Some You Win..

Peppers & Bananas Wm


Desperate times call for desperate measures.

But will it work?

The last day of September. Yet my chillies remain steadfastly green. I’m hoping the banana skins might help. The plants normally live in the greenhouse, where all that ethylene gas should be nicely contained. But rickety rusty staging and armoured electrical cable did not a good photograph make, so they’ve been temporarily shifted outside.

It’s a while since I wrote about the veg plot and much has been happening. It certainly hasn’t been the washout of last year but, as ever, there have been lessons learned. I shall give potatoes one final try in the ground next year. After that it will be containers. Using a Sarpo resistant variety I have at least managed to avoid blight. But:


Potato 002 Wm


The mouse holes appearing in the potato patch should have been evidence enough. Half of the tubers I’ve lifted so far have ended up in the bin. The Zeina mini cucumbers continued to be prolific, far more than we needed out of just three plants, but proved to be disappointing on taste. Next year I’ll try something new.

Our biggest challenge though has been with space. Or the lack of it. With only two raised beds and the minuscule original vegetable garden to play with I’ve packed far too much in. As the season progressed total chaos ensued and a gentle evening’s picking felt more like an exercise on an assault course. There’s a grand expansion plan in the pipeline. Just need to find the right moment to share it with Mike..


Sweet Corn 001 Wm


On the plus side I’ve finally got the hang of mini sweetcorn. This variety is Snobaby F1. They should be picked as soon as the silks start to show. This one will be eaten by tomorrow. Delicious! And Sungold tomatoes are still ripening in the greenhouse, even if the plants outside have now succumbed to blight. The West Country is perhaps just too wet, even in a summer as good as this one has been.



Sprouts, plus broccoli green and purple, hold the promise of still more to come.

And maybe, soon, red chillies will join the harvest.

Banana anyone?


2018-02-08T20:29:17+00:00September 30th, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Amy at love made my home September 30, 2013 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    I hope that your chilli’s ripen soon, look as though you will have a good crop of sprouts though. Bad luck about the spuds, perhaps next year in the pots will be better! We have to garden hopefully don’t we.

    • Jessica September 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Hi Amy and welcome to rusty duck.
      We are the eternal optimists, we have to be!

  2. Jo September 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    My sweet peppers have done really well this year, lots of ripe fruit, and I’ve had them outside for most of the year as they grew far too big for the greenhouse. I gave up on potatoes in the ground a long time ago. It was slugs which caused the damage to mine.

    • Jessica September 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      Perhaps I should have left the chilli plants outside too. Will try that next year, weather permitting!

  3. Suzanne Dutchess County, NY, USA September 30, 2013 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    When I was young my Dad grew potatoes in a cylinder made from hardware cloth, or chicken wire.
    He’d continue to add compost and soil into the cylinder, covering the stems on the plants over time, until it was full to the top. He’d have several pound of potatoes by the end of summer. Nothing could burrow in and get at the tubers. He’d pull the cylinder up, harvest and then spread the compost on the other beds. He’d begin new compost with the potato plants.
    I am harvesting tomatoes still and putting them up. Green tomato salsa in dozens of quarts.
    Ugh, more to go.

    • Jessica September 30, 2013 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Interesting. So was the cylinder buried in the ground?

    • Suzanne Dutchess County, NY, USA October 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      It was buried only slightly, just to keep it from toppling over at first and to keep the pests from digging under. I asked him about it and he said you could put a piece of the wire fabric on the bottom too if you had a problem with rodents , like voles.

      • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 9:59 pm - Reply

        Thanks Suzanne.
        The mice can get through the standard English chicken wire, but something with smaller holes could well work!

  4. Sarah September 30, 2013 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    What a shame the mice were the only ones to enjoy most of your potatoes! We didn’t have a very successful year either and won’t be growing them again next year. They take up so much space , those mini sweetcorn look worth growing. Hope you soon get some red chillis!
    Sarah x

    • Jessica September 30, 2013 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      The mini sweetcorn are delicious, much much better than shop bought which I find rather tasteless. We got four or five mini cobs per plant this year, so you do need quite a few plants to make it worthwhile but they take up a lot less space than potatoes. I will be growing them again next year.

  5. Simone September 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    Are the banana skins supposed to help with ripening the chillis? I am sure they will ripen even without the skins. Can’t you bring them into the kitchen if the greenhouse is too cold? I love the look of your sprouts and they will taste even more wonderful after the first frosts.

