This is our first real harvest. We’ve had a few Spinach leaves but once the Lettuce start coming in, I consider the season to be well and truly underway. This is one of my Marvel of the Four Seasons lettuce. It was planted at the same time as the Rouge d’Hiver but is ready sooner.
I love the mottled colour of these Lettuce. This one has a somewhat upright habit, almost like a Cos lettuce whereas the ones I grew in the UK were softer and rounder. I wonder if the same variety grows differently in different climates or is the seed different. Anyway, the colour is the same and the taste too. Amazing!
It’s nice to have a little helper when it comes to harvest time too.
Today, we visited a local Pumpkin farm with the pre-school. I was excited because I’ve never visited a Pumpkin farm before. Back in the UK Pumpkin farms are hard to come by. There are some but as the summers are not predictable I’m sure it’s not very stable business for farmers. Here in Portland, however the situation is very different. With the longer summer temperatures and sunshine (although I’ve been assured this is usually sunny for October) Pumpkins do very well here.
The children were here to harvest the Pumpkins sown by the previous class in May. It was a sweet idea – that a child who was a year older than you left you a ‘present’ in the ground and it grew to become a Pumpkin. We soon located the one for us and Jackson held on to it tightly.
The number of different varieties that were grown here was impressive. This knobbly variety is actually called, Red Warty Thing, which is a brilliant name for what can only be described as a red warty thing.
Other varieties included New Moon, Jack Be Little, Swan Neck Gourds, Baby Boo, Apple Gourd and Bat Wing Pumpkins.
This one is called Lil Pump Ke Mon.
The farmers even decorated the hay wagon with corn and dried flowers. It was all lovely.
And best of all it’s made me very excited to grow Pumpkins next year. I’m already thinking about which seed varieties I’ll be buying and where to plant them.
I brought in a lovely crop of Broadbeans today. The pods were just starting to get knobbly and the plants were getting heavy enough to start falling over. There was a touch of brown spot on them too but not too much black fly.
Broadbeans aren’t a very economical crop, space wise. The plants get rather tall, need support and take up quite a lot of room in my small garden. They go in quite early but take a while to get going and are not the first thing to be harvested. It’s already the end of July and so they’ve taken up the ground for close to five months.
Are they worth it? Yes, I think they are. I love the fresh, green taste and you just can’t buy them in the shops. Farmers markets maybe but you’ve no idea how old they are and they never taste quite like your own ‘just picked’. But for me the part Broadbeans play in my garden is this – they get me excited about the coming season. When I first sow them and see their big, waxy green leaves pushing through I know that Spring is on it’s way. They are the ones that keep me going through the tough late Winter. And for that I will give them space every year.
ps. Here’s a little post on how to shell Broadbeans
It’s time to say goodbye to the Strawberries. The rain killed the harvest and all I could do was watch as they rotted or were eaten away by slugs. The sunny weather has meant that the last few ripened well but you can’t fix what is already broken and I spent some time clearing out the debris from underneath the plants. Looking strangely colourful in the sunlight it really was just a pulpy mess.
There’s something very sad about seeing what should be a bountiful and beautiful harvest ruined. And I feel for the fruit farmers too. Our local pick-your-own farm has been closed for the last month. Their website just says ‘crop failed’, which says it all.
I harvested my Beetroot today. They were about the size of tennis balls and the top of the Beetroots were starting to show above the soil so I thought that would be an ideal time to bring them in. I don’t want them getting woody.
I don’t grow Beetroot very often. I guess I just don’t eat that much of it. It’s a very earthy taste. Does anyone have any great suggestions on what to do with it. I’ve pickled it in the past and was thinking about making this Beetroot and Chocolate cake. It sounds good.
I planted my Highland Burgundy Red Potatoes back in April. Today, I harvested the first ones. The plants had flowered and they were getting big enough to start flopping over onto my Lettuce so I thought it would be a good time to start the harvest.
I recently bought a vintage Potato fork (with flat tines) for this very purpose and couldn’t wait to give it a spin. It seemed to work – I didn’t spear any, in any case. The first glint of purple was quite exciting too!
