Crop a load of this harvest

The latest update from the garden comes from me peering out at a dank and dismal day, but on the up side, the weather for the carnival was splendid, and the patch is getting a good old drenching.

This week I’m delighted to announce that we’ve had our first real harvest from the vegetable plot. After the broccoli heads bolted and turned to flowers earlier in the season, I chopped off the non-edible stems, but left the plants in situ. It appears this was the right thing to do, as they are now throwing up small heads on a regular basis, and we’re picking these as cut and come again vegetables. With any luck we’ll be harvesting for a good time to come.

I’ve also done a bit of digging around in the history of the house, and it seems a farmhouse stood on the plot in the mid 1800s. This could explain the rich crumbly soil, (an absolute joy after 20-odd years of gardening on clay) and why after a somewhat slow start, once established, the plants appear to go a bit bonkers.

The runner beans – looking decidedly dodgy just a few weeks back have now flourished and sprinted up the canes. In no time at all, they bushed out, flowered profusely and are now giving us a steady supply of lovely succulent beans.

I’m also thrilled to report that the other slow starter – the courgette plant – has now picked up and is pushing out fruits left, right and centre.

My peas are also looking lush and healthy, and it won’t be long now until we’re picking stuff that’s ‘as sweet as the moment when the pod went pop’.

Whilst this is all excellent news, the star performers in the garden have to be the pumpkin plant and the French beans. The pumpkin has snaked its way towards the bottom of the garden, and is now fanning itself up the fence panel; with two decent-sized fruits forming already.

The French beans have foliage now so thick, and so dense that I have to do a fair bit of rootling around in there to uncover the beans. But what a treat when I do. They are so sweet, that many just get chomped raw in the garden, and don’t even make it to the dinner table! And if the amount of flowers on the plants is any indication of the potential harvest, we’ll surely be bi-lingual by the end of the season.

So, this weekend, after removing a couple of stray caterpillars, we enjoyed laughter-filled feast of beans, courgettes and broccoli to slap by the side of the Sunday roast*.

Although I’m biased, the flavours were out of this world.

*the ‘ahem’ company may have had a lot to do with that 😉

Harvest from the garden

Harvest from the garden

 

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House history

The house I’ve moved into is an end terrace, built in 1888. I was keen to find out a bit about the history, with it being over 120 years old, so contacted a friendly local historian to see if he could dig up a bit of dirt on it.

For info, his name is Paul Gardner, and he runs a really good Facebook page – well worth a look – if they let you in (it’s a closed group).

Anyway, within minutes, I was sent a map…

 

Map of the area

Map of the area

If you don’t know the area, the trees at the top left are now Orchard Street – obviously once an orchard.

In the centre of the map there’s a straight vertical road which was called Mount Lane, but is now Thornycroft Road, and at the top of this there are two buildings – one on the left and one on the right. The right one is the exact site where my house stands.

At this point I got very excited, until Paul pointed out that the map was from 1887. Slight problem there… my house wasn’t built until 1888… and is actually the end terrace in a run of three.

So I asked him if he could turn up anything prior to the map on the census reports, and obligingly he came up trumps with this:

1871 census

1871 census

Whilst we can’t prove anything, the area on the map my house now stands on was known as Mount Fields, otherwise known as 11 acres. It seems to fit that a farmhouse stood where I am now, housing William, Catharine and Isaak Hincks, who were farmers. This also might explain that whilst digging in the garden I’ve come across great dirty chunks of red-brick concrete stuff, which I’m still undecided about whether I’ll be able to get out of the ground or not. Perhaps these are a part of the old farmhouse?

The title deeds from 1888 suggest the house was owned by William Gray Farmer and sold to John Hill, and in 1926 the house was owned by Elizabeth Smith and David England.

In any case, it’s been really interesting to find out a bit about the plot and the generations who have lived here before. I may well go to the library at some point to have a good old afternoon digging around in any old records or microfiches they may have 🙂