Sunday, 20 November 2011

Tomato Harvest

Ive just moved house and my new house is yet to have internet so theres been a delay to my post...

    The weather seems to have been milder for longer compared to last year so i risked leaving my tomatoes outside for longer than normal. However i couldnt put it off forever and i had to bring in the last of my toms. It always feels like winter really is on it's way when the toms are taken down.
    This year I grew Ferline, Yellow Stuffer and Country Taste. I also tried Pineapple as a bit of a gamble as it says it prefers a greenhouse. The gamble didnt pay off though as the toms never ripened.

     Ferline toms are my reliable crop that I always grow. They have good blight resistance and produce large, sweet, firm toms. Yellow Stuffer produced large toms that did what they said they would 'good bakers'. My overall crop wasnt as bountyfull as last year but they remained completely blight free!
    Theres so many different things you can do with tomatoes. My favourite ways to preserve them so you get the taste of summer through the winter are 'Green tomato Chutney' and 'Homemade Tomato Sauce'. 

    I think Green Tomato Chutney is a must have recipe! The fact that it can turn a crop that would otherwise go on the compost heap, into a tasty chutney is pretty amazing. There are loads of different recipes out there but my favourite is from My Tiny Plot .

   I also like to make a tomato sauce to rival any ketchup. I got the recipe from the River Cottage book of perserves by Pam Corbin.

I roasted my tomatoes with garlic and herbs to make a passatta.

Then you cook it with added spices, vinegar and sugar.

   It soon makes any ordinary sandwich very special and tasty.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The last of the runners

   Sorry I haven't posted on here for a while, but that doesn't mean I've been slacking in the garden . . .

I grew a lot (and i mean a lot) of beans especially runner beans. I loved all the different colours of the flowers, they are an attractive climber and shouldn't be over looked for any garden.

   Ive had plenty of harvests from my plants, in fact there's been too many! As Ive never grown runners before I wasn't sure what to expect. I find the strings a bit off putting, and because I had too many plants i couldn't keep up with picking them young and tender. I even pickled some in an effort to preserve them for later months. Does anyone have and tasty recipes they use for runners  (you can only have so many boiled runners) ???

    I think next year i will definitley plant more french beans than runners. This year I've grown purple teepee and they were tasty and the colour made them stand out at the plot. It's just a shame that the colour disappears when they're submerged into boiling water. I've also grown borlotti beans this year, which was another first. The type was 'Blorlotti Lingua di Fuoco' and they are still going strong now. They're great to add to stews and casseroles to bulk them out.


Monday, 8 August 2011

successful beets!

    I decided to pull my first beetroot up from the plot. The beetroot I've grown in previous years have never really been that big, they're normally more leaf than beet. However this year is the year of the beetroot!

    I think the success of them has been down to the lack of rainfall this year. My problem before has always been that ive over watered them so they grow lush top growth and dont get chance to make a nice fat root. I roasted these with some balsamic and then had them in a salad with goats cheese - perfect!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Tiny Sweetcorn ?!

   This is my first year growing sweetcorn. They seemed to get off to a flying start in modules, but ever since ive planted them out they havent been as happy. First they went quite yellow, however a quick feed soon perked them up and they returned to a lush green. My problem with them now is that they seemed to have 'bolted'. My whole block of sweetcorn have got male flowers appearing at the top and if you look closely you can see small cobs appearing. 'Why is that a problem?' I hear you ask. Well, the problem is that they only come up to my knee!

    When i think of sweetcorn i think of fields full of plants that are taller than me (at 5ft 2 thats not hard) not plants that are as high as my knee! I can only put this down to the dry spring and summer so far this year. My plot doesnt have a water supply so they probably haven't had as much water as they would have liked. Does anyone know if this is normal for the flowers to appear while they are so short still? Will they keep gaining height? Even if i end up with small little cobs of sweetcorn i'll still be happy. I cant wait to taste how sweet sweetcorn should really be instead of the bland stuff you buy in the shops.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Harvest Begins

   Ive been harvesting some crops now for the last few weeks. It feels good to finally be able to get some fruit and veg to use.

   The strawberrys in my pots were a few weeks behind the ones at the plot, however they were a lot bigger in size. I had to cover my pots with fleece ( i had no netting) to stop all the birds from pecking at them. 

