Monday, 17 October 2016

Harvest Monday - still hanging in there

Out in the glass lean-to attached to the back of our house, some of the summer fruits are still ripening away. I finally got round to harvesting the few aubergines, plus a few peppers (some red, and some green). A couple of the green peppers had dodgy spots starting to develop, so it was best to just pick them and use them up. Hopefully some of the others still on the plants will continue to turn red (I much prefer the flavour of red to green peppers). We'll have to see though, because at this time of year, even though the lean-to faces South, a large evergreen tree in the alley behind our house blocks out the lowering sun.
Down on the allotment I picked some more Nero kale and self-sown chard. I still haven't covered them over to protect from pigeons though. Hopefully I won't regret my tardiness!
I also found possibly the last summer squashes, though there is a chance of some really weany ones if we don't get a frost soon. The white custard marrow is protected on three sides by a low barrier of (safe) broken greenhouse glass that I put around it when planting out, so that might keep it going a bit longer too.
I harvested the remaining apples on one of my dwarf trees...I can't remember the variety but have it written somewhere (at one point there was a tag on the tree but that went missing ages ago). They're crunchy and have quite a sweet flavour. Some of the apples are rather small which probably means I should have thinned them out earlier in the year.
They fill up a bowl nicely though. There's a bit of damage from snails and other beasties.
This week I sorted out my previously dug-up potatoes, which had been sitting in a sack in the kitchen. I sorted them into three piles - the best (for storage), ones with holes (possibly slug damage) and ones starting to sprout, which both need using up asap. We went to use up the ones with holes in and unfortunately, even though in most cases there was only one or two small holes, the whole tuber was riddled inside with damage. Darn. It's not surprising....there have been loads of slugs this year and I bet they loved it under the mulch covering the potatoes.
Meals this week have included an omelette with courgettes, beans, chard and peppers. (I still have beans from last week).
A raw kale salad, with pepper and pumpkin seeds, drizzled with homemade cider vinegar.

It went nicely with some of the last few tomatoes, home-sprouted beans and homemade red cabbage coleslaw (not home grown unfortunately).

I've made the spiced apple cake again (third time recently, it's a nice cake!) and also made two big pots of spicy stew with loads of veg chucked in. We had friends round and that kind of meal is always an easy-ish tasty just mainly involves chopping veggies, which I like. Today we had leftovers, which I added noodles to, as a change from potatoes. I like the noodles because you can just add them raw in to the leftovers, add some more water to the pot, stick on the lid and let them cook away for a few minutes. Easy peasy and no extra washing up.


So I still need to work out my crop rotation, check out what seeds to order this year and get chopping away on the allotment. I did a bit of grass cutting this week, which feels good. But some paths I only recently cut already need another trim...the darned stuff just keeps growing. At least it's more to add to the compost heap.


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


Monday, 10 October 2016

Harvest Monday - and a canoe trip

I've had a pleasantly surprising amount of harvests this week, considering the turn in weather (cold and rainy)....there's been another cucumber in the lean-to:
A few more tomatoes (also in the lean-to)...
Peppers from the lean-to and beans from the back garden (the purple French beans were a big surprise, hiding under some leaves)
A big bunch of chard from the allotment, with lots more to come
Some more summer squashes being slowly squeezed out, plus some beans
And a big bunch of Nero kale. Again there's still quite a bit more of this, which I should protect soon from the pigeons over winter (same for the chard).... Just need a dry day to do some more path cutting around them before I lay out the enviromesh.
I thought kale and butternut squash would go well together (using up my split butternut squash first) and found a nice looking stew recipe online.
The split hadn't affected the inside of the squash at all, hurrah
I would recommend the recipe, a delicious one-pot dish full of lovely spicy flavours (smoked paprika, chilli flakes, cumin, coriander). I added in turmeric as well.

A few toasted flaked almonds on top added some nice crunch.

I made another spiced apple cake this week too (using less than half the sugar, and room temp goats butter instead of oil).
I took half the cake round to a friend's house today, leaving us with the other smells amazing..mmm
Canoe trip from Norwich
It was Jan's birthday recently and some of our friends kindly gave her a voucher for a two-person canoe trip (which meant I could enjoy it too, yes). There's a firm called Pub and collect the canoe from one pub and then paddle up and down the river (stopping off at other pubs if you wish). We had a four hour session booked, which ended up as about 3 hours of paddling and an hour at a pub for lunch.
Because we went out on a Friday and it was slightly off-season there wasn't much other river traffic around, phew. Especially as to begin with we weren't very good at paddling in a straight line, oops.
It was lovely though, seeing things from a different angle (Cow Tower in the pic below) and exploring parts of the close-by countryside from the water. We saw two kingfishers fly by aswell, brill. And didn't fall in the water, double-brill.
Once we'd returned the canoe we had a little walk by the river too, and made friends with some ruddy darter (I think) dragonflies, he hee. They liked the warmth of our skin.
So back to the veggies, in the next few days I'll be looking at what'll go where this coming year (crop rotation), particularly for the autumn sown broad beans and garlic that need to go in soon. I used to plant out autumn onion sets as well, but they don't do too well for me, so now I just plant out sets in the spring. Ooh, it almost feels like spring is on the way...just got autumn and winter first (hopefully with some more harvests throughout).

