Monday, 22 May 2017

Harvest Monday...and a bit of Sweden

I've been away for a few days (actually nine days...in Sweden!). So my previous post involved harvests just before we left and this week are harvests since we've been back. My radish gamble paid off (giving them a water to bring the growth on, and harvesting those ready just before the hol. On our return, there are loads at just the right size, and I haven't seen any yet which are too big or woody (there was a bit of a chickweed explosion in that bed though, so it needs a good weed).
 
They've been going nicely in sandwiches, here with some red onion top snippings, from a few spare onion sets I'm growing in a pot in the back garden. I never have any luck with salad onions, so this is a good equivalent.

That's it for the harvest photos, though I have also picked two big bagfuls of chard... I'm starting to clear the beds for squashes and brassicas etc that I have growing on at home. I also picked a nice handful of brassica flowers (similar to purple sprouting broccoli but from a cabbage plant I harvested the cabbage from ages ago. It's actually been really prolific, and was from a self seeded plant..bonus). That'll be the last though I reckon.

 

And as a sign of the upcoming summer...today I harvested our first strawberry! We were both at the allotment yesterday trying to get things back on track and Jan spied a strawberry partly ripe. So she turned it over for the other side to get the sun today (it's been very warm) and when I was dropping off some grass clippings there after a gardening job this afternoon...yes it was ready. Being a kindly person, although tempted to eat it there and then, I brought it home and we had half each!

 
So yes, we have just been to Sweden...brilliant. Stockholm, Gotland and Uppsala. We packed loads in and even managed to visit a couple of botanic gardens. Spring is later there, so although there were plenty of lovely spring flowers, and trees bursting leaves, there were empty beds waiting to be filled. Here's part of (one of the) botanic gardens in Uppsala (east Sweden)...
Garlic area
Quite a few raised beds with no edging, I'm doing this on a smaller scale on my allotment.
Nice compost bin
Hot bed using straw bales and old windows
Crops doing well under the glass.

Beehives....We saw quite a few in various places we visited.

A few shots from further afield...medieval town wall in Visby on the island of Gotland

'Chimpanzee rock' near Visby (though looks more like a gorilla)

Fishing village near Visby (we hired bikes for the day)
Lovely sunsets in Visby, facing west across the Baltic Sea. There were some unusual coastal birds (unusual to us anyway) including gooseanders, mergansers, eider ducks and we even spotted a lovely little blue throat feeding amongst the rocks (bit a like a robin but with a blue throat with a red patch in the middle).
Very clear water.
Faces in the walls and buildings
Stockholm at night
Oh and we met abba...ah sadly just kidding but these were very lifelike waxworks.

I noticed that in domestic gardens, having a raspberry patch was quite popular, and there were often fruit trees too. On Gotland there's a tradition of berry picking in the countryside and I meant to ask if the tasty frozen ones served with breakfast were picked by the staff at the hotel...they had several homemade berry preserves that were yummy anyway.
 
That's me for the week, thanks for reading. I'm linking in with Harvest Monday kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Harvest Monday - hello radishes

I noticed the radishes were starting to get to a decent size, just a little way off from being large enough to harvest. I also knew that coming up were several days in a row I wouldn't be able to get to the plot, and that they'd maybe then get too big. So, with a slight dilemma, I gave them a watering to bring them on a bit quicker and nipped down a couple of days later.

 

Well it seemed to work, there were loads (I can't remember the varieties). In fact there were so many I gave some away to our neighbours.

I think these might be the best radishes we've had from the plot. Very little slug damage too, maybe because it's been so dry plus I've been trying to keep any nearby weeds clear and the grass paths cut (hidey places for slugs). There were no signs yet of parsnip germination, but they take ages to get going (we sowed the radishes and parsnips in the same rows at the same time - this is pretty standard practice and works well because the radishes germinate quickly, mark the rows of parsnips, and can be harvested well before they get in the way of the parsnips.)
I picked some more chard too. Last year's plants are starting to bolt (run to seed), but there are plenty of new seedlings germinating where I've previously let plants seed. I'll probably leave some to grow-on in-situ and transplant some others.

Here's a chardy, radishy dish. Oh which also included wet garlic from the plot...I think it's all got rot so will have to lift it all. At least there will be more space for other crops to go in there then (not from the onion family though, as they'll just get the rot as well in that bed).

So next time I head to the plot will be a bit of a surprise...how will everything be doing? How high will the grass be? Will there be any radishes that aren't too big? It's kind of exciting as at this time of year things can change quickly. Also the weeds will no doubt have got a foot in the door but I had a hoe around as much as I could. That blimmin couch grass will probably need rootling out too.

