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Runner beans and Brussels sprouts

Posted by Guy Barter on 22 Oct 2007 at 08:58 AM

This is a curious time of year when summer crops still produce, although much singed by recent over-night frosts and winter crops, their flavour enhanced by the cold, are ready to gather.  

This weekend courgettes, runner beans and tomatoes were picked and so were Brussels sprouts and celery and parsnips are lifted as well.  Brussels sprout ‘Maximus' has proved early and very heavy cropping for this first part of the sprout season.  The wet summer has been ideal for sprouts; they usually go blue and stunted from summer drought in this district unless heavily watered.  I have 35 sprout plants so I calculate we need to consume two plants a week - a tall order despite her loveliness's remarkable appetite for this vegetable. Celery ‘Loretta' has produced good heads but it has matured faster than I can use it and many of the outer stalks are ‘pithy' and past their best - celery soup is clearly imminent. 

Although I have felt no need for beetroot, celeriac or leeks this week, I did note how well they all continue to grow in October adding a very useful increment to their yield. 

The sweet potatoes, which had never grown properly this summer, yielded a negligible crop despite growing under plastic cloches.  I think they were started too late as the slips arrived in June and did not reach a worthwhile size until August when the summer was almost over.  I have saved a plant in a pot to take cuttings from next spring and also taken a potful of cuttings now as a backup. 

Ground was prepared for beans, peas and shallots by raking level and in the case of beans and shallots covering with opaque groundcover fabric through which the beans will be sown and the shallots planted. 

The frost removed the last foliage from the pumpkins, gourds and squashes.  A few more fruits were revealed and added to the store.  With cold weather the squashes and pumpkins must be kept from harm indoors. The spent foliage was raked up and dug in.  Then weeds which had grown rather abundantly on the pumpkin patch were loosened with the ‘mulcher' and raked up for burial. 

The frost penetrated the fleece covering courgettes and French beans so these are now unlikely to yield further. 

Deer have started nibbling carrot tops; all net defences on the winter crops were checked any potential weak spots reinforced.  Pigeons will also soon be back.  Pigeons will soon be getting hungry and although cabbage family crops are not their first choice of sustenance they will go for them when food is short. 

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