a long enough growing season, this year I am optimistic that I will do better.

It’s due to cool down a bit next week, but very little rain is in prospect. A lot of things are starting to look very stressed. I was reading earlier that heat-waves and droughts are happening very widely. I grow fruit and veg for the pleasure of doing it and for the freshness, flavour and nutritional value it offers. I’m profoundly glad that it isn’t a matter of survival, as it must be for many around the world.
Even so, it’s likely that some crops will be in relatively short supply this year and that we will be glad to have a fair bit of our own to fall back on.

Check out other Saturday sixes from the links on The Propagator’s entry. I’m guessing that wailing about the weather will feature large this week.


28 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 14/7/2018

  1. Each year I vow my vegetables will be better but something is eating them even if they do germinate! Yours are looking healthy and tasty! ( I am mentally designing a fruit cage to keep birds and butterflies away – I may try these wool pellets for the slugs.)


  2. A beautiful allotment, fantastically organised tomatoes – such a contrast to mine. Once I have my borders sorted I will, I really will, get a grip of growing crops in a greenhouse! Yr PSBs look great, well worth the watering.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You will have good harvests with all these vegetables. Good to know that these 2 salads can be more tolerant in drought conditions, mine “raise up” and bloom quickly because of the lack of rain …


    1. It’s only my cucumbers and tomatoes that I need to water that often. About every four days on the plot, depending on crop and how long it’s been in the ground. Retirement has much to recommend it, I’m not sure that being able to water all day ranks very highly.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That looks like a lot of hard work Jim, but as you say how rewarding! Nothing better than eating something fresh from the garden. I miss my tomatoes this year.


    1. The learning is one of the best bits. There are quite a lot of blogs recording people’s early allotment years and what they’ve learned (mine included), but sorting the wheat from the chaff is a challenge and fitting it to your own climate, soil type, resources etc isn’t straightforward.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your garden is so productive, Jim. Congratulations! I share your delight at putting homegrown food on the table AND of nesting swallows. We just watched parents teach three hatchlings here to soar. Ahhhhh!


  6. Your vegetables and fruit look, quite simply, amazing. A testament to all your care and effort. As you say, it’s deeply satisfying to provide your own food.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’re fairly relaxed about what we get up to, your lot sound way too far the other way. It is a lot of work, and not especially cheap, it has to be worthwhile. I could say I’m not doing it for the benefit of my health, but actually I am.


  7. My tomato plants are in fabulous condition, but not setting much fruit. I’ve stopped them at the apex of the greenhouse roof. I’ve had flowers but barely any fruit. Perhaps they need more feed.


    1. If they’ve grown well and have plenty of flowers I doubt it’s a feed issue, more likely high temps or poor pollination; they’re self fertile but still need a bit of jiggling to get pollen from anthers to stigma.


  8. I love when the swallow fledglings come out of their nest to sit, a row of disgruntled Winston Churchills. Nothing like swallows in the shed. Are you hand pollinating your corn? If so, any tips? Everyone says brush the silk like a feather duster, but not having used a feather duster before . . .


    1. Like you, my experience with feather dusters is extremely limited. I just let nature take its course, it’s worked so far. Too late now on the earlier lot, perhaps I should do something for the later batch, see if it makes a difference.


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