Time flies, carrot flies and cabbage white butterflies

The recent period of rain has been very welcome and luckily we’ve not had quite as much here in the North Pennines as some other areas of the UK. The time is flying past and given all these excellent growing conditions I knew it was probably time for another general vegetable update

Watching  the rainwater running out of the gutters and disappearing down the drains makes me want to add more water butts in a few places. On the other hand, I think we can probably expect  to have higher average rainfall here than at our old house near the coast so perhaps we won’t need them quite as much? Time will tell …

Existing raised beds

Existing raised beds

Existing raised beds

The existing raised beds with a few onions, carrots and beetroot are still going well. These were all planted at the start of June within a day or two of moving in.

We have already harvested a few small “baby” beetroots which tasted very nice with a not unpleasant “earthy” undertone (even though we washed/cooked them).

Another couple of short rows of beetroot have now been planted in the empty space which is just visible at the back.

These are already starting to show signs of growth so I’m definitely a convert to the idea of soaking beetroot seeds overnight before planting them.

The few carrots here are only just at the “baby” stage now and although a few have been sampled I hope to leave them in place a little longer. It would be good to get our first full sized carrot from the garden and in the meantime another short row of carrot seeds has been planted elsewhere for the future.

Around these carrots I sowed some onion seed in the hope that this would discourage carrot fly – not that I’ve seen any evidence of this. Perhaps the raised beds in a separate raised area have fooled the carrot flies because I think they don’t fly very high off the ground.

This is my first time growing onions from seed and they are doing remarkably well. I tried onion sets last year but I felt that was not quite as much fun – I prefer planting seeds instead of a smaller version of the finished article because seeds give a greater sense of achievement at harvest time.

It will obviously be a little while yet before we can consider trying these onions but they are developing well.  There are a few more onion seeds left so I think they will be planted towards the end of August to try overwintering them (if I can find the space).

The long veg bed

This is mostly devoted to cabbages and leeks – not because we’re big fans of those but because I bought too many seedlings for each and can’t bear to throw any of them away.

Cabbages and leeks

Cabbages and leeks

As usual a combination of eagerness to plant leeks and underestimating the size of cabbages has meant that some leeks are now being swamped by the expanding cabbages. I’m hoping that the leeks planted between the cabbages will put on enough growth that they can be used first before they get totally overwhelmed.

The handful of pea seeds which came up are at the back and doing their best to climb up their supports. There are even a few flowers starting to form so I may get a small saucer of peas this year if I’m lucky!

This weekend will probably involve some detailed examination of the cabbage plants.  I’ve seen a few cabbage white butterflies around the garden so it must be time to take action.

The “Old House” rhubarb

The two pots of rhubarb which were planted into pots at the old house before we moved are doing really well again. There was a period of a few weeks recently when they appeared to stop growing despite good weather, careful attention, watering and such like.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that the plants just needed more nutrition having exhausted the supply in the pots. A quick sprinkle of some Growmore plus a little extra compost to mix it in with and they soon burst into life again.

Rhubarb in pots

Rhubarb in pots

I’m not sure if I’m imaging things but I think this photo shows  the difference in leaf shapes quite nicely with the Stockbridge Arrow in the foreground having a more pronounce “arrow” shape to the leaves.

Seedling progress

Although it might be a little late, I recently planted some parsnip seeds on the basis that we really like parsnip. Hopefully they’ll develop well but not too quickly as I will need to find some space to plant them out once something else has been harvested

Parsnip seedlings

Parsnip seedlings

The free packet of Dwarf bean seeds have also been planted but I used some large troughs which we had brought with us. Perhaps not the best situation for them but I ran out of space very quickly and still wanted to give them a try this year. I can’t resist a freebie although I’m not sure that I’ll eat many of them – we’ll see how they develop.

Dwarf beans in troughs

Dwarf beans in troughs

Future plans

There is a common thread running through this post about a lack of growing space so it may not be long before some of the extensive and under-utilised lawn is replaced with raised beds. This is especially relevant through the spring and summer as I’d rather spend my time growing produce than cutting the grass every week.

Some sturdy rabbit defences will be needed as they seem to be getting bolder each week but I’m hoping that razor wire, sentry towers and armed guards will not be needed.

Perhaps there is even space for a small orchard if the sheltered location I have in mind will counteract our altitude here (1000ft above sea level). If I’m lucky there will be enough shelter from trees and low stone walls to give some fruit trees a chance?

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