June 2011

Total monthly harvest = £78.98 / 10.41kg

Full details of weekly harvests at bottom of page.

Week 9:   June 26 -July 2

Total for week = £22.74 / 3.27 kg (2010: £27.23 / 2.03kg)

First few tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and chillies of the year. What a treat. And loads earlier than 2010 – in part because sown earlier, and in part because of warm spell in April / May getting plants off to good start once outside.

Long trusses of heritage 'sugar plum' tomato ripen on window © Vertical Veg 2011

Week 8:   June 19 – 25

Total for week = £16.39 / 3.05 kg (2010: £18.03 / 870g)

Weight of harvest is boosted by potatoes – much better yield than last lot (see week 5 below) – 1.6kg from a medium sized bucket. Also, first ever bulb of garlic from the balcony – hurrah!

Fresh garlic and new potatoes from the balcony © Vertical Veg 2011

Meanwhile, the flowers planted to attract insects at the front of the house are doing their job. Here’s a bee on the borage and below that a groovy little insect that is often visiting the phacelia.

Bee on borage © Vertical Veg 2011

Groovy small insect on phacelia flower © Vertical Veg 2011

Week 7:   June 12 – 18

Total for week = £15.07 / 1.43 kg (2010: £22.75 / 1.2kg)

Discovered some unexpected radish pods this week, and harvested 47g. First time I’ve tried them: nice crunch, spicy tang, and fresh flavour. Very good indeed.

Balcony salad: radish pod, lettuce and salad burnet © Vertical Veg 2011

 

Week 6:   June 5 – 11

Total for week = £16.05 / 1.48 kg (2010: £21.02 / 980g)

Nice mix of strawberries, mange tout, salad and herbs this week. Harvested the broad beans which confirmed my past experience that its hard to get a decent yield from them in containers – just 194g from one large container (compared to around a kilo of mange tout or several kilos of runner beans from similar sized containers).

Last year I used Ocado prices and this year I’m using Tesco (not even Tesco organic) to work out the value. The difference is pronounced. Although yields are up significantly, the overall value is down. The challenge to grow £1,000 is looking daunting.

Stir fry ingredients: Chinese broccoli, purple podded peas, flowering shoots © Vertical Veg 2011

The tomatoes and sweet peas are flowering brightly:

Sweet peas on the balcony - great to add colour and fragrance © Vertical Veg 2011

'Cherry cascade' tomatoes in flower

Week 5:   May 29 – June 4

Total for week = £8.75 / 1.176 kg (2010: £14.47 / 745g)

First potatoes this week – amongst the most beautiful specimens I’ve seen but also the poorest yield – just 253g from a large container. Here they are:

 

Beautiful potatoes, poor yield © Vertical Veg 2011

 

The strawberries are also looking good AND are being productive. It’s a French variety, Mara des bois, and should go on producing most of the summer. Also = delicious.

Mara des bois strawberry © Vertical Veg 2011

I’m constantly experimenting with different spacings, trying to find out what is possible in containers. The general rule I’ve discovered is that leafy crops can be grown close together as can peas and beans. But fruiting veg like tomatoes and squash need lots of space. So I was intrigued to find ambitious recomendations in the Encylopedia of Organic Gardening that seem to push the possibilities to the limit. Here are two of their recipes for 40cm pots:

Pot 1: 1 x tomato Shirley or other reliable tall cultivar, 12 x Markana semi leafless peas, 4 x lettuce red fire or similar, 4 x lettuce Frisby or similar, 4 x salad rocket, 6 x compact variegated nasturtium, Alaska.

Pot 2: 5 x mini sweetcorn ‘Minipop’, 6 x purple kohl rabi ‘Azur Star’, 3 x coriander, 3 x parsley, 3 x trailing tomato ‘Tumbler’, 4 x summer savory.

I decided I must give them a go. Here they are in the early stages:

Pot 1: tomato & peas etc © Vertical Veg 2011

Pot 2: mini sweetcorn, kohl rabi etc © Vertical Veg 2011