    • Jessica September 30, 2013 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      They work with tomatoes too.. it’s the ethylene gas they give off which speeds up ripening, apparently.

  6. nataliescarberry September 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    Great read! I had to chuckle at your description of trying to harvest the bounty of an overcrowded vegetable plot. Your brussel sprouts do look lovely. Blessings, Natalie

    • Jessica September 30, 2013 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      I have learnt my lesson well. It does not pay to over plant! Apart from the logistical difficulties, the crop isn’t as good either because they’ve had reduced light. Thanks Natalie.

  7. wherefivevalleysmeet September 30, 2013 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    I am using bananas with my tomatoes too, and I am pleased how quickly the do turn them red. Vegetable gardening is very hit and miss – some years you can have a very successful crop, do the same thing the next year, and it is a failure.
    This year we have picked runner beans every day for weeks, good job we like them.
    Your sprouts look wonderful, will you be able to save a stem for Christmas?

    • Jessica September 30, 2013 at 11:22 pm - Reply

      Yes, I’ve noticed the tomato ripening in the greenhouse is speeding up, even if my peppers stay resolutely green!!
      I’ve sown the sprout seeds successionally. Hopefully some of the later plants will produce at Christmas but, as you say, hit and miss.

  8. Natalie October 1, 2013 at 1:33 am - Reply

    Love that ripening method! Gnawed potatoes aside, your veggies look wonderful! I hate Brussels sprouts but they are the coolest-looking veg when on the stalk!

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 9:37 am - Reply

      I’ve only recently come round to sprouts, used to hate them too.

  9. Vera October 1, 2013 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Oh what lovely Brussels sprouts. Ours are deciding whether to carry on growing after being eaten almost to nothing by caterpillars. Looking forward to hearing about your veg grand plan. We have a grand plan as well, but it has to include the purchase of a more powerful rotovator as I have gone on strike with being the one to mostly get the veg plot dug over!

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      We hired a rotavator last year.. it lasted about an hour and then caught fire. What chance have I got?

  10. Em October 1, 2013 at 10:21 am - Reply

    What a great photo with the bananas and such a good idea. I might string a few through our Autumn Raspberries! The corn looks delicious – I may try some next year. After about fifty pounds of runner beans off our veg-assault course, I think they’re nearly finished and, like you, I won’t be planting them quite so densely next year. Fingers crossed for a hot flush!

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      The beans have done well here too.. I forget about those. I also won’t be planting them on such tall supports, being a mere five footer, but it’s a good excuse to get Mike to do all the picking..

  11. Andrea Mynard October 1, 2013 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Your sprouts look well ahead of ours and lovely corn. Share your frustration with potatoes, just dug the last of ours at the weekend and the skins on a lot of them are scabby. Had just decided to restrict myself just to first earlies and one waxy salad potato next year, ones that are lifted before any sign of blight. As long as I don’t get tempted in meantime by any really tasty sounding unusual varieties…

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Hi Andrea and welcome to rusty duck!
      That’s the trouble.. I originally grew a main crop because I thought they were better to store. But they really are proving more trouble than they are worth.

  12. colleen October 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    I’m sure those chillies will do the business.

    Alas my toms succumbed to blight after a week of rain, and they looked amazing too – such a disappointment. The ones that did ripen, all from Franchi seeds, were absolutely delicious. Potatoes have all been fine – and now I see yours, I’m reminded that the best ones were probably Sarpo. Fabulous taste this year.

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Blight is such a disappointment, and it happens so quickly. Almost overnight. And nothing you can do about it once it starts. Mine were just beginning to ripen..

  13. Wendy October 1, 2013 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    I hope the banana-solution works for the chillis. Shame about the pots; I grew ours in the ground and containers this year and I was impressed by the containers – they certainly save on space. I must admit I don’t grow the maincrop pots anymore because of the risk of losing them (to something) – I just grow the early/second early varities.

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      I think I will do the same next year. Maybe a few heritage main crop varieties in containers to extend the season a bit.

  14. Janet/Plantaliscious October 1, 2013 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Well, there’s always Thai Green Curry if the bananas don’t do the trick… I’ve given up on potatoes, and am about to give up on brassicas. With so little space I just can’t be doing with the endless battle with the prolific cabbage whites. Will look forward to seeing your vege-oriented land grab take shape. Once you have broken the news. Gently. Perhaps with a large G&T…

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      Aah.. you know his weakness..
      Thai green curry is a good plan!

