Have You Got Beans Coming Out Of Your Ears?

Turn your back for 5 minutes at this time of year and you’ll find another French bean or runner bean has reached harvestable size. But what do you do with the glut, to make the most of your harvest and avoid waste? Read the rest of this entry

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Mother Nature Sure Knows Her Tomatoes

It’s nearly the end of August and I have finally had to accept that perhaps Mother Nature knows more about tomatoes than I do!

Despite planting my tomato seeds back in the early spring and tending them all, lovingly, for the past 6 months, Mother Nature has won the race. Read the rest of this entry

Time For Me To Grow Up About Cold Frames?

Is it time for me to grow up over cold frames?

Overcrowded butternut squash seedlings

Overcrowded butternut squash seedlings

Early April’s seedlings are now full-grown, ready-to-go-in-the-garden baby plants.

But the nights are still too cold to trust my baby courgettes and squashes with the risk of nasty Mr. Jack Frost putting in a late appearance.

Plus there’s the whole ‘hardening off’ thing to be considered.

I have to confess that I’m a lazy veg patch gardener. I don’t like hard work. But I still prefer to get good results.

I’m also impatient.

Not a good combination, you might think. And in springs and summers gone by, my veg patch has included plants that will have agreed with you. But no more!

Discover why rejuvenating the old safety-hazard cold frame became such a priority this spring – and how we went about it. Read the rest of this entry

Growing French Beans – 7 Top Tips To Make It Easy

French bean purple queen

French beans can be easy to grow © Veg Patch Diaries

I have loved growing French beans (also known as green beans) for years. They can be a simple crop that’s easy to grow, as long as you know how to avoid the most common mistakes. Whether you want to grow climbing French beans or dwarf French beans, you are practically guaranteed success, if you know what you are doing. Here are my top 7 tips for great French bean growing, to help you avoid my disasters of the past. 🙂 Read the rest of this entry

Top Tips For Growing Beetroot

There’s more to beetroot than pickling it!

How to grow beetroot

How to grow beetroot

If you grow beetroot at home, you’ll find they’re sweeter and more tender than most of what you find in the shops. You can choose to pick them young, to eat whole (and raw) in salads or let them get bigger and steam them or even turn them into soup. It’s best to plant seeds every 4 weeks, so you have a regular supply of young, smaller beetroot, rather than pretending to enjoy them once they’re too big and the cores get woody.

Here’s how to grow beetroot from seed – in your garden or in containers. Read the rest of this entry

The Mung Bean Growing Experiment

Mung bean plants - 4 weeks © Veg Patch Diaries

I have been sprouting mung beans for years, but have always struggled with the fact that my dried beans came from many thousands of miles away. So this year we’re experimenting with growing mung beans at home.

Our theory is that they’ll be no harder than chick peas or French beans, so we’re giving it a go!

We started by planting our mung beans in April and we’ll be blogging about their progress – what works and what doesn’t 😉 – over the coming months.

Here’s the latest mung bean news: Read the rest of this entry

Transplanting Seedlings

If you have started by germinating your seeds indoors, there will come a time when you need to transplant the seedlings – either still in the greenhouse or by planting out into the garden.

Fortunately there are some simple tips for transplanting and pricking out that help you avoid disaster, keeping your seedlings healthy and making sure you don’t lose the entire crop! Read the rest of this entry

Growing Peas Is Easy And Fun!

Peas are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in the garden. As long as you don’t mind sharing some of your crop with the mice and birds – at the pea seedling stage – and you keep them well watered in dry weather, they’ll reward you with a delicious crop of garden peas or mange tout (depending on the variety) within just 8-10 weeks.

Pea seedlings

Pea seedlings - ready to plant out

The only problems I have had with growing peas are:

  1. Growing enough of them!
  2. Eating them before they make it to the kitchen (the kids are particularly good at this!)
  3. Letting them get over-crowded, so they go mildewy in wet weather.

Each year I end up doubling the size of my pea patch, in the vain hope that I’ll harvest enough to get round to storing some, but each year they’re munched faster than you can open the freezer door ;-).

Home-grown, fresh peas, straight from the pod, are deliciously sweet and are amazing to eat raw. You can also grow mini pea sprouts and even pea shoots for delicious summer salads, if you don’t want to wait for the main crop. Here are some top tips for how to grow peas, either in your garden or in containers.

Read the rest of this entry

Saving Pea Seeds

Pea seeds are really easy to save, for planting out next year – assuming you remembered not to munch the lot over the summer! 😉

They pollinate themselves, so don’t easily cross-breed with other peas. This means that the seeds from your favourite plants should grow the same type of plants next year (not the case with runner beans or many other types of seed!). This makes peas a great plant for beginners, starting out on their seed saving journey. It’s even easier than saving bean seeds. Here’s a guide to saving pea seeds.

How to save pea seeds: Read the rest of this entry

Growing Cavolo Nero Kale

Cavolo nero

Cavolo nero
© Veg Patch Diaries

Cavolo nero is a delicious Italian heirloom (traditional) variety of kale. It is seldom found in the shops, yet many find it tastier and more appetising than the more common kale varieties.

It is also know as ‘nero di Toscana’ and the English translation of ‘black cabbage of Tuscany’ or ‘Tuscan kale’.

Not Quite A Cabbage!

It is a member of the brassica family of vegetables (cabbages & stuff) and is planted in spring for harvesting from mid summer through to the following spring. It is easy to grow and requires less effort than many other brassicas, along with being versatile and having great nutritional value. It’s well worth considering adding to your veg plot, especially as you get more harvest for your space than, say, a single cabbage plant.  And there’s more…! Read the rest of this entry