Cucumbers growing on vine

We have been busy in the garden and the diary moved back to pen and paper.  Detailed records of what seeds were sown when, where, when transplanted and the outcomes have been kept using an old paper based office diary. Everything noted from the first chilli seeds sown in January through until all the indoor sown seeds had reached their final position. But nothing to see here on the blog. Now we are harvesting: chillis, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, courgettes, cabbages, cauliflowers, brocolli, lettuces, radishes, spring onions, salad leaves, mange tout, potatoes, strawberries & more so we can use a rainy afternoon to take a breather and post an update. 

Garden covered in snow

We weren't expecting it but three days after Christmas we woke to about 10cm of snow that had settled overnight. The frost protection fleece I'd layed over the garlic plants, in anticipation of the sub zero temperatures, was completely burried and the cloches protecting other autumn sown crops had been flattened. 


What a wet start to the week. Yesterday between the showers we started thinning out the bullrushes and weeding pond.  If we were going to get wet we may as well make the most of it.  Now we can see patches of water again. The pile of discarded bull rushes and weed is still lying near the pond. We left it to drain and to give any displaced frogs and newts time to escape and return to the water, intending to clear it away today but didn't fancy getting wet again so sowed cauliflowers, oriental cabbages and spring onions and harvested a few tomatoes instead.  Our hopes of planting the final few narcissus bulbs have been dashed for the next few days.

Cucumber and squash

So much for the long hot summer. The last few weeks have been wet and windy, hindering work in the garden.  I'm pleased with the tomatoes and aubergines in the greenhouse and poly-tunnel. Despite the damp weather there is as yet no sign of the mould that greatly reduced my aubergine harvest last year, although the battle with aphids and whitefly has begun. 

Outside, the remaining garlic hasn't faired so well. The rust flared up again leaving few viable leaves on the Solent Wight. It should have been my main crop but I was forced to dig it up and the bulbs were very small. This time last year we were drowning in broad beans. This year we have had a steady supply but they are now coming to an end, more than a month earlier than last year. The beans I planted out in the beds have simply failed to thrive, maybe the vole who was excavating beneath them early on did the damage, maybe they were affected by residual herbicide in the horse manure, but they have finally been finished off over the last two or three days by pests. My best guess, from the damage, is a sudden aphid strike although even under very close inspection neither my husband nor I can see any - even with our spectacles on.

Cabbages, chard, beetroot, courgettes, cucumbers, broccoli calabrese and patty pan squashes doing nicely, carrots deformed but tasty and keeping us well fed. I'll definitely grow more of the calabrese next year.

harvested Early Purple Wight garlic

As planned we dug up the seriously rust affected garlic, variety Early Purple Wight. Very relieved that it had developed reasonable bulbs. Other two varieties, Solent Wight and Caulk Wight, still have significant number of green leaves although some showing rust patches and as the bulbs are still very small, decided to risk leaving them for another couple of weeks, subject to them not succumbing to the rust. It seems to have worked for the Early Purple Wight, so at least not all lost. Harvested first turnips and finally cut some chard. Went well with squash (patty pan Delikates), courgettes (Midnight) and broad beans in stir fry with mushrooms, noodles and soy sauce. In the greenhouse fruits are forming on the Cape Gooseberries. Last year none germinated but this year I have two small plants. In the poly-tunnel the sweet potato plants have put on a spurt of growth. This year for first time attempting to grow okra as it no longer seems to be available at the supermarket we use. Since I took delivery of the six plants about a week ago the temperature has been just about sufficient to keep them alive, but hoping for some growth when the weather improves from tomorrow.



Today, planted out the last few celariac plants and also filled in the gaps left by harvested spring cabbage with sime cabbage Dutchman which I am hoping will be ready to harvest in August. The broccoli calibrese (Matsuri F1) heads have started to develop, which is a relief as I thought they may have gone the way of my spring cauliflowers which didn't develop heads. In the poly-tunnel the cucumber (Emilie) got off to a good start but the recent bout of poor weather seems to have set them back with many of the fruits withering without developing.  Good weather forecast for the next few days so I will be watching to see if there is an improvement. Tomatoes also doing well with plenty of fruit setting, but chillis still struggling. Last week we started harvesting carrots (Amsterdam Forcing), they were predicatbly curly from the stony soil, but very tasty. We should have some baby beetroots and turnips soon. Radish and salad leaves have been better this year with slugs under better control. Tomorrow if it's not raining we'll dig up the garlic, covered in rust, to see if anything can be salvaged. Fortunately the rust hasn't spread to the leeks and onions. But talking of rust, I noticed a few spots on one of the pear trees. I've removed the leaves. Hopefully it will slow the spread.