As we clear out our potagers of tomatoes, beans and all the vegetables we grew in the Summer it is now time to think of planting our Broad Beans. Rosemary Robinson suggested I remind everyone which was an excellent idea, and now I see Monty Don says the same this weekend.
My French neighbours also plant peas at the same time of year. I have never done this but I think I shall try. Certainly they have wonderful petits pois very early.
Enjoy all those catalogues, store those squashes and pumpkins as well as, of course, all those beautiful potatoes you dug. It is a wonderful thing to have a larder of vegetables one has grown and the freezer certainly comes into its own.
Let us all meet again in February when we can plan together. I look forward to welcoming new members too?
Enjoy the garden!
Best wishes, Joy Collett
TUESDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER
A small group of us gathered at the home of Meryl Evans for the 'Season Finale' of the Vegetable Growing Sub Group. We thought it useful to have a review of the season, to share our successes and also the challenges we have faced this year, accompanied as usual by a tour around the vegetable plot followed by tea and cake.
There have been some great successes with Butternut and other squashes, beetroot, lettuces, tomatoes (all varieties from the large Coeur de Boeuf and Marmande, to the tiny cherry ones), potatoes, courgettes, peppers, chillies, leeks and greens/beans.
Fruits have also fared pretty well - raspberries, rhubarb, physalis, and likewise many herbs have responded well to the heat.
In terms of challenges, clearly the weather has been an even more impact this year - a very wet Winter and Spring, followed by the exceptionally hot and dry Summer. It has proved even more difficult (and expensive) to keep up with watering and a number of veg crops have suffered including some greens and salads, peas and french beans, sweetcorn which grew well initially and then faded without growing to full size when the weather turned hot. Some of us have struggled with courgettes which didn't seem very prolific compared to usual, and aubergines which were rather slow and small.
Some veggies have grown well but taken time to ripen - including green tomatoes, stunted celery, slow to develop peppers and aubergines, and mixed successes with greens and beans. There have also been some issues with pests - small black/shiny flies which have ruined some lettuces and greens, (treated with washing up liquid and vinegar sprays which have helped) and an unfortunate incursion of hungry roe deer that feasted on vegetables and flowers! The wet start to the season also caused a few members to lose all their tomato crops to blight.
As always, no two seasons are alike, so as hardy growers we look forwards to going through it all again with some winter crops considered such as Kalets and purple sprouting broccoli and next year's annual crops as well. Tips have included making better use of raised beds to ease weeding and help retain more water and nutrients, mulching and use of manure where available, staking up prolific fruits (such as physalis and raspberries) and freezing raw cut squash (without peeling).
The group proposed that we begin next year with a pre-season meeting in February. This could be used as an opportunity to share seeds, seedlings and exchange ideas on who is growing what for the season in order to help each other plan our gardens and make better use of our resources among the veggie growers.
Twelve of us had such a lovely afternoon with Lynda Creegan on Tuesday. We had our usual discussion comparing notes on the state of our vegetables and everyone seemed to be enjoying a good growing season.
Lynda has an extensive small holding and we were all delighted to see a multitude of raised beds full to bursting with every sort of vegetable. The squashes were already large and orange, the potatoes ready for digging, the corn ripening, soft fruit looking good and that is only a fraction of what is growing!
Lynda has some beautiful goats which are providing excellent manure for her raised beds. Goat manure has the advantage of not needing to be rotted down for a year, thus there is a steady supply. When we had inspected the vegetable beds we admired the Golden Guernsey goats who are now enjoying retirement after producing many offspring and having been milked by Lynda for cheese making. (See Photo Gallery below)
We had a delicious tea together afterwards and some of us bought jars of Lynda's honey from their hives. Many thanks Lynda.
Next month, August, we shall take a break and reconvene in September at Meryl Evan's house. I will give everyone details nearer the time.
