Sowing carrots, I rub seeds out between fingers and thumb, as I walk

Mid June blog, rapid growth of vegetables and weeds, new intersowing, seed quality, garlic harvest, watering

The cold spring is a distant memory! We have had three weeks of warm weather with day temperatures averaging 22 C and night temperatures averaging 9C 48F. Light levels are at a maximum so many plants are catching up, though not all.

Sowing, intersowing

It’s a great time for sowing carrots, beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli for next spring (see video), and calabrese broccoli for autumn. All of these will give bigger harvest if you can sow them within the next week or so.

If you have run out of space, you can sow seeds between any vegetable where there is enough room, and when that first planting will be finishing within 4 to 6 weeks. Examples include garlic, salad onions, and lettuce which you might be picking every week.

Garlic coming ready, softnecks first

Garlic we are harvesting here until now (14th June) is all undercover, where the extra warmth brings growth forward by a week or 10 days. The greenhouse garlic came ready even earlier, a week before the polytunnel garlic, demonstrating the extra warmth under glass, and from the brick wall as well.

The main way to judge readiness is by pulling soil/compost back from any developing bulb and seeing how well formed it is. Look for some differentiation of cloves as they swell. Also if you have really bad rust with almost all leaves yellow, it’s best to harvest, and bulbs will be smaller!

Hardneck garlic is not ready yet, for another three weeks or so. Cut off the flower stems to eat now, they are called scapes.

When you peel bulbs at harvest time to clean them, and cut off the roots, they store nicely. This is easier than cleaning them when everything is dry.

Bindweed now supersonic

All perennial weeds are now growing super fast and can be quite intimidating. At Homeacres, the older garden is now clear of weeds such as bindweed and couch grass, which were common here in 2013 when I arrived.

The no dig approach and mulching work very well, but in the first year you need to keep removing new growth, or keep it covered to exclude light from new leaves, and starve the existing roots of access to food. In the new field, back in April when I saw how much bindweed was pushing through, I decided to lay black polythene over the ground we had already mulched with cardboard and compost.

Then we planted potatoes and squash. Both can grow at wide spacing, meaning fewer holes in the plastic, but even so we are pulling a lot of bind weed which is coming up through these holes.

Planting ideas

Here are two tips from no dig gardeners. Firstly, Martina from Wiltshire grew Wheelers Imperial spring cabbage, “under cover two years ago, cut the beautiful hearts last spring, and left the roots in the ground. They sprouted up and I have been using the young leaves. Got through the winter and then they produced loads of very tasty flower shoots, but also sent out side shoots that created more proper hearts!”

Rhys Jaggar in London likes a regular supply of salad onions. He transplants “0.25sqm blocks with successive sowings of 25 spring onion clumps – the first lot are being harvested one clump a day through June, the second lot are now growing well for harvesting in July. The quality is fabulous”.

Here we just transplanted some cabbage for autumn, after removing spinach which was flowering. I shall keep a mesh over these brassicas for at least six weeks. Some are interplanted between beetroot which will finish soon.

Find more ideas at the RHS Hampton Court no dig show garden 6th to 11th July – scroll to bottom.

Pyralid damage

Just a quick word on this to let you know how we are receiving huge amounts of notifications about damage to plants. A lot of the time this is clearly the pyralid weedkiller, when you see deformed new growth at the top of plants, which is how it kills them.

Some contaminated composts include New Horizon, mushroom compost, green waste compost, B&Q compost and even Dalefoot organic compost. This is not to say that all of these composts are contaminated, because most are not. It’s a matter of bad luck, when you might buy a sack which has some of this horrible poison in.

Seed quality, lack of!

This is a different problem I have suffered here for a while, and this year it’s worse. This will be the last time I grow Boltardy beetroot, unless it comes from a source I am really sure about. Some smaller seed companies are maintaining the quality/traits of its roots.

Saving your own seed is quite a job for beetroot. In March we transplanted eight of the finest beetroots from last December’s harvest. Once the seed is gathered and we have some growth by next summer, I shall know if it’s feasible to restore some quality to this once noble variety. I suspect the genetic quality is now poor.

