Monday, 16 October 2017

Harvest Monday and a trip to the coast

I only took a smattering of veggie pics this week, but here they are...first up, some curly kale and Nero kale. I'm planning on spreading a bit of compost round the plants soon to give them a bit of a feed, as they've been in the ground for several months already.
From the lean-to greenhouse at home, I picked a couple of ripe sweet peppers. There are quite a few still to pick, so I just need to make sure they don't start rotting on the plants before I get round to harvesting them all. Maybe I'll freeze some of them.
These two went into a tasty pasta dish, mixed up with some basil pesto made from some of the plants which were being cleared from the smaller polytunnel at the market garden where I volunteer.
I finally got round to sorting out the potatoes that I'd lifted a while back, giving the lounge quite an earthy aroma for a while. At least I laid down some newspaper before tipping them out of the old compost bags they'd been temporarily stored in, in the kitchen, (which wasn't a great place, it was too warm and light, so a few had even started to sprout a bit, and it's those I'll use up first). The rest are now in a big paper sack in the brick shed outside, which keeps cold but frost-free.
Other harvests include daily pickings of salad leaves for our lunch sarnies, mainly lettuce and rocket at the moment. The lettuce outside is nearly finished but the more recently planted-out leaves in the lean-to are growing away quite nicely whilst the weather isn't too cold yet.
I always look forward to a bit of chestnut foraging in Autumn. The weather was forecast to be fine for most of today so a friend and I headed off to a couple of woods not too far away, along with her little girl (13 months old, awww). Well, it seems to be a good year for them, we collected a couple of tubs each without too much problem, and enjoyed a pleasant wander through the trees in dappled sunlight (this was before Norfolk caught the very edge the hurricane this evening - it's now cold and windy).
There was quite a spectacular sunset this evening though - completely underdone in this photo. In reality it was a lovely (or spooky) orangey glow (having gone completely dark from 4.30pm, then brightened up again)
Yesterday was another beautiful autumn day, so I caught the train up to Sheringham on the north Norfolk coast (people were actually swimming in the sea, it was so warm) and then swapped to the Coasthopper bus, along to Salthouse and Cley, for a very enjoyable walk - first heading inland a bit and then back to the coast for some birdwatching at the nature reserve.
View down to the marshes and sea.
Across the marshes, looking to Salthouse
Across the pools and reedbed, looking towards Cley
A lovely sound and sight - the pink footed geese are back for the winter, flying over the reserve in mid afternoon with their gentle 'wink wink' calls.
They were headed inland, maybe to feed on the arable fields?
Anyone interested in birds - I also saw marsh harriers, black tailed godwits, snipe, ruff (winter plumage), two kestrels (one of them had a bit of a 'to do' with a marsh harrier), lapwings, little egrets, plenty of different ducks (shelduck, widgeon, gadwall etc), curlew and more. Quite excitingly, I heard a water rail on the edge of a pond (they sound like a squealing piggy) and also Cetti's warblers. Oh and saw a grey seal swimming past the beach. And turnstones on the prom at Sheringham (they're always there, so cute). Not a bad day. My top money-saving tip for this journey (or similar trips to the coast) is to buy a 'bittern line day ranger' ticket at the train station, which is only £9 and includes all your train and Coasthopper bus journeys for the day...bargain.


Back to the veggies, I sowed my Autumn broad beans this week, and will plant out the garlic soon too. I have a few last winter squashes which I put in the allotment shed to cure, to bring home as well. Thanks for reading, I'm linking in as usual with Harvest Monday, kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.


