Sunday, 31 August 2014

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes

So I thought today I'd focus on toms. It's been a good year for me, growing them in the lean-to at home. I have 21 plants squeezed in, 19 of them have done well. Here's part of the lean-to this morning before I picked the toms.
They look a bit like trees because I've cleared the lower leaves to let in more light and let air circulate.
I have red pear and super marinade:
Sweet cherry:
Money maker:
I also have Craig and ??? ( I forget)
There's stil lots of fruit to pick but lots of the leaves have started to show signs of mineral deficiency so I cleared even more leaves. It'll also give more light to the other plants in the lean-to. I won't bother to feed them again as don't expect there to really be any new toms growing as it's late season and the evenings (and sometimes days) are getting colder.
I grow basil in the same pots as some of the toms, they're meant to compliment each other and basil is supposed to keep flies away. I only grow it in the ones round the edge as otherwise can't very easily reach in and pick it. I also grow it in separate pots too. It's been a good year for this too! I have a later set of seedlings I've recently potted on, so should get a continuous crop for a little while. I put comfrey and alkanet leaves round the base of the tom plants every now and then, it feeds them and also protects the roots, which I find tend to get exposed after all the watering over the season.
Basil - not my best specimen! But you can see where I've pinched out the middle out to produce more side shoots (and hence more yummy leaves)
Also in the lean-to I have peppers (chilli and sweet) and aubergines (aubs have only just started producing flowers as I was a bit late with my seedlings so not sure if I'll get any fruit from them). I also had a bit of trouble with my pepper seedlings so bought a chilli plant (it wasn't named, just 'hot') and two sweet peppers (also un-named) for 70p each. They've actually done quite well and have the first red sweet pepper and a few chillies. I do have a couple of my own pepper plants that are starting to produce fruit too but are a bit behind.
Hot pepper
Sweet pepper up on the shelf
And here's the tomato harvest! Plus beans and a courgette from the back garden.
Quite a lot of the toms are splitting but as I'm just making soup and sauce it doesn't really matter. I should def keep an eye on them more though!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Tonight I have mainly been...

Making a blackberry and banana bread recipe from here (replacing rasps with blackberries, as I'd picked a small crop today after work). Well, the blackberries sank so I wouldn't impress Mary Berry but we just had two slices's tasty! We didn't let it cool either so it squashed a bit when cutting, oops...and used the wrong kind of knife...hey we were hungry ok! ( or maybe just impatient ).
Fail on the berries
And making yet more pickled gherkins. We tasted the first lot of vinegar gherkins (made with white wine vinegar) tonight and they were a tad sharp! So I've made another lot of naturally fermented ones, adding a dash of brine from my first batch (eaten a while back, very nice, but saved the brine in the fridge) to help the fermenting process.
And there's still another 8 gherkins waiting to be pickled, with more growing. I need more jars!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Return of the gherkins (and Elderberries)

A v. quick pre-work post from me. Last night I was going to make more gherkin pickles as there'd been another good crop come on since Friday......

Nonchalant gherkins


But after work yesterday I went foraging for elderberries....I found a small tree I hadn't noticed before and it had amazing berries, yippee! It was kind of growing behind and from the base of another tree so had been hidden. Anyway, picking what I could reach from this tree and a couple of others gave me a big bag-ful, which then took most of the evening to pick off the stems.

If you're making a jelly or whatever straight away I think you can just use the whole lot without picking off (as you'll be straining off the liquid anyway) but I'll be waiting for apples, so have frozen them ( made some space in the freezer by using up some quorn and frozen rasps and gooseberries last night....not together, that wouldn't be pleasant.

Into the freezer

Right, off to work, boo.


Monday, 25 August 2014

Harvest Monday - a bit 'lite'

Ok, it's been raining all day today and I've been busy with guests over the weekend and haven't been down to the plot since Friday. I'm sure there's absolutely loads of lovely produce down there waiting for me ;)
So this is a bit of a 'lite' report on this weeks gatherings. Everything has definitely slowed-up a bit too, especially with the weather turning cold (apparently coldest august on record I thnk I heard?). These are all difffernt veg in each photo:
Thoughtful curcurbits

Sad beans (not as many as last week)
Happy harvest from the back garden when it was sunny featuring blauhilde purple beans and Lady Di runners. And looks a bit like Sideshow Bob?
I hadn't picked the beans in the back garden for a few days and found some really long ones growing over the fence. I usually pick them a lot smaller so will see how they compare with taste and texture. The longest (the nose) was over 40cm long ( I wrote it down somewhere but can't find the bit of paper). The little courgettes are green bush.
This week I also started picking elderberries from around the neighbourhood and will continue probably on weds. There's a big variety in ripeness depending on aspect etc so although some are already going over, there's still plenty waiting to ripen. This rain might swell them up a bit too, more juicy.
Oh, almost forgot a big bowl of tomatoes from the lean-to at home picked on Saturday.
A mixture of Sweet Cherry, Super Marmande, Money Maker and so e others that you can't see as they're underneath.
So I'm linking in late again to Harvest Monday on Daphne's Dandelions :)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Chocolate raspberry brownies...

