the veg garden in august

Sarah takes a tour of the kitchen garden at Perch Hill in August, and shows us her latest favourite discoveries, including growing quinoa and edamame beans, and her favourite plant supports.

This is the vegetable garden and I think it's looking particularly handsome at the moment. Always a big stripe of colour down the centre because that hides any chaos or any gaps really either side, it kind of concentrates the eye and I love this razzmatazz. 'Happy Halloween' dahlia, gladioli coming up through them, Cosmos 'Versailles Tetra' all the way along the path and then I've also put nasturtiums which are going to creep out and will gradually cover the path, rather like you have in Monet's garden at Giverny.

So that's the central path, but really successful this year are these massive 15-foot high teepees of beans and we've got 'White Lady', 'Painted Lady' and 'White Lady' here and I just love their scale. I just think they're really fantastic. So if you can get hold of really, you know, 15 or 20 foot branches, get them a good inch into the ground, make a teepee out of eight, tie them at the top from a ladder and then just leave them. We've had those in now for three years and they've just been such a success.

I'd like to show you one other thing down here, another experiment which I've seen in America, and what we're doing is we're growing some runner beans up sunflowers and sweetcorn. So you're using the climbing frame of the sweetcorn for your bean, and this is almost ready to harvest, but I really like the look of them and I want to leave them in the garden and that's fine because that then becomes the bamboo cane for the bean. And similarly we've got the same with the latest sowing of beans here with the sunflower. So that's a later sowing and that's going to come up and this is a beautiful sunflower called Helianthus 'Claret'. That's really exciting, I'm looking forward to that.

And then another really exciting thing here which is on trial, which is going to be in our catalogue in a year, is the edamame beans. Because it's so lovely and hot and sunny this year you can see they're not quite ready yet, but they're just coming. It's been very happy and I had never realised that you could grow them so successfully in our country. I always thought they were sort of almost like a tropical plant. That's why you just learn things all the time.

This is another thing I'm really excited about, which is on trial, and this is quinoa - a lot of people call it 'kwin-o-a' but it's actually called 'keen-wa'. The great thing about it, I'm writing this healthy cookbook at the moment and a lot of people love quinoa because it's actually a protein not a carbohydrate and it's very good for coeliacs and people who are wanting to combine their vegetables, so mixing any protein with protein because it's a seed it's a protein not a starch. And you can see from this one, where it's starting to go brown, that you can actually begin to see that is what you get in a quinoa bag, if you see what I mean. It's not quite dry yet, it's not quite ready but it's getting there. So again, this is a South American plant and I didn't know that we could grow it but it looks just like a weed, it looks like fat hen so I don't see why we can't grow it. Interestingly I am pretty sure this one is fat hen, whereas that is a very different looking animal and I think this is probably the proper thing and this may be a bit of an interloper, I'm not sure.

This is one of our metal cone supports and I am just so pleased with them because the sweet peas have done incredibly well and as they reach the top what I've done is just laced them back down again. I haven't got down to here yet but that's the great thing, the vines can just come back down so that it's almost like cordoning your sweet peas. You've got these lovely big, strong stems. This is a new variety called 'Lovejoy' and is a very pretty one and that's on trial. And then this is another one called 'Memories'. And so those two are new trial varieties and they've been really good, I'm really pleased with them.

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