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Archive for the ‘Runner Beans’ Category

Flashy Butter Oak LettuceLettuces started off in the greenhouse and planted out about in my front garden 5 weeks ago are just about ready to have leaves harvested. This is the gorgeous ‘Flashy Butter Oak’ (above) from The Real Seed Catalogue, looking a little tatty at the edges from slugs and snails, but as it’s survived so far (not all of them did), I’m hoping it will now flourish.Reins des Glaces LettuceAnother little beauty from The Real Seed Catalogue is ‘Reine des Glaces’, a cultivar that’s about 200 years old.  Lovely crunchy sweet leaves work really well with softer lettuces and it’s curly spikeyness is so darn decorative in the garden. I love it!

Forellenschluss Lettuce (soeckled like a trout)

Forellenschluss (meaning speckled like a trout apparently) has similar colourings to the above ‘Flashy Butter Oak’, but it’s an Austrian heirloom Cos lettuce, so will hopefully develop some nice crunchy upright leaves. (I do like a good crunch in my salads these days.) It also looks a lot like Freckles, another delightful Cos, but maybe a bit looser in shape. Seeds available from the ever entertaining Chiltern Seeds. I’ll keep on harvesting just the outer leaves of these lettuces, so they should last me a good couple of months, and I know that it’s time to sow another batch of lettuces right now, although if I get round to this is another matter…

Lettuce seeds waiting in the wings are: ‘Cocarde’ and ‘Red Sails’ (from Nicky’s Seeds) and ‘Crisp Mint’, ‘Really Red Deer Tongue’ and ‘Devil’s Tongue’, (all from The Real Seed Company).

Should I develop a glut of leaves, Nigel Slater has a great recipe for lettuce, pea and mint soup in ‘Tender: Volume 1’. Very tasty and utterly refreshing. I wish I’d discovered this years ago.

Golden Streaks Mustard leafMy mustard leaves sown at the same time are now going to seed (‘Golden Streaks’ above), and although the leaves are getting spicier by the day, still taste great when used sparingly in salads, as do the flowers.

Sweet CicelyAnd Sweet Cicely adds a lovely aniseed note to the mix too.
Front garden lettuce bed with alliums and mustard leavesIt’s so lovely to have dinner on my doorstep, with the odd bit of decoration too.  (Allium Globemaster just about to come into bloom there.)
Front garden veg bed with runner beans and tomatoesAnd bed no. 2 has runner beans, tomatoes, sweet peas and radishes for more front garden veg (and deliciously scented blooms) later in summer. (Mustard leaf ‘Red Giant’ at the front of the bed, also just about to go to seed.)

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Photo: Sarah Cuttle

Gorgeous weather, delicious cake and a fine array of seeds and plants to give away made ‘Cake Sunday’ a really enjoyable get-together for neighbours participating in our community veg growing scheme. Over 100 households have now joined up to grow flowers and veg in their front gardens (and tree pits on the streets) and it was great to see lots of familiar faces as well as some new ones too.

Photo: Sarah Cuttle

This year we gave away purple French Beans, Swiss Chard, especially good for the less sunny garden, and wildflower seeds for tree pits all around our neighbourhood.

We also had masses of Hollyhock seeds, collected from Lindsey’s front garden to share, as these do surprisingly well in the inhospitable area around tree bases too.

Photo: Sarah Cuttle

Now in our fourth growing season, our green growbags and large planters are proliferating in front gardens, as neighbours are eager to grow a large selection of veg, including potatoes (as above), courgettes, tomatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and some very decorative rhubarb plants.

Photo: Sarah Cuttle

Front gardens are a great place to meet up with nieghbours on ‘Cake Sundays’, chat about all things horticultural and indeed anything else!

As part of the Chelsea Fringe this year, we’re inviting visitors to join us on Sunday May 27th 2013 for another bumper Cake Sunday, with all the trimmings. Amongst many metres of bunting, visitors can come sup tea and cake, and find out more about our community veg growing project. Our beans won’t be at the top of the poles by then, but we’ll  be holding edible window box workshops,

a topiary demonstration by Tim Bushe and hopefully a few heats of the Chelsea Fringe Edible Olympics. Cucumber javelin anyone?

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Today our crack team of neighbours delivered growbags to front gardens for our community veg growing project in Finsbury Park -huge thanks to David, Bernd, Matt, Graham and Liesbet.

Next weekend we’ve organised another Cake Sunday , so that participants can meet up over tea and home-made cake and collect seeds for veg growing this year.

We’ve found that both Runner and French beans grow really well in the free municipal compost (thanks North London Waste and Islington council),

and this year we’re giving away purple French beans, ‘Cosse Violette’, and Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ for those who have extra space to grow in too.

There’ll also be packets of wildflower seeds for tree pits as these really brighten up our neighbourhood along with the veg and flowers grown in front gardens.

Whilst on our travels we came across this fab suitcase which will make a great mini raised bed. Perfect for some Swiss chard I think! We quickly drilled some holes in the bottom and filled it up with compost ready for planting. It may not last many years, but should see us through this growing season at least.

For more durable (and more storable ) mini raised beds, you could look at these gro-beds from Marshalls. Both suitcase and gro-bed are a great solution if you have no soil, but want to grow veg in your garden, and they’re deep and wide enough to grow a large choice of fruit and veg.

Growing in containers and growbags is going to be a challenge this year as the hosepipe ban starts in the South of England at the beginning of April, but planting in larger pots and containers should reduce the amount of watering that’ll need to be done. If you have the room and the money, it would be worth investing in a water butt which can be situated near your veg and this should make watering somewhat easier if no taps are near to hand. Thames Water have some reasonably priced plastic water butts which they’ll deliver to your door too. (I know this is slightly ironic as they’re one of the companies introducing a water ban-come on Thames Water-get those leaky pipes fixed!)

However, despite this potential extra work, I still think that nothing can beat the sheer delight of growing your own fruit and veg and there’s nothing better than leaning out of your window or popping into the front (or back) garden to collect your dinner too.

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