Watering

It is very much that time of year, according to whatever weather is happening. In recent warm weather we have been watering every 2 to 3 days undercover, and the same for outdoor salad plants, peas, celery and new plantings. We do this by hand, mostly with a hose connected to mains water. Longer term I am looking at buying a water tank and pump.

You can water at any time of day, even in bright sunlight if necessary. Give a decent amount so that it soaks in. It’s better to water less often and more deeply.

Plants we have not watered yet include bulb onions, potatoes, beetroot and broad beans.

Courses here

It is a great joy to welcome some of you here again, and I only wish it were possible for more people to learn from what you can see here. Only I still don’t know if an open day is going to be feasible. This page has information about courses here, and the few places available still, in autumn mostly.

We have a good team of helpers, from Nicola my PA who sorts the admin when you book, to Briony who welcomes you and works with Kate the chef, whose amazing dishes are fantastic for showing the flavours and colour of homegrown food.

73 thoughts on “Mid June blog, rapid growth of vegetables and weeds, new intersowing, seed quality, garlic harvest, watering

  1. Hello Charles, I am looking for sprouting broccoli – not to be found here in Sweden though…
    Do you know of a business I could order from?
    Variety?

    No dig is spreading rapidly in Sweden, much thanks to your beautiful videos!

    1. That is great news 🙂
      For the broccoli, sorry I cannot help! It’s not common for your climate I guess, and good luck.

  2. Hi Charles,
    Regarding the planting of leeks into holes to gain a blanched stem.
    Advice often states that one should be careful not to introduce soil into the hole when initially watering in the roots – since this may result in particles becoming trapped between the “over lapping leaves” and this causing gritty leeks to be harvested.
    Is it not the case that these initial leaves are on the outside of the plant stem and future growth occurs from the interior – therefore, any so called trapped soil from initial planting should not be a future problem as these leaves will most probably have withered away by the time harvesting comes about.
    Taking care at a later date to ensure that soil is not introduced between the growing leaves I presume is recommended.
    So, the advice as initially mentioned – Truth or fallacy ?
    Your thoughts would be most welcome.
    Many regards,
    Peter.

    1. Hi Peter
      This is interesting because I have not heard such a reason for leaving a hole open. I agree that growth happens from the inside, with outer leaves slowly decaying all the time. By the harvest, those initial outer leaves will be long gone, so I see the initial statement as untrue.

      1. Hi Charles – thank you for your reply. Gratefully received.
        Your response did tweak my brain though – since you had not heard of such a reason for leaving a hole open. That suggests to me that you understand that the hole is left open for other reasons!
        Realising you are limited with response time to individuals, I shall delve further into the culture of leeks to establish the reason for planting in such a manner. May be growing for a green stemmed harvest is easier – but now I have a bee under my bonnet.
        Regards, Peter

    2. Hi Charles, I have had several of my Boltardy beetroot running to seed this year. Luckily I’d seen your comments about it or I might have thought it was something I was or wasn’t doing.
      That apart though, it is my first year of No Dig and some of the plot is basically bought compost on top of cardboard. Would this make matters worse? However, my French Breakfast radishes have all blown up like Zeppelins and are really good. Does the compost consolidate itself more in future years?

      1. Hi Linden.
        It sounds like your cardboard might be too dry if it has not decomposed. Normally within eight weeks of putting it on to say weeds, it softens and some new weed stems push upwards towards the light, and need removing, while the compost settles and starts to be eaten by soil organisms.
        If ever you lay compost in dry conditions, it’s worth walking on it to firm it down. And for cardboard laid in dry conditions, it’s worth watering at that stage.

  3. Thanks for all the amazing content. I’ve gone full no dig this year and overall I’m thrilled with it…it just makes sense! One quick question re. Beetroot though. I’m growing Pablo and a golden one who’s name I forgot. Lots of the leaves have gone slimy and dropped off at the stalk…almost like they are rotting. Roots are not swelling and they seem to have just stopped. Very strange…any thoughts?

