In the Pocket Handkerchief Garden 4 September 2015


With the calendar clicking over into September, and a week’s worth of cool rainy days that drift into the sort of nights that need fluffy socks and a quilt to snuggle under, it feels very autumnal around here, even if in my heart I’m holding out for an Indian Summer and a few more balmy blue sky days.

Space for the Butterflies

And with autumn it seems as if my growing season is coming to the end this year.  I think that a lot of my successes were ‘front loaded’ and have already been harvested and that’s shortened my growing season.

Space for the Butterflies Space for the Butterflies

Still, the garden is far from empty.  In one bed we have a lone onion waiting for the next time I make something that needs an onion, the weeds that I grew while I was away on holiday and the strawberry plants waiting to be moved. But on the other side my blackcurrant bush remains verdant, there’s still a decent amount of chard, though I’m running out of ideas for it (any recipe suggestions?), and the new strawberries had a great season right up until the rain set in, which can hardly be judged to be their fault.

Space for the Butterflies

But I’m paying closest attention to the beans.  I’m not actually sure what kind of beans I’m growing so if anyone recognises them let me know, but we have gone from little baby beanlets to something resembling small green beans.  I’m watching and waiting and as soon as I’ve got a big enough portion to go with supper they’re going in the pot.  Most of them are climbing the wigwam and they’re so pretty I’m seriously tempted to make a bean wigwam next year with room for Pip or Elma to hid inside.  Pip already loves to climb into the beds so I think he’d be all for it.

Space for the Butterflies

The rest of that bed I don’t think is going to be a success story.  Of the two germinating sweetcorn, the littler one has been swallowed up by the bean overflow and the bigger one is just, well not growing any more.  It hasn’t go any bigger since we left for Europe and seeing fields with mile after mile of tall strong corn as we drove through France made me realise that ours is just not meeting its expected developmental milestones.  I’m going to leave it alone for now but I’m not holding out any hopes of homegrown corn on the cob this year and I’m not sure it’s going to make the try again next year list either.

Space for the Butterflies

The ones that will make the list are courgettes and pumpkin.  I’ve now had two attempts at growing them, both times from baby plants not seeds and both times the best I’ve got was minute rotting fruit.  There is another flower on one of the courgette plants at the moment (which is more than the pumpkin managed this year) but I’m not expecting it to turn into a courgette.

I know it’s possible to grow both around here so I’m either really unlucky or I’m doing something wrong.  Next year I think I need more of each so that there are enough flowers to cross pollinate and to not net them so that the bees can get to work.  I’m planning on adding at least one more bed next year so I can designate one or a part of one to be for courgettes and pumpkins to give them a bit more space too and we’ll see how we get on.  Any top tips or if there’s anything obvious I’m doing wrong, please do tell.

Space for the Butterflies

And last but by no means least, I’m harvesting tomatoes. Usually in threes and with the exercise of great restraint to wait until they’re properly ripe and ready.  Eaten warmed by the sun at lunchtime, or snaffled first thing in the morning still dressed in the nights’s dew they are a million miles better than any shop bought tomato ever could be and I am so glad they didn’t die while we were travelling.

And so my thoughts turn to next year.  Before I go back to work I need to sit down with a pen and paper and map out what we want to grow next year and where we can fit it all in, because if this year has taught me anything, it’s that a pocket handkerchief veggie garden is not going to cut it next year.

The Pocket Handkerchief Garden so far:

27 August 2015

6 August 2015

30 July 2015

23 July 2015

16 July 2015

9 July 2015

3 July 2015

25 June 2015

18 June 2015

11 June 2015

4 June 2015

28 May 2015

21 May 2015

14 May 2015

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  • chickenruby 04/09/2015 at 12:29 pm

    I love the way you garden with your unknown beans and trial and error, whenever I’ve grown tomatoes I only end up with 2 or 3 per harvest. Maybe try some straw under the courgettes and pumpkins, could be the ground is too wet

    • Carie 04/09/2015 at 11:34 pm

      Oh that’s a good idea, I’ll have to remember that next year, we do have very heavy soil so it’s certainly a possibility

  • nessjibberjabberuk 04/09/2015 at 2:31 pm

    I grew some dwarf French beans this year. I always grow French beans but I just thought the ‘dwarf’ part meant the size of the beans. Unfortunately it was the size of the plant so I didn’t get a very large crop. Lesson learnt for next year!

    • Carie 04/09/2015 at 11:35 pm

      Oh no! That’s really funny, and as you say, lessons are always learnt for next year – it’s just a relief I’m not relying on my growing to feed my family!

  • Vickie 05/09/2015 at 4:46 pm

    It’s all looking wonderful! There’s plenty that could be sown & grown now if you’re still feeling the call of the raised beds. 🙂

    Our first batch of runner beans at the allotment barely reached a foot off the ground. I ran soil tests and added mulches etc but they remained stunted and I was beginning to think I had a black thumb rather than a green one. It was only when I was sowing a second crop with the remaining seeds that I noticed the word “dwarf” on the packet. Doh!

    • Carie 05/09/2015 at 10:04 pm

      Oh no!! And what can I sew now? I’m thinking Pak Choi and next year’s garlic and onions but I’m game for anything else – it’s go to be the advantage of no snow in the UK, we can grow all the year round!

  • Vickie Rich 06/09/2015 at 8:25 pm

    There’s kale and ordinary broccoli if you buy them as seedlings. You can also sow turnips, ’60 days’ broccoli (like PSB but yellow and quick to mature), winter lettuce and radish now. Next month you could sow overwintering peas and broad beans.

    • Carie 07/09/2015 at 10:24 pm

      Awesome! I’ve never got the obsession with kale, it just tastes a bit too worthy for me but I love broccoli so I shall be on the hunt for some seedlings!

  • Stephanie 08/09/2015 at 9:06 pm

    I think sweetcorn needs other sweetcorn (same variety) to pollinate and the best success i’ve had in our small garden was when I grew it in a block so the wind could pollenate it whichever way it blew! I haven’t grown them for a while though but next year I plan to grow them on my new allotment. Did you find out what the beans were?

    • Carie 12/09/2015 at 10:10 pm

      Ah that’s a good idea – I planted a whole patch of sweetcorn but only two germinated – not exactly the easy version it claimed on the pack!

  • Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault 10/09/2015 at 8:35 am

    You are like me – enjoying the harvests of today but already planning how to make them even better next year! #HDYGG

    • Carie 12/09/2015 at 9:51 pm

      This year was my first real year of trying to grow things so I’m right at the steep bit of the learning curve and there’s lots to change for next year!

  • Mammasaurus 17/09/2015 at 9:41 am

    It’s so cute that Elma likes climbing in to the beds, start ’em young I say! lovely when a garden can be enjoyed by the whole family isn’t it? Last year was fab for beans – lets hope this year follow suit!
    Thank you for joining in x

  • sally 17/09/2015 at 11:55 pm

    It is kind of addictive isn’t it? I blame Kim and Yanic with their amazing, inspirational garden posts, shouldn’t have been allowed! It’s hard enough keeping on top of the house never mind aiming for the garden too!