  15. CJ October 1, 2013 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Great idea with the bananas, I’ll wait to see if it works! I don’t grow potatoes, they do seem like a lot of effort. I might try some next year, just to see. My Sungold, outside here near Bristol, usually do okay, even in a wet year. But other varieties not as good, although a lot of the failures are down to my poor soil I think. The sweetcorn looks great. I hope your expansion plans get the go-ahead!

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      It’s not so much the nature of the plans as the effort involved! I want to build another two raised beds. But as they are on the slope that’s a lot of railway sleepers and a lot of hard work..

  16. starproms October 1, 2013 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Looks like you’ve done very well to me Jessica. We have had success too but so late. It was such a s-l-o-w start, we thought things would never get going.
    That must have been a giant mouse?

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Not a giant mouse, just lots of small ones…!! Thanks Oma.

  17. elaine October 1, 2013 at 10:28 pm - Reply

    Well, all in all, you haven’t done too bad, one or two minor mishaps is pretty good in the veg gardening world – never two years the same.

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 10:55 pm - Reply

      I think I need to try your pea and bean support method next year. It will make the whole thing a lot more orderly. Thanks Elaine.

  18. CherryPie October 1, 2013 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    It is a shame about the potatoes, I had no idea a mouse could tamper with those…

    The sprouts are coming along nicely, I a rather partial to them 🙂

    • Jessica October 1, 2013 at 11:53 pm - Reply

      It’s the first year I’ve had problems with mice and potatoes.. but ours do seem to live mainly underground.

  19. wherethejourneytakesme October 1, 2013 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    I could just reach into my computer and pick those sprouts!
    Do potatoes have a planting companion that deter mice?

    • Jessica October 2, 2013 at 10:03 am - Reply

      Not that I can find.
      I’m wondering if one of those ultrasonic mole repellers might work?

  20. Freda October 2, 2013 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Someone said ‘There are garden plans. And then there is what really happens.’ Love the idea with the banana skins!

    • Jessica October 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm - Reply

      Oh so true. But then if it were easy it would be boring. Wouldn’t it?

  21. Anny October 2, 2013 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Snobaby F1 sounds like a dangerous winter motor-sport for children…

    • Jessica October 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm - Reply

      They’re not even white..

  22. Linda October 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Interesting to read the highs and lows of your veggie growing. Your sprouts and sweetcorn look good and healthy whereas sprouts are never a success for us.

    • Jessica October 2, 2013 at 7:06 pm - Reply

      They are a bit of a battle. I’ve used netting this year which has kept the cabbage whites off. But there’s still the slugs. And the aphids.

  23. woolythymes October 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    banana skins???? I’ve got pokey ripening tomatoes that are going to have the benefit of my morning banana skins……wow!!! learn something new EVErY day!!! Thanks. Good luck with your chilis!!!

    • Jessica October 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      Tomatoes (also in the greenhouse) are ripening really well now! Chillies… still green.

  24. Cathy October 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    I’ve had to giggle as you kept throwing in progressively pessimistic comments about the non-ripening chillies as I scrolled down through the comments! They worked on my peppers last year, so I am sure they will work for your chillies, but I would bring them into the house for added warmth, I think. But don’t chillies keep growing throughout the winter, so perhaps they just have a longer ripening period? Despite having decided I am going to grow minimal veg (sorry, I mean only a few) you have nearly tempted me with your sweetcorn 😉

    • Jessica October 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      I thought the Thai green curry was getting nearer.. but I will bring them indoors now, maybe next to the banana bowl?
      The baby sweetcorn are worth it if you like them, SOOOO much better than you can buy in the shops.

  25. Anna B October 2, 2013 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Well I’ve never seen banana skins in chili pots before but like you mine are green so I might just give that a go!! I’ve been very disappointed with my chili’s and sweet peppers this year. Last year they did so well and I thought I knew it all, I’d got the experience and it would be plain sailing this year but sadly no. Such a shame about the mice eating your spuds. I grow earlies and dig them up early, the longer they stay in the ground the more chance they have of getting eaten by anything but me! I don’t like sharing my spuds!! So I dig them and store them in tubs in the kitchen. I’m just coming to the end of my rockets now and not a bite hole in any of them. Really cool hearing about your veggie season 🙂

    • Jessica October 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      It’s all so unpredictable isn’t it. What works fine one season falls flat in the next. The capricious British climate I suppose. I shall definitely be reviewing potato strategy next year though!

