Thursday, 16 August 2012

Plotting on...

This year's curious weather has not been too kind to the vegetable plot. Unseasonal warmth and drought followed by months of cold rain... Most vegetables are annuals or are at least grown as such, and they need good conditions to establish themselves. Bad weather at the wrong moment can set crops back to the extent that they never really establish well. Perennials, on the other hand, can endure difficult conditions and even thrive in them- our rhubarb is a good example.

Courgette and sweetcorn bulking up.

Broccoli 'Beaumont'

Nevertheless, the vegetable plots  are producing. Last week the first brassicas were ready: cauliflower, calabrese and 'Hispi' cabbage were all harvested by Oxford Food Bank as part of their weekly collection. Courgettes, which had refused to grow in the cooler temperatures, finally began to bear fruit and the first french beans developed from the subtle pink flowers of 'Cobra'.
         Climbing French Bean 'Cobra'
It has been exciting to watch the onions bulking up since the days began to shorten after the summer solstice. This decrease in daylight length is the trigger for seed-grown onions to put all their growth into bulb formation. We sowed pinches of onion seed in modules at the beginning of february and planted out the whole modules. As they have grown the onions have just pushed each other apart. The drooping, yellowing tops are a sign that they will soon be ready to harvest!

Onion 'Ailsa Craig'
We have had to wait longer than expected for the potatoes to reach a worthwhile size- 'British Queen' is a second early and 'Anya' is grown as a maincrop, we get good results from harvesting it earlier and although the potatoes are smaller we can usually harvest before blight affects the plants. This year the humid conditions have caused some blight- in an attempt to save the crop we have removed all the foliage to ground level to avoid spores being washed off the foliage into the ground. So far, so good...

'British Queen' before losing her foliage to blight.

1 comment:

  1. Runner beans are doing well on my plot, a good Botanic Garden vegetable by my records as the younger John Tradescant collected the seed on his journey to America. These would of been grown at Lambeth for their flowers, it was some years later that the young pods were being recommended to be eaten at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

    Congratulations on the new blog, look forward to reading more entries.