When the slugs have eaten all that you plant in their path and summer has taken until mid-July to get started, it’s useful to be reminded that things aren’t all bad.
Harvesting some lovely beets at the weekend (pictured), I thought about this. Real Men Sow is a cheery blog! It’s important that I blog and tweet about the bad times, but I need to make some more space for good times too.
So, without further ado, here are four crops that have been great on my plot this year.
Beetroot is such a great vegetable to grow for so many reasons. The seeds are big and easy to handle, germinate reliably, and have no fussy tendencies. You can sow them directly, and if for any reason germination does happen to be patchy, thinnings take happily so you can fill the gaps in.
But best of all, the slugs don’t seem to have any interest in the seedlings (although I have previously said this about courgettes – doh).
I’ve sown Cylindra again this year, which is my favourite variety for beetroot. The beets are a lovely cylindrical shape rather than the traditional sphere, which lends itself nicely to easy chopping and preparing. I’ve found that this variety doesn’t tend to go woody if the beet grows big, either.
Both of my outdoor cues got munched by the slimies, but I needn’t have worried as the greenhouse cucumber plant has gone bonkers. It has produced so many cucumbers, that I’m now at a stage of cucumber glut, something I’ve never encountered before!
It seems that the hot but humid conditions of the greenhouse have suited the plant down to the ground. The cucumber is definitely a thirsty plant though, requiring watering morning and evening during hotter days.
Possibly my favourite harvest of the year, and this year is no exception. Both the rhubarb at the allotment and in my garden have been prolific. We’ve struggled to keep up with the harvests, even when we’ve given stems away.
One of the best qualities of rhubarb is its low maintenance. I feed rhubarb in Autumn by scattering a good dollop of well-rotted manure around the crown, but apart from that, I do little else other than weeding. The crown starts shooting in January, and by March I’ve often harvested the first of the heady stems.
I’ve mostly enjoyed stewed rhubarb in my morning porridge, but this BBC Good Food rhubarb and orange cake have once again been a favourite in our house.
Slugs – you may have had my outdoor cues, courgettes (x3!), cauliflowers, salad, broad beans, and a good half of my mangetout, but when it comes to strawberries, victory was mine!
Last year, I lost a lot of my strawberry harvest to the slugs and snails, but through a combination of clearing out slug hiding places, nightly slug patrol, and picking the fruits slightly before they were fully ripe, I’ve enjoyed a bumper harvest.
I also found a great new recipe for denting the gluts. These strawberry and polenta cupcakes are quick, easy, and tasty!
Although half of my 20 odd mangetout seedlings got eaten when I was hardening them off in pots, I still stuck the survivors in the ground around a wigwam and left them to see what happens. It’s testament to the productive nature of mangetout that even with 10 plants, I’ve still harvested enough pods for me and the family to enjoy some early season sugar snaps.