  26. snowbird October 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Oh my, sorry to hear how NAUGHTY your mice are…..I have lots but mine are so well behaved, they only nick the odd tomato!

    Good luck with the chilli’s, mine are green too but one is going ever so slighly red….xxxx

    • Jessica October 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm - Reply

      You must tell me your secret! You know I love animals, but they test me to the limit!

  27. BadPenny October 3, 2013 at 8:35 am - Reply

    ooh now I know what to do with those over ripe bananas – banana loaf for us & skins on tomatoes !

    I’ve had over 200 small tomatoes from three plants outside. Overjoyed ! No sign of blight. I pick daily & let them turn red on the windowsill . At this rate there will be none left for green tomato chutney. Never grown tomatoes before !

    • Jessica October 3, 2013 at 8:53 am - Reply

      Oh well done! It’s very satisfying growing something new and succeeding with it.

  28. Helene October 3, 2013 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Good luck with your banana skins, hope your chillies gets the point, it is supposed to work! I don’t grow vegetables but have had lots of problems with mice this summer too, has it been a ‘mice year’? I have lots of mice under the floor boards and in my loft, have got Rentokil around to do a survey, they are coming around to set up traps soon. Fortunately no mice inside the house, yet!

    • Jessica October 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      There are certainly a lot of mice around this year. But they’ve deployed new tactics… last year I saw more running about, this year they’ve gone underground, literally. I’m seeing more burrows and losing more tubers and bulbs. I hope you manage to sort yours out!

      • Bilbowaggins October 10, 2013 at 8:04 am - Reply

        Well done with the sweetcorn (not a success here this summer). Not such good news with your potatoes, something I hope to have room for next year.

        We have large numbers of mice here and I don’t normally mind as long as they stay outside (mobile owl food??) Unfortunately there’s at least one with hobnailed boots in the roof-space above my study – very disconcerting if I’m on the computer last thing at night to hear the little s*d wandering around above the plasterboard :{

        • Jessica October 10, 2013 at 10:25 am - Reply

          My large sweetcorn were a complete disaster, only the mini ones were any good and not too many of those.
          Those mice! It’s when I can hear them scratching and nibbling that I start to worry. All the cables in the roofspace have been replaced with armoured, but I’m still waiting for the lights to go out..

  29. Monica October 3, 2013 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    In Italy we say apples make other fruit ripe quicker in the fruit bowl and should be stores separately. Or maybe it’s just another of my grandmother’s ‘things’. I’ve never tested it.

    good luck anyway. (Are you sure they’re not ‘green’ chillies?

    • Jessica October 3, 2013 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      I shall put it to the test tomorrow! Thanks Monica.
      They were red on the seed packet..

  30. islandthreads October 4, 2013 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    Jessica, I have grown tomatoes on my windowsill, no point growing them outside here, many are still green but will ripen, last time I grew them the last ones didn’t ripen until November, I would try a sunny windowsil in your house, so sorry to read about your tatties, I never think of mice attacking my crops, I will now, you sound like you have done well despite the grass following you around 🙂 Frances

    • Jessica October 4, 2013 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Frances and welcome to rusty duck.
      I suppose as gardeners we must be used to hit and miss. The vagaries of the weather and all that. But the critters, and the weeds, they really get my goat!

  31. Philippa October 5, 2013 at 1:03 am - Reply

    Well, did the banana skins work?

    • Jessica October 5, 2013 at 9:47 am - Reply

      Hi Philippa and welcome to rusty duck.
      Maybe just a hint of red. Or a trick of the light. Or just my imagination??

  32. Caro October 5, 2013 at 9:56 am - Reply

    After a season of slug eaten potatoes – and one memorable occasion when I dug up a potato full of woodlice, ugh! – I’m a potato bag kinda gardener now. Works wonderfully for me, although does tend to need a lot more watering. But, big plus, beautiful spuds at the end of the day, all perfectly edible. And you can put the containers out of the veg patch which will give you more free space (for other stuff?) My patch is also an assault course at the moment, a beautiful one though, with rambling nasturtiums providing a tripping hazard!

    • Jessica October 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm - Reply

      There’s a lot to be said for being a potato bag lady! I shall be following suit I think. If I’d got my act together just a little bit earlier could maybe have had some for Christmas too. Your nasturtiums sound lovely!

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