  4. Hi Charles,

    Thanks. Great update. I realise I’m missing out on a great resource here. I’m going to make a point of reading these comment threads under the blog articles and updates.

    Love the quarter square metre salad onion idea. (I’m adding another 10 x 30ltr containers to the 12 x 35 we have our potatoes in so I’m looking at all the things I can plant into them including salad onions, carrots and so on. )

    Our first gardening year last year, we sowed Boltardy, Touchstone Gold and Boldor but ran out of space and only planted the Boltardy. It seemed to go ok but I have no previous experience to compare with.

    This spring I sowed the same Boltardy seeds. We had very poor germination. I planted the best and composted the remainder. Then I sowed more from an unopened seed packet also bought in 2020. Germination seemed better. I ordered fresh Boltardy seed as well. I guess I will need to keep an eye on the harvest this year and look out for your recommendations for alternatives.

    1. Thanks Neil.
      Since you have very limited growing space, I recommend you buy Pablo F1 beetroot seeds, because they grow proportionately more root compared to
      leaf. Or the variety Jannis if you can find it.

  5. Once again, great to see things to aspire to. My Graffiti still looks like a big seedling but was sown and planted at the same time as yours. More fleece required I think…
    I’ve had a recurrent issue with lettuce germination. Feb sowings produced loads but I’ve done three early June sowings now and I’m struggling to get the number of plants I need (only 40). Is it the temperature, the seed, or the sowing depth or something else I’m doing wrong? I had the same issue last year. The Feb sowings have been brilliant but I’m worried I may not have any to replace them.

    1. Thanks, and I wonder why. Maybe they dried in the sun, were too hot. Mine come up fine in the hot greenhouse but I keep the tray in shade until there are first leaves.

      1. Same problem of germination for me. Did early June, same seed in trays on windowsill as earlier in the year. Got 2! I put it down to the hot spell of weather we had just then. But who knows.

  6. I’m surprised on everyone complaining about Boltardy. I’m using PremierSeedsDirect seed which is cheap as chips (and I assume ‘bulk’ quality at 99p for 1500 seeds) and the beetroot are mostly round and even.

    Sure there are a few runts but I assumed that they just had a hard life, I’d say 85% are what I hoped for. Cannot comment on the flavour as this is my first year of beetroot and don’t have anything to compare.

    1. Ditto for me! I’ve just started harvesting multisown Boltardy (from Premier Seeds) which formed good round globes and taste delicious.
      1st March I sowed 3 seeds per module using a brand new CD60, in Dalesfoot seed compost. Transplanted out late March and covered in fleece during April.
      Wish I could attach a photo!

  7. Hi Charles,

    I’ve just planted my first plugs from the CD 60 cell tray – 60 Lettuce seedlings. I must say I’m impressed with the results. I pricked seedlings into the tray filled with Klasmann Compost just over two weeks ago and growth has been fantastic. The plugs are really compact.
    One observation I would make is that plants in these trays dry out fairly quickly. Now that could be because it has been reasonably warm here in Ireland of late but I also thing the reduced amount of compost in each cell has a bearing on this. Not a problem but I believe people should be aware.
    One last thing. Have you tried multisowing in these trays? Have you an article or video on the subject?
    All the best and thank you for an excellent product. Garden Centers etc shouldnt be allowed to sell anything but the CD 60!

    1. Hi Don
      Yes the CD 60’s can dry out quickly in hot sun. I use large grow-bag trays which hold several CD 60’s and i just pop a half inch of water in the tray and they absorb it from the bottom, which also avoids knocking the foliage with a watering can. Yes Charles has shown multi-sowing in these, and this was one of the reasons he worked with the manufacurer to develop these. I have successfully multi-sown spring onions and beetroot in these as well as single plant lettuce, basil etc. I do however, disagree that only 60’s should be sold as I personally prefer the 40’s for peas, leeks (both multi-sown) and sweet corn (singles) as they do better with more space/compost.

    2. Thanks for posting this Don and I’m happy that your results are good. Your point about the drying out is correct, and relates to the positive fact that these plugs use less compost than many others, which is one reason why seedlings really like them. There is more air, and less sogginess in the smaller volume.

