A matter of taste

This year, because a particular raised bed is still troubled by knotty roots from a green manure sowing a few years back, I planted seed potatoes in stand-up bags on top of the bed. Carefully topping up with compost and feed while the leaves grew, along with regular watering (think how damp a potato is inside and that water has to come from somewhere) together offered the best chance of getting a decent crop.

Potatoes chitting back in March.

Potatoes chitting back in March.

I tipped out the Swift first early bag a few weeks ago. A modest harvest of about 1.8Kg or 4lb. They’re supposed to be a standard waxy variety, but on cooking them they seemed a bit more maincrop-like: soft and easy to crush (if you’re a hipster / ‘mash’ if you’re not). They’re nice and tasty though.

Growing strongly in bags in early June.

Growing strongly in bags in early June.

This weekend, after four and a half months’ growing, I tipped out other two sacks – one Charlotte and one Wilja. Charlottes, which are classic early: waxy and smooth skinned, are always a favourite for their great taste so I was very pleased to get 2.1kg / 4.5lb of them, all in perfect condition.

Charlottes just tipped out.

Charlottes just tipped out.

The Wilja variety was a first-time grow for me. A second early, it’s said to be very tasty and a great all-rounder for boiling, roasting or chipping. So it was great to find a good 2.3kg / 5lb crop among the soil. Some are big enough for baked potatoes, so that’ll be a must try in the coming weeks.

All bagged up for storing

All bagged up for storing

Meanwhile they’re now in brown paper bags in a cardboard box in the dark, to keep them in good condition and I’ve covered that bed with weed control fabric to try and kill off some of the troublesome green manure roots.

No vampires round here. A great crop of Provence Wight garlic.

No vampires round here. A great crop of Provence Wight garlic.

Also lifted this weekend was the garlic, whose leaves had been perishing for a while so the time was right. This year I grew the softneck variety Provence Wight: not especially exciting, but when I’ve grown the more exotic hardnecks in the past they haven’t kept for long after lifting. So it was great to find that caution paid off in the shape of fourteen huuuuge (by my standards) bulbs, some the size of an apple. They’re hanging up to dry now, before going into the garlic storage bag, but I’ll have a go at roasting some of the potatoes above with some of that still ‘wet’ garlic and some of the rosemary in the herb bed. I could devour a plate of those just on their own.

Lots of chamomile flowers growing at the edge of one bed.

Lots of chamomile flowers growing at the edge of one bed. Destiny: teabags.

Also drying is a load of chamomile flowers, picked yesterday. I grew the chamomile specifically to make tea with and what started as a sprinkling of seeds in one cell of the heated propagator back in May turned into a big spray of white and yellow flowers in one of the beds. The flowers are now drying in the dehydrator (would do outside but storms promised for later) and I’ll pick and dry some lemon balm too, maybe even some mint, to get some nice mixes going and fill some custom tea bags.

Flowers picked.

Flowers picked.

.. and drying in the dehydrator to make tea bags.

.. and drying in the dehydrator to make tea bags.

The chamomile patch has lots of new flower buds so looks like it’ll keep producing. Similarly, the Castandel dwarf french bean plants yielded a good crop the other week – I’ve three rows of them – but still have more flowers and tiny beans to come, which is wonderful. In another bed I have some black eyed beans and black turtle beans and have been picking a few young ones each many an evening to chop and have with dinner (upvote here for microwave steam bags! .. beans cooked in seconds).

Nice first crop of tasty Castandel french beans.

Nice first crop of tasty Castandel french beans.

Nearby are three rows of Sutton broad beans. I sowed these directly in the bed quite late: mainly on 21st May and then more two weeks later to fill gaps where some hadn’t sprouted. Late but still a completely viable timeframe, which means I’ve lots of yummy broad beans still to look forward to rather than already having wolfed them all.

Three rows of 'Sutton' broad beans ..

Three rows of ‘Sutton’ broad beans ..

.. with the rapidly growing pods hidden away among the leaves.

.. with the rapidly growing pods hidden away among the leaves.

One of a pair of busy 'Tuscany' courgette plants.

One of a pair of busy ‘Tuscany’ courgette plants.

At the same time I’m picking away at two prolific courgette plants. The annual courgette glut faced by many GYOers is a nice problem to have in my view. The Tuscany variety I grow is delicious sliced, seasoned and fried in a little EVOO as a side dish. A bit of chilli goes well with that and in the tent greenhouses there are three Medina chilli plants and three Ace sweet pepper plants, each toting up to six peppers, some of which are just starting to turn red.

Medina chillies, still green for now but will turn red (and hotter) soon

‘Medina’ chillies, still green for now but will turn red (and fiery) soon

Likewise, only a few tomatoes have ripened so far but they’re starting to turn from green to res. I’m growing three varities:

  • Santorange: an orange coloured cherry tomato, which I love for its firmness and good taste.
  • Crimson Cherry: a new one for me, although last year’s Crimson Crush was good. Blight resistant and so far growing at normal tomato size, much bigger than the cherry name suggests.
  • Giulieta: another first time grow. These are a long plum variety, which will be great sliced with mozzarella and freshly ripped basil leaves (there’s a Genovese basil plant growing in one of the tents).

The tomato and peppers were all grafted plants I bought, rather than growing from seeds. The results I got from grafted toms last year were so good I took the same approach this year. There were plenty of other things filling the propagator trays back in the spring, herbs in particular, and there are some late season seeds I’ll be sowing indoors soon. Especially with some great new grow lights I got a while back.

On the fruity front, a pink blueberry plant is putting out a reasonable crop in its first year and there are lots of grapes growing, after a poor showing last year. I’ve no idea why these grape vines have their off years and on years, but it’s a good job I’m not running a vineyard.

Grapes starting to plump up. There are lots of bunches like this.

Grapes starting to plump up. There are lots of bunches like this.

Pink blueberries just ripening

Pink blueberries just ripening

But next to sow will be some lettuces, radishes and overwintering spring onions – all going into gaps in the beds in the next week or two. As you can see below, my veg growing area can look a bit of a mess but you can always squeeze more vegetables in. A bit like myself really: I’m off to pick dinner 😊

garden 8 aug 2019

BFN

7 responses to “A matter of taste

  1. That is an interesting variety of chamomile. It looks like fleabane before getting plucked. I really should try another variety. What I grow seems rather bland, perhaps because it does not get very warm where it is. (It did better in a warmer garden a few miles away.) My neighbor prefers to pluck it just before the flower buds open. I like to let them open just slightly, just because hot water seems to circulate better through the open flowers. Is there an ideal time to pluck them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well it’s a first time for me making chamomile tea and I picked them when fully open, so I’ll see how the flavour goes. The flowers certainly had variable conditions here in the UK. They’re all dried out in the dehydrator now so it’ll be tea time this weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That would be interesting to see if it has a milder flavor with open flowers. (Now, I want to try it with open flowers AND closed buds.) I am thinking that the open flowers are less pungent and not as ‘medicinal’ in flavor as unopened buds.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like you’re getting good returns there. What was the troublesome green manure root that doesn’t give up? I have a bit of trouble with white clover in the polytunnel, but there are worse things than a flowering nitrogen fixer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. It was some kind of rye grass. Turned the whole bed into a mass of impenetrable roots. Still not right several years later, with everything struggling to grow there. I’ve found caliente mustard to be good and easy to cut in afterwards, but it’s not a nitrogen fixer unfortunately, just puts organic matter in. May well stick to the animal version from now on!

      Like

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