The veg are coming...
This year I have a feeling that everything in the kitchen garden has been late. This may or may not be an objective truth, as I do recall complaining about the same thing in previous years. Perhaps a more accurate statement would be that last year the vegetables came on early due to the supernaturally warm weather, and this year things have returned to normal. Throughout June this year, temperatures have ranged between 10°C to 20°C with a lot of rain and wind.
Luckily for me spinach actually likes lower temperatures and lots of rain, so it was a good thing that I planted some this year. As spinach tends to bolt - that is go into flower too early - in warm weather I haven't grown it for some years since the last time I did it just went to seed. This year we could start harvesting it from the week before midsummer (mid June) and continue doing so for a month. In the end though, it started flowering and it was time to harvest the rest. I love growing vegetables, but I really dislike harvesting. It is just the most tedious job in the world! Happily my kind youngsters made a home visit and helped me with the job, so while they picked the spinach I processed it. Wash for buggs and sand, quick boiling, mixing it to a bright green pulp, and in to the freezer for winter usage. Perfect!
This year I planted the spinach between the corn seedlings, as I knew it would be over before the corn really start to grow and need more space. Double cropping is a method of increasing yield from a small patch that I have been using for some time. I start out with an early cropper and then harvest it and give over the space to something else. I did the same with the Swedes, Brassica rapa Purple Top White Globe, and planted them between the carrots and the beetroots. In the end of the first week of July it was time to harvest these too. Half of them we ate freshly oven roasted, and the rest I peeled, cut into pieces, boiled quickly (about 3 minutes) and put in the freezer. I find that it is best to freeze them separately and only bag them once frozen, as shown in the picture below.
In the space where the swedes were grown, I then planted beetroot seedlings. This is a precarious business, the re-planting of beets. Sometimes it works, but often it doesn't regardless of how much care I take to avoid disturbing their tiny and fragile hair-like root system. Afterwards I mulch the space in between the rows with grass clippings, and keep watering morning and night to give them the best chance of survival.
Other things I'm growing this year are green and yellow courgettes, kale, cauliflower, peas, beens, blue sweet corn and leaf celery. The celery project is great fun, as it is this years new thing. Each year I try to grow something that I haven't grown before just to keep expanding my horizons, and this year it is celery of the variety Golden Self Blanching. They say that celery is a great companion for cabbage and kale as it is supposed to keep white butterflies at bay, but no such luck in my garden I'm afraid... the few purple kales I planted in between have already been attacked. Never mind, it is all in the process and always interesting to have tried something new.
Another potential failure is the Hopi blue sweet corn that although it is coming along nicely, probably won't have time to mature before summer is over due to the bad weather we have had. Alas, it is worth a try as the kernels are gorgeous if it succeeds! In the background you can see the roofing project on the old farm house that is still going on. I hope that too will be ready before summer is over!!