Weeding out the brassicas

We planted out our cauliflowers and broccoli plants a few weeks back now, but the plants require a little maintenance throughout their growing period. A couple of weeks ago, some weeds had started growing around the base of the plants, so we carefully removed these with an onion hoe. However, this isn’t the best method of weeding (as you don’t remove the weed and, more importantly its roots, from the soil). Therefore, the weeds still come back quite quickly). Nevertheless, it does tidy the bed for a short while.

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When we checked on the plants today, they were almost being overtaken with weeds again. So we set about tidying them back up!

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It didn’t take long – about 20 minutes, and the plants looked so much nicer afterwards. They’ll also be able to enjoy much more of the water we give them now they don’t have to share it with chick weed!

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We also had a lovely surprise – we spied a broccoli head forming! The cauliflowers are still a little way off, but they’re coming along nicely so we hope to give you an update before long!

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Making use of the abundance of herbs

We don’t know about everyone else, but vegetables seem to come like buses. At times you don’t have very many, and then they all seem to come at once! This is exactly what’s happening with our herbs at the moment. They have all really got going, but we can’t eat them fast enough! And unfortunately, the shorter lifespan ones like basil are starting to flower so we’ll end up losing the chance to use them if we’re not careful!

We cut a few stems of basil, washed them and placed them on a baking tray in the bottom of the oven for an hour or so, or until they had dried.

We then finely chopped the dried herbs, discarding any particularly woody stems and will store them in an airtight jar until we want to use them in cooking!

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Cucumber, courgette and cucamelon update!

Our cucumber, courgette and cucamelon plants are doing brilliantly. Following a slow start, the cucumber plant is coming on strides now and is much stronger. For a start, it could only support one cucumber at a time, but now it’s growing three or four with ease!

These are the last two cucumbers that we harvested from the plant.

 

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The cucamelons are also starting to be ready to harvest. As we hadn’t tried growing these before, we were dying to taste them! It turns out they are exactly as described, a slightly sour cucumber – but still an oddly refreshing taste!

The courgette plants are also still producing well. We have had some extremely hot weather in recent weeks, so we were worried at times that they were coming to the end of their life (as it was so difficult to get enough water into their pots!) However, they have really picked up again now it’s dropped a few degrees.

In fact, we had to tie them up to their stake again for support. They don’t seem to mind this, as long as you encourage them gently towards their stake. It also means they don’t take up too much room, as they go up rather than out!

Strawberry progress

Having checked on the strawberry runners we potted up a couple of weeks ago, each of these have now rooted into their pot. Therefore, it was time to cut them loose from the parent plant so they can form their own plant.

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These will just be kept watered now until they have formed their own strong plant. They will then die back over the winter and grow back next Spring to be planted out for next year’s strawberries.

Onion harvest

It was time to harvest the red onions we had been growing in a pot last week. Although they hadn’t grown particularly big, their leaves had fallen to one side and they were no longer putting up new centre leaf growth so they were as big as they were going to get!

Therefore, we gently pulled the onions from the pot and have hung them on the shed to dry. Hopefully this will enable us to store them through the winter for eating (if they last that long!)

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Planting out the brassicas

The brassicas we sowed and pricked out a few weeks ago are now ready to plant out. We had a few cauliflowers and one broccoli plant to plant out.

Dad gave us a bit of his vegetable patch to plant them out in as they need a fair bit of space to grow properly. We have tried them in 30 litre pots before (with some success), but they are definitely better if they can get their roots in the soil.

First things first, we had to dig over the soil which had already been used once this year!

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Then, before planting out, we soaked each plant in a solution of maxicrop seaweed. We find that this gives them a little bit of a boost as they start to get established in the soil.

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We then planted the plants out, around a foot apart. Making sure to firm the plants in so that their roots can get away into the soil as quickly as possible.

The plants were then watered in thoroughly to settle the soil around the plants.

Unfortunately, some of the wildlife in the garden is not as beneficial as you’d like it to be. Therefore, we always have to cover the brassicas to protect them from pigeons and rabbits! We therefore built a corral out of pieces of wood and then covered the plants with some netting.

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Starting to think about next year already!

Now that the strawberries have stopped producing fruits, it is time to think about planning for next year’s crop. This doesn’t take much thinking about, as the plants do this all by themselves, by starting to throw “runners”. These are elongated stems which grow leaves and roots out periodically with the aim of finding some nice soil to anchor themselves in and produce more plants next season.

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To ensure the strawberry bed is kept in an orderly fashion, we pot the runners up rather than letting them root wherever takes their fancy. First, we filled several 3″ pots with a little bit of soil to give the pots some weight.

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Then we filled the pots to the top with some multipurpose compost.

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Lastly, we identified the runners we wanted to pot up, and pushed their root nodules into the surface of the compost, holding them down with a U-shape of plastic coated wire.

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The job was finished off by giving each pot a good watering to settle the runner in. We will keep watering them regularly now until the runners start to root.

 

The fastest (and easiest) crop – mung beans!

They only take about a week from sowing to harvest – what could possibly go wrong?! Mung beans are a great one for first time growers and also to encourage kids as it doesn’t take very long at all to see results! They are also a great thing to grow at this time of year for having in stir frys.

Mung beans don’t even need soil. All you will need is a large glass jar, an elastic band and some cotton cloth.

Firstly, the mung bean seeds should be soaked for 24 hours in water. Just covering them with water in your jar and then attaching the cotton over the top of the jar with an elastic band.

After 24 hours, the water should be poured away through the cotton, rinsed through with fresh water and then poured away again. The jar should be left on its side.

The rinsing through process should then be repeated daily (twice daily if possible) until the mung bean shoots are long enough to eat.

This is their progress in just 5 days (although it has been exceptionally warm!)

A quick July update

Now the weather is warm and the days are long, everything grows surprisingly quickly. Here are a few photos of how our various crops are getting on.

The second sowing of radishes are starting to swell, so it won’t be long before we’re eating these! The beetroot are also getting almost big enough to eat – we can’t wait!

The cucamelons have already grown beyond the short canes we gave them in order to reach the main climbing trellis. I love their tendrils which keep them attached so securely to it! The courgettes are also producing lots of fruits now. I would say on average, one courgette every 2-3 days.

The cucumber plant is also growing steadily and was tied up to its batten for the first time at the weekend. You can see that the compost is not kept too wet around the cucumbers, as we find that their stems can often rot off where this is the case.

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The brassicas are also growing on nicely after we pricked them out last weekend. These will remain in the same pots until they’re planted out, so just need to be watered until then and monitored to make sure not pests decide to land!

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