I thought with Summer coming to an end soon I would start to assess just how successful or unsuccessful my efforts this season have been. So this week’s top five list is of the five ‘most valuable players’ in my vegetable garden, those that have produce bountifully and without too much excess attention needed.
1. Beetroot. You just have to check out my previous beetroot posts here and here to see just how enthralled I’ve been with this vegetable. Sadly my second planting was decimated by the Christmas Day hail storm. I’ve since decided to use that bed for other things over the Autumn/Winter so I’ll have to find another spot to plant more beetroots.
2. Beans. After four unsuccessful attempts at growing beans I finally had some success this year. It took a couple of plantings and a sprinkling of snail bait to get them past the fragile seedling stage, but once they were going there was no looking back. My efforts to train them up tee-pees and corn stalks hasn’t been perfect, but they have rewarded me again and again. And just when I thought the harvesting was coming to an end they surprise me with another lot of flowers and more beans. Hopefully this will continue for another month or more. So far I haven’t been (bean, haha) terribly inventive with using them, but fresh beans are just so tasty on their own, steamed with a little drizzle of olive oil.
3. Corn. Despite the harvest all coming at once and me leaving a couple of cobs too long on the stalks, these were very easy to grow and I wish I had have planted more. Having read a bit about corn growing I think I could have planted a few more in the same space, so I’ll try that next year and hope to get even more. It has been very remiss of me to not photograph the corn at all, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. And how amazing is fresh corn on the cob, picked minutes before cooking and served with loads of butter.
4. Tomatoes. I should specify cherry tomatoes here as the other varieties have done next to nothing. I’ve had a constant supply for salads, enough excess for a batch of relish and picked my first one before Christmas – always my goal. They are still going strong and seemed to respond really well to the heavy pruning I’ve given them twice and will do again now. The first pruning was needed after the hail storm, but at the same time I decided to cut back all the yellowing bits. After this I had loads of new growth, flowers and then fruit. I repeated the process a few weeks later and currently have absolutely piles of green tomatoes on the bushes. As they’re starting to look a bit yellow and dry again I think another pruning is on the cards for this weekend. In other words, I’m definitely in the pruning back tomatoes camp. The one thing I didn’t do well is tying them up, they just grew so quickly my stakes were quickly overtaken by the plants, so they are quite rambling. I also wonder whether I planted them too closely together, but with such a small garden things have to get used to living in close quarters.
5. Pak Choy. I wasn’t sure whether to include this one in the top five or not because it has been somewhat tricky at times. This was another one that the snails were attracted to in the early days and the cabbage moths have continued to enjoy a feast of this little Asian green, but in the end they’ve done me a favour by keeping the moths away from the rest of the vegetables. And despite their propensity to bolt to seed I have had enough of a constant supply to add to every stir fry since December. While you’d never buy these leaves in a supermarket – very holey and chewed – and you do need to wash them carefully to avoid munching on little green catepillars, the flavour is so much better than most Asian greens I’ve bought in the past. The best feature of the pak choy, though, is the speed with which it germinates and grows. It’s ready to start picking in just a couple of weeks from planting, great for those that like or need a bit of (almost) instant gratification.
That’s my top five, but I should mention a few vegetables that have yet to prove their worth in the garden one way or the other. The potatoes are yet to be dug up – I think another couple of weeks should do it – the pumpkins are still immature, but plentiful on the vine – let’s hope they ripen well – and the eggplant is just starting to produce now but again looks like I might have a bumper crop there too.
Any guesses what next week’s Top Five will be?
Once again I’m joining in with Liz with her top five lists – check it out if you want to what to do with cucumbers.