Update on our garden

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courgetteAs well as the BBC Dig In, we’re growing lots of our own things too! Today I’m going to talk about three of them – runner beans, courgettes (zuchini) and beetroot. I’ll cover more of the crops we are growing on another day.

Runner beans

Young runner beans are one of my favourite vegetables. They are almost sweet when picked fresh and tender, before the hard strings arrive. They only need minimal preparation if picked properly; just slice them finely and steam for a few minutes until tender.

I have three wigwams of runner beans; two in pots and one in the ground. They always do well in the ground, even in our acid, clay soil! Last year I grew them all in pots and didn’t get a single bean! I had loads of healthy-looking, strong leaves, but no beans.

So this year I am experimenting again and we’ll see what happens. So far they have caught hold of the canes and are growing well and I have several red flowers; so things are looking good.


As long as you catch them young, courgettes can be beautifully creamy and tender when gently fried with garlic and fresh herbs. One of my favourite ways to use larger courgettes is in a greek-style stew.

Large marrows get made into chutney!

In our soil, you cannot stop courgettes growing. I really only need one plant to meet all our requirements, as I’ve not found a way to preserve them successfully, so they need to be eaten fresh.

This year I’m growing a couple in pots to see if they stay smaller for longer. I also have set some free in the ground to take over the corner of the beds.


I adore beetroot and promised myself I would grow some this year. As well as the ones in pots, courtesy of the BBC Dig In campaign, I have some in the ground.

I’m actually getting around to succession al planting too, which is something I’ve never mastered before. I now have three rows, planted about 3 weeks apart. They seem to be doing well, but I’m not sure how they will fare in the soil, as it can bake like concrete and I’m not sure I’ve given them enough water. They look a bit small and woody already.

I used to think it was old beetroot that went woody, but apparently it’s lack of water. ooops. I planted some new seeds yesterday and will water them well to see what difference it makes.

The upside to clay soil is that even though the top may be baked like a kiln-dried pot, an inch or so down and there is still alot of moisture content.

What about you – What’s growing well in your garden? Are you experimenting with anything new?


  1. […] Little Green Blog » Update on our garden […]

  2. Goo on July 16, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Don’t forget you can eat your courgette flowers too! I have an Italian friend who stuffs hers with a tuna and onion mix and then deep fries them in a light batter. Really delicious.

    I’m experimenting with borlotti beans alongside my runners this year. They have really beautiful lilac coloured flowers, no sign of beans yet though!

  3. Mrs Green on July 26, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    @Goo: Hi Goo, this is something I’ve never tried; mine seem to whither as the fruit grows and by the time I pick the courgettes the flowers are a slimy mess. I guess I need to pick them early?
    I ate my first runner beans for lunch today; they were gorgeous and I hope your borlotti beans are coming along well!

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