 

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

 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Harvest Monday and overwintered chilli

What a week of weather.....frosts, hail, rain, sun, wind. I've fitted in a few trips to the plot, picking some decent chard from last year's self-sown plants. They've put on some really nice growth this spring.
Enjoyed with some titchy purple sprouting broccoli.
I've made another couple of blackberry cakes (berries from the freezer). The recipe is very easy here on mumsnet. It only makes a small cake so I double it to make two cakes instead. Mine look nothing like their photo though. I think another time I'd pop some berries on the top too so they'll sink in a bit and have a better distribution through the cake.
Talking of freezing things, with some crazy cold weather on the cards I properly covered my strawberries and potatoes (beforehand I'd only covered about half of them, with netting rather than enviromesh)
They survived unscathed, phew. I saw some on an allotment neighbour's plot that had the black dot in the middle of the flower, a sign that they'd been got by frost, aw.
Potatoes were fine too, I had some hoops to keep the mesh up off the potato foliage.
The tiny corn salad flowers were totally unbothered by the weather, looking lovely
Back at home, inside by the south-facing window, the over-wintered chillis are still flowering and even fruiting. This one is actually on a new plant that grew up next to the original
Here's where it's growing out from near the base of the original. Sometimes I sow two seeds in a module, so I think this might be the second seed from last year that for some reason germinated over winter instead.
The other overwintered chilli is producing more flowers (some flowers dropped off without fruit setting). I've still got a few of last summer's ripened red fruits on it as well.
But there's even fruit setting on this one too. This is on some new growth that developed on the side facing the window.
Funny eh? If I'd been trying to do this I bet it wouldn't have worked.
 
I've spent a couple of days volunteering at Eves Hill Veg Co this week - the usual Wednesday (where we planted out lots of lettuces) and a special monthly community Saturday, where the farm celebrated its first anniversary, wooh. We planted out loads of beetroot in the outside beds, plus the first few tomatoes in the big polytunnel (and we may have eaten lots of cake too - it's definitely been a cakey kind of week). There was a red legged partridge nearby behaving very oddly, pulling a weird posture, and I meant to go and see if it was laying eggs. Hopefully partridges don't like eating beetroot seedlings.
 
Thanks for reading, I'm linking in with Harvest Monday kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Harvest Monday and Eves Hill Veg Co

For a lot of us here in the UK the weather's become quite cool, with frosts and even possibly snow in the next couple of days. I saw a graphic of the cold weather moving down the east side of the country, right over Norwich, yikes. So this afternoon I checked on the potatoes - I could earth up the maincrops to protect the little bit of leafy growth above soil level, but the earlies were too tall already, with a lot of growth poking out and not enough soil remaining to rake up and over them. So instead I put some low hoops over the two rows and draped over a sheet of enviromesh, making sure none of it drooped onto the plants, as that can encourage frost scorch too, especially if the material touching the plants is wet. I did something similar with the strawberries, which are in full flower now, so fingers crossed.
 
The other day I noticed one of my garlics had keeled over a bit, so I forked it up to see if anything was obviously wrong below soil level. I couldn't tell if there were the beginnings of white rot, it didn't look too bad, but I'll keep an eye on the others. We could still eat this garlic though, including the stem, which is soft at this stage.
I like seeing the beginnings of cloves forming
It went into this hotpot that Jan made, tasty
In the lean-to I've still got some lettuces growing and a bit of rocket
In the freezer there's still lots of berries. I used some up in a couple of blackberry cakes, having been inspired by Dave's (Our Happy Acres) pudding last week. I forgot to take a photo until they were nearly all gone, and in this part of the cake the berries had dropped to the bottom, so not showing off my baking skills very well...tasted nice though.
Out in the paved front yard I have some tubs of plants, including a bit of mint. The mint does quite well out there as the yard faces north so it keeps cool usually. I had this as a mint tea...just add hot water and leave to steep for a couple of minutes. You might be able to spot some tiny aphids, which I did (mostly) wash off first.
I've had an exciting delivery....books! I had a voucher for the Green Shopping website, where there's loads of cool things. As I've been reading online about no-dig methods for a while, I thought it would be good to have something physical to refer to. I foresee many happy hours of browsing these beauties. I don't like getting many new things / more possessions but these were a welcome exception. I've also got my eye on some copper tools but I think they'll have to wait for birthday and Christmas combined.
Out at Eves Hill, the spring bed prep continues. Here we removed half a bed of overwintered chard and sowed dwarf French beans, then topped with mulch. The bed next door has broad beans sown a couple of weeks ago. There was quite a bit of nice new growth on some of the chard, so the best bits went to the veg bags whilst the rest came to us volunteers, yummy. (Some of it went in that hot pot and we also made a lovely chard & sorrel soup, with sorrel from the farm too).

Spring-sown salads are getting planted out, with fleece protection

The many trays of seedlings are doing nicely, like these in the polytunnel
Kohl rabi in the polytunnel looks good too
As do these lettuces
The busy seed-sowing table

I should be heading out there this Wednesday and also Saturday, when the veg farm celebrates its first birthday (there will definitely be cake), what a lot has been achieved in a year!

 

I'm running a bit late tonight as there was a Norfolk Organic Group talk on the 'Secrets of the soil' this evening...lots of interesting info...my main takeaway thoughts are: protect and feed the soil (soil life), mulch mulch mulch (preferably with organic matter), disturb the soil (and soil life) as little as possible (this also ties in with no dig), healthy soil life = healthy plants. When we harvest plants we're removing nutrients etc from the system, so it's important to replace them with compost, whether that be well-rotted manure or homemade compost etc (and preferably applied as a mulch rather than digging in). I never have enough compost, sigh!

 

And on that note, I'll bid you goodnight. Thanks for reading, I'm linking in as usual with Harvest Monday kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.