The rain fell for some of the afternoon, so we were not sitting outside in the auvent as usual, but we had a joyful meeting around the dining table with everyone pleased to get together again.
Obviously with the warmth and the wet the vegetables are doing well for the most part and all present each had the opportunity to tell of their successes and disappointments. As we are all an enquiring crowd this was sometimes quite vociferous!
We began with the lettuces and herbs. Helen G brought along some beautiful specimens of both red and green lettuce as well as a good bunch of different mints and herbs. (Photo below)
Helen Harrison was pleased with her salad leaves and basil and we talked about cut and come again.
Carelle and Cilla also grow lettuce with success. Cilla felt she was "wild gardening" at the moment with plenty of purslane and fat hen to be added to salads.
Potatoes have enjoyed this weather: plenty of moisture and good crops. Helen Harrison grew hers in a bucket as does Helen G and Helen H has already harvested hers; she brought us a lovely basin full. (Photo below)
Cilla is pleased with her "first earlies" and Joy is delighted with her two varieties, both of which are in flower. Martin , too, tells me that he is happy with his crop.
Butternut Squash and Pumpkins are now planted. Martin has already planted his butternut and Joy passed on a few plants and seeds of her own to those present.
Joy has a climbing frame erected for them to climb over (Photo below).
Courgettes are always a favourite and seem to be good this year. Helen H says hers are doing well as do Meryl and Joy. Meryl favours the light skinned "courgette blanche"
Aubergines have been disappointing for Meryl; she has previously grown every colour imaginable but is now going back to basics. Carelle, however, is growing some white aubergines and some striped varieties so we shall be interested to hear how they do.
Beetroots are always popular and Cilla showed us a plate of her produce recently. Carelle is picking three kinds of beetroot presently and Joy also has been harvesting hers.
Brassicas are grown by lots of us and Cilla brought along a lovely bunch of curly kale. Joy and Carelle have cavalo nero ready for harvesting and Joy has also done well with broccoli as has Carelle.
It’s time for green beans and haricot vert are always a mainstay for the vegetable garden as are the climbing beans like Melissa which Helen Gray grows.
Annie has planted Haricot Neckarkonigin, which are expected to reach three metres height and Cilla has runner beans doing well. Lots of us have planted beans this year and it promises to be a good harvest.
Peppers are planted by Meryl and Carelle. Meryl is back to basics with those too but found it difficult to obtain red peppers: her chocolate and white were not a success last year. Carelle also grows padron peppers.
Tomatoes are beginning to form. Some of you grow from seed and others buy small plants but everyone seems to have chosen a wonderful and plentiful variety. The yellow pineapple, black russian, red beefsteak tomatoes, marmande, roma and dozens of others have all been planted by some of you. We now just hope that they don't suffer from mildew with this rain.
Asparagus had been good for many growers this year and both Annie and Carelle had been harvesting from March until June.
Raspberries are great and we all seem to have passed on and received canes from each other. Helen Gray, Helen Harrison, Meryl, Cilla, Carelle, Annie, Joy and Martin are all harvesting. Martin, however, is wondering why his first year raspberries are rather small. Is it the variety or that they are not yet well established?
Strawberries are pretty much finished now but Meryl says she's had a great season as does Annie. Helen Gray has some wild strawberries - small and very sweet. Meryl also grows blueberries: it seems they need plenty of manure to get them going well.
Rhubarb is a well liked fruit and Helen G, Cilla, Joy and probably several others of you all grow it. And Gooseberries find favour: Annie brought some of hers from the UK but Cilla has local golden gooseberries.
That is just an overview as there are probably lots more fruit and vegetables that I haven't mentioned: small heritage carrots, leeks, cucumbers et al.
There was a brief interlude during the afternoon before tea when it wasn't raining and thus Joy was able to show her two small potagers but we didn't walk over to the fruit trees which are now weighed down with plums and greengages (see below)
Thank you all very much for coming and for your contributions. I hope we shall have another meeting after the Summer Holidays, and I will suggest something in September perhaps.
Kind regards to everyone, Joy C
Some of the Vegetable Group members
Joy's Potager May 2021
Cilla has just served the first of her coloured beetroots, they made a lovely light starter with rocket, purslane and spring onions from the garden.
About to harvest the garlic which is looking very promising, and new potatoes almost ready. Loads of rocket and spring onions, with kale seedlings doing well and runner beans already half way up the canes. Beautiful little round carrots coming along.
Although we are still unable to have meetings as a Club there is no reason why those of you interested in growing vegetables should not share your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your photographs with us.
As you know, there is a Special Interest Group for Vegetables which features on the IGC website but even if you have not signed up to be part of the group I shall be collating everything that I receive from you all and will try to post some sort of monthly report. Thus I would welcome what you send to me.
Spring is here despite the fact its presently rather chilly with this wind, but the forecast is good in a day or two and it is time to get into the potager and prepare the soil with compost and mulch where necessary to eliminate weeds.
Now I look forward to hearing what you are all doing so please drop an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime I can give you some hints about ideas for March/April
WHAT TO SOW
Summer beetroot could go into soil warmed under cold frames or be planted in gutters which is what Carelle has done, following a tip from gardener and writer, Sarah Raven.
Sow brassica basics, including calabrese in modules in a cold frame. Sprouting broccoli sown in March will produce spears in Winter and early Spring.
There is still time to sow broad beans, onions, leeks, rocket, parsnips and spinach outside but many of you, myself included, will be looking at broad beans in flower and peas looking bushy which were planted in November. For those of you using propagators then it’s time to plant some tomatoes, peppers chillies and aubergines. But all of these would need a temperature of 20 degrees.
WHAT TO PLANT
This is the season now for planting potatoes. and first earlies can go into the ground now. Of course, they need a sunny site and if you chit the tubers they will give a quicker crop.
it may be that you are planting out your beans, peas and tender cauliflower, sewn last year, but you will also now find the young plants for sale which is a good way of getting going if you don't have a cold frame or propagator.
WHAT TO HARVEST
Many of you will have brassicas growing which have probably been harvested already and which continue to do well. Broccoli, winter cauliflower, cabbage and sprouts are all in season.
Rocket has been a great winter salad and perhaps you have some chicory to harvest.
Rhubarb should be popping up now which is a real taste of spring and if you planted Chard last year it should come into growth again this month, as will perpetual spinach.
If you grow only one edible crop then make it herbs! Rosemary, thyme, sage and marjoram will grow as shrubs in a sunny spot as perennials.
Then there are those herbs grown from seeds annually like basil and coriander and parsley. Chives and mint will carry one endlessly and so will parsley if it has sufficient moisture.
Tell me what your favourites are and which are successful for you.
Happy Gardening everyone and I now count on you to get in touch!
Kind regards to all,
These were grown with success in the Dordogne
Sow gem squash in the sunniest spot in your garden in rich, well-drained soil.
Add some compost to the soil for best results and sow the seeds in rows, 2cm deep and 1m apart.
Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged as this will cause the seeds to rot .
Steamed or boiled with butter and any seasoning you like - a meal in itself.
A favourite is topped with cheese.