Jul 6, 2011

The first week of July is coming to an end and we’ve enjoyed another 7 days of hot dry weather here in the East of England. That’s all set to change though as the next 10 days looks very unsettled with showers every day. Here’s hoping as well as I’ve rarely used my water-butt due to it being empty. 2011 will surely go down on record as one of the driest years if not the driest. That all said, you’d be mistaken if you thought I’ve been running up our water bill to accommodate the watering needs of vegetables. The very experienced forum users over at Grow Your Own often reply in threads enquiring about how much to water vegetables with the response “very little” for most vegetables. Especially those that grow underground as their tap roots will dig further down in search of water. This then leads to longer vegetables. Simple when you think about it J

That said, there are vegetables that need a lot of water so I’ve tried to stay on top of the watering needs of my Potatoes, Runner Beans, and Tomatoes. Everything else rarely gets a drink from me. Next door on the other hand is out every night with the hose soaking absolutely everything. It will be interesting to see how his vegetables fair against mine and if either tactic proves more successful than the other.

Our first bed to become empty occurred this week. The Lettuce bed had served us well for the last month or so and as I hadn’t re-sown any more Lettuces I’ve had to pull out the remaining 10 that had gone to seed and started flowering.
 I thought they looked fine and just snipped the flower stalks off as the leaves at the bottom still resembled Lettuces and even got my wife to eat one to see how it tasted. Her facial expression and dance said it all. They were goners.

Empty Lettuce Bed

So what now? Well my plan is to let the bed settle. Let any weeds left in the soil to grow, then pull them out, and then cover with a mulch of homemade compost. That way the bed will be ready for next year with whatever group I can use following the crop rotation map. As a first lesson on growing Lettuces, I successfully sowed 30 seeds on February 27th, planted out 20 of them disposing of 10 on April 10th. Started harvesting from May 22nd until July 1st picking leaves from each one at a time rather than pulling out one lettuce at a time. And dug out 10 that had gone to flower. Points to consider then:
·         Sow less seeds in February 2012, start with 10 and plant out 6-8 at the end of April
·         Re-Sow another 10 at the end of March 2012 and plant out 4-6 at the end of May
·         Re-Sow 5 more at the end of April 2012 and plant out 2-4 at the end of June

We had our first Runner Beans and Cabbage this week in a stir fry. I also added another of our Senshyu Onions, a few Carrots, and several Broad Beans, I fried them in some Hoi Sin Sauce and served with some Southern Fried Chicken sliced on top with Sweet Chilli Sauce. It tasted “ok” as far as I was concerned but the wife loved it so it all worked together. If only I could grow bacon, fried eggs, sausages, hash browns, and baked beans hmmmmm…

Cabbages Under Netting

Runner Beans

Runner Beans Close Up

The tomatoes are really coming into their own now. Another one or two ripens every day and whilst I don’t actually like eating them, I’m liking the fact I can grow them successfully so I’m sure there will be lots of happy friends and family out there willing to take them off me.

Tomatoes Ripening

More Tomatoes Ripening

The Sweet Pepper plant is still growing slowly. I’m not sure what growth rate they go at but there’s just one pepper on mine and it is growing but I expected more like a tomato plant. Maybe I need to help it pollenate?

Sweet Pepper

The Potatoes are looking sorry for themselves. I’m watering them as needed so I know they are not dring out. Maybe they have reached their final stage of growth and the leaves dying is the sign they are ready? I don’t really know but with only 2 weeks to go until our holiday, I’m holding out on them that they will be ready for our Sunday Roast Vince ;)

Potato Leaves Yellowing

Finally one of my Stuttgarter Onions has gone crazy with its leaves. Every other onion has only a few but this one has spawned 11 and has plaited them neatly. It’s also the biggest onion of the lot. I’m saving it for as long as possible to see how big it will go. Until next time, thanks for ready.

11 Leaf Onion