      That does of course mean either transplanting them younger, or potting on. We do the former and were transplanting lettuce yesterday.
      It would be nice to do a video about them and yes we do multisow beetroot and onions for example, successfully!

    3. I recently bought some of the CD60 trays. I’m liking them so far although I’ve only just sowed the first thing in them.

      I do like the size. We have other trays from ContainerWise. The 40 cell are a good size for lots of things but I suspect for some things it’s a larger volume of compost than the seedling needs. (as an example, I just potted on some basil from some 40L cells and although they looked in need of more room for the leaf size, the roots were nowhere near running out of room). The 77 cell ones I find are less than ideal as they encourage me to sow too many seeds for our small growing space, I find them harder to remove the plugs when transplanting, they dry out very easily, and they feel somewhat less versatile. The CD 60 seems like it bridges the gap between those two. I’m not sure but I can imagine selling the 77L trays and keeping a mixture of CD60 and 40L. One issue I find with all these trays is I wish they fitted in standard sized seed trays as we don’t have a greenhouse so watering in the conservatory can get really messy and we have to put them in something to catch the water that comes through. The 40L and 77L ‘kinda’ fit into a seed tray but the CD60? not really. I think those cheap semi disposable module trays fit quite nicely into seed trays but I can’t bring myself to use those. I’ve finally lost patience with the conservatory chaos and I’ve ordered some Garland ‘Maxi’ trays. Fingers crossed they should hold three x CD60 or 40L trays for watering. Next step, replace the pop up camping table with some actual shelves. 🙂

  8. Many thanks, Charles for another always informative and helpful blog. Good to know I have not been the only one with problematic Boltardy beet. I now grow Jannis, which is consistently good.
    I am having real problems with Melcourt Sylvagrow this season, esp the MP with JI, for starting brassicas, especially collard greens, my favourite veg, which are not a common crops in UK.. May be its the quality of the seed? They germinate ok but getting them to grow on is a real problem. The roots seem really feeble. I always water from the bottom and check very carefully when they need watering. Is anyone else having similar problems? and any tips on getting brassicas going most welcome. Never used to have these problems!

    1. Cheers Pauline and it sounds a compost problem, not seed.
      Melcourt quality varies to an annoying degree!

    2. I am having problems with my brassicas. Using B&Q Home Care compost. They germinate but when they produce first true leaves they stop growing and many die. I am watering from below and taking care not to overwater. I have never had this problem before. If the compost is the problem can you please advise about which compost would give good results. I live in north east Scotland and it’s difficult buying compost that is not widely available. Some companies won’t deliver here or charge extortionate prices for delivery.

      1. Sorry to hear this and it may be old compost as well as poor compost! Some survive a year better than others.
        I can’t really advise because of the lack of consistency in each product, and the fact that money are not available in your area.

    3. I’m using Melcourt Sylvagrow for the first time and am having all sorts of problems with it. One bag when opened was a bright rust colour. Particle size is large and I find it dries out very quickly, forming a hard crust when used in my cell trays. I have lost a lot of seedling to damping off. I am now trying Dalefoot which has a much lighter, fluffier texture.

    4. I’m not impressed with melcourt, I had really poor germination with it, it almost seems insufficiently composted. I’m mixing it it 1/3 to 2/3 dalefoot, to make the dale foot less coarse and seems to work ok although I find dale foot holds too much water for high germination rates

    5. Re melcourt compost. First bag of melcourt rhs approved compost was fantastic growing large healthy tomato plants. Bought a second bag on this basis. It’s like chalk an d cheese….nothing thriving sick looking yellow /purple toms and brassicas

      1. This is just not good enough! If you are on social media, it would help everyone if you share this experience and also please write to the company, they need to know. Melcourt do care and will be upset to know this.
        It is a general issue with peat free, and the green waste alternatives not being fully organised.

  9. I can’t say I’ve been having the Boltardy problems everyone here is describing: yes, this year they are a bit delayed due to the spring cold, but each clump has 4 or so well shaped beets. I got my seed from Seed Cooperative.

