Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Win Some, Lose Some

Success and Failure in the Veg Plot

First of all, I dropped and broke the camera today so as I have no photos to upload, here is a nice picture of a Painted Lady on one of my sunflowers to be going on with. Hope to obtain a repair/replacement soon


It's very easy to blog about all the great successes you've had in the garden, and conveniently forget about all those things that didn't quite turn out how you expected, not to mention all those things that were complete disasters. (Cherries spring to mind) Part of being a gardener is the ability to ignore, or at least learn from all the mistakes, and still feel enthused enough to carry on regardless. Although I did think for a while that I might give up on peas altogether. Well not really, even though my harvest was about the size of half a small bag of Birds Eyes, I will put it down to the variety, or the poor weather at vital times, (and will not mention my inadequate supports, lack of watering, and forgetting to pick regularly) and try again next year.

On the plus side, garlic has again been good,- variety Music,- although struck by rust which made the leaves brown prematurely, the crop is still good and we are already enjoying it. I'm not sure whether to use some as a seed crop as I did last year, or whether to buy some fresh, I don't know whether the rust will carry over on the bulbs?

I haven't grown runner beans for some years, but this years crop is excellent, I'm managing to pick the beans young and tender, variety Enorma. Courgettes, as always are excellent, and as usual I've planted far too many, variety, Nano Verde di Milano.

Tomatoes have done ok, I sprayed with old fashioned Bordeaux Mixture against blight as I lost all my crop the last two years, and it seems to have worked reasonably well. There is still some blight on some outdoor plants but most of the greenhouse plants are clean. I used Jamie's recipe for the Mothership Tomato Salad to good effect, it's delicious, and what's leftover makes a great sandwich the next day for lunch. In fact I'm rather addicted to it, which is jolly healthy and a sight better for the arteries than other common addictions like chocolate cake or gin, though I do like them as well.



For anyone who doesn't have Jamie's book the gist of the recipe is, I'm sure Jamie won't mind my saying, very simple. Roughly chopped garden tomatoes, the greater the variety, the better, sprinkled with salt and left in a colander to drain for a bit. This concentrates the flavour, ready for the dressing of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar 3 to 1, as much mashed garlic as you like, some pepper and chopped parsley and basil. Use plenty of dressing and serve with some home made flat bread to dip in with, and to make the sandwich with the next day.


This year's tomato varieties in order of success - Sungold, Red Zebra, Black Prince, Prudens Purple, Amish Paste, Brandywine, Sub Arctic Plenty. My son The Professional Gardener thinks that Gardeners Delight is the best flavoured, he may be right, but I didn't grow it this year. Next year I think I will try the blight resistant variety, I think it's called Ferline, has to be worth a try as I have lost so much in recent years.


Every garden has its instrinsic problems, mine is fungal diseases, - blight on tomatoes and potatoes, black spot on the roses, and rust on the garlic, roses, and hollyhocks. Other people suffer with different things, often to do with the climate and situation. The PG, for example has slugs and snails, which I happily do not suffer with. Although I know what it's like as I've had gardens full of them in the past. My chickens and ducks take care of every slimy crawling thing for me. He, the PG, has a walled garden and no chickens - I did offer to lend him a chicken, but I think we came to the conclusion that it might actually do more damage than the slugs, with all the scratching you have to put up with, you have to have a certain kind of shall we say, laissez-faire style of gardening to accomodate poultry. And he, being a PG, holds no truck with that kind of thing. For myself, I keep the birds in a run for some of the year, during the time they would do most damage to young seedlings and so on, but for most of the year, from about July onwards until the following late Spring, they are free to roam, and the damage they do is manageable.


I've even had some success with aubergines this year, Viserba, in the greenhouse, I usually grow some plants and then throw them out when they get whitefly and duly keel over. But I picked a good size one yesterday,and several others are coming on. There's an italian recipe for pasta with aubergine stuffing that I think I might try out, will report back if it's as tasty as I hope.




The Ornamental Garden
A good tip when planting out in the Spring is to remember that some plants grow very tall and others don't. This may seem like an elementary observation, and someone who's been gardening since the old queen died could reasonably be expected to know this. No one in their right mind for example, would plant a big clump of Michaelmas Daisies in the front of a border so that during the summer when it's growing like BillyO but not flowering, it will completely obscure the lovely Rosa Mundi behind, which is in full flower, and even the tall blue globes of the Agapanthus will be bobbing about behind it like someone at the theatre seated behind the woman with the big hat on. Like this for example.... [picture follows..]
So next year I shall move it somewhere more sensible, and make loads of other ridiculous mistakes.

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