It’s been a while since I updated you on our fruit and vegetable plot, so I thought I’d better hurry up and fill you in before everything dies off! We are barely into September and already there is that crisp autumnal feeling about the garden. The mornings are cold and dewy, the pumpkins and squashes are ripe and their leaves are growing silver and dropping off. If you concentrate hard, I swear you can almost smell November’s bonfires and fireworks.
This year the plot more than doubled in size due to my other half, DJ, building two more raised beds, using homemade compost, and the greenhouse and it has proved highly productive. Over the summer the garden has teemed with produce – too much in fact, that at times we’ve struggled to keep up with it. DJ is the expert vegetable grower in our house and this is my first year of learning to grow veg myself. I wasn’t sure if I’d take to it– and I’m not sure I’ve necessarily been the most attentive gardener – but I have thoroughly enjoyed it and surprised myself with what I’ve managed to grow, under DJ’s guidance.
I was especially pleased with my Ulster chieftain potato crop. I grew these in bags and the potatoes were huge and delicious as wedges, roast potatoes and mash – an all round winner. However, I wasn’t quite as impressed with my Mayan gold potatoes. True, they’re gold and purple and look amazing, plus, according to the internet, chefs get excited about them but I couldn’t find a suitable use for them. They don’t have the right texture for wedges, fall apart too easily as boiled potatoes and don’t make particularly good mash either. But perhaps I haven’t been cooking them correctly.
Growing three courgette plants – my two All Green Bush and DJ’s one Defender plant – was far too much and, to be fair, DJ did warn me. Even the house started to smell of courgettes after a while. I didn’t think courgettes smelt of anything but I’ve since changed my mind! Next year just one or two plants will be more than enough to grow, they are so prolific. We also grew far too many tomatoes and struggled to keep up with them, although they were delicious – especially the beefsteak varieties brandy wine and super marmande. DJ also thinks that three cucumber plants were perhaps too much. I was pleased with my pale greenhouse cucumbers Boothby’s blonde. They are really weird looking – very stubby with spikes – but very tasty in salads. DJ’s Carmen – an all-female plant – was also very prolific.
DJ’s beetroots were great and he made some lovely chutney from them a couple of weeks ago. The only downside is that the beets disagreed with the sweet corn plants which we grew alongside them and which have been pretty poor this year. We harvested two melons grown by DJ in the greenhouse the other week – a Minnesota Midget (great name!) and a Chanterelle. Both were great, although we struggled to taste any difference between them. DJ still has a water melon left to harvest, which I’m curious to try. Peppers have done well in the greenhouse, as have the chillis although, I was embarrassed to tell DJ, that they aren’t in the least bit hot…On the fruit side, we have raspberries and blackberries soon to harvest and black currants but the hens made short work of the blueberries which was very naughty and the gooseberries have been suffering with a pest infestation.
We have mountains of onions and garlic. And last but not least, we tried the first of my winter harlequin squashes at the weekend in a roasted veg dish. It looked so beautiful it seemed churlish to eat it, and the squash seemed to be of the same opinion. The skin was so hard that it was a deadly business to try to peel or cut the thing open. But it was very oniony and tasty in flavour. I can’t wait to try the first of my three enormous pumpkins too, although they look so fabulous growing in the garden it seems a shame to disturb them. I’ll have to eventually, though, otherwise they’ll rot away. Roll on next Spring, I say!
Do you grow your own veg or fruit? How has your plot fared this year?
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