Monday, 31 July 2017

French beans

We're having a really good crop of climbing French beans this year. After a couple of disappointing years (last year we had none, despite two sowings of beans from different suppliers) this year has been outstanding.

I have always planted Blue Lake before, but this year I bought "Fasold". These are climbing French beans with rather lovely mauve flowers. Every bean I planted in pots germinated and nearly all survived after planting out. Immediately after planting out they got chopped, as did the Runner Beans. I suspect slugs but could have been rabbits that had taken up residence in our Rhubarb patch.

But after that initial set-back they've all climbed up the bamboo supports and produced loads of beans - quite a bit longer pods than the Blue Lake - and very tasty. Here's some I harvested earlier...

"Fasold" climbing French beans

Monday, 24 July 2017

Garden Gallery

Very warm, proper summer but with occasional downpours - June was a great month for the garden. See this collage of shots around the garden, mostly in the vegetable area with brilliant, self-sown poppies sneaking in.The Desiree( large reds) potatoes had masses of pretty mauve flowers. Now in July they've turned into tiny fruits. I've started lifting them and they are looking pretty good so far.

The Sante (white) potatoes are much better than last year, when they mostly drowned, but some have been chewed by slugs so I'm going to lift them as fast as I can and store the best ones in cardboard boxes in the garage to use over the winter. I've also tipped out one of the big pots with potatoes (pots pots?) and they are fine. No slugs or worms and I'm wondering if it's a better method than planting in the ground, but probably harder work filling the pots and then keeping them watered. At least the garden-grown potatoes can send roots down if there's a dry spell.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Grow it at home

Horrendous story on the BBC news website about  Global Food Security.
Apparantly 25% of all food is traded on international markets and a large amount of this is shipped through a few potentially risky waterways and inland transport networks - Panama Canal, Brazilian roads which flood etc. So this makes imported food at risk from disasters - natural and man-made, and we seem to be getting more of those all the time.

It makes great sense - environmentally, socially and probably economically - to grow as much of our food as possible as close as possible to where we eat it. Saves on transport costs, provides local employment, keeps the food fresher, makes people more aware of where food comes from and how it's produced and enables us to police production standards for animal welfare and use of chemicals.

I find it very strange that we buy tomatoes from Holland in the winter, when most of the UK's weather is milder than the Netherlands in winter. They grow them in green-houses - why don't we?
A couple of years ago I watched a program about growing potatoes in the desert in Egypt. The farmer buys in seed potatoes from Scotland (actually sensible because the cool Scottish climate deters virus-carrying aphids) but also buys peat from Ireland to pack the potatoes for transport back to Europe - where we can buy new potatoes in March. Of course he also has to use a lot of fertilizer and get water from miles away to make the desert green with his spuds. CRAZY!

I'm also horrified to see onions from Chile and Peru in the supermarkets. On what planet (maybe Mars?) does this make any economic or environmental sense? Onions grow great in UK year round and store well.

Global trade can provide benefits for producers and consumers. Cash crops often enable poor communities to afford a better life. But we are at risk, not only from disasters but from the greed, or mismanagement of global corporations who have only share-price and directors salaries on their mind. Same with basic utilities - water, power and transport. We need to keep them under our control.

If you have a little space or a patio or balcony you can start by growing some of your food. At Froggarts Cottage we are lucky to have lots of space for veg, a small orchard  and a greenhouse. But a small space will do - yesterday I visited a friend who has just a tiny back yard he's filled with all kinds of pots and containers and growing potatoes and tomatoes all amongst the flowers.

Home grown tastes much better too!