I eagerly await the year’s first courgettes, my impatience to start cropping always leads me to plant out too early, stalling the crop. This year I’ve held back waiting until the end of the month. During May I’ve potted on the young courgette plants twice, preventing them from becoming pot bound. I last did this a week ago and was amazed to see the root development in this time. There are other advantages to planting courgettes out late, whilst clearing the raised bed ready for planting I discovered over 50 slugs (they were all divided in two!), waiting a few extra weeks the plants stems develop and thicken giving a little extra slug protection.
Courgettes finally ready to go out
The prepared raised bed
A weeks worth of roots!
I’ve installed a watering system with a spur to each thirsty courgette plant. I have also made a bowl like ring of earth around each plant to keep the water directly on the plants roots.
Planted courgettes with watering system installed
Hopefully this year’s extra care and attention will reward us with early bumper crops.
We’re nearing the end of August and savouring the last few weeks of summer. We’ve had several days of rain in the last couple of weeks, sandwiched between lovely summer sunshine. It feels as though the lower vegetable patch has doubled in size during this time, the gravel paths have been engulfed with luscious vegetable crops making access tricky. Every time I pass the pumpkin patch I discover new ones nestled under their canopy of leaves, it looks like we’ll be having a good Halloween display. We’re cropping a good daily handful of courgettes and the butternut squash is defying all boundaries and crossing not only its borders, but weaving itself through the bean and pumpkin beds as well. The squash are tricky to spot as they’re light green camouflage is yet to turn an autumnal yellow.
The bottom vegetable beds in full swing
Back in March the husband and I coppiced one of our cobnut trees, counting the rings on the branches we cut back it had been a good twenty years since it’s last cut. Our plan is to coppice a tree every year on a 5 year rotation, the resulting stakes are kitchen garden treasures; they make beautiful structures for beans to ramble up or to keep the dahlias upright on a windy day. Rustic arches give height, interest and something for the sweet peas to climb up. I banned boring, ugly, utilitarian bamboo canes from the kitchen garden years ago replacing them with charming, irregular, characterful chestnut and hazel stakes. To me the aesthetics of the kitchen garden are as important as its produce. After toil, bad language, and a terrible cobnut branch tangle, our first tree was coppiced and cleared; it seemed such a brutal operation that the chance of its survival was slim. I’m relieved and delighted to say it’s thriving, putting up a great selection of shoots that will no doubt become beautiful, straight, long stakes in 5 years time.
Coppiced cobnut in March 2015
Coppiced cobnut in August 2015
Every morning I potter into the Kitchen garden and gather the ripe and ready produce. Today it feels as though the kitchen garden has moved up a gear.
This mornings harvest
Courgettes, mini cucumbers, tomatoes, beetroot, runner beans, French beans, salad leaves, cosmos and dahlias, all producing a hearty crop on a daily basis. Apart from the beetroot, they’re all cut and come again crops, so the more I harvest the more they’ll produce. They just need a good daily water and occasional feed.
The cabbage white butterflies have found my purple sprouting broccoli for the second time this year; sadly the caterpillars have caused far more damage on this occasion, munching their way through several of the plants. They’re all about to be re-homed in the compost heap.
The culprits!The damage!
It’s been a great month, gorgeous weather, armfuls of cut flowers, delicious vegetables and soft fruit. I’m just going to let the pictures tell the tale this month.
Tomato ‘Sungold’, the sweetest and best cherry tomato, ever!Tomato ‘Black Krim’ – a lovely colour, hearty flavour and my favourite beefsteak tomato Tomato ‘Pomodoro’ – another gorgeous beefsteak tomato, growing with basilMini cucumbers, my first year of growing cucumbers, a huge hit with the kidsA tomato jungle!
The Vegetable patchThe courgettes and pumpkin bed is no-where to be seen!Green courgetteYellow courgetteCut and come again salad, a lunch time essentialRunner bean flowers, I forgot to take the picture before picking!A pumpkin, sown from last years halloween pumpkins, I only need three, one for each child. I think we’ll end up with lots more!Onions, seed 39p from Lidl, sown direct. My best crop ever.For some reason we only got one pear last year, the tree is laden this yearBorlotti beans, they’ll be left to dry and saved for winter stews
The cut flower bordersMalope, a lovely long vase life, and when the petals drop you’re left with stunning acid green budsCosmos ‘Purity’ – my top cut flower, long stems and keeps flowering all seasonCosmos ‘Rubenza’ – a stunning colourCalendula – Another must have cut flowerCentaurea cyanus ‘Black Ball’, corn flower, unlike the blue variety this dark colour doesn’t fadeClary, the pink and blue varieties are both very useful in flower arrangementsDahlia – the queens and princesses of the cut flower worldDahlia, one more day and it will be perfect for cutting