Enjoy the Summer holidays! Joy Collett
Another beautiful day when our Vegetable Group had a lovely meeting at the home of Carelle Sherwood. Ten of us sat in the shade outside and shared information about our potagers. Our format is always the same, giving each person a chance to tell of their successes and failures and the group will then give advice and make comments.
Several of us had been troubled by salad rocket leaves and other brassicas being nibbled into a lacy pattern. Helen Gray was onto the case immediately and identified the flea beetle. An internet site suggested sticky papers being placed over the crop and I also discovered you can spray with 2 parts alcohol, five parts water and a teaspoon of liquid soda. Val Ford has since let me know that Yellow Eco Sticky Traps are very effective. Apparently the insects even like the colour yellow! Perhaps we shall eliminate this beasty.
A few of the members had been disappointed with their tomatoes. All the rain we have had seems to have caused tomato blight although Meryl Evans found that some of them were cheering up with a good feed and sunshine.
John Mitchell brought along some young butternut squash plants for anyone who wanted them and Joy Collett brought turks turban seedlings for distribution. We shall all have plenty of squashes. Helen Gray brought along garlic, just harvested and a basket of rhubarb arrived too.
Carelle walked us around the garden where we admired plenty of fully laden fruit trees and then to her potager which consists of a substantial amount of large raised beds. It is an impressive sight with every sort of vegetable, including the brassicas. Raspberries were plentiful and were being picked each day and the asparagus and rhubarb had done very well. All of this was interspersed with some pretty cutting flowers, including the zinnias, already blooming.
We finished our afternoon with a delicious tea. Carelle had surpassed herself with wonderful cakes and sandwiches! On behalf of us all, thank you, Carelle.
The second of our 2018 Vegetable Group Meetings was held the home of Ariane Saveal who lives in Salle Lavallette. There was a good number present and it was a wonderfully warm afternoon to explore Ariane's lovely property on a mill stream. We started our meeting, as usual, by telling each other what we have planted, what is and is not doing well and what we hope to achieve. IIt seemed that with a cold period from the end of April and beginning of May several seeds didn't germinate - beetroot and carrot seeds were mentioned quite a bit. On the positive side, however, most of the members were able to relate successes with bean plants, courgettes, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes; to name just a few. Some of us had real successes with broad beans which are ready to eat. Several of those present had some good looking soft fruit so we shall await samples at the next meeting. We had a lovely walk around Ariane's garden. She has a very good sized potager with several beds and a wonderful orchard area which is being developed. Ariane went on a course locally to learn about grafting fruit trees and we were able to see the results of her efforts with several splendid specimens of heritage varieties. That was something that inspired a lot of us and we hope we might be able to give everyone a little more information about these courses in the future. Everything in the potager looked healthy and being beside the water was well irrigated.
A most enjoyable meeting that ended with a wonderful tea and we do thank Ariane for her hospitality. Joy Collett
The Special Interest Vegetable Group met on Tuesday, 24th April at the home of Joy Collett. It was a well attended meeting and a dozen of us had plenty to tell each other about their plans, what they had planted and expectations. Most of the group had already sown a variety of vegetable seeds and potatoes but there was a difference of opinion on putting out young plants as there is always the danger of a May frost. There was a bit of seed swapping and Lynda Creegan had brought along runner beans, pumpkin seeds and castor oil seeds. Joy had enjoyed some success with the Turks Turban pumpkin and had seeds to give away. Helen Harrison and John Mitchell brought along some excellent rhubarb and had asparagus plants to give away. It seems that asparagus has had a good degree of success and both Sheila Harris, Carelle Sherwood and Helen Harrison had more than enough.
We had a look at Joy's small potager where the broad beans are now beginning to pod but apart from some good looking raspberries, loganberries and tayberries there was not yet much to see here, unlike my neighbour's potager where we all admired his endless rows of perfectly aligned vegetables. Afterwards we had tea and agreed that the next meeting would be held on Tuesday, 22nd May when Ariane Saveal agreed to host the meeting in Salle -Lavallette. Joy Collett