Wednesday, 5 October 2016

REVIEW OF THE SUMMER VEGETABLES



REVIEW OF THE SUMMER VEGETABLES

The summer harvest of vegetables is well under way and now is a great time to reflect on progress. We can look back on a fairly decent summer with always just enough rain to keep plants growing and at times it has been quite warm. The promise of really hot weather blowing up from the Continent on at least three occasions kept us waiting patiently to ripen up the crops, but it never quite got that far north. Afraid this is nature so we cannot blame Brexit or the Tory Government.
Tomato Sweet Million
The first crops to pick in spring were my overwintered mixed lettuce with the star performer Lollo Rossa, a beautiful crinkly red cut and come again variety with great flavour. This is marked up for growing again in 2017.
Early potato Casa Blanca was getting lifted as a salad potato in mid June with 1.5 lbs on the first shaw. This increased to 2.5 lbs per shaw by the end of June. The flavour is fantastic, so this variety is again a must for 2017. My other two salad potatoes, Charlotte and Gemson were fine, but could not compete with Casa Blanca for flavour, and Gemson size was very disappointing. Talking of size, the variety Amour gave a huge crop of very large spuds, and Sarpo Mira was not far behind and although this was a bad year for blight and blackleg Sarpo Mira was the last to get affected.
Runner bean Enorma
Early peas Kelvedon Wonder and maincrop pea Hurst Greenshaft are probably as old as me, but have been so reliable, (just like me) and prolific that I keep growing them every year.
This year I tried Dwarf French Bean Compass. It was very prolific but the beans were small and thin though very tasty. Runner bean Enorma is still a great cropper.
Onion Globo gave me a big crop from one packet of seeds, but the humid weather brought on a fair bit of white rot where ever the bulbs were too close together. However these are now dried off and ready for storing in my cool garage to provide enough onions to last till the end of March.
Scottish weather and soils seems to be perfect for courgettes and no matter what variety I grow there is always much more than two people can use, even though Anna tries them fried in butter, in risottos, soups, in pasta and lasagna where thin slices of courgette replace the pasta to give a very tasty and healthy dish.
Pumpkins swelling up
Pumpkin Hundredweight just like the courgettes is having a great year. Four plants is giving me at least eight large pumpkins which just keep growing and will be huge by the end of October when they get cropped just ahead of Halloween.
Sweet corn Sweetie Pie has been a bit disappointing with very few cobs full of corn, so next year I will try a different variety.
Standard beetroot Detroit and Boltardy are hard to beat for reliability, but this year I tried the long rooted type Cylindrica. Very pleased with results giving a beetroot shape which I am told is easier to work with in the kitchen, and flavour is excellent. Swiss chard Bright Lights is still a favourite.
Swiss chard Bright Lights
All my cabbage, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and Swedes have to be the clubroot resistant varieties as the soil is totally infected. This however limits the season of use especially of cauliflowers.
In the greenhouse both cherry tomatoes Sweet Million and Sungold have been outstanding with massive crops of delicious sweet wee tomatoes, but my maincrop Alicante suffered an attack of bacterial wilt and the crop was lost by early September. Looks like I will have to replace the soil or go back to growbags next year.

Wee jobs to do this week
Winter lettuce Vaila

Plant out winter lettuce Vaila, Valdor or Arctic King sown a few weeks earlier in trays or direct into the soil in a well prepared seed bed. My more successful methods were to choose a sheltered spot adjacent to a south facing fence. Last winter my over wintered row of lettuce was in mid plot with no protection, but then we got a very mild winter so lettuce just loved it. Lollo Rossa appeared in a batch of mixed lettuce leaves and was very much appreciated with brilliant colour and flavour.

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