After 11 weeks, we have harvested the first crop of this year: “Ostergruß Rosa” radishes, planted back in March. I pointed out, last time I mentioned them, that we didn’t have much success with radishes last year. These, though, have been a lot more successful: a good clutch of long, fat roots.
Back in January, I mentioned that all the rosemary in Southville seemed to be blooming. I said at the time that our own rosemary bush seemed to be slowly coming into bud: two months later, it is starting to flower. On Sunday, I noticed one solitary bloom:
Today, there are rather more: I will have to try to get a less lonely-looking shot.
Yesterday, I spotted that the peas sown last Saturday, and the radish seeds sown back on the 11th, are both starting to poke themselves above the ground now. Looking back, I apparently didn’t mention the radishes when I planted them. Last year we grew several batches from a variety packet called “Rainbow Mixed”: they were good for science experiments but not much else, as almost all the plants we grew produced lots of foliage but hardly any root. From a box of radishes, we would get maybe one or two which had roots worth eating. This year, then, I’ve picked a different variety, a German type called “Ostergruß Rosa”, sold in this country under the Eden Project’s brand name. Supposedly they should turn out with long, French Breakfast-style roots. We shall have to wait and see.
This morning, I came across an interesting article in The Observer: for many plants and animals, spring seems to have come the wrong side of winter. Animals that should be hibernating are waking up again, and plants are still growing strongly and flowering, possibly because the weather has been unusually mild for the season. It prompted me to go outside into the garden, and have a look at the green bean plants, which we had left on their poles, just stems and pods and a few raggedy leaves, so that the beans we had left on the plant could develop and dry naturally ready for next year. Indeed, what did I find on the green beans? Lots of new buds, some of them just coming into flower. Here’s a photo I took this afternoon.
No doubt these flowers are not going to get much further; and they’re definitely not going to set fruit because we’ve not had any bees in the garden for a few weeks now. This weather doesn’t seem quite right, though.
There are a few things I did in the garden this week, largely while K was baking the Christmas cake. See, “just coming into flower” and “baking the Christmas cake” aren’t phrases that go well together at all if you’re north of the Equator. This is what got done:
- Pulling up the last of the radishes.
- Pruning some of the perennial herbs – the thymes, lavender, feverfew, and mint.
- Saving seed that is ready, or almost ready: runner beans, green beans, and coriander.
No doubt I am doing all this at entirely the wrong time of year, but – as far as the pruning was concerned, anyway – it felt like the right time to do it. The beans are for sowing next year; the coriander seeds are probably for the spice cupboard, and the pruned thyme branches were saved for the oven too.
Since the last “week in the garden” post, we have:
- Harvested the first green beans
And, because we went away for a long weekend, that was about it. The garden didn’t take too kindly to us going away, either. Or, rather, it didn’t take too kindly to the weather: the combination of dry, hot days without us there for watering, followed by heavy rain, has not had good results. The spring onions have suffered in particular, and the runner beans have also had problems.
Back in the mists of time – well, August – before this blog had properly started, we sowed a few boxes of quick-growing things to give us some more produce into the autumn. As I mentioned then, I tried an experiment. All of the seeds were sowed into previously-used compost; and for each seed, I sowed one box into compost that had been used to grow peas, and one box into compost that hadn’t. It’s three-and-a-half weeks later now, and the results are pretty clear, at least for the radishes.
The pea compost is, I’m fairly sure, the one on the right. Science!
This week, we have:
- Continued harvesting runner beans, and also the first of the green beans
- Harvested a box of radishes, leaving the two we planted a couple of weeks ago still developing.
- We’ve still not quite got the hang of radishes. We thinned out the still-growing boxes, rather more than previously, in the hope of getting a nice bulb on every plant.
- Harvested the last of the carrots.
- Harvested pretty much all of the mature Swiss chard – the baby leaves are still untouched
- Thinned out the smallest beetroot plants.
Before long, I suspect, we’ll have to look at chopping back some of our perennials for the winter. The camomile plant is definitely looking a bit too straggly and overgrown; the sage needs harvesting for its own health; and so, I suspect, do the chives, having taken a bit of a battering in the recent weather. We’re also not entirely sure when would be best to start harvesting our spring onions. They feel as if they’ve been in the ground an awfully long time, some of them, but their stems don’t seem to have reached a good width yet. Well, this always was intended to be a Learning Year.
On Saturday, as mentioned, we sowed a few boxes of quick-growing seeds to make them useful for what’s left of the summer. Radishes, rocket, and mixed salad leaves.
Today, four days later: all six of the boxes are sprouting already! I know radishes and rocket are quick germinators, but they weren’t this quick before.
This week we have:
- Pulled up the pea plants, post-harvest, and dug them in to the back bed
- Pulled up the English marigolds, and the rocket that had gone to seed
- Re-sowed the boxes this freed up: two with radishes, two with rocket, and two with mixed salad leaves
- Sowed the last of our Swiss chard seeds in a spare half-box.
In the name of Science, I sowed the new boxes in an experimental pattern. All of the boxes had the existing compost thoroughly turned over to dig in the roots that had been growing there before, then had extra compost added to top them up. For each of the three types of seeds, we sowed one box which had been growing peas, and one which had been growing something else. We’ll see if the nitrate-fixing effect of the pea roots is noticeable. My suspicion is: it won’t be, especially for fast-growing plants like the radishes, because the pea roots won’t rot down fast enough.