The veg garden got off to a late start this year and the beds were not even constructed till late March. Then I had to try to improve the soil by digging in whatever organic matter I could get hold of. Many people fill raised beds with multipurpose compost but this is very expensive, involves an awful lot of plastic bags and the compost has few nutrients and decomposes over time so it is best to try to improve the soil you have – if you can. Of course there is the issue of where to get it but the garden development has meant several piles of soil all over the place so that was barrowed around and mixed with sand and compost, leafmould and more besides.
A limited area has meant that I am not growing as much this year but some things have done quite well. And I am growing only what we are likely to eat a lot of, and that seems to mean lettuce!
I am popping them in between other vegetables such as these kale ‘Red Devil’ which has proved to be very attractive. I will harvest the lettuce as needed and allow the kale the room it needs.
The revelation of the year has been pea ‘Spring Blush’. This is a sugar snap pea, eaten as the pods start to swell and it is a climbing variety. I only sowed a short row and I will sow another this week.
It appears that this is a modern pea and one of a series known as ‘hypertendril’ peas. The tendrils are indeed very pronounced and help to hold the plants up, though it still needs support, growing to 1.2m or more. Pea tendrlls, picked when young, are a useful salad ingredient and taste like… peas. but what I like about this pea is that the flowers are beautiful and really showy. They are followed by pods that are green and blushed with pink when exposed to the sun. I have used most raw in salads but also in stir fries. I always say that shelling peas are not worth growing because frozen peas are so good but I do like mangetout and snap peas. I object to buying packs of imported peas where the plastic weighs more than the food and even my short row looks as though it will produce the equivalent of ten or more packs so has proved a good thing to grow. Even better, you can’t buy pink-flushed peas.
Close beside it is the sweetcorn. We have had dry weather so I have had to water to keep it going and I really need to get out and buy some fertiliser to give it a boost but it is coming along slowly.
I only grew two varieties of early potatoes and no maincrops – there simply is not room. I have a nasty feeling the tubers will come up square among the clods of clay soil and there are a few flowers opening so it will be time to see soon, but only after those grown in bags are finished. The Chinese artichokes in the foreground seem to be struggling a bit but there is time yet.
In the polytunnel the basil is enjoying the heat, as long as I keep them watered and the purslane is slowly settling in. And, now in its second year, the peach has a decent crop of fruits and is growing well. I have pruned the wayward stems and roughly tied in the rest to make it a rough fan shape. The stems that grow this summer will have the flowers next spring. I will cut out the fruited shoots after picking. You have to prune peaches in summer, when in leaf.