   Dont the first peas always taste the best. You've waited all year to taste the sweetness and they never dissappoint. Mine never make it back to the kitchen as they are always eaten as i walk round the garden. This was my first ever harvest of mangetout. They arent as sweet as peas but they are miles better than the bland ones you buy from the supermarket. I cant get over how productive they are either.

   I wish i could say the lettuces were mine, but they were given to me by my plot neighbour. however the magetout were mine and so was the blackcurrants, which i turned into jars of blackcurrant jelly.

   I picked the first of the gooseberrys. Ive never used them before but now that ive got three big bushes on my plot, i need to collect a few recipes for them.  This first batch got turned into chutney.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Blackbirds-1 : Me-0

    The other day my big old redcurrant bush that ive inherited on my plot was dripping in currants. i went away looking for recipes for redcurrant jelly. I was looking forward to it as ive never used redcurrants for cooking before. However the next day when i was going to harvest them the heavens decided to open and it poured it down all day. I was grateful for this though as its been so dry recently, so it saved me watering everything.

    However the next day when the raining had stopped i went to pick my currants. Once i got to the plot i was shocked! The bush had been completely stripped in 24hours. Damn those blackbirds! They must of had a feast- an eat as much as you can buffet! i managed to pick the few stragglers that the birds obviously didnt want.

    And this is my result from my pickings. Just half a jar of red currant jelly. But this will be the best half a jar of redcurrant jelly i will eat! well ive learnt my lesson this year- the currants dont wait around for you to pick them. blackbirds- 1 : me- 0

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Time for the tenders

    Ive finally got my sweetcorn planted out in the plot. its the first time ive grown it and i didnt realise how quick it grows. Next year i'll sow them a few weeks later as they've been patiently sitting in pots that they out grew a while ago. They look like strong plants. I just hope the weather holds out this summer and i actually get a cob. I cant wait to see how sweet they taste straight off the plant. The variety im growing is 'Extra Tender and Sweet F1'.

   Meanwhile at home ive planted my tomatoes. i love growing tomatoes due to the variety that you can grow. This year Im growing 'Ferline', 'Yellow Stuffer', 'Country Taste', 'Pineapple', 'Black Cherry' and 'Gardeners Delight'. I've also done my first bit of companion planted and used french marigolds, they're meant to keep away white fly.

    Over winter i used the tomato pots for onions and garlic. i had never grown these before either. unfortunatly only one of my overwintered onions survived, so early spring i replaced them with some more onion sets. They arent very big but i couldnt wait any longer for my toms to go out.  


    Also just wanted to show you my raspberries. They are 'Polka'. I wasnt sure how well they'd get on in containers, but i read they had swallow roots so i thought i'd give them ago. They were planted last autumn. I harvested my first raspberry today and it was a right gem!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Pottering about...

    Ive been focusing on my plot, but i thought i'd show you whats going on in the garden at home. Although ive got my plot im still growing things at home in pots like usual.

    i've got my salad potatoes growing in the grow sacks which have got the first buds appearing on them. My strawberries are fruiting, just need them to ripen up now.

    This is the small amount of ground ive got to grow in in my garden. ive currently got peas, beetroot- Bulls Blood (which are very attractive plants) and parsnips ( which ive never grown before).

Parsnips and leeks


sweetcorn (in desperate need of planting out at the plot)

my first runner beans emerging

my lemon grass which ive grown from seed (although my dog has taken a liking to it and keeps eating the leaves!)

Beans and peas

    Ive been on nights this week so i haven't had chance to get up to the plot. However last week i got quite a lot done. Firstly i finished digging over the bed. It was hard work as the soil was that dry and compacted that i had to jump on the fork to get it into the ground. Also the couch grass had knitted itself together which made picking it out take forever. However i felt pleased once it was done as it meant i could get on with growing!
    Ive never grown runner beans before as i didnt have room so i had to do a bit of research about them. I read that they normally like a trench to be dug which is filled with things like kitchen veg which rot down and release nutrients. However its a bit late for that, so instead i copied a method i saw on Gardeners World when Joe Swift had an allotment.

