Big, small, green, red, crunch!

Or how at this time of year every phase of vegetable growing is there to be enjoyed

As we enter the last few weeks of summer there are lots of plants making a late showing with new growth, which may appear late but is actually comfortably on schedule.

The big pot of runner bean plants is replacing its vivid red flowers with tiny beans. The variety is Prizewinner and although the beans are only an inch long today, they can grow up to a foot.

Tiny new runner beans, just an inch long for now

Tiny new runner beans, just an inch long for now

As they were planted towards the end of their sowing window I’ll be pleased to get a medium successful crop and am keeping the compost well fed and watered, as well as nipping off the top of the winding stems so that they concentrate on fruiting rather than growing higher and higher.

Out in one of the raised beds a couple of Marketmore cucumber plants are doing very well. A good loamy soil, regular feeding and lots of water (that cool watery flesh has to come from somewhere) has led to a better harvest than I’ve had before. And letting the plants trail up a strategic wire shelf has let air get around the plant and made the flowers that much more attractive to bees.

Marketmore cucumbers: tiny, new growth (left) and ready to pick (right)

Marketmore cucumbers: tiny, new growth (left) and ready to pick (right)

The cukes are in the shadow of a forest of tall tomato plants, most of which are bearing a good amount of fruit, particularly the Tigerella, but still need more sun to ripen. A few of the Italian Principe Borghese tomatoes were ready for eating this week and if this was a tomato munching review I’d only give them a six out of ten: they have a grainy, mealy texture and only a mild flavour.

Tigerella tomatoes will soon start to turn red

Tigerella tomatoes will soon start to turn red

It’s no wonder they’re said to be best suited to sun drying. I’ll wait until there’s a good amount ripe and will oven dry or semi-dry them. Doing that once previously intensified a fairly ordinary flavour into explosive levels and it’ll be good to achieve such flavours again.

The tomatoes could learn a thing or two about how to be red from the nearby strawberries. These are the variety Buddy, which Sainsbury’s have used on occasion for their Taste the Difference range and they certainly look the part with their large colourful fruit.

Luscious strawberries

Luscious strawberries

But even more appealing to my eyes is the fabulous grey blue of the late blueberries. Looking like the colours of an impressionist painting rather than something edible, they’re a joy to behold and almost a shame to eat. Almost.

What a colour

What a colour

Looming above them, the busy fig tree is enjoying its peak of growth. Some of the many figs are starting to turn brown. Once they’ve done so and start to droop downwards they’re nearly ready to pick. The appearance of sticky sap at the base of the fruit is the eventual cue to pick them straight away, before the wasps cotton on and beat you to it.

Figs basking in the warm evening sun

Figs basking in the warm evening sun

And just nearby there are several spaghetti squash doing well. The couple in the photograph are pear-sized but there’s one out of view in the background the size of a grapefruit and turning to its final yellow shade.

Spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash

Another week or two and it’ll be time for the intriguing sight of scooping out the noodle-like stranded flesh. Doused in butter it’ll be an interesting alternative to spaghetti, with far fewer carbs.

Courgette crisps

Courgette crisps

Likewise, this weekend saw some potato-free crisps served up as an appetiser. Courgette > mandolin > slice, slice, slice > baking tray > oil > salt > low oven > 2 hours > crunch! Delicious they were too, and perfect with an ice cold drink while you kick back and enjoy watching a busy vegetable garden in the setting sun 🙂

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