Once I brought them in (and they caused quite a stir in the kitchen too) I washed them and scraped the skin off. Or should I say pushed the skin off because it came off very, very easily. Then I boiled them with a sprig of mint. Served them with salt and butter and watched them disappear.
I had heard that this particular variety wasn’t that tasty but they tasted great. I’m of the opinion that anything that comes directly out of the ground and into the kitchen is going to taste good. At least better than they would if you bought them, right? And I just love the fact that you can’t buy these in the shops but you can eat them at chez Plot. Love that.
About a month ago I sowed a row of mixed Radish seed, Rainbow Mixed. Radish grow very quickly and they also run to seed quickly too so you have to keep your eye on them and harvest them just at the right time. This is usually easily done when you sow the same variety but because these were mixed seed it was very difficult to get it right.
The yellow ones were invariably too big and a bit woody. Conversely, the red two-tone types tended to be too small. I think next time I’ll skip the mixed packets and go for separate rows of different varieties. They’ll be easier to manage I think.
Oooh! Get me, growing Mini-Sweetcorn. I bought the seed as a bit of an afterthought really. I saw it for sale on a seed website and as I was buying some other things I threw it into the basket with a view to maybe having a go.
And this year I did! My normal sweetcorn came to nought (something ate the seedheads). But then, from nowhere, came the dark horse. The small, insignificant (in truth, half forgotten about) little seedlings from the Mini-Sweetcorn seeds started to romp. And boy did they grow. They ended up about a foot taller than my regular Sweetcorn.
In my mind I had expected some sort of miniature plant sporting miniature cobs. In reality, Mini-Sweetcorn turns out to be the same size as regular Sweetcorn with more cobs that are smaller but also longer and thinner than usual.
The difference comes when you open them up. Inside, you’ll find what looks like small, unpolinated corn. Infact this is Mini-Sweetcorn. Ready to eat and ever so slightly more buttery than the ones you buy in the shops. Coool.
There is a downside. The plants are, well, huge and I only managed to harvest two or possibly three cobs from each plant. That means a grand total of (drum roll please) 12 Mini-Sweetcorns. Yey!
So I dedicated a whole swathe of my tiny plot to growing err… 12 Mini-Sweetcorns. Right, okay. Well I’m glad I grew them at least once. Now I can say I’ve done it, I just won’t be doing it again.
I don’t know about you but I’ve had hardly any Tomatoes this year. Most of mine are still green and sitting on the bush in the rain – booh! The only success I’ve had with outdoor Tomatoes this year was with my clutch of teeny-tiny Tomatoes, my Sweet Pea Currants.
I lovingly raised them from even teenier seed and planted them out in the sunny corner, under my Peach tree. Once they were in they began to romp away, and just as Coopette said they soon became ‘vigorous and sprawling’.
So much so that I had to deploy the Pea sticks to keep the plants and what seemed like millions, (okay thousands) of fruits off the ground. Soon the little pea-sized Tomatoes were ripening. The teeny-tiny trusses had 14 maybe 16 fruits on each. The top ones ripened first, while the middle ones were orange and the smaller ones on the end were deep green moving to pale green – very pretty visually.
And the taste? Well, the name says it all, Sweet! And they certainly were. Too tiny to slice they are really more like Tomato candy – just pop them in your mouth one by one, no salad required.
I’d definitely recommend growing them. They seem to do fine as an outdoor crop here in the UK and even though I did feed them with Tomato feed (when I remembered) I’m sure that their flavour would still be very good without. You will need to plan in some support to tame the plants once they get to their mid-Summer craziness otherwise you’ll have a lot of very dirty, very small Tomatoes. And nobody wants that.
I’ve been harvesting my small round Carrots (I think the variety is Paris Market) over the last week or so. They have been a great success. I sowed them underneath my Apple espalier in a situation that is part shaded, by my tall Raspberry canes, and also quite dry since it’s right next to the wall.
It was really a shot in the dark since I didn’t know if the Carrots would grow well there. But I figured as they’re only small roots they wouldn’t need as much light or water as regular Carrots.
It paid off. All the Carrots I harvested are full sized and mega tasty. I’m really pleased and will certainly try the same thing next year.