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Geoff Hodge Web Editor Peterborough

I've been a horticultural journalist for 20 years, a gardener for longer than I want to think about and a veg grower for 25 years.

  • Date Joined: 21 Nov 2006

Up to date & happy

Posted by Geoff Hodge on 24 Jun 2008 at 12:05 PM

Despite some other commitments this weekend, I've managed to catch up with my backlog of veg jobs.

I picked the last crop from the broad beans that had been inhabiting the growing frame at home (that's where they were overwintered) and then cut down and pulled up the plants - stripping off all the nitrogen-rich root nodules and digging them back into the soil. This left space for the melons. I planted out three of these and then had a blinding flash of inspiration; they grow as ground cover so there's plenty of vertical room for more peppers. Eight plants have gone in and the warmth and light should ensure a good crop.

More peppers, aubergines and cucumbers have been stuffed into spaces in the greenhouse, leading to an almighty green explosion in there. Hopefully, as they grow I'll still be able to enter the greenhouse without needing to be armed with a scythe or machete!

The lean-to frame is now clear of young plants that have been planted elsewhere, so this gave me even more room for a few more tomato plants. Sadly, the allotment couldn't accommodate all the remaining plants and I thought I might have to throw them out (no-one I know hasn't got an excess of tomatoes this year).

The one thing about growing so many tomatoes is the amount of time spent on tying and removing sideshoots. The one thing about growing so many crops in pots is the watering. Feeding isn't such a problem as I always use a high-potash controlled-release fertiliser - one application at potting up time usually gives them all the feed they need for the year. Although I do give a couple of supplementary liquid tomato feeds here and there where needed.

The only other things that needed doing were a bit of tidying up of other crops, sowing some more salads and a bit of hand weeding - and the odd hand squashing of a couple of small aphid outbreaks on the brassicas.

There's no point putting in all this time and effort if you don't reap the rewards. And boy did we reap last night. We tucked into a gorgeous bean and ricotta pasta dish from the lovely Nigel Slater - all the vegetable ingredients -  broad beans (and some supplementary peas), mint and fresh garlic - came fresh from the garden/allotment. To start we devoured globe artichokes - also fresh from the allotment. Now that's what I call a feast!

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