Monday, 14 August 2017

Harvest Monday - they're still a comin'

Phew it's that time when, if all has gone well so far, us veggie growers are trying to keep on top of all the harvests. In the lean-to at home my tomatoes are continuing to crop nicely. The plants which may have had some kind of virus have put on new healthy growth, so that was good news. But I've just realised one of my pepper plants probably has red spider mite, so I need to have a close look tomorrow and try and sort it out (which probably means ditching the plant?), and hope none of the others have it either.
The courgettes and cukes are also to continuing to produce lots of goodies, though the older plants at the allotment are suffering quite badly from powdery mildew. The younger ones aren't so bad. And I have three cuke plants in the partially shaded back garden which are alright (but crop very slowly compared with the ones in full sun on the allotment).
And the beans are properly getting going now - green dwarf French beans, climbing purple beans (both on the allotment) and runner beans in the back garden. I've started freezing some of the dwarf beans and will do some purple ones too. There are so many purple bean flowers, I might do some fermented beans if they crop really heavily (and give some away or do a swap for something I don't grow).
They're quite versatile though, always tasty as a side dish (here drizzled with balsamic vinegar) and we had some cold leftover with lunch today. A few years ago when we had a really good harvest I'd cook loads up and we'd have them as our afternoon snack. The potato here is mashed spuds which I froze (late winter?), but I needed the freezer space now, and also needed the glass container they were in - plus the main potatoes will be ready to harvest soon, so might as well use these up first.
I've picked more corn this week too. We had a cob each on Friday....
...and shared one tonight, with freshly picked kale, courgette, tomatoes and beans (and there's an egg under there somewhere). The corn goes really golden when it's cooked - when raw it looked the same as the ones above). The variety is Sativa Early.
The other day I roasted a big batch of beetroot (all the b's), which were actually 'seconds' from the market garden I volunteer at. Mice or some other rodent had gnawed the roots but the roots were so big it was easy to just chop off the affected parts and still be left with a good amount of beet. I made these into another tasty beetroot hummus.
Another thing I haven't grown myself - a huge marrow (actually overgrown courgette) from my friend's plot. He hasn't been able to get down for a couple of weeks (he's the chap that uses a wheelchair and needs it to be reasonably dry on the plot to get around). I went and picked his greengages and courgettes for him and found this massive marrow too. He didn't want it, so today I made a batch of spiced marrow and tomato chutney, which is handy as we're just on the last jar of last year's lot. I actually chopped up the marrow yesterday and prepared some of the other ingredients too, but was too tired to make the whole thing. I'm glad I left the rest until today as the simmering / reducing takes ages and I'd have been up until goodness knows when last night.
Mid-way through. It's quite a sweet recipe, with chopped dates in too.
Just need to label these up now. And I didn't make too much of a mess, which is unusual for me. As we often have the chutney in sandwiches, I gave it a whizz with a stick blender to get out the bigger chunks.
On the fruit front, I've been picking more blackberries of course.
Not as many today though, a lot were too soft / starting to go mouldy from the rain, as I hadn't picked any since Friday. I ate quite a few of the squishy-but-not-mouldy ones though, whist picking - they were really good.
And there were just enough to make a couple of blackberry cakes, fancy that. I use an easy recipe from Mumsnet here, though actually use a little less sugar, add some cinnamon, and find it takes longer than 20 mins to bake. I made double the recipe today.
Freshly out of the oven, (which reminds me, to make the most of the oven being on, I slow roasted some sliced tomatoes afterwards too). Anyway, one cake is to take round a friend's tomorrow evening, and the other is to take to the market garden on Wednesday, mmm. They don't look very berry-y but should hopefully look good when cut open.

Also, hopefully the weather will be better this Wednesday - it was really rainy last week so I didn't get any photos again. We had a productive day though, despite the sogginess.


Okay, thanks for reading this week, I'm linking in as usual with Harvest Monday kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.


Monday, 7 August 2017

Harvest Monday - more summer harvests...including sweetcorn!