Monday, 9 October 2017

Harvest Monday - hanging on to summer veggies

Down at the allotment I had a pleasant surprise - my best courgette plant had pushed out another fruit. I was pleased I hadn't got round to clearing that bed yet! If we have a bit of decent weather (which is looking like a possibility later in the week) I might get another one too.
I podded a load of the blauhilde beans from the allotment - they look really lovely. I quite enjoy the podding, apart from when there's an unexpected manky bean inside (which doesn't seem to be indicated from the outside of the pod so not sure what causes it).
I ended up with a nice big bowlful that I made into a stew which lasted several meals.
I've been clearing the bed where I'll be planting Autumn broad beans, and in the process harvested a load of self-sown rainbow chard that would otherwise be in the way. I love the brightly coloured stems (the yellowy photo doesn't do them much justice) -
And a nice amount of leafage too. I added the chopped stems and leaves to the bean stew as well. The fiddly thing is making sure you've got rid of all the tiny baby snails that have been making their home in the chard. I find them wandering off round the kitchen.
The baby snails have been enjoying the kale leaves as well. Here's some that escaped the munching. I've made an effort to weed around the kale now, to reduce the hidey places for the snails. I've also been sorting out my compost bays and last year's leafmould pile, starting to cover the beds with protective mulch for the winter. The worms will do their work, taking the goodness into the soil without the need to dig it or even fork it in, which has many benefits that I won't go into right now.
I've had a huge crop of apples this year from my four dwarf trees - in particular the Charles Ross eaters (which were huge) and these Caroline dual-purpose (which are actually quite sweet too) - several colanders of these alone. My other two trees did pretty well (Katy and Discovery) but they needed harvesting and eating a while back. I'll make sure to give all the trees and fruit bushes a good layer of mulch too. I've stored a couple of trays of the Carolines in the shed (with each apple wrapped individually in paper).
At home I've finished clearing all the tomato plants from their pots in the lean-to greenhouse, and the remaining toms are slowly ripening together. I've brought this tub inside now as it gets so cold at night (and sometimes during the day).
So, in the ex-tomato pots I've been planting out previously sown winter salady things, like winter purslane (here with some self-sown corn salad from the allotment). I also have sweet rocket, mizuna and coriander, plus dill and a couple of other things that were spares from Eves Hill Veg co where I volunteer. So it's nice to see the lean-to still providing some food despite the change in seasons (I still have a bit of lettuce outside in the garden too).
And the sweet peppers in the lean-to are doing ok too, continuing to ripen slowly as well. I also picked a couple of green ones that were showing signs of damage. Unfortunately I lost a nice big one that I hadn't noticed was rotting on the plant.
I was going to head to the allotment today but it was a bit drizzly on and off, so I cleared some of the beans from the back garden instead, inbetween showers. I had a problem earlier this spring with weevils emerging from last-year's saved borlotti beans, so didn't actually have that many to sow, but ended up with a reasonable amount from half a wigwam of beans. I'll pod and cook-up the fresher beans, and save the drier pods for sowing next year (keeping a closer eye out for weevils).
The beans are lovely, they remind me of mini camouflaged birds eggs.
I grew some more blauhilde up the fence behind the wigwam, and they looked about right to harvest aswell - more podding required.
There were a few that could be eaten as flat beans, plus in the other bed the runner beans had a handful of nice ones too.
Out at Eves Hill Veg Co this week (not-for-profit market garden where I volunteer), the two polytunnels are also reflecting the change of seasons, with cucumber and tomato plants being cleared for winter salads. They're looking really healthy.
And some of the winter squashes are curing inside too. We harvested the remaining crown prince, which was a fun treasure hunt, spotting the delicious fruits amongst the underlying clover green manure. There are still lots of the small sweet dumpling squashes to harvest, which we'll get this week.
In the smaller polytunnel the basil is just about coming to an end so we each took some bunches home to make a tasty pesto. I combined mine with toasted walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Ooh that reminds me, I have foraged a few walnuts from a tree near the allotment....I've had my eye on the young tree for a few years, waiting for it to start producing nuts. I'll have to see if there's actually anything inside the shells.
Back to the polytunnel - some lovely salad plugs that will fill the rest of the beds once the summer crops are all finished. Yum.

