The Rain finally came and things are growing

It has been a dry four or more weeks here in the Forest of Dean. The rain finally came and the plants loved it. (So did the weeds!!).

The Czar runner beans have put on a couple of feet and are almost at the top of the canes. Something is eating the lower leaves on the left ones though.

Czar beans finally growing tall

Also having growing more than 1 foot in 2 days of rain was the Earlibird Sweetcorn. Well the little one is still smaller but is about 2 feet tall now.

sweetcorn growing tall now.

Even the kale is looking like it is happy.

Red and Black kale filling out

I am a bit worried about the parsnips. The first lot did not germinate so I tried the wet paper toll method. These are now the tallest parsnips I have seen in this garden. Maybe they are all green leaves and no parsnip though?

parsnips getting very tall

Even my cucumbers have started to grow tall. Last year my first attempt at growing cucumbers failed. This year I have two Diva varieties and they seem to be enjoying themselves.

first ever cucumber

My only problem is lack of pollinators. Although I had one cucumber when the plants were smaller, (which was very tasty), the female flowers shrivelled up as there were no males. Then there were males and no females. Now there are both and I hope that some will be pollinated, if only by myself.

cucumber plants growing tall with lots of flowerds

And finally I have my first ever San Mazarno plum tomato. You can just see it in the corner of the greenhouse.

first ever San Mazarno tomato

Again last year my tomatoes did not do well, but I am hoping that this variety will give me some for the freezer this year. It is exciting.

Extra beds

I have a couple of extra areas where I can grow veg. One is on the slope in front of the small apple tree and the other is next o my old shed. Last year I cleared this of plants and planted it with potatoes and had a bumper crop. One of the few vegetables that flourished last year for me.

shed bed

However, the shed got damaged in the last storm and I have been waiting for help to take the shed down to be replaced. So I have kept on the plastic, ( I reuse this every year) and will plant out the courgette and squash in large pots.

The Ambassador courgette was doing well and wanted to be planted out. The Defender courgette was not far behind. But it has been cold and wet now for several weeks so I wanted to wait. The Hercules squash were not so happy.

courgettes want to be planted out

The courgettes were transplanted and quickly started to grow coping with the rain. I waited another week to put out the squash. I put slug rings around them so that when I watered the pots (yeah, if it stops raining!), the stem would not get wet. I also planted them in a dome.

The leaves went yellow at first but now new darker green growth is appearing so I am hopeful that they will grow when it stops raining (the weather reports keep talking about hot weather but I have seen nothing but clouds all June.. a few moments here and there of light).

courgettes doing well

I also have another one hiding with extra potatoes that I have put in pots. The potatoes include Red Scarlet, Elfe, Kestrel, Vivaldi and Arran Victory. These seem to be all flowering at the same time even though they are a mixtures of early, second early and main crop.

Hercules squash with a variety of potatoes

The rain is really depressing. There seems to be a small window each day when it stops. This is good in that I am not having to water my plants like last year. At least there are more things growing than last year.

Lots of Seeds sown

The weather is staying fine so I have taken advantage and started sowing my seeds.  Some indoors in modules and some outside. I have sown spinach outdoors and put in some leaf beet. I have also sown, cucumbers, squash, courgettes, lettuce, celery, and kale.  Still got lots still to do.  Pak choi are surviving.

The seeds I sowed last month have not done as well as I had hoped.  My red tomato and my peas have not done well at all.   Only a couple of peas have come up and they might not survive.  Mangetout are OKish but not all came up.  I have put them out with the beans as I am not sure about growing beans as I dont digest them.  I am going to grow more lettuce instead.

I am spending a lot of time carrying buckets of water up the hill to keep everything wet.

Rain is due from today and if it comes I will be pleased.


Potatoes in last week…bit late I think


With weather reports saying that it will be cold with night freezes, I thought it was best to put the potatoes in the greenhouse for now.  They are Charlottes and I planted them a couple of days ago.   Put them in a mixture of sieved veg compost and sieved farmyard manure with a bit of homemade compost.  Will put them outside after the frosts.


What to do with the vegetables?

One of the problems for me growing vegetables is figuring out what to do with them if you do get a good harvest.  As I have a been a raw fooder for many years and more recently a commuter who lived on sandwiches and oven meals, I have not had the need to think about cooking.  Although raw food seems to be healthy my food intolerances got worse and at my last test, I could only eat meat, nuts, carrots, apples, celery and lettuce.   Not much of a diet.   I juiced with the apples, celery and lettuce, and made some salads but it was boring and this diet did not help me when travelling for work.   I would try and stick to simple meat and vegetables.   This year I have been trying to eat anything and see what happens.. but the results were not good and I have gone back to doing a lot of juicing to try and get healthy again.

Growing vegetables should help but often the vegetables seem to grow at the wrong times! I like juicing in the summer months but the apples etc are not ready.  I had lots of chard but what else can you make with chard.   I have not managed to get any lettuce to germinate this year (except the cheap packet that I just tipped into a pot of compost) so I have not had all the salads I wanted.   My beetroots seem to be taking a long time to grow. If I am not juicing what else can I do with vegetables, given that I cant add too many other ingredients because of my restricted diet.

I realised that my oven meals have had to be either simple english roasts and stews or chinese because of my allergies and the fact that I dont like spicy foods.  I have bought a slow cooker and am thinking that just having different slow cooker stews would be good and healthy.  Just chop up some meat, lots of vegetables and add barley or potatoes.  What could be more simple.   I am now getting excited about the veggies for next year.  I could also try making some chinese foods which I can make in a more healthy way.

I ordered some cheap second hand books from ebay and found a few traditional cantonese recipes to try.  I found a Chinese supermarket in Gloucester called Yip Shing and asked a friend to come with me as I am not keen on going to strange places on my own. She loved the idea and we went armed with a shopping list.  The supermarket staff were very friendly and it was really exciting to see so many foods and I bought a box full of different ingredients and got a free pair of chopsticks

Back home, I found my old rusty wok and reseasoned it and then tried my first recipe, chicken chow mein.  I loved it and the next evening I made beef and pak choy in oyster sauce.


beef and veggies in oyster sauce

Delicious again.   So now I am dreaming of growing chinese vegetables for next year, since there were none at my local supermarket.  I spent some time researching on the Internet.

During this time I started to sore throat, itchy eyes, itchy nose, runny nose.  It was getting worse.  At first I thought it was sitting in the new shed, but now I am thinking that it might be one of the chinese ingredients.   I also had a HUGE migraine with vision loss which is always a sign of an allergy for me.

I have been weeding as best I can but it is getting so bad.  I don’t think it is a cold,  it is definitely worse in the evenings.  My nose is raw now with all the tissues.   I also need to get back to juicing as this is the only thing that seems to make me more healthy although I find it difficult to do for more than 1 week!

However, I still like the idea of growing some chinese greens though, but that means more brassicas to be protected from butterflies.  I have Joy Larkom’s book ‘Oriental Vegetables’ and have been reading it in my shed, imagining lots of pak choi and wong bok!   I hope I am not allergic to them.