After nearly five months in the ground, the maincrop potatoes were ready to come out this weekend. I do like the annual treasure hunt of fishing through the soil for golden potatoes, not knowing whether they’ll have done well.
It turned out they had. From half of the small raised bed I got 15lbs/7 kilos of healthy Maris Pipers. Maris have a fluffy texture when cooked so are great for roasting and mashing. They’re drying indoors now (it’s a rainy day outside) and once the dirt on them is dusty I’ll store them in an hessian sack; in the dark so that they don’t instantly start sprouting again.
Cauliflowers are one of the trickiest vegetables to grow. Each time I’ve tried I’ve failed, with seedlings dying or plants growing large but with no fruit. The key seems to be a combination of a good quality variety, sowing the seeds early, keeping the plants warm but not so hot that they bolt and, most importantly, lots of luck.
I must’ve been lucky enough to tick some of those boxes this year as the other day I spotted my first ever cauliflowers. They’re a variety called Igloo, which are usually picked and eaten when the size of a large apple but can be left to grow larger.
They’ve been growing with some other brassicas under a mesh tunnel to protect them from the dreaded cabbage white butterfly, which will lay its eggs on any brassicas and the resultant catterpillars can decimate a crop overnight.
There are signs of the adjacent kale leaves having been nibbled so there are pests of some kind on the scene, but if the kale keeps them busy and away from the cauliflowers then that’s OK with me.
I tried a new variety of courgette this year: a busy, vigourous plant called Zephyr. The fruits are characterised by being a vivid yellow with a green tip, as if they’ve been partly dipped in pea soup. I found that they’ll only achieve that effect if the flower stays on, so one has to resist picking and stuffing/frying the legendary luscious courgette flowers.
Elsewhere, some of the vegetables just refuse to give up. Weeks ago I chopped the broad bean plants to the ground, just leaving stumps as they can fix healthy nitrogen into the soil. Today, some of them have started growing again and one is even flowering.
A visit by a bee could easily pollinate those flowers and, incredibly, I should get another few beans growing. And not far away, there are a couple of pea plants rapidly growing where I thought I’d completely pulled up all traces of them weeks ago. These are Kelvedon Wonder, not one of the pea varieties suited to overwintering, so any crop I’m lucky enough to get will need to come through fairly quickly now.
The potted strawberry plants have decided they don’t want to hibernate yet either and are producing a second crop of tasty berries long after I thought they’d stopped. It’s been a poor year weather-wise but the wonderful persistence of some plants seems to conquer any adversity.