September - what's happening in your container garden?

We’ve had one of the strangest growing years I can remember here in Newcastle. Apart from a few scorching days (well, 30 degrees - hot for here!), the summer was mostly cool and overcast. August was the wettest on record. Soft fruits and runner beans have done really well. While tomatoes and chillies have grown well but have been super slow to ripen. Even the tomatoes in the polytunnel have hardly ripened…

How is your container garden doing? What is doing well and not so well? Are you emerging from a summer of drought and heat - or gloom and wet like us?

We’ve had a proper mixture here in York. Lots of rain so slugs are loving it. Tomatoes are finally ripening in quantities, french beans have tailed off quite fast, chard is starting to do well after the first lot got slugged. Pea shoots doing really well, and the salad I’ve got hardening off is coming on.

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On the french beans front most of the more modern dwarf varieties have been grown for the supermarket trade or freezing, where they want to pick all the crop at once, so they don’t keep producing as well as older varieties such as The Prince. It’s worth noting that flat podded French beans usually crop longer if you keep picking them too. Of late I’ve concentrated on climbing types, and older ones of those, coming back to Blue Lake, Cobra, and Hunter for their combination of flavour and long cropping. You can extend the cropping season of climbing French beans not only by making sure you keep them picked and feeding them, but removing damaged foliage so it doesn’t harbour diseases. And you often find the ones you missed under that damaged foliage so they don’t start to ripen and send that “no need to flower” signal back to the plant. This year in Ireland everything seems to be stopping production early though - the earliest Autumn I ever remember.

I thought it was my novice growing skills that had resulted in the tomatoes only just about starting to ripen now. I’m glad to hear it isn’t just me!

I think most of the UK and Ireland is having the same problem this summer. Between late frosts, heat waves, droughts, soakings, autumn coming early everything is topsy turvy. Though it seems to have been a great summer for raspberries everywhere

kathryn

We did have some really nice raspberries :slight_smile:

In just a couple of months, I’ve picked my first ever purple radish grown on my balcony space.
This was delicious and much more tasty than anything bland from the supermarket.
Quite strong with a real kick to it. I could get used to living like this![Uploading:

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That’s a very handsome radish Andy.

We’ve been lucky this summer weather-wise. Here in Worcestershire we have had extreme heat - garden thermometer up to 38 degrees C in two separate heat-waves - but just as we were tiring of watering (and worrying about running out of water on our allotment, where there’s no mains water) we got what we needed from the sky, delivered in usable amounts! And then we got more lovely summery weather.

As for what’s doing well in pots, the trombas in the ground on the allotment are happier than those in tree pots: they do want very big pots and lots of water, don’t they! Cucamelons are finally fruiting well, as are the achochas. Climbing beans of all kinds in pots have been a bit short of water despite my best efforts, while those in the ground have fared a little better. New Zealand spinach is and has been wonderful, although I always forget how late it starts doing its thing - nothing to harvest until late July no matter when I sow it. Outdoor toimatoes have been a revelation, even in the colder weather we had at time. The variety is Cherokee Smoky, seeds bought from Pennard Plants. I will save some seed for the swap. These tomatoes are so big that they can break the plants, and they are hardly pretty. They are so dense that you can slice them a few mm thick to top a sandwich - yum!

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My most productive french beans are dwarf varieties - Aquillon and Cupidon from Real Seeds. They produce more bean than leaf, and go on all season, starting early and finishing late. I couldn’t agree with you more about most varieties being bred for single harvests, which is NOT what home gardeners want. I don’t want to be sowing seeds of anything every 2 or 3 weeks, as seed packets will have you do. I’d rather have a variety more suited to cut-and-come-again. :slight_smile:

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I don’t think I’ve ever tried a variety from Real Seeds that didn’t do well. Absolutely my go to company these days. I’m just hoping Brexit won’t make it too difficult for them to send to the EU - I already buy from them for friends in the USA and forward on. A wonderful seed company

kathryn

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Hope your tomatoes are ripening a bit better now Natalie? Finally, here in Newcastle they are - been picking bowlfuls and LOTS still to come. Just hoping we don’t get too early a frost so they keep going for another month or two.

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Absolutely! Real Seeds have been my favourite since I first bought from them nearly two decades ago. I love that they grow things that are suitable for this climate, and often offer unusual veg, not just unusual varieties. As for Brexit… [grinds teeth]…

Another real seeds fan here though I have been shopping around too as they can be pricy. I’m growing some of their black radishes in containers, and they’re beginning to get to an edible size on some plants, though I doubt they’ll get anywhere close to the size they would in the ground. Interesting about the beans @brooks.rachel, I’m growing cosse violette from real seeds, and whilst theyv’e kept going, it’s just a couple of beans at a time at the moment, maybe I should try a dwarf one. I tend to find dwarf ones stop a lot sooner.

I have some good baby beetroot coming now, and some salad leaves. Pea shoots are good to bulk them out, as 3 mustard leaves and a pinch of mizuma doesn’t make a salad.

I think it depends on the variety how long they go on for - as well as the conditions, of course. The great thing about bush beans (I use this term to distinguish between what I think of as dwarf beans - these! - and others sold as dwarf beans, but needing something to climb on for about 50 cm) is that they grow quickly to the fruiting stage, and as they are so small, they are also easy to fleece at the beginning and end of the season. I do grow Cherokee trail of tears as well (climbing french) and they, too, go on until it gets cold - but they are much slower starting and less easy to protect. I absolutely refuse to sow every X weeks - no, I want varieties that keep going all season!

As for prices, the seed swap here is a great way to share, and of course if you like a bean you can keep some seed - french beans don’t cross very easily. :slight_smile:

I’ve just planted out salads for winter - so far, land cress, corn salad, lettuces, claytonia, parsley and mispoona, which probably won’t survive right through. I’m getting a bit carried away this year as we have a new polytunnel…

I love the flavour of Cherokee Trail of Tears but here in Ireland it doesn’t perform anywhere near its best unless it’s in a polytunnel and even then it would rather be in a climate nearer its own. The clue is in the name. It likes the weather of Oklahoma, where I sowed it out of doors at the end of March and it simply flew up, but stopped producing when the weather hit 100F in late July. At that point it stopped growing and ripened to a very good drying bean, which is what the Cherokee bred it for. Anywhere from the Appalachians to the midWest states it is very happy, but it likes to be sown direct into warm ground and grown on in a warm summer, with a shorter summer day length than we have. Night comes much earlier so much further south

kathryn

Perhaps you’ve been spoilt by seeing CToT growing at its very best! :slight_smile: I find it does at least as well as other climbing french beans for me here in Worcestershire, UK.

Yes they are thank you. We’ve had quite a few tomatoes from 3 plants. I also have a couple of plants that began flowering last week - I doubt much will happen with them it’s going to get too cold too fast for them to do anything.