Carrot harvest

It really doesn’t seem that long ago since we sowed our carrots, but we’ve already been able to harvest some of them within 3 months.

They require regular (daily) watering to prevent them from splitting. To put it simply, if carrots are not watered a similar amount and at a similar frequency then they become susceptible to ‘outgrowing’ their own skin and that’s how they can end up split.

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We tried our best to keep all of the carrots submerged in the soil, but as you can see this was not completely possible. This may be partly because of how many carrots we crammed in to one pot!

Not a problem though, it’s just a case of cutting off the green bits and the rest is ready to go!

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(Above) Our first carrot harvest from the pot. There’s probably between 1/3 and 1/4 of the total potful here, so not a bad haul by any means! This variety is known as Ideal Red, and everyone was quick to comment on how good they tasted – particularly compared to supermarket carrots!

The majority that we pulled up looked like carrots should, there were a few that were more comical in size and shape – but they all tasted just as good…

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Once we’d harvested the carrots we wanted, we made sure to cover the carrots back up straight away. This is important, because once the carrots have been pulled out from the soil the sweet smell quickly attracts Carrot Fly, which can obliterate a whole crop in no time at all! We covered the pot with a few layers of fleece, which seemed to do the trick…

Too many cucamelons left us in a pickle!

After a slow start and us questioning whether any would ever appear, we ended up with far too many cucamelons! Having never grown them before, we weren’t sure what to do with them – but our Instagram followers came to our rescue! Apparently pickled cucamelon is very popular both here and in the US!

And it couldn’t be easier to make…

Firstly, we mixed 300ml of white vinegar with a teaspoon of salt, stirring until it was dissolved. Then we added a tablespoon of demerara sugar, again stirring until dissolved.

We chopped some mint and dill from the herb garden and added these to the solution along with some coriander seeds, before washing the cucamelons and adding them to sterilised jars.

The pickling solution was then poured over the cucamelons and the jars were sealed tightly, ready for the cucamelons to pickle away!

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Courgettes: – Practising what we preach

We revealed our top tip for courgette-success in one of our previous posts, which is staking the plants and regularly tying the stalk to it. This results in the courgette plant taking up less space and also being much easier to harvest!

As you can see (albeit I appreciate I’m only 5′ 2″) the courgette plants can grow really tall by staking them, and it means you get lots of yummy courgettes to eat!

The only thing is that you really have to keep on top of the tying up, because otherwise we find that sometimes the growing points of the plant can be snapped off in the wind! 😦

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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!

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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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!)

Some more potting on of peppers…

Today we potted on Emily’s Gogorez peppers – they definitely needed some more room!

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They’re also currently doing a little better than mine at the moment!

We filled the pots up about half way with soil, and then topped with compost:

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Next, we made some room in the centre of each pot large enough to fit the peppers:

 

After that, it’s a simple case of pushing the compost around the stem of the pepper and making sure it’s nicely secure in it’s new location…

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We needed some bamboo canes to support the plants as they continue to grow upwards over the next couple of months, and of course as they start to grow the peppers themselves.

 

 

As above – we tied the stems of the peppers to the canes with some string, just to keep them upright, and to help take away some of the strain.

And voilà –

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A general update

The courgettes are growing well in their pots and are starting to produce lots of courgettes. Once ready, carefully cut the courgettes with a knife, ensuring the main stem of the plant is not damaged.

The cucamelons are growing away well – we think they’ll be ready to plant out next week! However, as they’ve been growing in a cold greenhouse so far, we have now put them outside in a slightly protected area to harden them off before we plant them out.

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The beetroot that we planted outside are also doing well and are starting to swell. They’ll still be a little while longer, but it’s always good when you start to see them forming beetroot! Going back to successional sowings, you can see that three different sowings of beetroot have now been planted out across this bed.

Our second sowing of radishes are germinated and growing away nicely. All being well, these should be ready to eat in 2-3 more weeks!

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