Full Disclosure

August 21, 2018

So, I’ve shown you the other half’s greenhouse, and someone else’s garden altogether, but what of my own veg gardening? Are those raised beds still proving so wonderful?


veg plot in August

To be fair, August is always a bit random on the gardening front as the accumulation of any spring and summer neglect comes home to roost in spades, but I’ve never grown an additional mystery crop of mushrooms in my potato patch before:

mushrooms in potato patch

Any mycologists out there?

mystery mushroom

I’m more or less resigned to the fact that cabbage whites will come and infest my brassicas. In the past I’ve tried netting them, picking them off, and just ignoring them, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it takes a lot to completely kill off purple sprouting broccoli. Hopefully, enough plants will survive to put out spears in the spring, after the caterpillars have been killed off in the winter. This year, I’ve cut off the worst of the leaves and stuck them, caterpillars and all, in the compost bin, which probably only means that the caterpillars will have worked up a good appetite by the time they’ve finished crawling back round the house to the veg patch.

caterpillars on broccoli

Interestingly (for a certain value of interesting) the broccoli is quite badly infested with the yellow-and-black caterpillars of the large white, while the cavolo nero right next to it has a much more limited number of the green caterpillars of the small white. Any entomologists care to weigh in?

In other news, my sole squash plant has turned into a sprawling giant which has quite overwhelmed the beans I had optimistically hoped it would share its raised bed with, annexed the fennel bed next door, and is currently conducting a hostile takeover of the not-yet-cultivated mixed bramble and willowherb patch next to the pond. Normally, my money would be on brambles winning any sort of territorial battle, but this time I’m not so sure. The only thing it’s not doing is apparently producing any squashes (but then again, I thought that about the pumpkin last year).

squash plant

On the other hand, despite all this, we’re still getting plentiful potatoes, chard, kale (some with added protein) and giant beetroot. And the peas, which should have been over and done by now, are having a new lease of life and are merrily producing new shoots, flowers and pods. Obviously, what they’re not doing is using any of the supports I helpfully supplied for them, which means they look terrible and picking the peas is a challenge, but August peas of any kind are a bonus so it’s worth the effort.


How does your garden grow?


Gardeners’ Question Time

July 28, 2014

Purple sprouting broccoli plants

Here’s a little mystery for you all: where are all the caterpillars? We picked some kale a few weeks back and despite them being netted, there were a few green caterpillars lurking on the leaves, more or less as I expected. Since then we’ve had lots of lovely weather and lots of white butterflies fluttering about the plot but when I pulled up the netting to have a look and pick off the worst of the infestation before it got out of hand there weren’t any. And nor is it the effectiveness of my netting, either, because there are none on the purple sprouting broccoli either, which is unnetted. Very odd. And yes, I do realise  that by posting this I will be completely inundated with the things before the week is out.

greenhouse in walled garden

And here’s another question: if a gardener who doesn’t particularly like tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, cucumbers or chillies were to suddenly find themselves with the use of a greenhouse (what can I say, it was just looking sad and empty and I couldn’t resist), what should she grow in it? Beyond ‘extra salad’, I’m struggling a little, frankly, although there are some in the village who use theirs to get extra early potatoes. I suppose I could grow tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, cucumbers and chillies for the other half, who likes all of those things and has been struggling bravely through a diet of kale and, er, more kale in recent years.

greenhouse interior

In other news, the dinosaur eggs are flowering.

mystery beans flowering

Mothly Harmful

June 21, 2014

Coming back from fetching the paper this morning, I was stopped in my tracks by a tree that still seemed to be stuck in the middle of winter

Every leaf had been eaten down to the stalk, and the whole tree webbed in caterpillar silk. Intensive googling* suggests that the culprit was the bird cherry ermine caterpillar (we got the adult version in the house when we inadvertently turned our bathroom into a big light trap).


I had nonchalantly leaned my bike near the tree while I was taking the pictures. Fortunately, I didn’t leave it there too long …

ermine moth larva on a Swedish Army Bike

Ermine Moth Larva on a Swedish Army bike – via Wikimedia

* mostly these days I just ask twitter, but clearly twitter was in a bit of a silly mood this afternoon; the only answers I got were ‘goblins’, ‘really big spiders’, and ‘fairies’ from someone who has clearly been living in Bristol far too long.

Eating Seasonally

September 12, 2012

seasonal vegetablesAnd for tonight, Madam, we have a seasonal medley of vegetables consisting of potatoes found in the old potato bed left behind after you thoroughly dug it over and removed every last potato, the last of the side sprouts of broccoli salvaged from the club root disaster mingled with the first of the purple-sprouting broccoli which bolted and started now instead of April like it’s supposed to, with or without a bonus amuse bouche of crunchy caterpillar surprise depending on how thorough the chef was at picking it over and – the pièce de résistance – a miserable handful of what may well turn out to be your entire crop of french beans for the year.

Bon appetit!

Four Legs Good; More than Four Legs … Eurghh

August 7, 2012

Ah, the joys of growing your own. I picked the first calabrese today – which is what you call broccoli when you grow your own veg because it turns out broccoli is something completely different. Despite the clubroot, the four or five plants that survived have started to produce reasonable sized heads so I picked one for an emergency supper as we’d meant to go shopping and sort of didn’t get round to it (well, there’s been an Olympics on, you know). Broccoli plus toasted breadcrumbs, spaghetti, anchovies, garlic and chilli makes for a surprisingly delicious meal and of course when the broccoli is home grown the deliciousness is squared. And then slightly minused when you realise that the weird looking green thing in among the spaghetti is not in fact a bit of broccoli but is instead a thoroughly boiled cabbage white caterpillar.

Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but on the whole I think I’ll stick to chucking them in the compost from now on…

Dream Garden

October 15, 2009

Ah, October and my garden has just reached its peak of perfection. But sorry, no photos, because the garden in question doesn’t exist yet, except inside my head. Yes, it’s that time of the year when you start looking through seed catalogues and planning what will be next year when, of course, there will be no blackleg, and no slugs, and no sawfly, and especially no caterpillars, and everything will germinate and nothing will mysteriously die or (like my garlic) simply vanish into thin air.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, we’ve eaten the last of the potatoes and the last of the broad beans. Larry the Leek is still hanging on for an occasion special enough to warrant eating him, after all he’s survived. There’s still a few small lettuces under cloches, and the broccoli is waiting till the spring. So far, this year, it’s only cost me a grand total of £6.26 to grow my own. But next year … well next year will be different.

Won’t it?