Right at the Cutting Veg!

I like to think that I am quite ahead of the game when getting the vegetable plot up and running in the spring. I reliably plug in the heated propagator in February and start off my tomato, chilli and pepper seeds. Off they go to a flying start but I never expect much from either the chilli’s or the peppers for months because they do need a long growing season and as long as I have a good crop of both by the time summer is over then I am happy. This year I have grown the very same tomato varieties as last year and they were planted at the same time, both in the propagator and into their final positions in the greenhouse. Then we had weeks and weeks of amazingly hot, Mediterranean weather so why is it that the tomatoes are nowhere near ripening and are well behind last year and even more surprisingly, the first crop ready for eating, other than salad crops, are chilli’s! There are so many mysteries and inconsistencies around the growing of vegetables and this is just one of this year’s. I should point out that whilst all the beans struggled to get growing at all, the second crop ready is gherkins, with cucumbers not far behind. It’s just so bewildering – and still no hint of any colour on the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the garden, the fig tree (Brown Turkey) is groaning under the weight of figs that look very nearly ripe – so much earlier than normal. Lying against a South facing wall behind the patio, in March it must have thought that it had been transported to the South of France. I usually pick my fig harvest in August, so if the good weather continues, in theory there’s a chance that there might be a second crop. As I say, the beans are all struggling, the ones that haven’t fallen victim to the snails just don’t seem to want to climb their poles and when they do, along comes another day of hurricane strength wind and they’re all off again. However, the one bean that is happily plodding away and right on schedule is the broad beans. We do have a particularly exposed position and the prevailing wind whistles across the fields to the rear so every year I take the precaution of staking each individual broad bean plant which does seem excessive when you learn that this year there are about 40 plants. I love broad beans though so after the first few years of them all ending up sideways in a heap, I now just stake them. It makes me weep when I pass fields of broad beans planted as a commercial crop with no support in sight! Incidentally this year I have planted three varieties including this rather fetching crimson flowered one – no idea what it tastes like but it is very pretty in the veg patch. I will report back later in the summer. Anyway I’m off now to deal with some gherkins and make some Swedish style dill pickle – it’s not a bad start to the growing year!

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