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



Monday, 3 October 2016

Harvest Monday and a glean

We've had a lovely sunny autumn day today....hopefully this is a trend for the rest of October (bit of wishful thinking there but you never know). The evenings are chilly, but that's what I like about this time of year, it's nice to start wrapping up. I've actually got socks on for the first time in months, gasp.
I've had a steady trickle of harvests this week...the summer crops are hanging on in there. We were also lucky enough to be given 10 eggs from our friends who've recently got some new hens....they're good layers (the hens that is, not my friends).
Yesterday I spotted some quite long beans in the back garden
And got a decent harvest from a quick trip to the plot too
Plus some reasonable toms from the lean-to today. It was quite warm in there with the sun out.
I've made this spiced apple cake a couple of times this week, with apples from my allotment (and in the second cake I used the gifted eggs). The recipe uses two cups of sugar, but that's way too sweet, so I actually use just-under one cup. I also replace the oil with room temperature butter, which is soft enough to mix in ok.
I didn't have chance to take any nice pictures of it dished out, but got good reports from everybody who had a slice. I expect I'll be making more because lucky me, I got this huge bag of apples this afternoon after helping in a friend's garden...
I volunteered at another gleaning day this weekend, returning to the organic farm in west Norfolk. There were only seven of us but we harvested masses of food.
Broccoli / calabrese field
Big ol' field - looking back the other direction
You can see the stumps where the farm workers had already been through harvesting the main crop. We were getting the smaller heads that had been left behind, but still lovely veggies. It's quite fun spotting the heads, in a sea of leaves. There must've been about 30-40 trays worth that we found.
We also harvested about 70 trays of caulis...some were too small for the farmer to harvest, or they had a slight discoloration or a spot or two of black, but nothing that couldn't be easily cut out.

The morning was beautifully sunny but then rain set in, so the afternoon turned out rather soggy, harvesting trays of Savoy cabbage and onions. Still good fun though. Goodness knows how much we saved from being wasted but it was several van loads altogether over the course of the day....and once again we could've harvested more if there'd been more of us. But word is getting round, with new people taking part each time. Hopefully I can make the next one, in a couple of weeks. The gleaning days are organised by Feedback and the food is distributed by FareShare, do get involved if you can.


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



Monday, 26 September 2016

Harvest Monday - autumny harvests and a glean

Brr, it's gone more autumny now, and a bit rainy today too. But there's still some reasonable harvests coming in. I managed to get a few much-needed hours in on the allotment before the rain came along....the paths are really overgrown so I'm working my way round them with the shears, and doing a bit of weeding in the beds as I go too. I also spotted some other jobs which need doing, like moving one of my dwarf apple trees, which is getting shaded out by the two hazels. I'll wait until it's dropped its leaves before I move it though.
In the back garden there's still some beans slowly growing, with a couple of pickings like this during the week:
And in the lean-to I've been picking pairs of peppers (both are sweet varieties. Oh the Quadratos (right hand side) didn't turn out to be hot like the first one, so I guess that was a fluke).

Just a few tomatoes this week
I've set aside some of the green tomatoes together, for ripening. I cut down most of the plants but there are still a handful left standing, that have some toms on too.
I did get a couple of cukes from the lean-to aswell, and there may be more if the plants hold out.
The rest of the harvests are from today at the allotment...some nice chard and beans. These are actually quite big but the scale is hard to judge.
A few last summer squashes (though I should get a couple more courgettes). The little yellow ones weren't going to get any bigger because the plant was past it, so I thought I may as well pick them.
And I decided to bring back all the butternuts...not as many as I was hoping for but they'll see us through for a while. The biggest one is around 4 - 5 lbs (my scales don't go up high enough)'s a shame they didn't all get that big. I also dug up all my potatoes today...a nice big bagful, but no piccies!
Meals this week have included a nice stir fry by Jan (carrots aren't home grown unfortunately...I have none whatsoever).
And yesterday we roasted-up a big orange squash that I brought home from the allotment a few weeks back (might be a Hubbard variety?)
(With garlic and pumpkin seeds)
With roastie potatoes and topped with a curried veggie mix (plus crushed chick peas)
The potatoes came from a glean I helped at on Saturday, just over in Cambridgeshire, in the fens (I brought home some damaged potatoes which wouldn't have been good to include in the proper harvest).
Here we have a rather large, rather flat field (typical of the fens). The soil had absolutely no stones in it...incredible. So, the potatoes had recently been harvested by a machine, and we were kindly allowed by the farmer to go through finding any that had been missed or dropped.

It wasn't a very quick process as the potatoes were quite spread out, but every now and then there was a good's funny how excited you can get hunting for potatoes.

We were a smaller group than the last time I helped, but we still harvested around half a tonne of food that would've gone to waste. Here's some of the loverly tatties....
Once again, there were so many more potatoes that could have been harvested if we'd had more volunteers, but at least we saved a good load from going to waste. The gleaning days are organised by Feedback, and the harvests are then distributed by FareShare. It's really worthwhile taking a look to see if they're active in your it's a nice day out with nice people. They're active in the U.S. as well as over here.


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