So there's still plenty going on. I'm hoping to get my garlic and broad beans planted out on the allotment this week, and continue clearing beds and mulching, plus collecting leaves for next year's leaf mould. I didn't get round to creating new strawberry beds, so I might take a look at the old ones, and see if I can at least take out some of the older plants.


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


Monday, 2 October 2017

Harvest Monday - bits n bobs

We're still getting some small harvests of summer-y veggies - here's some runner beans and cukes from the back garden. The smallest cuke actually went in the compost as it was too 'seedy' (seeds had gotten big and not much non-seedy flesh left around the outside).
And I found another couple of nice beans in this morning's sunshine (I've chopped a lot of the older leafy growth off to let in light and air, just in case it helps along a few more beans on the newer growth).
And I spied another cuke still hanging on. I've left this one on the plant for now.
Earlier in the week I picked a couple of sweet peppers (variety lipstick) from the lean-to. I can't remember what I made with these but I know it was tasty.
Inside the house, the chilli fruits are ripening - I have two plants I sowed this year.
And my over-wintered chillis produced fruit a lot earlier. But unfortunately, laziness on my part meant that the greenfly took hold. I still need to clean them off really, but I'm still also feeling lazy.
Also in the lean-to, there are still a few tomatoes ripening.
And the winter purslane / claytonia plugs which I sowed a while back have started settling in to their new positions in some of the pots / compost that held tomato plants. They've needed quite a lot of watering (daily) despite the cooler weather).
The same goes for the rocket (variety esmee), pictured below. The winter purslane plugs I planted out on the allotment were looking a tad miserable the last time I was down there, but hopefully the recent rain has helped them settle in. They went into a bed I had potatoes in. Incidentally, I lifted the majority of the potatoes this week, one bed definitely produced better spuds than the other. I need to sort them out into user-uppers and keepers, though there aren't actually too many user-uppers, which is better than usual, mainly just from a little bit of slug damage and a bit of scab.
I also picked some nice big chard leaves from the plot - these were self-sown inbetween two rows of summer raspberries. Oh and talking of raspberries, I cooked up a big batch of quince, apple and raspberries on the hob. I cooked the chopped quince for a little bit first, just in a little bit of water, as they're quite hard, then added the chopped apples (which I picked from the plot this week) and rasps from the freezer. It made a really interesting flavour combination, and as the apples were quite sweet there was no need to add any sugar.
Back to that chard, the stems were a lovely colour.
My mum has been visiting for a few days, and so she kindly helped me pick and pod a load of blauhilde beans from the allotment. We probably picked about half I reckon. What a kind mum, especially as it kept raining on us (I lent her a spare pair of wellies, am so generous). The podded beans were quite white but the cooked beans went a light purply colour. I've frozen most of them and made a sort of hummus with some as a trial - it's quite tasty. Thanks for everyone's advice on how you preserve your beans. I decided not to store them dried as I had a weevil problem hatch out this spring in some borlotti seed I'd saved from last year, so didn't want something similar to happen this time.
My mum also helped me pick more hazel nuts from the allotment, looking for the darker ones still attached to the tree. So far there are two trays like this ripening up, with a few more left to pick. It's been quite windy today so there may be some fallen on the ground, plus windfall apples, so I'd better go and check sometime tomorrow.
I wanted to make a squash soup tonight, so chose one of the 'cream of the crop' which had a slightly damaged skin and which the stalk fell off of, as it wouldn't store so well. It's the first time I've grown this variety. The flesh was quite pale but quite a good thickness.
I gently fried some homegrown onion and garlic, added some spices, the cubed squash, some homegrown cubed potatoes, and a bit of leftover carrot (the only veggie not homegrown in the dish) and covered with water, cooking until all soft, then whizzed it up and added a bit of milk. It was good! And hopefully the first of many tasty squash dishes.