    I’ve also sown Pablo using seeds from Medwyn Williams and they are as good as ever.

    This year I am also trying a storage beet called Robuschka, again from Seed Cooperative, and they were more vigorous than Pablo during the germination/early growth phase in the modules. Time will tell how big they grow this summer/autumn.

    1. Hi Rhys, second year for Robuschka for me, purchased from Bingenheimer Saatgut (who supply Seed Cooperative). I like the beets from this variety, and also a stablemate variety called Jannis. The vigour and germination from the German seeds is excellent with most up and showing after three day, four at most.

  10. Hi Charles
    Same her boltardy rubbish , but to cap that we have a lot of buildings
    in the area going up with lots of distant noise and and machinery moving,
    so now we have a new past on our allotments , pesky Rabbits,
    having got hold of alderman peas and copied exactly how you sowed yours in your vid and watched them sprout then planted them out I was so pleased with the results, then one day once they were about 5ins tall another plot holder told me we had rabbits, and sure enough they had struck, nibbled down rather a lot, but I pit fleece round them and now they are nearly 3 feet high , so they do come back, but I know you have said you that you also have rabbits, do you not suffer their bad habits,

    1. Hi Reg, and that is frustrating for you.
      Well done on protecting the peas enough, because rabbits don’t seem good at climbing!

  11. Thanks for a really helpful blog post. Particularly interested in the garlic! I have quite a bit of rust on my garlic, but there are still some green leaves and the bulbs are still small, so I am leaving it a bit longer. Can I compost the rusty leaves, or should I put them in the municipal food waste bin?

    1. Hi Anne, sounds familiar! I compost the rusty leaves, also leek leaves with rust on. I think the spores infect more from floating in air from elsewhere, than from being in soil.

    1. Thanks Kate, and yes that is certainly a way to kill weeds with roots that are not too deep, quite quickly! I am not sure it would work on weeds such as convolvulus. I hope you cope with the heat!

  12. Hi Charles! Loving the blog posts. Another shout for poor old Boltardy! It’s done. Two years and poor results so this year tried Pablo F1 upon your recommendation and have a full crop of lovely big globular beets!

    This is my second year no dig. First year was a bit sketchy (mainly due to sowing errors, planting delays, lack of watering, etc) but massive MASSIVE improvement this year!! Peat free compost has had a whole year to mature in raised beds, topped up with homemade compost, but since following your Course 2 I have all my sowings, plantings on time and spacings optimised. Everything is flourishing and only the teeny tiniest weeds that occasionally blow in! Marvellous!!!

    1. Lovely to read this Elliott and well done. You now have lovely fertile soil!
      Please give a shout out for Course 2, or post a review here 🙂

  13. I too have problems with Boltardy beetroot. Not growing it again.

    Sproutings from the Real Seed Co.’s Sutherland Kale is absolutely delicious. Picked the leaves from last Summer & still picking them & the sproutings. Amazing Kale.

  14. Thanks for the update Charles
    I’ve been giving my broad beans a soaking once or twice a week as I thought keeping them quenched was useful in the battle against blackfly which are pretty bad at the moment. I noticed you haven’t watered yours yet and just wondered why? Mine were planted in the Winter and are now setting pods. Thanks, Ant

    1. Hi Ant, I am rationing my water and the broad beans can manage.
      That is a pity you have them on autumn sown beans, which normally resist the blackfly.
      You are right that watering helps!

    2. We are new to broad beans this year. Left too late so debated whether to sow and plant at less than ideal time of year but decided to go for it. Masterpiece Green Longpod. Mr Fothergill’s. August 2020 seed packet. Germination wasn’t bad but we had to sow a few extra for two rows. Transplanted May 10th. Decided we will learn from them despite the late planting and pull out when appropriate even if early and poor crop. I saw a video from someone saying that ants ‘farm’ blackfly for the nectar they collect. The ants have been all over the plants for weeks and now I’m seeing we have some little black flies on our plants. The ants do indeed seem to be ‘tending’ the flies. Very odd. The ants seemed to arrive before the flies? I tried to keep our beans well watered when young but then the warmer drier weather arrived and I’ve continued to water them quite liberally. I’m new to gardening so I do tend toward a habit of overwatering which I know I should resist. I somehow think If I don’t water every few days everything will die. 🙂 Maybe our generous watering of the beans is keeping blackfly numbers down? The plants do seem healthy and vigorous so far. I’ll keep an eye out for fly numbers increasing.