Wow we've had done really windy weather over the last week. The allotment is now bone dry and the runner bean plants at home have got lots of damaged leaves. But fortunately the only real casualty was a sweetcorn plant, which got blown over. They have shallow roots and this particular plant was on the edge of a bed, so I think was a bit vulnerable. But considering how strong those winds were, it could've been a lot worse. I know some people had bean plants ripped out completely.
Last week I harvested those lovely's what I made with them....roasted beetroot hummus, yum. Basically it's a normal hummus recipe (chickpeas, tahini, garlic, oil, cumin) with roasted beets added. Easy, and delicious. I froze one tub and we've eaten the other.
Very nice in sandwiches (here I made us 'open sandwiches'....'cause you get more filling that way), with some of our toms and purple basil, grown in the lean to at home.
I've picked two or three times this amount over the last week. Lovely colours.
Some have ended up in curries, along with the ubiquitous courgette, and dwarf French beans
Or tonight's tasty salad, with cucumber / yogurt / mint thing, home sprouted lentils and cous cous with more dwarf beans and courgette.
Other meals have included my favourite easy dish - veggies with only uses one pan as you can cook the noodles in the same pot, saving on washing-up, hooray. This included courgette (of course), runner beans, kale and fermented carrot (I still have a few in the jar in the fridge from ages ago).
On the cucumber front, we're picking this amount every two or three days, plenty for sarnies, salads and snacks.
I've been growing gherkins to make fermented pickles, and prepped everything to make a couple of jars. Looks good eh? I even picked some vine leaves as that's meant to help preserve the crunch (due to tannins in the leaves).
Well, all is not as it seems....I quartered the gherkins lengthways, trimmed the ends so they fitted in upright, and squeezed them into the jars. Then I thought, oh I'll just have a nibble on these ends, only to discover a few bitter pieces, and of course I didn't know which gherkins they'd been sliced from. So I had to take them all out and try both ends of every gherkin. Then I thought I'd better try a piece from the middle of a 'safe' one, which ended up being bitter. Wah. In the end I decided it was too much hassle to avoid any bitter pieces, composted the lot and used crystal lemon cukes and ridge cukes instead (which i haven't had any bitterness issues with). They are now sitting happily on the counter (piccie below), in their brine solution (of which I made far too much, so am now wondering what else I could ferment).
On the fruity front, I remembered to check my second dwarf apple tree down the far end of the plot, in case there were any windfalls (I have four dwarf Apple trees altogether, two at the top, two at the bottom). There were a couple on the ground, so I picked them up then gave some of the others still on the tree a bit of a twist. They all started to come away quite easily (the stalk comes away from the branch when they're ripe), so I thought I may as well harvest them all...because knowing me, I'd forget about them and lose them to windfalls / insect damage. They're really huge this year as well, biggest I've ever seen them (double the size of the ones I harvested last week from another tree). So now we just have to remember to eat them.
And there have been more blackberries - three colanders-full in one picking. The freezer is getting very full of them. I had to make a couple of blackberry cakes, just to save a bit of freezer space, ahem.
And yes, today I harvested our first sweetcorn of the year. It's a really good size and I'm pleased with the pollination of kernels, it's almost fully pollinated.
Enjoyed after simply boiling for a few need for butter. I can't wait for the next one. (Obviously Jan and I did share this one, half each!).

You're meant to be able to tell when they're ripe by the tassels going brown, but I find they go brown before the corn is properly ripened, so instead I do the trick of testing a kernel with a fingernail - peel the sheath apart a bit to see some kernels, then break into a kernel with your fingernail - the juice is milky when they're ready.


Well it's now raining, so hopefully the plot will be getting a good soaking. This week I've tried to be organised and have sown a few things in modules, for Autumn / winter harvest (if they work)...rocket, winter lettuce, coriander, oriental greens. I also noticed that the mango seeds I planted in pots a few weeks ago have germinated. I don't normally buy mango but a friend gave us a couple of fruits, and as I'd like some more house plants I thought I'd try propagating them. So after watching a couple of YouTube videos, I prised the seed cases open with a blunt knife, popped them in compost and covered with bubble wrap. I'll have to take a piccie of them...and try and keep them alive until then!


