Saturday, September 26, 2009

Full of beans

I have been wondering about the right time to harvest my beans. My usual first reference (Pears Encyclopedia of Gardening: Fruit and Vegetables, Roy Genders (ed.)) is not much help on this matter, only giving a reference to haricot beans: "These are grown chiefly for their beans, which should be dried, first by allowing the pods to hang until the weather loses its summer look [...]". This would have been mid-July then (mind you, this is also the book that attributes the decline of growing jerusalem artichokes to the shortage of kitchen staff willing to clean them). I decided to harvest some and see what they look like, the rest I will leave on to ripen a bit more. Also gathered more tomatoes and raspberries.

A slightly puzzling development on the patty pan front - some are looking like patty pans, some of them have the ridges of a patty pan but are more round and green like a zucchini. I think, since they are open-pollinated, I am getting a cross-breed.

Flowers in the garden are providing plenty of pleasure. The solanum 'Alba' is so pretty along the fence and in the back of the garden the cyclamen are popping through the woodruff. If the sun is out, it's a lovely time of year.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

my spider sense

Life is hard this time of year for an arachnophobe like me...lots of webs built exactly where I want to wander and water. I am gingerly picking off the tomatoes, avoiding the giant spider that lurks there. A careful sideways approach to the waterhose reel because another spider has used it as an anchor for a thread. I am trying to ignore the one dangling over my head as I step out the kitchen door. I don't even think about dashing out to get some herbs after dark anymore, instead I plan a minor expedition involving a stick to knock down the webs and a torch. I guess they are very useful...but I just don't like 'em.

A few rays of sun are still about. Raspberries doing very well and I am even getting a little Serrano pepper. My bean experiment is nearing the end, there is a substantial amount of dark purple pods which, I hope, will contain black beans.

The Thompson and Morgan catalogue has arrived and I have leaved through it a bit. Disappointing selection of cucumbers but interesting beans. Need to sit down soon and make a list.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

it's nearly autumn...

Time marches on but my camera doesn't (it keeps running out of batteries). So just imagine a picture of a bountiful harvest, including raspberries, patty pan squash, cucumber and a few tomatoes. In fact, probably your imagination is better than the picture would have been...

The bean pods are turning a deep purple and the beans inside them are now a near-black. Maybe I can recreate a vaguely authentic Mexican dish with them. I used some of the beetroot tops fresh and they tasted more like spinach, very delicious. Too much in one go, so I processed the rest by cutting them up and putting them in the freezer.

More patty pan to come (the other bush now finally has female flowers) and lots more tomatoes hanging on the bushes (I think most of them will ripen on the window sill in the end). Although the garden is still producing, there is the definite nip of autumn in the air. Hoping for a few more nice, sunny days.

Friday, September 4, 2009

finally...another harvest

Finally - some ripe tomatoes (plum, yellow and cherry) and some patty pan squash! I even found some more raspberries.

I pulled a few more white beetroot -- not sure how good they are going to be -- and a cucumber.

Not too thrilled with all of it and intend to make some changes next year:
  • Grow fewer tomatoes, get them in earlier and in a sunnier spot.
  • Patty pan is fine but grows too big and two out of the three I planted only produced male flowers. Maybe see if I can get a variety that is smaller.
  • Dwarf zucchini - give up on them, grow proper ones.
  • Don't grow white beetroot, grow leaf beet instead.
  • The cucumbers have too many seeds and are too spiny for my liking. Look for a different kind.
  • The beans are too stringy to eat as green beans. I'll harvest them later but I think I'll switch back to runner beans "Painted Lady".