About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

July garden

It's been a couple of months since I last posted a garden update. Would you like a look around... see how things are doing?

Starting in the greenhouse (well it's right outside the back door - it's the easiest place to start), the tomatoes are looking good.

I do wonder why I grow tomatoes on the short side of the greenhouse

That is to say, the tomato plants are looking healthy. There's not a huge amount of fruit yet, and what's there is still very green.

The cucumber plant that Barbara gave me is threatening to take over the greenhouse, if not the world. It has a number of little cucumbers that are looking very promising.

It's two days after I took that photo and that cucumber's at least twice the size

On the other side of the greenhouse, the basil's doing very well. I'll have enough to make a decent batch of pesto, if I can figure out how best to store it.

In sharp contrast, the purslane and Welsh onions that I planted by the patio seem to have hardly grown at all.

Unimpressive purslane

It's very hard to water that bed, as the water tends to run straight off the surface. It doesn't help that the cat sits on it, either.

Moving swiftly on, the sweetcorn appears to be developing nicely.

Is that a tassel in there?

I've never grown sweetcorn before so I don't know what to expect, but that looks quite promising to me.

The squash are also doing their thing, and producing little fruits. I hope those remain uneaten long enough to turn into bigger fruits.

Tiny little squash

The next bed is other and I'm loving this bed at the moment because it's looking like a proper veg patch.

Veg, various

In the foreground/right of the picture is chard. This is the first time I've grown it and I'm pleased with how it's doing. It tastes OK, too, though as leafy greens go, I prefer both spinach and pak choi. Speaking of which...

Flowering pak choi. Also nasturtiums.

... most of the pak choi I planted is now bolting, but that's OK because...

Not-flowering pak choi

... there are volunteers popping up all over the place, so I have plenty to keep me going.

Next along from the chard is fennel, the ferny leaves of which are quite hard to see in the picture. The bases are fattening up encouragingly. Beyond those are celery, which are not fattening up much at all. The cabbages just behind are looking healthy, though. I'm not sure whether I'm seeing the first signs of heads forming in them, or whether that's just wishful thinking. The next section of plants has the bolted pak choi interspersed with leeks, which are doing quite well, and three courgette plants, which are a little behind the squash, but showing promise.

There've been a couple of flowers so far, but no fruit yet.

There are more leeks along the edge of the final section, far left of the photo, but they're not doing so well because Pebble keeps lying on them. I don't think she's particularly attracted to leeks, but she likes to lie in the shade of the parsnips, and that's where the leeks are.

The parsnips are those tall, bright green plants at the left/back of the other bed. They're magnificent! They already have large roots, but I'll hold off until after the first frost before harvesting any. Probably.

Top of parsnip. I hope I'm not attracting every carrot fly in the village by poking these.

Before leaving this bed, I have to show you the sugar beet that I planted early, for seed.

There's sugar beet in there somewhere

I know I'm not giving it the best chance by allowing all those weeds to grow, but I do so love forget-me-nots! In contrast, the sugar beet that I planted next door is racing away. I took one photo on the 6th July...

Sugar beet in early July

... and another three weeks later, on 21st July.

Sugar beet in late July

Hasn't it grown! I've nibbled the odd leaf and they're really nice. Not exactly sweet, but less bitter than some, and tender. If I do manage to get any seeds, I might grow some of this for salad leaves. As to the main crop, I'm not sure when to harvest it. Perhaps I'll wait for the first frost, as for parsnips.

Are you bored yet? You can skip to the end if you like - there are flowers. If you're still interested, we'll head for the downstairs garden now.

The first bed we come to is the potato patch.

Potatoes. Yes, all of it.

I know a large section of that bed looks like it's just weeds (shepherd's purse - they were very pretty when they were in flower) but there are potatoes in there too. At least, I hope there are. I've been harvesting the first earlies for some time, but haven't touched the main crop yet.

In the next bed are field beans (like broad beans but smaller). Those from the first sowing that survived the frost are just about ready to harvest now.

Lots of small-ish bean pods

I picked the first few of these yesterday. Though the pods are small, they're well filled with beans, which is a huge improvement on the broad beans I've grown in the last two years. I'll see how the rest of the harvest goes, but I think I'll be sticking with these.

I've been harvesting peas for some time now - some have even gone in the freezer - and decided that it's time to leave the rest of the early varieties, Oskar and Charmette, for seed...

I think these are Oskar, ripening nicely

... as the Kelvedon Wonder are now ready to pick.

Kelvedon Wonder peas. These are nothing special, but they do grow well.

I'm still trying to persuade the Lord Leicester peas to climb, but they're turning their noses up at my chain link fence. The nasturtiums are looking good, though.

The nasturtiums looked a little lost after I pulled out all the weeds that were propping them up.

Just across from these are the wigwams of climbing beans, with squash underneath.

Three squash, two wigwams of beans

Both the circles of french beans - District Nurse - are doing well, but the runner beans in the middle are doing nothing. I think they may have been eaten. Never mind, for green beans the french ones are just as good.

Do have a closer look at that leek flower! (If you do want a closer look, there are bigger copies of most of the flower pictures, if you click on them.)

Leek flower looking much pinker than I expected

Isn't it pretty? I think the celery flowers are rather charming, too. I may put some in the flower border next year.

Celery: Not much cop as a vegetable, but pretty when flowering.

The flower border itself is scruffy, but rather pretty...

... and it has roses.

The sweet peas over by the fence are just starting to flower.

My favourite, though, is a wild flower growing amongst the peas and beans.

Viola tricolor, also known as wild pansy or heartsease.


  1. I just LOVE a nose around other people's veggie patch, thanks! It is all looking fantastic, particularly envious of your lovely basil. A friend told me she freezes her pesto in little ice-cube trays, then just chucks them in to melt in drained pasta. It did occur to me that oil may not freeze? But I have heard of others doing it so it must.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the tour :-)
      I've grown basil a few times before, but this is the first time I've had a really good crop. Freezing sounds like a good idea for pesto - it'll be safe, at least. Olive oil certainly sets when it gets cold - at least it does in my kitchen (right now it's hard to imagine cold), so I guess freezing is just more of same.

    2. you can also just freeze the basil leaves, and make pesto as needed.

    3. That might be a better idea, then I can use them for other things if I don't happen to want pesto.

  2. It's looking good and you've got a great variety of things there. Here the blight came and hit the tomatoes and spuds. :-( Not doing well as I suddenly have snails everywhere and they are munching all new seedlings the moment they appear out of the ground. Think I might give up as all my lettuce bolted and I can't grow any more (because of them being munched).
    One thing that interested me is that you are the first non-American/Canadian to mention the word 'volunteer'. I only learned this word from N. American friends. I call them self seeded. Where did you pick the world up from?

    1. Hi Mandy, sorry to hear about your blight and snail problems this year. Have our gardens somehow swapped places without us noticing?
      I expect I picked up 'volunteer' from reading American web sites and blogs, though I hadn't noticed it was only Americans using the word. It's quite a bit shorter than 'self seeded plant', which is the only reason I use it. It is rather odd, though, as I'm sure these plants aren't actually volunteering to be eaten!

    2. I don't think they've swapped cos mine is still dry as the sahara! :-) That's why snails in the veg patch is so odd. Still, it's the first time in 10 years so I can't complain really. And I also think volunteer is an odd word for what they are!
      And if all else fails I have courgettes. :-))))


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