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


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Harvest Monday - summer veggies hanging on / Autumn veggies coming in

I haven't managed many trips to the plot this week, but on one occasion I took along a few module-grown seedlings of winter purslane and mizuna, to plant out where my main crop potatoes have been. This meant digging up a couple more potato plants to make space. I've been really impressed with the harvests from these (variety Cara), very clean, no scab (usually a problem with my sandy soil), and they make very tasty wedges. We haven't really used them for any other dishes so I'm not sure how they'll be boiled or mashed yet.
A couple were huge, this one as big as my hand. I still have quite a few plants to harvest from but need a day when I'm free, to coincide with a day when it's dry, to lift them, so they can 'cure' a bit in the open air before storing.
I was weeding around some beetroots (which I'd originally sown in modules, and planted out under my bean wigwams), and accidentally pulled a couple out, so thought I'd take a few more whilst I was at it. I've boiled these tonight, to slice in sandwiches. I've still got quite a few of these to harvest as well, but I'll leave them in place for a while longer.
In the lean-to at home, I'm still getting a few tomatoes, ripening a lot slower now. I took down most of the tom plants last week, and put all the fruits from them together in a tray, set on a bench for ripening. There are a few on the remaining plants too, from which I've removed pretty much all the leaves, to let in as much light as possible. Here are the ones in the tray, photo taken tonight just as it started to get dark. Oh look, you can see my toes too, ha ha.
The peppers are also continuing to ripen slowly, here's a two-tone one. Of course the idea isn't to have a two-tone pepper, which is due to uneven ripening, but I quite like it.
A season's first came along this week in the form of corn salad - self seeded in the leafmould around my blueberry plants on the allotment. I picked the whole plant, it was nice and healthy so must've liked the conditions there. An added bonus was that there wasn't any soil splash on the leaves, due to the leafmould covering the soil, hurrah. I have to keep my eyes peeled for the self seeded corn salad plants around the plot, and then also remember to harvest them. There should be quite a lot, and they grow better at this time of year, wheras earlier in the summer they tend to bolt. Today I also picked the first few rocket leaves, from modules I planted into the old tomato tubs this week - they seem to be settling in quite well.
I made a batch of spiced cauliflower fritters earlier in week, which produces enough to last us several meals, and which I usually heat back up in the oven (along with some of those yummy Cara potato wedges). NB cauliflower not homegrown! Anyway, with the last meal of fritters I decided to do something a bit different and chopped them up to cook along with a load of actual homegrown veggies. It turned out to be really tasty, and the fritters had a texture a bit like tofu (though obviously not vegan due to the eggs).
Oh I've also had a few last summer squashes and cucumbers from the plot....they're hanging on in as long as they can. I should be able to pop down tomorrow so will see if I can find any more.
I brought home another 'cream of the crop' winter squash. Unforfunately I accidentally broke the stem off this one whilst I was harvesting it, so we'll have to use it up sometime soon, because it won't store very well (more prone to rotting).
There've been some more hazels ready to pick from the allotment. This year has been brilliant for them (well, it looks like it has anyway - we won't know for sure until I crack them open, though I hope I've been quite good at wheedling out the empty ones. ). They still need a bit longer to properly ripen - I can't wait for toasted hazelnuts, mmm.
I fancied trying some of the blauhilde beans which I'd left to 'pod up' and was pleasantly surprised with them - the white bean (which doesn't show that well in the yellowy light at home) was a lovely contrast to the purple pods. There are loads to harvest from the plot - my mum's coming to visit this week for a few days so I might try and rope her in to helping, hehe. At the moment I haven't quite decided how to store them - either let them fully dry off, or cook them up to freeze for quicker meal prep later. What do you do with yours?

I keep forgetting to photograph my apple harvests. The eaters are huge and quite sweet. Anyway, I shall call that a night, I've been out on a gardening job today and am a tad sleepy zzz. So thanks for reading, and I'm linking in as usual with Harvest Monday kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.