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Extreme Veg Growing

Posted by Alison Mundie on 28 Jun 2007 at 02:04 PM

These are exciting times here at Harlow Carr with all the flooding over the last 2 weeks, and much time being spent mending paths washed away by the torrential showers.  Thankfully, a desperate team effort managed to avert the potential disaster of a flood in Bettys cake shop!   Our kitchen garden and 3x3m plot are luckily at the top of a hill, and apart from the paths have come off very well.  Add to the list of advantages of raised beds that floodwater runs around them on the bark paths!

The 3x3m plot is looking really good just now, as all the tender plants such as French beans, courgettes and squashes have all been planted.  For the beans, borlottis will provide both fresh pods as well as beans for drying later in the season - a climbing variety makes full advantage of the space available and adds height to the plot.  Courgette' Venus' was the variety grown for the programme - it produced 17 fruits last year, and is perfect for the small area, maintaining a compact bush shape, so we've grown it again.

Last year's squash was a bit too rampant for the plot and threatened to take over, so this year ‘Cream of the Crop', an acorn-shaped squash, has been substituted - we know from growing it in the kitchen garden that it produces loads of fruits from a small, non-trailing plant.   Well-rotted manure placed in the base of the planting hole suits these hungry plants and helps retain moisture.   As the kitchen garden is on quite a windy site, a few twigs pushed in around the plant help to prevent wind-rock or snapping of the stem.  If the soil is mounded up slightly around the stem water will not sit around and cause rot - a moat made in the soil around, maybe about 30cm away from the stem, catches water to go to the roots.

The early peas have suffered a bit in the weather, so we have picked them and will replace with a second sowing direct of more peas.  Broad beans are harvesting well and there have been loads of lettuces to eat.  The trial lettuce are doing well - ‘Freckles' is a great favourite, as is the colourful red cos Pandero.  


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