Sunday, 21 July 2013


The thing about Facebook is that you have to put up with quite a bit of inanity. Throughout the Winter people were freezing and moaning about the protracted coldness, the lack of sunshine and the snow. Now, naturally the same people are complaining about the temperature and that it is too hot and stuffy. It's a British thing I suppose to whine about the weather, and in fact an American colleague of mine was recently complimented on her acclimatisation to all things English with the comment that she could "discuss the weather with ease". 

Wall to Wall Sunshine

It has been warm, about 5 or 6 days of 30 degree plus temperatures, and over two weeks of upper 20's. The skies have been clear and my vegetables have been gasping at the end of each long, languid day. I love it though, it reminds me of my childhood in Germany, riding our bikes and playing out all day and the last really hot summer of '76 when I had just left school and worked on Ron Joy's farm for a couple of weeks before starting my brief, 6 year career with National Westminster Bank. With hindsight I would have enjoyed the farm work far more. 

I have to say though, that trout fishing in a prolonged warm spell is not an easy pastime to master; the trout are deep, their appetite limited and their location difficult to ascertain.  And so today proved. We tried a spot of drifting but the wind was just too strong and the fish were at least 15 feet down. We found we were catching up with the flies too fast to reach the depth at which the fish were, especially with the fast sink line. We hooked up to buoys out in the main bowl area and fished with deep, even jigging the team of buzzers in various depths. Eventually, and with some luck I wrinkled out a rainbow on the retrieve at about 15 - 18 feet down, but try as we might, neither Harry or I had another touch all afternoon and evening. It was a tough day, but such is fishing at times - I certainly won't moan about the weather - but I'll probably leave the trout now until September....

The fish were down, the moon was up...

Monday, 15 July 2013


Grown in pots....

Courgettes are an easy vegetable to grow and they're quite versatile with regard to their environment too.  From my point of view the only problem is I'm not keen on their taste, but many people love them - besides, I can always make chutney. 

Courgettes can be grown in pots, or in the ground and whilst all vegetables like the sun any bright warm place out of the wind will do for these.

Baby courgettes are growing...

The other great thing about these ants are the double whammy you can get with regard to the flowers. The male flower doesn't grow into a courgette, so it can be covered in a nice tempura batter and deep fried. Now that I do like.  

As with other veggies and especially those grown in pots, just feed them regularly, keep the snails away and water them as often as required. Enjoy some this summer - it's not too late. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Veggies Jobs For July

Thyme flowers are out about now

Summer marches on and compared to last year, we have had some protracted spells without rain which has been an improvement to say the least. Naturally, this means that the vegetables are growing quickly and, therefore,  rapidly using up the nutrients in the soil which will need to be replenished as the weeks go by. 

There are a few ways to do this; in some instances and where possible, I dig in some more compost - earthing  up potatoes for instance. Around well spaced tomatoes I can sometimes dig in a little more compost but I also add a proprietary tomato feed, which, incidentally will also do for chilies, peppers, squashes and courgettes. I dig in compost around my beans and also lay some chicken poo (freely available from my chickens and in great abundance) around all the plants that are advanced enough to get near and not damage. This might also, thought I in a moment of severe frustration at having more lettuces dug up, deter my feline fiends from using my well hoed and weeded vegetable beds as custom made cat commodes. The jury is yet deliberating on that ruse.  

Shop bought feed is obviously expensive although the sachet type that you mix yourself is cheaper than the ready made up stuff, but you can make your own by soaking as many nettles as you can cram into a large bucket and leaving it for a few weeks or by having a wormery and using the liquid feed from this.  Worm pee - nice!  Worm farms are a useful way of turning large amounts of garden waste, food waste and used tea leaves into a very small amount of very rich and potent compost, and a liquid run-off that can be added to your watering can to water in. It's quite potent and should therefore be well diluted.

A Safe haven for Brussels away from butterflies

Remember that as your vegetable plants strive to grow you the most wonderful peas, beans, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, chard, parsnips, beet root, courgette and every other wonder of vegetarian delight, you need to supply them with the nutrients to be converted into your food. Planting vegetables and leaving them doesn't always work, I'm afraid. 

Tomatoes growing well

As for the rest of the garden, it's down to maintenance really and the first harvests of your crop should come this month. We've had garden peas and some herbs from the tunnel, the broad beans are a week or two away and the first strawberries are blushing into readiness as I type.  

Broad beans very nearly ready

There have been a couple of disasters; the French Climbing Green Beans are, alas neither French nor climbing -they are green however, apart from the purple ones! They are, in fact, mis-packaged Dwarf Beans which look daft growing next to the towering edifice I spent a wet weekend erecting in the sunniest and most public spot in my garden. No doubt the occupants of the passing traffic are waiting avidly to see the beans climb all over this mighty erection, imagine their disappointment and my embarrassment when the beans just stop growing at about two feet tall.  In an attempt to deflect my discomfiture, I sneaked out in the dark one night and planted a few runner bean seedlings I had left in the tunnel. I doubt this ruse will work either and I await the derisory hoots and beeps of my passing public.

My wormery - with tap for collecting worm pee!

All my other minor catastrophes have, actually, been caused by cats as I mentioned earlier. 

We live in the woods, acres of land all around, no neighbours, no roads except on one side and no restrictions as far as animal evacuations are concerned. Yet all three of my cats are determined to use only the areas in which I have chosen to either grow vegetables or carefully planted bedding pants. Their propensity to dig up seedlings, seeds, well buried bulbs and delicate flowers is astonishing and has also caused my wife some distress. However, as the promises I made to our cats in moments of extreme anger are in some cases physically impossible, in others, illegal and the rest involve implements I do not own, I hope she won't worry too much while she's away in Australia for three weeks. 


All this hard work in soon to pay off, so stick with it and start looking up some vegetable recipes.