I stopped cutting the spears in mid June to allow the plants to gather strength. They have developed into tall ferny foliage, the whole row is flourishing. The bed needs to be painstakingly hand weeded to keep it free, for once established it is difficult to remove large weeds without damaging the asparagus. Most years I have just left them to support themselves but one year they strained and bent over during a very strong windy spell so I supported them by stretching lines around the whole row. Later in the autumn the foliage will turn yellow, and at this point I will cut down the stems
Mara des Bois
Strawberries and Raspberries
Autumn raspberries should be plentiful enough to crop right through September and into October. Now sunshine has appearsed they should have a better flavour than those tasteless ones I picked in July. The fruits assemble at the top of the bushes, unlike the summer fruiting ones which hide away under the leaves all over the plant. I will cut down this yearís fruiting stems of the summer fruiting variety right to the ground.
The perpetual strawberries will finish producing fruit and the runners will be severed from parent plants. I will remove them from their pots and plant them out on the adjacent bed. By moving them down the bed in this way, some semblance of rotation can be maintained with a bed being freed up in a four yearly cycle.
Broad Bean Seeds
Many varieties of vegetables offer the possibility of collecting seeds. I have already gathered those which formed on the welsh onions. I enjoy sorting the seeds from the surrounding shell, it is an activity for the evening time when the dayís work is finished, and combines well with listening to music. The final gentle blowing away of the light chaff is particularly satisfying, although Mrs Digmyplot prefers me to do this last bit outside. Leeks also produce beautiful flower heads and seeds which also can be shaken into a paper bag when the time is right. They do take a time to reach this condition, so a lot of patience is required.
Legumes lend themselves to collection. When the crop becomes sparse I leave the last ones on the stem to reach maturity and dry out, finally picking them on a dry day and storing them for next year when they are fully dry. I have had success with broad beans, french beans and peas. Rather than just save money on new seed this allows me to expand my range of types, so that I am constantly learning and exploring their tastes.
F1 hybrids donít lend themselves to being used, so I try to avoid buying them in the first place. I think its because they are infertile because of the process through which they are produced, something which I find a bit offputting.
I leave the flowers and wild rocket to self seed, something which they are rather too adept at doing, but I gather the coriander seeds when the plants dry out and use them in the kitchen as well as saving the seed for planting next year. As with all the flowers, I know what the coriander looks like so when it self seeds I leave it alone whenever I can. It does not like to be moved, though.
Blackcurrants are ready for pruning and propagating once the last of the fruit is harvested. A couple of years ago I cut out about one third of the wood, choosing those branches which had borne fruit that year. To propagate I will took a healthy cutting of this yearís growth of about 25cm long, just below a bud at the bottom and just above the bud at the top. The new plant grew from the base so unlike gooseberries and redcurrants, I will left the lower buds intact. I will insert the base of the cuttings in a v shape in the soil (formed by inserting a spade and moving it slightly), so that just over one half of the cutting is below ground. As with all transplants I will press down the soil around the base and water them in. Gooseberries and redcurrants may be propagated in a similar way later in the year, I shall be taking a few cuttings of the latter but since I am the only one who likes gooseberries one plant is plenty for a couple of pies and a few helpings of 'Gooseberry Idiot' ( like Gooseberry Fool but without the cream).
Courgettes & Cucumbers
The crop has finally started to arrive and they will require little attention except vigilance to keep picking them.
Lettuce, Rocket, Salad Onions and Radishes
I hope to be harvesting these as required.
When I get the time I will string the shallots. They are nearly dry now so later in August they should be ready for this.