May/June in a Swaledale vegetable garden

Cheerful buttercups in the meadows around Healaugh

May began chilly and we had some very strong winds. The outside veg stood still and waited and ended up a little battered but from mid-May it started to warm up and become calmer and the veg both inside and outside is doing quite well. We have been cropping pak-choi ‘White Stem’ in the tunnel since the middle of May and the lettuce inside, along with a few strawberries, and the mizuna outside are now ready for picking.

Lettuce in the tunnel. ‘Tom Thumb’, ‘Lollo Rosso’, ‘Little Gem’ and ‘Optima Butterhead’.
Pak choi ‘White Stem’ in the tunnel. Delicious and delicate both cooked and raw.

The veg needing warmth (chilli, squash and aubergines, courgette and tomatoes) were in and out of the tunnel into the house if the weather became chilly but they are still rather small as a few nights we were caught out and they were chilled. We keep repotting the tomatoes which will be planted in the beds in the tunnel once we have finished filling the beds with topsoil and locally sourced horse manure. French beans have enjoyed the warm weather this last 3 weeks and are growing quite quickly now. We have planted, in an end bed with a growing frame, tomatillo (small spherical green and purple fruit) or Mexican Husk Tomato which are eaten raw. I am excited to try these. Once a week, once the tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers have set flowers, the beds will be watered with dilute homemade comfrey solution, rich in potassium to encourage flowering and fruiting.

French beans ‘Cosse Violette’ and ’Wachs Best von Allen’ in the tunnel with a few calabrese alongside.
Tsoi Sim Japanese flowering shoots and leaves from The Real Seed Company.
Different varieties and colours of beetroot

The outside beds

The onions are developing good bulbs but the garlic is slow and does not look too healthy. The potatoes have been ‘earthed up’ twice to prevent the early shoots being frosted and to ensure the developing potatoes are not exposed to light which turns them green and poisonous. The peas have all germinated that were sown as seeds which means the mice didn’t actually find them! We have been careful when sowing outside that we rotated legumes, onions and roots where potatoes were last year, brassicas where legumes, onions and roots were and our potato beds are newly dug which would normally follow brassicas. Any gaps will be filled with sweetcorn, squashes, courgettes and salads when they’re ready to be planted
outside as none of these need to be rotated. In among the rows of veg we have sown wild flowers to attract the insects.

The onions are growing well. The potatoes have been ‘earthed up’. The peas have all come up.

What next?

Successional sowings of legumes, brassicas and roots will continue to be made every few weeks to maintain a constant supply of ready to harvest crops and purple sprouting broccoli and brussel sprouts have been sown which will crop from mid-winter into next spring.

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