Although I find it very difficult to comprehend I have to accept that there are people out there who don’t find photos of vintage machinery interesting. If you are one of these strange folk I apologise for the attached images, there will be some lovely lettuces etc… further down the page.
I’m not one of these nutcases who know the difference in the blast pipe diameter on a Wainwright ‘H’ class tank engine betwween 1904 and 1907 but steam engines do strike a very comforting chord when I come across them. I have to blame my Father for this as he had a steamroller when I was a child. The smell of hot milk and baby food were so quickly followed by the smell of hot oil and coal smoke that I may have confused the two in malleable young mind.
Anyway, seeing as it was Father’s day on Sunday and it was his fault I have this weakness, I took himself for a spin on the Bluebell Steam Railway in Sussex. I was pretty ‘fired up’ anyway but excitement reached fever pitch when we came across a field of steamrollers and other engines chuffing about at one of the stations.
If you have been effected by any of the photos in this article and are thinking of buying a steamroller I can tell you the ones made by Aveling & Porter are the prettiest. If you need someone to drive your new roller, give me a call.
As promised please see a photo of some butterhead lettuces which I took this morning. The one on the bottom right is currently swilling around in my stomach as I’ve just eaten it for lunch, the rest won’t be too far behind.
There are still plenty of vegetables, including lettuces, that you can sow throughout the season if you have any gaps in your garden or if you you want to start a new vegetable plot. Remember gardening books usually give you the optimum time to sow vegetables but you can usually sow a bit later and still get a very worthwhile crop. As you’ll see below there are also vegetables that you need to sow in mid season to have them ready at the right time.
I am the perfect marriage of someone who is busy, disorganised and suffers from chronic insomnia so nothing in my garden (or life) gets done when it’s supposed to. I am always sowing stuff later than I should and still have a garden bursting with tasty vegetables. Here’s my list of what to sow in mid June:
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Purple sprouting broccoli is a handy crop usually timed to fill the ‘hungry gap’ in Spring when stored Winter vegetables have run out and before any new Spring sowings are ready to harvest. Growers often sow sprouting broccoli too early causing it to produce heads in late Autumn and run to seed in the Spring. Sow in mid June for delicious Spring harvests when you need them.
Winter cabbage is another one people get wrong, usually only thinking about it when it’s too late. To be fair, we are at about the latest you can sow in mid June but if you get it going in the next week or so you will have lovely crinkly heads of cabbage in late Autumn which will happily sit in the ground in Winter and can be harvested as required.
Calabrese is the stuff that’s called broccoli in the shops, i.e. the large, closely packed green heads. Calabrese is relatively fast growing in cabbage family terms so can be sown up to late June. Unlike most other large brassicas, calabrese does not need very wide spacings to thrive so it’s a good one for smaller gardens. The size of the heads depends on how close you plant them, for large heads leave 55cm all round, for smaller heads leave 25cm all round.
It depends on the climate where you live but for me the end of May/early June is the best time to sow carrots as they germinate quickly and usually avoid the first generation of the carrot root fly. I also sow carrots in mid to late June for a later crop, in fact I’ll be putting more in at the weekend. There are any number of varieties to choose from but personally I like to sow ‘Chanteany Red Cored’ as they are one of the best for flavour. I also sow ‘Starca F1’, a very good uniform carrot well suited to late sowing and ‘Rothild’, another great tasting carrot.If you have a heavy soil grow stump rooted carrots as the long, tapered ones won’t grow well. If you have not had success with carrots in the past (probably due to a heavy soil) they will grow well in deep pots of compost.
Beetroot can be sown up to the end of July, even later if you have a polytunnel. As beetroot generally doesn’t suffer from pests or disease (you don’t need to worry about crop rotation) and doesn’t require a whole lot of space it is handy to fill random spaces around the garden. I start early beetroot off in modules but summer sowings are better done direct in the ground. Slugs do eat beetroot seedlings but will usually go for something else if there is a choice so chances are you will be successful.
Kohl Rabi is pretty easy to grow and has a very pleasant sweet and peppery flavour but I was never quite sure what to do with it. Everyone says it makes a very tasty addition to a potato gratin (which is true) but I think it’s at its best grated into a salad or a slaw, I think it tastes better than cabbage. You can also make a very good creamy soup with it.
I would sow kohl rabi in a modular tray to plant out later. Spacing when planted is only 30cm x 30cm so again, a good one for a smaller garden.
Lettuce can be comfortably sown outside until the end of July, if you have a greenhouse or tunnel you can extend this and can grow lettuce for 9-10 months of the year. Due to it’s speed of growth, lettuce is another useful filler for gaps around the garden and can be planted alongside widely spaced crops to use the space efficiently.
For example, if you’re planting Winter cabbage seedlings you will have 50-60cm of space between them which won’t be needed for 12 weeks until the cabbage has grown to fill the void. A lettuce takes 8-10 weeks from seed to harvest so will be gone before the cabbage grows into the space. Filling redundant space also has the advantage of crowding out weeds so will reduce maintenance.
I nearly had a seizure yesterday when I saw radishes in the fridge that my wife had bought in the supermarket. Radishes are the easiest things to grow, take very little space and are ready 4 weeks after sowing so it is with deep shame that I must admit I don’t have any in the garden. This omission can and will be corrected now as radishes can be sown until the end July.
There are a number of types of radish generally divided into Summer and Winter varieties. Summer radishes (the small ones like ‘Cherry Belle’ or ‘French Breakfast’) can be sown now while Winter varieties (‘Waternelon’, ‘China Rose’, ‘Black Spanish’, ‘Daikon’) are better sown in July/August as earlier sowings are likely to run to seed.
Spinach can be sown from April until August, it has great flavour when harvested fresh and is easy to grow so one I’d also recommend. If you want enough for full meals you need to grow quite a lot but you can harvest it as a ‘cut an come again’ crop by harvesting a few outside leaves from each plant. If you don’t have the space it is still worth growing a few plants as fresh leaves make a great addition to salads or omelettes.
Spinach can be prone to bolting in hot Summers so if you haven’t grown spinach before it looks like this is your year……
Turnips also like cool, moist conditions and can be sown until the end of July. I don’t like them very much so they don’t get a photo or much of a description.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist it. We also went to Brooklands historic motor racing track and saw this dark blue beauty. Phwooar!