Hello to you and welcome July, already! The pace this year is moving at is frightening! The school year is done and the kids are home. Summer holidays started off with a trip to the movies, family cricket in the park and some lovely sunny days, bringing with them the first of the veggie harvests! My garden is behind everyone else’s (or thats what it feels like) so its been comforting to finally see the first signs of ripening fruits and vegetables. The whole process of seeds becoming food still never ceases to amaze me.
The first harvests of the season were the radishes. This year I grew a mix of varieties: scarlet globe, sparkler and white turnip, all mild in flavour, only a little peppery and all pretty dang tasty. They were good as part of a cucumber, sour cream and chive salad. But I think they were best when pickled using this recipe.
It was my first time trying garlic scapes this year. They grow from the centre of the hard neck garlic varieties and appear around the middle of June here, as an extra crop of sorts. From what I’ve read you should pick them just before they start to curl over for the best flavour. And my word are these good! We’ve enjoyed them sautéed with fish, added to omelettes and my personal favourite is garlic scape pesto using this recipe.
We have beetroot to try roasted this weekend, I may also pickle some. If you know of any good pickling recipes, please do let me know. Also, if you have lots of garden produce to use in the kitchen, a great source for recipes, advice on when to harvest and what to do with a glut can be found in the book Grow, Cook, Nourish by Darina Allen. Its a vast book of knowledge, one that I refer to time and time again to help make the most of “growing my own.”
We have potatoes! Well we did have for a minute. The first earlies planted back in April were ready around the third week of June. These are the variety Charlotte, which I grew in sacks to save on space. Best served boiled with lashings of butter, chives and a sprinkle of rock salt.
By far the most exciting harvest of the season so far has been the garlic. This is the soft neck variety Iberian Wight, planted back in September. You can read more about planting the garlic crop here.
Once dug up, I left them to dry outside for a couple of days before cleaning off any excess soil and hanging them in tied bunches from the rafters in the old coal house. I’ll leave them to cure i.e. completely dry out for at least a couple of weeks before I put them to store. If cured properly, they should last well into spring next year.
As well as the first harvests, there are some really positive signs that other plants are moving in the right direction. I discovered apples on two out of the three new apple trees in the orchard. I’ll thin these out soon and leave only two fruits per stem. Thinning helps to strengthen the tree in the first year making it more robust and able to produce a larger crop the following year.
The garden peas, cucumbers and courgettes are all coming on really well. The cucumbers get a weekly seaweed feed using this organic fertiliser. Peas don’t need fed at all, and when I remember I sprinkle some chicken manure pellets around the courgette and other squash plants and work it lightly into the soil.
It’s not all rosy in the veg patch though, the elephant garlic was a fail! I planted 3 cloves of elephant garlic last year and they all turned out like this. I have searched the web for clues as to why the bulb did not form correctly, so far I’ve come up with nada! If you have seen this before, please let me know.
My tomatoes have only been in flower for a couple of weeks, where as everyone else seems to have ripening fruit. After an anxious first year of growing last year, gardening has taught me one lesson above all. Patience is key, and my tomatoes will arrive eventually!
That doesn’t mean to say I’m not trying to help things along with some experiments. I moved a couple of the tomato plants I took from the overly full greenhouse and popped them into the potting shed. The potting shed gets a lot warmer during the day with the large unobstructed south facing window. I’ll let you know who wins between the shed vs greenhouse experiment. I also placed a tom plant outdoors to see if its even possible to ripen tomatoes outside in my area of Scotland.
The flowering chillies have also moved to the potting shed for the same reason. I saw the first chilli fruits pushing through the flowers just yesterday…
I think this has to be the most exciting time in the vegetable growing season for me. Everyday there is something new to see, a ripe strawberry to snack on, or a bunch of spring onions to pull. I hope your veggie growing season is going well in spite of the cooler summer we’ve had so far. I leave you now with a quick video of some of the first harvests and a few tips I’ve learned along the way.