  15. Thanks for all the wonderful advice Charles, I have stopped growing Boltardy, it’s quality has become really bad, as you say a small inedible, tasteless crops. I was blaming myself for inadequate watering…
    A shame as we are dry here in Norfolk it was my go to beetroot.

  16. Hi Charles – great to read, as always… I’ve been checking on my garlic and some bulbs have a slimy grey covering particularly at the end where the stalk is – a bit like a mold… I’m ignoring it at the moment, and leaving the bulbs in the ground – but not sure if I’m doing the right thing, or what it is, or why – any ideas?

    1. Hi is this the feared white rot? Have got this in my allotment, don’t want to wait 20 years for it to die off so am going to try the Oregen Uni idea of watering in spring with garlicy water for a couple of years to see if this works. Any other suggestions?
      As usual, thanks Charles for all the excellent advice
      David

  17. Hi Charles, I thought I’d mention re: pyralid that even here in Norway I suspect some of the damage I’ve experienced this year has been down to this (I’d thought it was the cold weather causing stunting and yellowing, but in the same short bed rows growth is wildly different which seems to correspond to where I spread different compost). I am a member of Økologisk Norge (Eco Norway) organisation and receive their Ren Mat (Pure Food) magazine where this summer there is a 4 page article on this problem – just in Norway – with some really interesting investigative journalism.
    Hearteningly, regenerative ag and market gardening (including No Dig) are both being highlighted, so hopefully a more sustainable way of farming will become more mainstream.
    My old Boltardy seed from Premier Seeds (bought in 2018) is still going ok, slightly poorer germination, and the Johnsons seed I’ve bought to replace it seems fine, but I’m thinking about attempting to seed save, so the info about how to go about it is helpful – thank you!

    1. Helen, thanks for your helpful feedback.
      Yes old Boltardy would probably grow better!
      And good luck with pyralid healing

  18. Love all the great info as always! I grow a ton of garlic (3,000), and for the first time I have a huge leaf rust issue. Very wet, hot and humid spring and early summer here in zone 6b Ohio, USA. Anything I can do to stop it now and in the future? I know better to compost the leaves and will be burning. Thanks for any advise to help me save this harvest.

    1. Hi Cilenia, I am sorry to hear this and cannot offer much help! As you observe the issue is climate mostly, and I am not convinced that even burning the leaves makes a difference.
      In my first year at this garden in 2013, I suffered rust on some garlic which I had purchased the seed for. That was in presumably clean soil. Other years I have planted garlic from homesaved seed which was from rusty plants, and it grew pretty clean. There is nothing I know of that you can do to improve matters this year, only hope for better weather next spring. Or grow it in a hoop house.

      1. I seem to have acquired “Garlic Virus”, with yellow streaks along the leaves. I am waiting to see the harvest before deciding whether to buy new seed.
        I have always saved my own seed and always had good results until I came to Somerset and heavy clay soil.
        After starting in 2013 with 6 varieties I had finally selected down to 2.
        “Vallelado Wight” and one from a French market which may be the same as “Rhapsody”. Garlic farm is not doing the first, this year and I’m not sure of the second, so I may be back to square one.
        I always grow under cover after losing one whole square metre to rust, outside.

        1. I have some of that virus Philip, for three years or so, and I’m not noticing it’s a problem, so far.

          1. Just lifted my garlic crop today, its not so good. I think I must try new seed.
            It’s a bit galling because in my previous garden I really did grow premium bulbs, that sold for 14 euro a plait of 10 in 2008.
            The soil in my Shepton garden, as I said before, is heavy and despite loads of organic material, maybe I will only ever be able to achieve modest results.
            I am trying to go no dig, but the retractile roots pull the cloves about 2 inches into the soil needing a garden fork to extract the bulbs cleanly. I do use pelleted chicken manure and “blood fish and bone” to try and boost the fertility.

