Oh Great. Just go and leave us, why don’t you ..

No, you go, we’ll manage just fine. Go and enjoy your holiday – we’ll just have to look after ourselves won’t we ..

Despite hours of carefully setting up hoses, timers, shading and ventilation, leaving for two weeks in the sun I could hear the vegetable plants gossiping about me, questioning my credentials as a potager parent.

But returning home yesterday I was greeted by a surprisingly serene scene: very little had bolted, nothing had died, most things looked pretty healthy. It seems a good mix of sun and rain had kept everything in good shape. That meant lots of produce ready for harvesting and first up were some nice Petrowski turnips.

Petrowski turnips

Petrowski turnips

I decided against the much recommended idea of cooking and eating the green leaves, not only because they’d been nibbled quite a bit but also because they were bristly and harsh. The turnips themselves looked fine and apart from some having been burrowed by tiny critters (I ditched those), they were good for eating.

Oregon mangetout, fattened up into peas

Oregon mangetout, fattened up into peas

Peas and beans were next. The Oregon Sugar Pod mangetout had grown on from normal mangetout and filled out into true pods of peas. This is no bad thing at all as the peas are sweet and crisp and very easy to eat raw straight out of the pod as you pick them.

Purple Teepee and Tendercrop french beans

Purple Teepee and Tendercrop french beans

Nearby there are three types of dwarf French beans on the go: Tendercrop, Purple Teepee and Bobis d’Albenga. Each had been very slow to get productive, with just a few of the purple ones coming through earlier in the summer. But a fortnight of going it alone seems to have worked wonders: a heavy crop of the Teepee and Tendercrop was there for the picking today. And though they’re a little further behind, the Bobis d’Albenga are appearing with their attractive mottled pattern. If left, these will form beans in the pods, which are shelled and used like any other pulses.

Attractive Bobis d'Albenga beans

Attractive Bobis d’Albenga beans

Alongside the beans are a couple of spaghetti squash plants, one of which is forming so many fruit that it was wise to cut the growing stem back, just so the plant would focus its energy on pumping the existing squashes up and not on making lots more tiny ones. I can’t wait to scoop out the spaghetti-like flesh once the mature fruits are cooked. Photos come the time.

Young Spaghetti Squash

Young Spaghetti Squash

Up to now most of my tomato plants have been in the mini greenhouses but they’re beginning to outgrow them, so I need to free up space in the raised beds to move them out. That meant lifting onions, garlic and early potatoes today. The onion harvest was nice but modest.

Over-wintered onions, just lifted

Over-wintered onions, just lifted

These were overwintered Japanese whites and some of the sets just didn’t take. It may have been a deficiency of some kind in the soil as the garlic – softneck Germidour and hardneck Marco – was a little small as well. I did use a specialist onion and garlic fertiliser but perhaps need a bit more next time.

The potatoes coming out were Rocket earlies. I was very pleased with these: they’re well formed, uniform and completely undamaged / uninterfered with.

Nice harvest of Rocket potatoes

Nice harvest of Rocket potatoes

Maris Piper maincrops are still in the ground for a while longer, although the foliage is starting to go, so the big dig is in sight. Isn’t digging for potatoes just one of the best things in vegetable growing?

And then there were the courgettes. Oh goodness the courgettes. There’s always the odd big one when the plants have been left to their own devices, but this time the Romanesco and Tuscany seem to have had a mine’s bigger than yours competition.

Colossal courgettes!

Colossal courgettes!

Each had one huge courgette – the striped Romanesco was 55cm / 22” long – and they both weighed about the same as a family hatchback. But what to do with all this raw material? I really couldn’t be bothered trawling through the melée of on-line courgette recipes so improvised. It only used a fifth of one of the monsters but it was a start:

Chop and core courgette, season

Chop and core courgette, season

Add spring onions

Add spring onions

Add broad beans and home-made wholegrain mustard

Add broad beans and home-made wholegrain mustard

Cover in passata and bake until courgette is al dente

Add spinach, cover in passata and bake until courgette is al dente

Serve with some of those turnips from earlier, boiled then fried crisp

Serve with some of those turnips from earlier, boiled then fried crisp

And there is the number one rationale for doing all this vegetable growing at all. Pure simple food, healthy and tastier than anything you can buy. What a great hobby this is 🙂

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