Well its midsummer and I’m delighted to be harvesting carrots and broad beans from my VegTrug. The flowers are opening on the dwarf runner beans I started indoors and planted in the small VegTrug; the seeds have germinated and are making progress in the large VegTrug down on the plot. Certainly it was the right decision to remove the salad leaves and resow. Those I’ve left in the small VegTrug have bolted and are in flower.
The dwarf broad bean I’ve grow is the compact variety ‘Robin Hood’ and I am very impressed with its compact habit and the amount of pods that are appearing. Broad beans are reputedly one of the oldest vegetables in cultivation and they appear in the food of many countries. You can eat them young or old, dry them, mash them and fry them. I was eating them just a few days ago cooked with smoked ham in a traditional Spanish bodega.
You normally harvest broad beans when the pods start to swell and the seeds become visible as bumps in them. At this stage the pods turn from being upright on the stems to becoming downward pointing. If you leave them for too long the seeds become larger and harder with tougher skins. I think if you are growing just a few in a VegTrug you pick them young and enjoy them at their best.
You can of course pick then when the pods are tiny and pointing upwards on the stems. At this stage they can be cooked and eaten whole, skins as well as seeds. If you are going to harvest them this way you really do need to pick them young; leave them too long and the pods have a woolly texture in the mouth. Young broad beans in pods or out are delicious cooked lightly and eaten cold with vinaigrette or oil rather than warm with butter.
I’ve never had any success with carrots in the open ground, so I am delighted with both the round rooted and long rooted ones I am harvesting from my Vegtrug. Carrots always seem to take ages but these are ready after only 10-12 weeks. They are at their best when young sweet or delicious and need only a little cooking. What’s great about growing them in the Vegtrug is that they come out clean and do not need scrubbing before they go in the pot.
I’ve grown the ‘Carrot ‘Rondo’ quite close to the front edge of the VegTrug, where the compost is quite shallow. They seem quite happy here as their round roots do not need the same depth of soil that the long-rooted carrots demand. They are small and sweet and ideal if you want them raw in salads whole or sliced.
The dwarf runner bean ‘Hestia’ in the small VegTrug are already producing their attractive red and white flowers. I think these have done well as they are shaded for quite a lot of the day. They are growing alongside some more broad beans s it is important to keep an eye on the watering. If they dry out the beans are unlikely to set even if they are pollinated. Beans and peas are especially sensitive to water shortage at time of flowering.
The runner bean ‘Hestia’ that I sowed directly into the large VegTrug have all germinated and are already producing their second leaves. I expect to see flowerbuds in a couple of weeks. There is still plenty of time for these to grow and produce a good crop of beans and they often grow faster and catch up with earlier sowings when sown in midsummer. As I harvest the carrots they have plenty of space to grow and develop.
Visitors to our garden have been really impressed with our success in raised growing containers compared to results in the open ground. I think so many find they sow, the seedlings get eaten or dry out and then they re-sow and the same things happen. In a VegTrug it is simple to protect the crops and they are easy to keep an eye on.
Also by growing in the restricted space of a container you are much more disciplined in use of space. Every inch counts and you make the most of maintaining continuity. So far I’ve harvested masses of salad leaves, chard, broad beans, carrots and radishes. I’ve got beetroot almost ready to eat. I’m not sure how well I’m going to do with the tomatoes outside. The ones in the conservatory look great but these are really too tall before they start to flower. I wish I had grown a more compact variety.
Anyway time will tell...watch this space.