          2. Just lifted my garlic crop today, its not so good. I think I must try new seed.
            It’s a bit galling because in my previous garden I really did grow premium bulbs, that sold for 14 euro a plait of 10 in 2008.
            The in my Shepton garden, despite loads of organic material, maybe I will only ever be able to achieve modest results.
            I am trying to go no dig, but the retractile roots pull the cloves about 2 inches into the soil needing a garden fork to extract the bulbs cleanly. I do use pelleted chicken manure and “blood fish and bone” to try and boost the fertility.

  19. Hi
    I share this anecdote about resistance to no-dig.
    This comment made this week by an allotment colleague, who always stops to admire my plot (and loves it so much that she admitted to spending time wandering in it and enjoying it when I am not there):

    “I’ve got digging to do , but its too hot and I think the ground is too hard to dig”

    How many times over the past years have we discussed Charles Dowding’s no-dig methods and how it is the secret to my beautiful and abundant plot?
    Humankind puzzles me…

  20. Hi Charles, I’m interested to see your comments about beetroot as I’ve had really good results from boltardy for the last couple of years. I’ve tried Chiogga, and whilst attractive when cut I didn’t think it had much flavour. I’ve also tried some of the mixed colour ones but again, pretty flavourless and didn’t pickle well either. I wonder if the different soil in different areas affects the growth and flavour? We tend to be fairly acid soil, quite peaty and although my compost is probably fairly standard we do keep chickens and add their bedding to the mix as well as the wood ash from our log burner and biomass boiler.
    With regard to watering, when we were in Surrey we were metered and also had a hosepipe ban in place for most of the year so I installed a bladder tank under decking and diverted water from the showers and washbasins into it which was then treated and pumped into a drip irrigation system. It worked really well. We only used soap, not detergents so no contamination.

    1. Great tips Liz, thanks.
      Many others are having problems with Boltardy, so I think it might be a question of where you bought the seed, because perhaps some seed companies are maintaining the variety.

  21. Charles, Thank You for all of your info and blog. Lettuce going well here and garlic looking promising. I have a pest that I have not seen you mention much, CATS! Any tips to stop them pooing in the veggie beds?

      1. I love my cats dearly but not in my veggies. I make cloches (about 4’ wide) from chicken wire to cover bare soil also useful to cover vulnerable small transplants.

      2. Or brambles – I have that problem and have put some branches from stray blackberries… or tabasco sauce – it burns their bottoms (apologies to cat lovers)

    1. Cats seem to particularly target areas where soil loosened recently e.g after potato lifting- or new laid mulch – anything remotely like cat litter! – they are no-diggers at heart from laziness! Physical barriers – I use small twiggy branches from shrub or tree pruning – but they have to be close together enough to make it difficult for cat to squat in the space…In small areas – e.g. between young plants – short lengths of twig stuck upright in the ground need to be about 2-3 inches apart. Makes the garden look like a hedgehog but that’s the price for gardening with the (neighbours’) cats . They get the fun, we get the crap! They appear to use their own gardens less often – marking territory?

  22. Hi Charles
    Thanks for another interesting and informative post – as they always are!
    I know you’ve previously mentioned your concerns with Boltardy beetroot but glad to see a visual representation of it this year. This was my first year growing Pablo F1 and was surprised by the dramatic difference in comparison to Boltardy. I know the spring was not great but I had these both multisown from new seed and treated exactly the same throughout – the Boltardy really struggled and now looks like I’ll barely get a usable crop from it while the Pablo looks (relatively) great.

    1. Same here, my first try on Boltardy (sowed undercover in mid Feb) is quite miserable compared with Pablo F1, some Boltardy plants didn’t even grow up (still somthing like 6~7cm high only!)while Pablo F1 already have a visible good performance.

  23. Hi Charles another great update and very informative .
    I’m growing Uchiki Kuri’ Winter Squash for the first time. Do you limited the number of squash to each plant or just let them go for it ?

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