Friday, 6 September 2013

Back from holiday

   I returned from holiday to find a bumper crop waiting for me at the plot. All my purple French beans had matured, so I picked them to encourage more to grow. My first peas were ready for picking. I had given up any hope of getting a harvest of peas as most of my plants had only got about 3 inches tall and then given up, but amazingly they have had a growth spurt and freshly picked peas are one of the best things from the plot. Needless to say most of them got scoffed there and then. My courgettes had gone mad and made two of the biggest marrows I've ever seen! Not quite sure what to do with the monsters.

   To my delight my cherry tomatoes at the plot have finally started to ripen. They look like little jewels. Im very pleased with them. The 'Sungold' and 'Sweet baby' plants have produced a bumper crop. Now all I'm waiting for are my main tomato plants to ripen at home. They are still green. I just need the first one to start to turn red and then the rest tend to follow.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The harvests keep coming

  This is the time of year where your hard work is really rewarded as the veg is producing bumper crops. Every time I visit the plot I always come away with a trug of lovely edibles. The main problem is trying to find ways of using up all the produce!

   This is definitely a bumper year for courgettes. They weren't very good last year because of the poor wet summer, but they are making up for it this time. If I've not been to the plot for a few days I find the courgettes have quickly turned into marrows- good thing I love courgettes!

   My broad beans have also made up for their poor performance last year. I sowed these a lot later than I normally would but it has paid off. I've still got plenty to harvest.

   Finally my tomatoes are looking glorious. The plants are looking good and healthy and have big fat tomatoes hanging by the trusses. All I need now is for them to start to ripen. I keep checking them every day for the slightest hint of red. It just takes the first one to start to ripen and the rest follow suit.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Redcurrant delight

   Ive got a bumper crop of Redcurrants this year. The birds have already stared to feast upon them so I decided to start to harvest them before I have non left. The bush looks beautiful laden with red jewels.
   I harvested all these and there is still plenty left on the bush. The problem is trying to think of what to do with them all. Ive still got jars of redcurrant jelly left from last time so I decided to give redcurrant jam a go. It basically just a bit sweeter than redcurrant jelly (and because im not too keen on the seeds in redcurrants then I've turned it into a jelly as well!).
Redcurrant Jam:
1.2kg redcurrants
1kg caster sugar
Put the redcurrants in a pan with 500ml of water. bring to the boil and simmer till the berries are soft and have begun to release their juice.
Strain the redcurrants. ( I do this through a sieve lined with a jay cloth).
Then add the sugar to the juice and let the sugar dissolve. Then bring to a rolling boil. Try the jam test to know when its done.
Then put into sterilise jars. This made three and a half jars of jam for me But they were large jars so it should make about four jars depending on the size.


Soaking up the sun

    All the plants are thriving in the glorious sunshine. After having an almost non-existent summer the last two years, it has really made a change to have a decent spell of warm weather.

   My sweetcorn plants are looking strong and healthy. They are planted in a grid with a few squash plants at their bases and courgette plants around the edges. I cant wait till the super sweet cobs will be ready for harvesting.

   The tomato plants are looking good. The first trusses of fruits are appearing now. These are 'Ferline' and they are always a reliable variety for growing outdoors. 

   Ive planted out a row of Swiss Chard. I love the range of colours you can get from 'Bright Lights'. Ive never managed to get a real harvest from Chard plants before so Im hoping things will change this year.

   My broad bean plants are further behind than normal due to the cold spring. They are in flower at present with no sign of black fly.

   These are my 'Electric Daisy' plants from the home grown revolution by James Wong. The idea of a fizzy numbing sensation from the flowers fascinates me. They are ready to be planted out now and at the moment  small buds are just starting to form.

   I've got a mass of brassicas waiting for space to become available. I've just continued to pot them on to keep them healthy. Hopefully they will be able to follow on from my potatoes when they all get dug up.

  This is my edible hanging basket. Ive done this for the last two year but its looking at its best this year. It consists of three tomato plants - 'Fountain' and 'Rambling Gold Stripe', which were started off in a heated propagator towards the end of March. It then has nasturtium plants which provide edible flowers for salads.

   This is my first courgette harvest. I've grown 'Best of British', 'Safari' and 'Soleil'. I like to have a variety of colours as they look good in dishes. Courgettes are one of my favourite plants to grow so I say bring on the glut! I just hope the hot dry weather doesn't reduce their productivity. I've already had a few courgettes which have been withered at one end which I think may be due to a lack of water.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Hedgerow Bounty

I've not posted in a while. With starting a new job I've not got round to posting, but that doesn't mean things haven't been growing. Things have had a slow start this year due to the cold almost non-existent spring. However this week the sun seems to have finally made a late appearance and the plants are loving it. The hedgerow is also benefitting from the sun and the elderflowers are in full bloom. There's just masses of flowers which means time for a bit of creative cooking. Normally I make elderflower champagne but I've decided to try making a cordial this year and for the price of a few lemons and a kilo of sugar I've got a lovely drink to keep me refreshed. Its also great added to fruit dishes especially any gooseberry puddings.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Lets get started

   I got the egg boxes out and put them to good use. I use them to chit my potatoes in as they are the perfect holder for the seed potatoes. This year I'm just growing salad varieties due to the blight that keeps striking at the plot. I'm growing three types this year: 'Belle de Fontenay', 'Kestrel', and 'Arran Pilot'. Chitting potatoes always feels like the start of the new growing season.

   I also decided to plant my shallots into modules. I'm growing 'Longor' variety this year. The bed isn't quite ready for them to go out and be planted directly ( it still needs to be weeded and dug over!) so this way i hope they will get off to a good start.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

First harvest

   I finally dug up my Jerusalem Artichokes. I had planted the majority at the plot but also planted  a few tubers into a pot. Well from the pot I got a bumper crop of...... one artichoke! It just looked like the rest of the tubers hadn't developed. So off to the plot I ventured to dig up the rest of the tubers with my fingers crossed they would be more bountiful. It felt good to be digging again and to be harvesting. Luckily the tubers in the ground had done better than the ones in the pot. I had never had Jerusalem Artichokes before so i copied a recipe I saw Alys Fowler do on her series and I made an artichoke gratin. It was very nice and I will certainly be growing them again this year. I just need to find a few more recipes for them.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year!

   This is the start to my second full year on the plot. Looking back over the last year I must admit that I didn't spend as much time up there as I wanted to. It was a combination of the awful weather and the daunting task of all the work that needs doing. I inherited my plot and its quite overgrown with pampas grasses, brambles and wild roses and it just seems overwhelming at times. But I'm not letting the same thing happen this year. I just need to get stuck in and crack on with it. And now seems a perfect time while everything is still dormant.

   So after looking at the many seed catalogues my green fingers started itching. I decided to plant my garlic cloves in little pots and put them outside so that they have a chance of getting frosted. ( Normally I would have planted my garlic cloves direct back in November but the ground hasn't been prepared so I'm improvising). It feels good  to know I've got something planted up ready.