Darsham Nurseries Cafe, potager, kitchen garden, vegetables from seed, harvesting vegetables,
The Daily Dibber

Kitchen gardener for the Darsham Nurseries Cafe. Seedaholic. Grower and lover of food and flowers.

Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs Part 1 2016

The original concept for this blog was to record the successes and failures of production of food for the café in general. The hottest day is probably behind us and the tomato season is about to start so it feels like we are half way through our summer season and a good time to reflect.

Trials and Tribulations.

On the 1st of March, we sowed our tomato seeds. The extra work caused by ‘The edible fair’ delayed the planting out of the seedlings. Here we are in August and they are still achingly slow to ripen. I checked last year’s records and our tomato harvest started in early July so we are currently a month late. It is causing a wee bit of anxiety.


No July radishes. Mortification does not even begin to cover it. It is driving me even more nutty than usual. In my defence, these were the culprits.

We thought that removing this monstrous lot would improve the seeds chances, but the problem is continuing daily. Radish sowing has ceased until we get the allotment slugs under control.

Sadly they also attacked the ucos and ullocos. These have been moved back into the polytunnel to recover.

The arches are finally taking shape. I have lost count of the number of bean replacement plants that were needed. Next year nematodes should be applied before planting. This should help protect the vulnerable bean tips until they start to climb. The thunbergia is also slow; these seedlings would have been more successful left to mature longer in the polytunnel. In retrospect a bed of beans should also have been planted to ensure that we repeat the scale of last year’s yields. I am slightly concerned that we have lost too many plants for a bumper crop. Watch this space.

The entrance of the arches is a success with beans and sweet peas.

The entrance of the arches is a success with beans and sweet peas.

The exit, well quite frankly is less successful. Slugs and snails have ravaged the young beans. I have planted extra ornamental gourds at this end to try and equalise the growth.

The exit, well quite frankly is less successful. Slugs and snails have ravaged the young beans. I have planted extra ornamental gourds at this end to try and equalise the growth.

The courgettes harvests are going well. However the ‘back up’ plants in the allotment have too much slug damage to ever fully recover. Next year a later sowing should be made in the polytunnel as insurance.

Two kale beds in July but no spring onions was poor planning on my part. More April and May sown onions would have ensured a continuous supply. A single kale bed would have been better. Lots of kohl rabi would have been appreciated mid-summer as this is an ideal ingredient for slaws and salads.

I think everyone has forgotten about the carrots. That is because there isn’t any. The first batch went to seed. There was no germination from the second sowing, I suspect the seed was old. A third sowing has been made, only time will tell.


Both the autumn and spring sown broad beans were successful. In 2015 there were three beds. 2016 we had four. Next year five should be the aim, as they featured heavily on the menu for weeks. The black podded pea ‘Mezza Rama Desiree’ was glorious visually and delicious, three beds for an early summer harvest will be ideal.

A bed of Agretti is worth repeating next year. This rare crop whilst difficult to germinate initially has proved a valuable ‘cut and come again’ crop. Once established its maintenance free.

Twenty bags of ‘Pink Fir’ potatoes were planted. The method of upcycling old compost bags worked well. The bags were rolled down to half way at the planting stage. When they required earthing up it was a simple case of rolling up the sides of the bag. However fifty bags would have been more realistic. Next year we should aim for more varieties.

A nice surprise is the success of the early radicchios. ‘Leonardo’, ‘Indigo’ and ‘Bel Fiore’ were sown three times in May and June, and right now they are perfect. The centre is beautiful, tender and not too bitter. These are an absolute must for 2017.

'Bel Fiore'

‘Bel Fiore’



The new varieties of courgettes are popular with the kitchen. The squashes ‘Benning’s Green tint’ and ‘Early Crookneck’ are currently much slower to produce than our old favourites ‘Floridor’ and ‘Sunburst’. I inspected them today and there are masses of new flowers, these may well produce a later harvest, which will be most helpful. ‘Sunstripe’ has proved to be a heavy cropper and is worth repeating.

A summer squash from Bakers Creek seeds 'Early Crookneck' is worth growing every year.

A summer squash from Bakers Creek seeds ‘Early Crookneck’ is worth growing every year.

‘Tromboncino’ has appeared, some keyboard restraint is needed. Let’s just say tongues were bitten and eyebrows were raised. I think perhaps he’s pleased to see me.

‘Red Kuri’ is climbing well, I regret however we did not buy any ‘Turks Turban’ seeds.

'Red Kuri' starting finally to climb up the arches. Next year I must do a second sowing to cover any losses from slugs.

‘Red Kuri’ starting finally to climb up the arches. Next year I must do a second sowing to cover any losses from slugs.

Twenty-seven cucumber plants are producing well over a hundred cucumbers a week. The menu reflects the bounty, with a dish of smashed cucumbers and nigella seeds. Finally, the cucamelons have arrived. I think they may be equally prolific.

37 in one day!

37 in one day!

Very very cute. The first cucamelon.

Very very cute. The first cucamelon.

The spring onions planted in late autumn filled boxes day after day in May and June. The garlic coped well with the neglected conditions of the allotment and is now drying out happily in the polytunnel.

The sweet peas grown up the arches are a great success.

This year we greatly expanded our range of chillies. When planted they were pinched back quite hard and have responded really well. Our expectations are high.



'Beuna Mulata' is the first to develop.

‘Beuna Mulata’ is the first to develop.

Purple cauliflowers are possible. I don’t know what all the fuss was about!


New Trials
There are a couple of new experiments taking place in the polytunnel. The bean ‘Coco Blanco Precoce’ has been planted in a potager bed but also in containers in the polytunnel. Harvest times and yields will be recorded for comparisons for next year. 10kgs of these beans cost about £80 so if we can figure out the best method these will feature heavily on the 2017 menu.
More courgette seeds were sown last week. It is obviously far too late to grow these outdoors. These will be grown inside the polytunnel in containers to see if the harvest can successfully be extended into late autumn.
In September part two will probably feature the tomato taste test, pumpkin updates, chillies, aubergines and bean reflections. By then I will be able to also report on the progress of our watermelons and chick peas.

limegarden@sky.com • 3rd August 2016

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