Tag Archives: beans

Seed time and harvest

According to the 18th Century hymn, seed time and harvest are among ‘all things bright and good.’ That looks to me like a pretty good description of June so far in this part of the world.

Early in the month I was still frantically sowing seeds because a significant proportion of the carrots, swedes, poppies and beans I’d sown earlier had never shown. This seems to be quite normal for climbing French beans – at least the ones I’ve got. But the carrots, swedes and poppies? A phrase from one of my Dad’s gardening books comes to mind: ‘Ants steal seeds…’ Certainly there are plenty of them scurrying around my vegetable patch, although I have yet to catch one in the act!

So, yes, seed time in June; with some gloriously sunny weather in which to do it, followed by plenty of rain to help the seedlings grow.

Then, this week, I have harvested my first vegetables for the year – a handful of beans and a courgette. This is nearly a month earlier than last year, despite the fact that the earliest seeds went in a month later (in the second half of April).

Here’s how things stand at the moment:


The bean plants vary in height from 6″ to the top of the 8′ poles. The two courgette plants are putting in their usual bid to take over the world. There are a few carrots and swedes from the first sowing, but most of the later seedlings are still too small to see. The cornflowers are nearly in flower. The nasturtiums are growing nicely, but don’t look like they are going to flower any time soon.

Meanwhile, the herb garden is trying out life as a wilderness. The chives have tired of holding their heads up and are trying out the horizontal life instead (I know the feeling).The sage has nearly finished flowering (which saddens the bees immensely), but the oregano is about to start (which should help cheer them up).

We even have a few strawberries (on a plant that came up in the middle of the vegetable patch last spring and got planted amongst the herbs because I hate killing things and there was nowhere else to put it):


So, wherever the UK, Europe and the rest of the world are headed following a certain referendum, all is bright and good in the garden 🙂 And for that – the wonder and beauty in God’s world – I give thanks.


All my own work

Life has been full this past couple of months, so it’s been a little while since I last blogged. During that time, the garden has burst into life. After a cool spring, the warm June sunshine was just what was needed. The tomato plants, which had turned blue whilst hardening off in May, suddenly woke up and decided life was worth living after all. The bean plants, which had been doing not a lot since April, made a sudden rush for the top of the bean poles looking for giants. And the courgette plants made their usual bid to take over the entire vegetable garden by the end of the summer. On the present showing, their success looks to be pretty much guaranteed.

This is how things looked last weekend:

Vegetable garden

Vegetable garden

And here are today’s pickings:



Since the second week of July, we have harvested 18 courgettes from three plants. I knew from previous experience that three plants were likely to produce far more than we would really want to eat. Last year, we managed quite happily with just the one plant. This year, I was aiming for two. However, despite the accident with the greenhouse, I ended up with three healthy young plants. So, not having the heart to destroy the spare one, I eventually planted it out with the others. I may yet live to regret this…

The bean plants have only just started producing. From what I remember, they are later than last year, but now have many more stems and flowers. (Something to do with the original growing tips being damaged by wind and/or aphids). The lettuce is one of four that I planted in the corner of my new herb garden. We’ve eaten one other and I have one remaining. The fourth was lost to slug attack. The nasty little blighters waited until I was on holiday at the end of June and then cut it off at ground level and left it to rot. The tomatoes have yet to ripen, but we are currently picking redcurrants and blueberries from plants that I’ve had for a few years in containers. The blueberries are easily my favourite of all the garden produce. They are so much nicer than the ones sold in supermarkets.

Those with sharp eyes will notice that I also have flowers in my vegetable garden. This is mostly because I had some alyssum seedlings left over that I didn’t know what to do with. Something tells me that my Dad would not have approved of this flight of fancy. He had a much more ordered approach to his gardening. However, I have since found out that it was A Good Idea. Like coriander (which I have in my herb garden), alyssum is favoured by hoverflies and lacewings, the larvae of which are very partial to aphids.

It seems Viola also thought flowers in the vegetable garden was a good idea, so she paid it a visit all on her own:



Needless to say, she has been allowed to stay, mostly because I like purple.

The vegetable garden was started by my daughter some years ago and has been maintained more recently by my husband (mostly). It’s always been kept small because his time is limited and we knew that the ME would severely limit how much I could contribute to its upkeep. This year, it is a little larger than it has been in previous years because the bean, tomato and cucumber plants were so squashed up together last year that it was impossible to get between them to pick anything without indulging in the kind of acrobatics that my body just won’t do. I also wanted space to create a small herb garden, partly for the benefit of the bees. With my energy levels increasing, I thought I could manage this. However, I still wasn’t thinking in terms of looking after all the vegetables myself.

Therefore, it’s been a huge source of joy to find that I have been able to cope with all the planting, watering and weeding myself. I’ve taken it very gently; restricting myself to an hour or so at a time and taking a small stool outside to sit on whilst planting and weeding. But I’ve done it. Slowly, but surely, I’ve produced a vegetable garden. Of course, I can’t really claim it as ‘all my own work’ since Duncan dug it all over before I started and I cannot provide either sun, rain or insects. Nonetheless, it feels good to be able to look at it and say, ‘I did that’. I sowed. I planted. I did what needed to be done to help the plants to grow and thrive.

It’s also been good just to be out there amongst the growing things. Being there breathes peace into my soul.

Meanwhile, in another part of the garden, the French marigolds that marked the beginning of this venture are also thriving. Despite my predictions to the contrary, the slugs and snails have not won:

French Marigold

French Marigold

This makes me happy; and not just because of my Dad, though he was the reason I planted them. It’s much more about survival against the odds; about hope; about becoming. In them I see a dream made real. And I find that hugely encouraging.