Monday, 27 July 2009

Nature's lessons......

I know it's been a while since I had a chance to update my blog, but we have been so busy these last few weeks, I've barely had a chance to dash down to the plot, keep the weeds down and harvest some of the produce.

It really seems to be the time when you have to keep on weeding, watching how the plants are coming on and trying to protect them from all the scavengers who just love to eat everything before you can get to it. I'm already learning a lot this year and am starting to understand what needs to be done and when, to make sure we have the type of fruit and veg we like and use.

First things first. I shall not be doing as many potatoes as this year as we have so many. Here's the load I dug up at the weekend, along with our first dwarf french beans and climbing french beans. We've got so many, I'm bagging them up and giving them away. I've got a hessian sack and will be filling that up too, for us to use over the coming months.

As for the dwarf beans, all I did was put the seeds in the bed and waited to see what they did, so all very easy. They look really good, just like the ones you buy in the shops, so I top and tailed them and we've put 2 bags in the freezer. They dont need any support and as we like these, I think next year, I'll do a few more. I got the climbing french beans for a present, but I'm not really sure what to do with them, but I've put a bag of them in the freezer too, so will need to have a look and see what you can make with them.

Here's the bed with the beans in, with the peas behind. The climbing beans seem to have taken a while to get going, although I was speaking with Les on Saturday and he was telling me that's the same for everyone this year. In the background you can see the peas. I really like them too and we have a bag full in the freezer, however another leasson for me there, as I should have thinned them out a little bit and I missed the first batch as I saw them almost ready and then left them too long, resulting in them being past their best. So, next year I will keep a much closer eye on them. All they needed was the support and that's it, so another easy one for the future.

The tomatoes seem to be coming along fine, even though I've not been watering them as we have had a series of hot days followed by nice downpours. I've had a look around and everyone elses are still green, so with luck over the coming weeks, we should be able to get plenty of tomatoes too.

We have already had about a dozen sweetcorn cobs from the plants my Dad gave me and very sweet and succulent they are too. Here are the 6 I picked at the weekend.

I've had a bit of difficulty with the cabbages and broccoli, with the caterpillars loving the cabbages and it looks like the birds having a feast of the broccoli. As you can see below they really have been battered. However, I put a net over them and hope that they'll come back. We'll see.

those pesky pigeons!

As for the rest, we've had some carrots and plenty of salad leaves. I must also make sure I thin the carrots and lettuce properly next year and also, not do too much and spread out the sowing a bit more.

As for the fruit, the strawberries were a bit of a disaster, but some of the plants are still ok and I plan to get some more this autumn, sort out a larger bed for them and make sure I have straw mulch and also proper netting. So, next year is the big one for them. Here are some of them that have survived so far, with the sunflower left for the church competition and also some of the seeds my Dad gave me, going like crazy!

Finally, the raspberries are continuing to find their feet and shoot up a bit more, so I'm hopeful we'll get plenty of fruit from them next year.

So, nature continues to teach me and show me how best to play things going forward. So far not a bad first year, with lots of optimism for next year and still plenty of produce to harvest over the coming weeks and months. All in all, going along nicely. Just need a little bit more time (and sunshine) to get down there....if only!