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Spud Grubber's Blog

Guy Barter

  • Date Joined: 15 Jan 2007

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Bean harvest

Posted by Guy Barter on 17 Sep 2007 at 01:52 PM

Haricot beans ‘Brown Dutch' were dry and ‘strawy' enough to pull up by the roots and take home to hang on a string in the sun.  Here they will dry and ripen protected from birds and squirrels by the watchful local moggies until ready to thresh out the seeds for storing for winter soups and stews. 

Once the beans were recovered large weeds, which were rather numerous in the bean patch, were pulled up and the soil raked over with a home-made ‘mulcher'.  This is three pronged cultivator with a wire attached to the prongs to sever weed roots and loosen soil without inverting the surface layer.  The idea is to kill all weeds but leave any weed seeds on the surface to germinate rather than bury them and make them dormant to be a problem in future crops.  The weeds will be dug in as ‘fertiliser' next spring. 

The roots and the crop debris was raked up and consigned to the bonfire along with the desiccated weeds and potato debris.  Most garden waste is composted but the compost pits are brimful and with many crops on the verge of clearing I might as well burn weed seed rich material and diseased potato waste.  The fires are set on a plot of raspberries scheduled for clearing this autumn.  Once fire has done its work digging should be easy. 

Lifting potatoes continues with ‘Cosmos' and ‘Charlotte' second earlies being gathered.  ‘Cosmos' is a heavy cropping, pest and disease resistant toughie and it yielded a huge crop of baking size spuds.  ‘Charlotte' is a salad potato of excellent quality for all but mashing.  But it is low yielding and prone to problems.  Some of the crop looked especially light and I suspect potato cyst nematode to be involved.  Rotation is the only answer.  ‘Cosmos' will be stored for winter and ‘Charlotte' will be consumed first. ‘Red Laure', a French main crop of great beauty and good flavour was also lifted. As is usual with these ‘funnies' the yield was light, half that of ‘Cosmos' but it is trying these different things that makes life interesting.  As each trial pack of ‘funnies' won't make up a full row, the ends are made up with ‘Ambo' that as usual produced a huge crop of bakers. 

Beetroot, cabbages, celery, celeriac, leeks, runner beans, swedes, turnips and sweetcorn were watered as the dry spell continues.  However dryness has greatly eased the tillage required to get the ground ready for autumn planting broad beans, garlic, onions, peas and shallots. 

The dry crumbly ex-potato ground was raked level with a metal rake, trodden to remove any hollow patches that will sink over winter and then raked again to make the soil perfectly smooth and level. This is easy work when the soil is dry and light to work.  

Over-wintered crops are grown through black plastic mulching sheets to prevent those winter weeds that are so hard to hoe.  For good results the sheet must lie tight against the soil, the soil must be very level and be firm enough to securely hold the sets and seeds, but not compact and inpenetrable to roots.  I think that I have got a good result this year and look forward to planting onion sets soon. 

As usual a weekly 'weed patrol'  round the plot yielded six bucketfuls of weeds found lurking in crops and beneath bushes, but with every patrol the plot gets cleaner and cleaner.  And with ground becoming free of crops the weeding becomes easier and easier. 

Harvesting continues as usual with a great surplus of French beans and courgettes. Courgette ‘Lunga Fiorintino' has superb texture and flavour and has taken over from the spent ‘El Greco' and ‘Ibrida' sowings for the early autumn crop.  

Dwarf French bean 'Purple Cropper Teepee' is being picked, but with the end of the season in sight the plants are pulled up and stripped making harvesting quick and easy.  Climbing french bean 'Goldfield with big, flat tender, well-flavoured yellow pods is especially valuable.  Its yield is not as good as climbing purple beans that it has succeeded but the quality is superb. 

A second flush of cucumbers was picked, useful, if belated crops of ‘Ferline' beefsteak tomatoes were gathered, more peppers plucked and sweetcorn picked as well. The sweetcorn is incredibly delicious now.  

These late summer vegetables are forming the basis of successive fresh vegetable pasta dishes with my over-wintered garlic and onions and plenty of fresh basil.  With such an abundance of ingredients I like to make vegetable lasagne as the best way of freezing the late summer surplus. 

Most of the squashes have now been collected and taken home to safety after squirrels ruined my best pumpkin by tunnelling inside to eat the seeds.  They look very attractive arranged on my patio.  At the moment there is an embarrassment of crops maturing with the autumn cabbages, celery, leeks and turnips ready to cut but with cooler, moister, duller weather forecast I am hoping they will hold in good condition.


Faraway said:

I've found this blog informative and interesting, please keep them going!

on 23 Sep 2007 at 06:14 AM

Guy Barter said:

Thank you, Faraway.  Your encouragement is appreciated and I intends to keep going although with winter approaching I might run out of things to say!

Spud Grubber

on 24 Sep 2007 at 09:18 PM