    I dug a trench then added a layer of rotted manure and soaked newspaper to hold moisture. i then back filled it and it was immediately ready to be planted.

    The next step was to construct some home made bean runs with bamboo canes and string. I just hope they withstand the wind. I also used bean netting for the peas so they'll have something to cling to. Once they were up i met one of my plot neighbours for the first time. He gave me some spare runner bean plants which i was grateful for. I just hope i like them because with his plants added to mine that i sowed at home means i'll have about 40 plants! I'll just have to get looking for chutney recipes!

     The peas im growing at the plot are a heritage variety called 'Alderman'. They are meant to be a tall main crop pea. i just hope they produce lots of peas, because i dont think its possible to have too many. Non of mine have ever made it to the kitchen in the past, they always get eaten straight off the plant.

    My next task is to get this bed dug and cleared by next week. Its going to be home to my sweetcorn and winter squash. Ive never grown sweetcorn before so im looking forward to trying something new. And im happy i finally have room to grow some squash as i love the vegetable. i grew one in the past before and it took over the the back garden!

Monday, 16 May 2011

A busy May day

     Ive been busy with work so ive got a bit behind with digging over the beds. The biggest bed is dug and planted with potatoes and a few sowings of carrots, beetroot, parsnips and radish ( however due to the hot dry April germination hasn't been the best).

    On one of the beds, its mostly taken up with gooseberry bushes. so ive cleared one end of it which just had weeds on. Ive then erected a make-shift wigwam. it consists of canes with string wrapped around them. This should hopefully be enough for the peas to grab hold of as they scramble up it. 

   The wigwam is going to be home to mangetout. Ive never grown them before due to the fact that the shop bought ones are pretty tasteless. However if they taste half as good as home grown peas then i'll be happy. I sowed the seeds at the base of the wigwam. Then i covered the ground with holly incase mice are a problem at the plot. The holly seems to have been successful too as the peas are just poking their heads through the soil now.

   At the moment I'm digging my way through another bed. As you can see from the picture its pretty over grown. It must have been the old strawberry patch, and i have to say it feels pretty wrong to be digging up healthy strawberry plants that have got green strawberries on them. However it needs to be done as its riddled with couch grass. I also need it dug ASAP as this bed is going to have my peas and beans in.

    I just have to take a second to acknowledge some of the gorgeous flowers that have burst into colour these past few weeks. There's a beautiful Peony at the back of my plot, however it has since been battered down by the rain ( I'll give it some support next year). There are also lovely bright poppies all over the plot, pinks oranges and reds. The one pictured here is unfortunately in the middle of the bed I'm clearing, so wont be around to admire for much longer.

   Meanwhile back at home ive been sowing some beans. These are Borlotti beans and ive never grown them before. i cant believe how pretty the beans are. Ive put one bean per root trainer. These will be staying at home though, destined for a row of canes in the back garden.

Friday, 29 April 2011

The big dig begins

To clear the plot completely would be a big job. Its got a lot of grass areas which are filled with dandelions and couch grass, not to mention the brambles which have got out of control. Instead i think the best plan of action is to just clear the existing beds for this season and then clear the plot completely in the autumn. This way i get to still get some homegrown this year! So i started digging...

   ... and it was hard work. Riddled with couch grass and other weeds. The high temperatures this April didn't make the work any easier either. But i eventually got the largest bed dug over and ready for seeds.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A 18 North

   I got the call i had been waiting 2 years for at the start of this month, April 5th. Its a half plot but is still seems pretty big. I can see why people can find a full plot daunting. A 18 North is about 25ft x 83ft. The woman who had it before obviously loved her fruit, as its mainly taken up by gooseberry, currant and bramble bushes. I didnt think it was in too bad a state, but with closer inspection i think it is going to take a lot of work to get it producing.

   A good point is that it's got a shed (although its got a leaky roof and faces away from my plot) but its somewhere to store my tools so i cant complain. There is a large rose bush next to the shed which will need clearing eventually. In front of the shed is yet more gooseberry bushes.

    There are a four beds on the plot, varying in size. These are divided up by fruit bushes and by areas of grass ( i say grass, i mean lawn made up completely of dandelions). So its the start of the hard work, but i cant wait...