Monday, June 20, 2011

Growing on the coast - California style

A few weeks ago, we left the suburban veg plot in the capable hands of our neighbours and headed across to the west coast of the USA. In among visiting wineries, a trip to Alcatraz and coming face to face with a rather large herd of elk in a redwood forest, we planned a trip to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Winding our way through the extensive rhodendendron gardens (those west coast types really like their 'rhodies') we headed straight for the vegetable garden. I just love having a nosy around other people's veg gardens - usually to see what they're planting next to what or to find some new container planting idea that I can blatantly copy back in the suburban veg plot.
The organic vegetable garden at Mendocino was a beautifully laid out rectangular plot. Deep borders planted with flowers and edibles outlined the entire area and with central beds of varying sizes being cut out of the well-kept lawn. The variety of styles of veg beds was amazing - long narrow ones of rhubarb and raspberries, potager-style areas bordered with bricks, timber-sided raised beds and circular spaces for bean wigwams all overseen by a scarecrow named Dottie. My favourite idea there was a wonderfully ornate bedstead recycled as a pea frame. Definitely an idea I shall be using should the opportunity arise!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Winter veg in summer

It's around this time of year as the harvests of tomatoes, peas, sugar snaps, courgettes, chillies, mangetout and broad beans really get going that I tend to forget all about planning for the winter season. Winter cabbages, kale and purple sprouting broccoli should all be sown in the next month or so to be ready to eat once the summer and autumn gluts are dwindling. So, as this year is the 'Year of the Organised Suburban Veg Plot' I've set aside all of the brassicas from my seed tin in order to select what to sow for the winter. And at the same time, glanced around my garden to plan where this veg could be planted out when the time comes. And that's when I noticed a rogue kale plant I omitted to pull up in the spring. It must have been a small one for me to miss though the fact it's in the far corner of the plot and involves clambering over a big pile of canes might be more the reason. As the sugar snaps grew, they obscured it from view - but now it's put on an amazing growth spurt, towered above the peas and broken into flower.

Elsewhere I have a parsnip that was sown in March 2010 - not eating this one was intentional when I happened upon the tip that parsnip flowers attract hoverflies. So I saved my last parsnip, moved it into the broad bean bed and waited. Well, the parsnip certainly flowered on its 5 foot stem, but I've yet to see any hoverflies around it yet. However, it does seem to be acting as a sacrificial plant - simply covered in blackfly while there are none on the broad beans. I guess if the result is the same, then the method isn't that important.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Broad appeal

Veg gardening is just brilliant.
First you sow some small dried things.

Which grow into these...

From which you harvest these...

I don't think it gets better than that!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

All change

The suburban veg plot blog has had a makeover. It rained a lot, I couldn't garden, and there was nothing on tv. That's it really.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Awaiting the onslaught

You know that scene in every old wild west movie? The one where the cowboy/rancher/townsfolk would stop suddenly listening for something. They'd concentrate hard, scrunching up their face and then raising their head, focus on some small dust cloud in the distance. The dust cloud would grow larger and larger and dark forms within it would begin to take shape. The indistinct noise would change to a faint drumming, getting louder and louder until it could be recognised as the sound of heavy hooves as horses were ridden at full gallop carrying the full might of the native American tribes to bear down on the settlers. The look on the face of the cowboy/rancher/townsfolk was that of both fear and resignation as they realised that life was about to irreversibly change and that resistance was futile

It's pretty much the same feeling I get every June when the courgette plants start fruiting. How I've looked forward to getting my first courgette since sowing the seeds in March and gently tending to the seedling as they grew. This year I'm growing Striata, a stripy green courgette from Seeds of Italy and Gold Rush, a yellow courgette I obtained in a seed swap on a grow your own forum. Now we can see the first few fruits developing, ready to open their flowers for the insects and achieve full pollination. But a small part of me knows that my array of courgette recipes cannot possibly keep up with the supply once the plants get going.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chelsea 2011

Just a few pictures of some lovely things I saw at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show