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Daphne

So how is the season so far?

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I made a mistake with our carrots DM and didn't thin them. The result is they are so tightly packed I can't pull them out. No problem with the beetroot though. We have self-seeded potatoes on the compost heap which I think are Spunta, but I can't get to them because of the squash plant. The blackbirds and chickens have scratched around and covered the stems, so I'd risk losing squashes if i tried.

Thanks for the offer of a cat Daphne, but the dangling CD's seem to be working and our dog would probably eat the cat before it could catch anything.

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Nice haul DM.  Horizontal everything although the borlotti beans are fighting back and have flowers.  Charles Dowding has done a nice Youtube video about the weather conditions/climate.  I picked 2 onions today and one potato plant.  The Casablanca earlies are now quite large tubers and very tasty.  We had them crushed and mixed in with butter and garlic (also from the garden) and then baked/roasted for about half an hour - crisp and crunchy on the top and if you turn it half way through cooking it should make the rest a bit more crunchy.

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Very dry. We've had no rain for three weeks and none predicted this week either. To lift the potatoes the bed has to be watered for a couple of days to soften the earth/ clay. Tomatoes are ripening and the first few tasted OK. Good job we grew these because the price of fruit and veg has soared in France so tomatoes now cost 12% more than last year (says the news). Second sowing of dwarf beans produced very little so they are all coming out. The end of the bed is too close to a Laurel hedge and is seriously depleted, so loads of compost next year plus some fertiliser with trace elements is needed. Onions are brilliant in one bed and useless in the other: same reason as the beans. We couldn't grow onions in England because the land was contaminated with onion white root rot and despite leaving it for 12 years it was still there. The self-seeded squashes on the compost heap have done well, despite no watering, but it remains to be seen if they are just a thin layer of flesh and a mass of seeds so therefore useless.

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Courgettes and chard are now overwhelming us, and we had the first tomato yesterday!  Salad leaves are also doing quite well and the cucumbers are producing fruits on a regular basis, even though the plants got mildewed (now treated so hopefully they'll be OK). I've just picked our first plums, all 14 of them!  Morello cherries are finished (only 500g but it's the first year of production - same for the black and red currants - so that's all gone into a batch of 'garden fruit' jelly).  The chillies are doing so well I'm now freezing them in batches every week, and plan to make harissa paste with the cayenne chillies once they go red.  I may also have a go at drying some.  Beans are flowering but they've been slow this year, and the winter squash plants are finally producing female flowers.  Sweet corn's looking quite good but Monday's winds have snapped off one plant just above the first cob 😠. Tomatoes have fruit but they're green, and I've made several batches of basil pesto to freeze.  And my one walking onion is 'walking'!  Things that aren't doing so well are the potatoes - earlies but still not very productive; fennel, radish and rocket have all bolted (the thinnings were great), and the beetroot were/are useless.  And with some of the beans it will be a race against the weather to see if we get anything much from them - but we'll see.

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Anyone grown black peppers ( like the green and red ones) do I cook with them the same as others? 

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I did ages ago.  It is hard to tell when they are ready - the red ones are easy, as are yellow.  Then purple ones!  Last year we had chocolate coloured ones in a mixed packet.  They were tiny so not growing them this year.  Otherwise I'd suggest cutting one and tasting it.  If it is still a bit like green ones, leave the others on the plant a bit longer.  I like red ones mostly, but Golden California Wonder was really sweet.  Am growing that again.

Here the aubergines are just forming, the peppers are looking great - lots of fruit and lots of flowers.  Still green at the moment.  I have 4 melons!  We have harvested a lot of gherkins and pickled them.  The carrots are doing well in the greenhouse and I seem to have a family of 7 spot ladybirds in there.  They are very welcome.  I haven't seen one Harlequin at all.  Also in the greenhouse we have been harvesting the smaller Sungolds - they seem more acidic this year, but the Black Russians are delicious.  Not too fussed with the lemon pear drop called Ildi, but it is prolific!  Tigerellas are also doing well.  Berkeley Tie Dye seems to be hit and miss seeds, like last year - at least I know what the pink tomato was last year.  So contaminated seed I guess - it should be stripey.  One plant is though.  I won't be growing those seeds next year.

Lots of lettuce and also growing more carrots - I also have dill in there.  I seem to be treating the greenhouse more like a polytunnel!  Which we hope to get next year.

In the plot 2 days ago, harvested a little cauliflower as it had slugs on it and I didn't want them to eat it before me!  Yesterday wandered around and saw 2 more cauliflowers and wondered how I missed them.  Today I picked 8 cauliflowers of varying sizes!  They must have really put a spurt on overnight!  Crazy!  HRH par boiled them, dunked in ice and froze them - also several heads of calabrese.  The Purple Teepee beans are covered in purple flowers and I reckon I will be picking those by the weekend.  Pretty poor germination in the greenhouse with different compost, so I now believe it was a rubbish year for bean seed.  I have one runner bean and one Greek Gigantes bean.  Neither are doing well.  Never mind, we are inundated with other things.  Casablanca potatoes did very well, and larger than expected.  Charlotte 2nd earlies are giant spuds!  I've never seen them that big!  I harvested the last of those 2 days ago and HRH put them into storage yesterday before the rain.  Also harvesting courgettes but keeping on top of those so far.  Patty pans doing OK and some of the squashes are going crazy!  In particular the spaghetti squash!  We are using the winter onions as we need them and they have grown enormous too!  I have several soya bean plants and 2 bean pods so far!  Parsnips are better this year and the sugar snaps have just gone over.  The celeriac is looking good and the beetroots are swelling up nicely.  The apple trees are laden and the wing blows and they shed some more apples. without making a dent in the crop!  We have been eating strawberries and blueberries.  Sweetcorn looks really strong - I have my fingers crossed for them, but will definitely order more next year.  So in spite of the contrary weather, it isn't too bad after all!  HRH keeps testing the blackberries in the hedge - if he keeps on there won't be any left to harvest anyway!

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Jazzy second early potatoes were great as usual but are finished now. Purple Arran Victory maincrop have just started to get blight but that’s pretty good for Cornwall and they’re all a good size and decent yield. 
Peas - Hurst Greenshaft were the best I’ve ever grown and are just finishing. Purple dwarf French beans Amethyst are producing but have been rubbish in terms of size and yield. Runner beans Lady Di and Moonlight are out of control!! 
Ive just pulled the red onions which are OK but quite a lot have flowered. Broccoli is totally full of caterpillars despite being netted and so is being fed to the chickens! Carrots look good for the first time ever but I haven’t pulled any yet - parsnips look good too even though there are only 7 of them.

In the greenhouse the cucumber is a bit rubbish this year - I think it’s a bit shaded by all the tomatoes. Gardeners Delight and Sungold are doing very well, the one self seeded Black Russian only has 2 fruit on. The Giulietta plum tomato has loads of fruit but not ripe yet. The sweet peppers have quite a lot of flowers but no fruit yet. The cucamelons are just swelling.

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You sound as though you are going great guns!   AG - I would imagine a black pepper would be cooked exactly the same as any other.  I don't know if they go through any other colours before they become black?  If so, you have done amazingly well to get them to this stage, all peppers are still green here...unless they are chilis!  We have a variety beginning with m, can't remember the name, the pods are long and red and the heat is just right, its fairly prolific and was ready a few weeks ago, so I'll grow it again, once I find the name!  I'm glad you mentioned harissa M & M, thats such a good idea.  I sometimes have a slight reaction to eating non-dried chili, so I am a bit wary of it, but I love harissa.

I am bored of cherry toms, and am itching to try my first pineapple variety - its nearly ready.  I think many beans just don't want too much heat, and they need a decent amount of food and wet, and I think many areas were warm and dry this Spring, plus you keep having hotter days than us!  I am going to try a late sowing of French beans in Sept, because I get long and warmish autumns, with longer day lengths than in the UK, so it might work.  Nothing ventured nothing gained!  I'm glad Hurst Green Shaft peas worked for you, MT, they are my pea of choice, easy to grow and tasty.  I'm not sure what I have grown here, its a local variety, but it did quite well and the seedbox still has hundreds of dried peas left in it for the next decade I reckon! 

I am envious of the range of things you have grown, Valkyrie, its so varied, you must be a very healthy household.  Will you enter your local show (if its on, perhaps not), you could end up with some sort of Cup!  People here are very conservative, they grow stuff exceptionally well, but its always the same few crops - spuds, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, some carrots, broad and french beans, lots of herbs.  Mind you, we do all go in for fruit in a big way.  And the water scarcity and extreme heat are real issues. There are a few younger people about, and they have learnt how to grow stuff well from their parents, and they are much more adventurous.  I have friend who grows his own tobacco, and he loves trying new things especially as he lives with a Japanese woman, so their patch is super-interesting.  I am going to try perilla next, it has a very unusual flavour.

 

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On 8/7/2020 at 12:52 PM, Daphne said:

I am bored of cherry toms, and am itching to try my first pineapple variety - its nearly ready.

Personally, I'll take any tomato glut I can get. Certainly there are only so many cherry toms one can eat in a salad (and only so much salad one can stomach) but I make all my tomato based pasta sauces from fresh toms rather than buy tins of them (I find the result a much more natural and much sweeter flavour) and a glut will just allow for cooking in bulk and freezing. What doesn't go on pasta will get further reduced and added onto my pizza bases as the base layer.

Our tomato plants have started ripening now, so we're currently at the point of the plants keeping up with our demands but only just. Waiting for the point shortly when I can officially call it a glut and go into full sauce production mode. Courgettes on the other hand.....

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Yes, I know what you mean, I usually make tomato sauces from fresh toms, although a good friend of mine who is a chef, says I needn't bother.  I think the skin/flesh ratio is all wrong with a cherry so I have never been tempted to use them.  And I draw the line at de-skinning cherry toms!   However, I do dry a lot of tomatoes, on the car dash/parcel shelf, as I love them as a snack.  OH wants me to try drying them to a crisp (I prefer them mi-cuit) and then he is going to pulverise them and see if the resulting powder can give a lift to winter dishes.

Unfortunately/fortunately I can't grow courgettes here, its too hot and they all get powdery mildew.

 

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Now the weather is cooling down the runners have gone mad! It seems it will be a race for them to be big enough to pick before the really cold weather hits - doh! French beans are quietly continuing but the courgettes have been a disaster. I have brought one of the pepper plants indoors - sadly only have room for one out of 4.

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Turns out not thinning the carrots worked out OK; just dig out a section and discard the tiny ones. The parsnips are doing really well now that the South side has been covered in moss (gathered from the fields) to stop them drying out. Last week of tomatoes have been discarded because the skins split. We had this problem last year after some rain and it happens with cherries as well. Still some on the plants to ripen, but with the weather set to turn cold and wet I doubt they will get a chance. Lost most of our Kiwi fruit to sunburn, after the 6 weeks drought caused the leaves to fall off and removed their shade. Nearly everything has finished now so it's time to prepare the beds and then put membrane over them to stop the weeds growing, then plan what's going where next year. We have an extra bed after deciding strawberries are really a waste of time and water and we are better buying them from the market.

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Brussels sprouts (Trafalgar) - looking good. Sprouting broccoli - summer stuff just full of caterpillars despite the mesh so hoping for better from he later stuff. Cavolo Nero (Nero Di Toscana) - a bit small as shaded by broccoli but not too bad. Parsnips (Gladiator) - massive leaves but haven’t looked at roots yet. Carrots (Nantes 5) - absolutely tiny and rubbish, I think too shaded by the giant parsnips. Leeks (Musselburgh)- pretty good, used the first ones yesterday. Red onions (Red Ray) - not bad but don’t seem to be keeping very well. Runner beans (Moonlight and Lady Di) - rubbish because I didn’t keep up with keeping them so they only made beans for about 3 weeks. Dwarf French beans (Amethyst)- not very good, I think planted too early and then overshadowed by the peas and runners. Peas (Hurst Green Shaft) - brilliant. Potatoes (Jazzy and Arran Pilot)- pretty good. Tomatoes (Gardeners Delight, Sungold, Black Russian, Giulietta) - started well but got blight really badly very early. Cucumbers (Mini munch) - better once tomatoes taken out - needed more light. Cucamelons- late but good. Sweet peppers (Black Knight) - variable depending on side of greenhouse, need lots of light.

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Goodness - tha sounds amazing! Makes my few pots on the patio look very feeble! We have rubbish soil....very heavy clay and, even though I've been trying to improve it for the past 20 odd years, it's no good for veggies. We also seem to be an ideal environment for slugs, which doesn't help.

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My tomatoes were hit by blight.   Lost the lot overnight.   Made lots of green tomato chutney though.   Fig harvest was excellent.   Lots of fresh ones and made fig chutney with the overflow.   Beans good and potatoes.   Only one butternut squash though and a rogue pumpkin I didn’t sow!   Got two artichoke plants in the spring but they are struggling.   Grape harvest is planned for 4th October.   So watching the weather carefully.   Last year we got 40kg.   Not sure this year, as they were late and some damaged by a late frost.  That 40kg contributed to our Collective’s harvest in 2019 of 500kg and my share was turned to 24 bottles of a lovely Rose, Chiltern Blush!  

That was definitely our best crop last year! 

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Trisha, there is a notice on our village facebook page about excess grapes, wine etc. I think it must be the people that you take to. A 'grape' idea!!! What was the wine like?

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