Oh peas behave!

Pea Shiraz banner from Sam Corfield

Peas can be sown successionally for a continuous crop throughout the summer

If you love the idea of sowing pea and bean seeds and want to try growing them at home or on your allotment, we asked trained horticulturist, Sam Corfield, to talk you through his pea season. A man who likes to keep things simple, here are his top tips to help you enjoy excellent harvests with minimum fuss. Whether you want to grow juicy garden varieties, succulent sugar snaps or mangetout, this simple guide will have you growing your own peas in no time. 

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And I’m done… kind of!

And I’m done… kind of!

I’m sat in my cottage and the log burner roaring; the smell of burning cat hair fills the room- Martha once again has attempted to melt her tail on the fire door. Outside the leaves have all but dropped and my beard is a scruffy mess!

It’s been a while since I last managed to sit down and excrete horticultural information. The past few months have been even more hectic than the previous year!

I feel slightly lost now that I don’t have to harvest, water and tend to everything 7 days a week.

So apart from abusing your facial hair, what has been happening Sam?

cucumbers

Well, Cucumber Armageddon is complete. I feel rather elated and proud of what I’ve achieved. The plan was to grow every cucumber needed for every meal at the pub- that’s a lot! They regularly serve 300+ meals a day and most include a salad garnish. Apart from couple of days in mid-summer, I did it!!! 1678 straight, wonky and green cucumbers from 86 plants. That’s 19.5 per plant, which isn’t bad. It wasn’t easy but it proves other small businesses could do the same achieving great success.

The most successful varieties from this year are:

mange tout peasGolden Sweet Mange-tout that’s well…sweet.

Shiraz Mange-tout that’s well…purple.

ringed beetrootCandied Beetroot with its vibrant growth rings.

 

 

 

 

 

rainbow carrotsHeirloom Rainbow Carrots picked small and fried in a pan.

Every new crop I trialled at the pub gets reviewed by myself and the chef, every September. This gives us a chance to find out what worked and in some cases what didn’t. We then discuss new varieties and I ramble on about random tropical fruit that might be the next big thing in 2018……keep an eye out for Actinidia arguta (Hardy Kiwi). 

horned melonThe one tropical fruit I’d recommend trying next year is Horned Melons! These peculiar climbers originate from Africa and have been a great talking point in the polytunnel. Once ripened, you can use the pulpy interior to flavour jelly, desserts or cocktails but it is rather ‘snotty’ in texture! The taste is a weird but good fruity banana ish thing.

 

 

 

 

radish seedsFinally, I’m currently trialling Bluemoon and Redmoon radish in pots. You can just about get away with it in a polytunnel/greenhouse/window sill. It’s a good way to test varieties you might have missed in the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

Now I better put the kettle on, light a scented candle and clean burnt cat hair off the fire!!

Martha

Martha

 

The Three C’s – courgettes, cucumbers and cucamelons!

The Three C’s

Every time I offer some knowledge with regards to growing crops for your business, the first question is always, so how long have you been growing the beard?

It’s not really the first, it’s about the 5th question!

They actually want to know the easiest Vegetable/Fruit they can grow and that’s where the three c’s come in.

Number one…..

Courgettes are by far the easiest in terms of germination, care, maintenance and yield!

But I’m not talking about your average green bog standard courgette.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good standard courgette, sliced and cooking in butter on a BBQ but if you’re trying to get people excited when visiting your restaurant, pub or cafe you want something a little different.

Courgette summer ball

At the Pub I only grow a variety called One Ball/Summer Ball. The courgettes are bright yellow and grow to the size of a large tennis ball. They are perfect for hollowing out, stuffing and roasting in the oven.

Other unusual varieties I’d recommend are Eclipse(round), Parador(yellow) and  Safari(stripped).

Number Two…..

I’ve always preferred the taste of a home grow Cucumber, fresh from my Fathers greenhouse. Shop imported cucumbers are just rather tasteless!

So last winter I went on a cucumber internet safari and was blown away with different cucumbers varieties you can actually grow!!

cucmber crystal lemon & Poona Kherra

Two I’ve chosen to grow this year are Poona Kherra, which is an Indian cucumber with a brown/orange skin. It’s really refreshing to eat but you must remove the skin as its super bitter.

The other is called Crystal Lemon/Apple which I’m sure some of you have already tried. They are very vigorous and produce large amounts of round cucumbers. I pick them when slightly green in colour as the skin becomes slightly tough when yellow.

Slice them like a lemon and pop them in your favourite alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverage.

growing cucumbers

I’ve also grown three high yielding varieties which are Carmen, Louisa and Bella. The reason for this is I wanted to try and get the pub to no longer buy in cucumbers throughout the year. That way we don’t have to buy them from abroad, save money and it’s just generally better for the environment.

I’ve grown nearly 100 plants in a new poly tunnel and they’ve produced over 500 cucumbers to date.

cucmbers harvested

It’s safe to say they no longer buy in cucumbers and we’ve even had enough excess to sell them inside the pub!

Number Three

It used to be just Two C’s but then I discovered Cucamelons! These little beauties were said to be the ‘next big thing’ but I’m yet to see them catch on.

I love them; they originate from Mexico which makes them drought resistant. They grow like crazy and produce copious amounts of grape sized fruits which taste like cucumber with a zesty kick.

They are very simple to germinate but can be a little tricky to get going as they can suffer from damping off and drying out but once they are off you can’t stop them.

As you can see from the pictures I tend to grow them up string and let them ramble everywhere.

cucamelons

What can you use them in I hear you ask??

Well, now I’m more than happy to eat them as they are but if someone “forced” a large gin and tonic in front of me I’d chop a couple down the length and throw them in for good measure! They are also lovely in a salad or any fish dish.

You’re not growing them?

Go on……

Please do…….

If you’d like any more info or tips about the varieties listed here, just pop a comment below!

Now where did a leave my gin and tonic…..!

For more cucumber growing tips, recipes, and further cucamelon tips, head to our cucumber hub page.

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