Oh and lastly, out at the not for profit market garden I volunteer at, we got busy with sowing various Autumn and winter salads, weeded the sweetcorn, planted out more salad. They're getting amazing harvests but I didn't get chance to take photos this week. It's looking good though.


Thanks for reading this week. I'm linking in as usual with Harvest Monday, kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.


Monday, 31 July 2017

Harvest Monday - summer bounties and a Norwich stroll

Whew, the harvests are cranking up a gear. I've lifted the first best for years. These were multi-sown at home (several seeds in one module), then the whole modules planted out, with no thinning. So when the beets start getting sizeable, you harvest the bigger ones and leave the smaller ones to grow on...simple really, I don't know why I've never tried it before. These particular ones are growing under a wigwam of climbing French beans. I've done three sowings of beets, and just planted out the last lot today, so will hopefully have harvests over a long-ish period.
The beet tops are good for eating too, like chard or spinach.
Talking of chard, there's been plenty of that too.
In the back garden, the sugar snap peas had started to get mildewy - we'd already had some but then I decided to clear the lot....not a bad amount.
The cucumbers are really going for it...loads of crystal lemons, marketmore etc. One day I had 17 in the plenty of them to snack on. And the courgettes are steadily cropping too. The plant in the back garden doesn't produce many (plus they're quite small fruits, possibly as it's too shady) but on the open allotment they're much more healthy.
Also in the back garden, the runner beans are properly getting going.
And in the lean-to the tomatoes are looking good, and a nice variety of flavours.
I have a few dwarf French bean plants on the plot, uncropping various plants (corn, kale) and some of these are starting to produce too.
...some of those cukes etc. I'm stockpiling the gherkins, to make fermented pickles in a big batch (I'd meant to do it today but didn't get round to it).
Earlier in the week, a vegetable Ood made an appearance (Dr Who).
We enjoyed a nice roast yesterday (and leftovers today). Oh yeah, I lifted the red onions this week too - they're drying in the allotment shed.
I roasted the beets at the same time, and am going to make a hummus with them (slow-cooked a big batch of chickpeas today to add to them), so that's one to make tomorrow too.
The other day we had a more healthier looking meal
On the fruit front, there are masses of blackberries, we've picked tubfuls, and added them to the freezer (I've eaten lots whilst picking too...well, you have to don't you).

I accidentally knocked a couple of apples from one of the dwarf trees (whilst trying to duck under a low branch to get at blackberries!). They're not quite ripe, so I'll probably actually cook them with some blackberries...classic combo.
The apple tree which I moved this winter has had quite a lot of fruit on it (variety Katy maybe?). But the fruit was damaged - not sure if this was because the tree rocked around with all the high winds (despite me staking it). But even the damaged ones have edible bits. I hadn't realised how early these ripened, as the tree was tucked away a bit....this explains why most of the fruit had usually dropped off by the time I noticed it. Now the tree has a lot more space and is more prominent. In fact this year is the best harvest I've had from the tree (there were a few more apples as well as the ones below) despite the damage, so it was worth moving it. Hopefully next year it'll have settled into its new position more as well (I probably shouldn't have even let it fruit this year so it strengthened up).
Nice chopped up with breakfast anyway
The other week I mentioned we were going to an open garden in Norwich, but it rained heavily. Well, this weekend we thought it was open again but when we walked over there it turns out we got the dates mixed up. Whoops again. So instead we had a nice walk around the cathedral area.....past Cow Tower pond with the cathedral in the background. There was a song thrush cracking snails next to the pond - could do with one on my allotment.
There are actually two peregrine falcons in this photo (get your magnifying glass out) - one on a nobble at the top of the tower, and one plucking a dead bird on the nesting platform
And the River Wensum looking lovely in the sun, with canoeists enjoying the still water

Well, this week I need to think about what to sow next, so I've got some veggies to plant out for the Autumn, replacing tomatoes etc in the lean-to. What do you usually sow now?


Thanks for reading this week, I'm linking in with Harvest Monday, kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres