After the fantastic hot weather we enjoyed in June, July has been a big disappointment. Cold and wet. It would be nice to have predictable weather – something gardeners have been saying forever. Still, things are looking good with the harvest despite the weather.
Great result with summer cauliflowers this year, they’ve been faster than usual and the quality is superb. Went into the brassica cage and there they were in all their glory.
I tried a new to me variety, Cauliflower de Purple. As the name says, purple cauliflower. I’ve grown other varieties of purple cauliflower in the past, Graffiti being my past favourite beating the Di Sicilia Violetto but the Cauliflower de Purple is a clear winner.
Sadly my grandson is getting older – he no longer falls for the ‘space cauliflower’ story but he loves his veggies which is great. I’d brought in a trug near full of purple and white (All Year Round) cauliflowers which he glanced at, said “Nice one, Grandad!” before returning to charging around outside.
Cara had her share of them, popped three into the fridge for us and blanched and froze the rest. Cauliflowers don’t hold long in the ground but can be kept for a while after harvest but freezing is fast, easy and retains quality.
The brassica cage is a Godsend, keeping the butterflies, rabbits and other pests off. Reducing wind velocity so wind rock isn’t a problem. Planting through the weed matting reduces the workload tremendously, something I find I need to do now I’m older.
I did get a question about crop rotation with the brassica cage. The cage can be moved although it takes four people. It doesn’t need to be done every year though. I lift the weed matting and add manure / compost at the start of the year. Adding lime at planting time keeps the pH up.
Most of the calabrese -headed broccoli – is up now. The last one I lifted has a large head but quite a bit of stem. Val came up with some Stilton cheese left from Christmas in the freezer and made a broccoli and Stilton soup. Gorgeous! Two large portions for now and two in the freezer.
Cobra climbing French beans
Because of the wind here, I grow my sweetcorn and climbing French beans in the polytunnel. Normally I look to grow one plant per string, spaced about 6” apart. This year I tried something different. Sowed one plant per string and one between each pair.
Well so far the ‘overcrowding’ is paying off handsomely. The first picking gave me a bucketful and the next day another half bucketful. There’s loads more coming so we seem to have near doubled the yield from the same space. Result!
The runners are not doing well – growing slowly and the plants are a bit weak with yellowing leaves. I know the soil is in good heart from all the manure that went on so I’m going to try applying some S-Chelate Cultiv-8 to cover any micro-nutrient deficiencies.
This year I’ve been growing Early Nantes as usual but also Sweet Candle which is much loved by the show growing fraternity. Well, I can understand why now. Very strong growth, good shape and lovely sweet flavour.
Thinning basically gives us some meals of ‘baby carrots’ that you’d pay a premium for in the supermarket or restaurant whilst leaving room for the rest to grow on.
Kilos of plum tomatoes coming in now from the Crimson Plum. Although their big selling point is blight resistance, which is a problem for outdoor grown tomatoes, they’re very productive, giving tasty, good solid fruits. On my favourite list.
Cucumbers tizzy tocky
We’ve a lot of cucumbers this year although all the cucumbers and courgettes seem to be coming down with mottled leaves. It’s difficult to be sure what the cause is, some disease or other but so long as they produce, keep removing the affected leaves and carry on.
My grandson just loves cucumbers so he’s going through loads. My own favourite with cucumbers is the Greek tzatziki or tizzy tocky as we call it. It’s so easy to make, refreshing and healthy. Sometimes I add mint to ring the changes but generally just the basic recipe is perfect.