Early August 2021: growing lessons

This year is all about learning how to grow on a much bigger scale and getting quantities and timings right so we are self-sufficient in vegetables for as much of the year as possible. So far it’s been a steep learning curve and already plenty of mistakes have been made and lessons learned.

We had several failed attempts at sowing aubergine, squash and melon in the tunnel, possibly due to it being too early in the growing season (or the plants being too young when planted out). We now have one melon plant running amok and three ‘last ditch’ aubergine plants looking well (but still far from flowering or fruiting) in pots.

Our french beans were put outside too early and killed by late frost. We need to give more space to peas (the quantities are far too small) and less room to early potatoes (the quantities are far too much, we’ve given away twice as much as we’ve eaten so far).

A bed of sarpo mira maincrop potatoes which were planted in June. We’ve sown more throughout July as space has become available in the early potato beds, but still haven’t sowed everything as of early August. Hopefully it’s not too late.

Onions too are a space gobbler, and given how cheap and readily available they are we think the growing space would be better used growing more brassicas or roots.

The most important lesson however is about time. And how much more of it is required to stay on top of the garden jobs. The increased scale of our home-growing needs commensurate investment of time – which has been tricky to manage these past months, resulting in a constant feeling of playing catch up. And it’s also led to missed opportunities with some crops lost to flowering.

Keeping the grass under control is also an ongoing struggle, as Pip demonstrates at the back of the picture.

But on a positive note, we have lots of delicious, healthy veg available to us. Clockwise from top: Cucumbers coming on nicely and the first batch of pickled cucs are fermenting in a kitchen cupboard; the courgette plants are fruiting bountifully, and a first batch has been blanched and frozen for later use; the corn is growing steadily and looks strong; we’ve harvested our first tasty celery and beef tomatoes (the latter eaten with finely sliced garlic and shredded basil on bruchetta); the sprouts are thriving, as are the cavolo nero plants behind them and the cabbage in a separate bed for late autumn/winter eating. Not pictured: our root veg (carrots, parsnips, salsify) are also doing well.

A typical day’s harvest
Liz modelling some spring onions, overseen by Patch

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