Courtesy of Shaheen at Allotment2Kitchen

This is recipe enticed me as firstly it looked yummy, secondly, we had guests coming round and thirdly, I have lots of raspberries. I didn't have a full bar of dark chocolate so used up some ends of different bars, 85%, 70% and dark chocolate with espresso that gave it an interesting extra twist.
Choc and frozen rasps

I did accidentally use the wrong sugar (granulated instead of caster) and also used frozen raspberries that I didn't have the patience to defrost properly. This meant that the top took longer to cook and so the bottom was a bit over cooked.
Before cooking
Seemed to go down well with our guests anyway and we had second helpings with ice cream (which was handy as I needed freezer space for homemade tomato sauce base).
After cooking! You can see the granules of sugar...this wouldn't have happened if I'd used caster
So maybe if I do it again I'll either defrost the rasps properly or mix them in throughout? I'm not very good at experimenting with sweets, better to follow the excellent recipe! Savoury food I'm a bit better at going off-piste. Anyway thank you Shaheen for a great recipe. We went out for a trip into the countryside today and the last couple of bits went down a treat.

Linking to August's bookmarked recipes at Tinned Tomatoes

Friday, 22 August 2014

Elderberry surprise

The surprise is they're early I think! Some are even starting to go over so I did a quick sweep of my neighbourhood checking out the situation. Seems to be quite a wide range of ripeness so still plenty of opportunities for collectng them (I'm planning on making elderberry and apple jelly after finding a couple of old jars in the fridge that are still really delicious).

Hard to get a photo with the light

So I picked a few bunches today after work to get started and will freeze them until I'm ready to use them.

You can't really tell from this picture but the stems are a beautiful red colour. I just pick the berries off lightly with my fingers. Some people use a fork but when I've done that before they've pinged off all over the place...then trodden or sat on them...and they stain. The picked stems look like little trees.

I also had some company whilst picking.....

Our little cat Minxie....she feigned interest for a short while before heading off.


So I'll probably do another sweep in a few days time, there were lots of berries nearly ready but not quite. Plus some amazingly huge, juicy- looking ripe ones (just out of reach of course).


Monday, 18 August 2014

The Green Man - Harvest Monday

A quick round-up of the last few days worth of pickings:

The Green Man

He's a bit friendlier (and a bit blurrier) without the sweetcorn (which was really tasty - Sweet Nugget F1)

Crystal lemon cukes
Gherkins and cukes
Lots of tomatoes


And finally, gherkins

Which went into these...


A prettier photo to finish (alas not home made bread)

Linking to Harvest Monday on Daphne's Dandelions.



Saturday, 16 August 2014

Anyone for....


Well, suffice to say, there's been quite a few picked this week

My dill has died though (I think I over- picked it) so am going to use fresh parsley seed instead. Better get cracking!


Friday, 15 August 2014

Special guest stars!

Let me introduce you to Lester, Omar and Bubbles!

I've been looking after them for a few days, giving them clean water and spinach treats.

They're getting a bit elderly for egg laying but kindly laid me three big white ones. Here's the third and with it next to some mediums that we buy. It's hooge!



Monday, 11 August 2014

Harvest Monday (just)

This is my first 'harvest Monday' post...lots of people share what they've picked on a Monday. I had today off work so seemed like a good day to do it but am a little late in the evening as had a friend round for tea (two types of curry made all with home grown produce). Anyway, so a quick post of what I picked from the allotment today....I hadn't been since Thursday.

Plums are windfalls, not that ripe, lots of cucumbers and gherkins and some courgettes. Loads of beans. One crystal lemon cucumber. Apple windfalls. Blackberries (both have gone into stewed fruit concoction with gooseberries from the freezer). There weren't as many blackberries as I thought there'd be and quite a few are spoiling before ripening due to the heavy rain over the past few days. Onions are from the shed at the allot where I have them drying off and just bring a few home at a time to use. Doesn't include the toms for the greenhouse at home.

Been windy today with a thunder storm this evening and even some hail! My plants are looking a bit battered but hopefully will pick up again.

Well, a brief post from me but it's getting late zzzz. Linking through to Harvest Monday on Daphne's Dandelions.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Stormy Sunday #2 and harvest update

We've got more heavy rain today so probably no trip to the plot, which is a shame as we've been away for a couple of days. I have been in and out of the back garden collecting water in buckets and trugs though, wearing flip flops and shorts so it doesn't matter getting wet. I've been cutting off the next lot of lower tomato plant leaves too, to increase light to the fruits and improve air circulation.

There's been a casualty in back of the courgette plants has collapsed. I'm not sure why but it could've been the weight of rain combined with slugs n snails nibbling on the stem. It was getting too big for the space anyway but still a bit of a shame. This does make me more sure not to bother with them at home next year and stick to the allot. I can then grow more salad leaves here, which do badly on the plot as it's so dry there. Pic taken in brief non-rainy spell!

Collapsed stripey courgette
Has anyone else's runner beans gone mad? These are in the back garden, they produced loads of side shoots that I (rightly or wrongly) have just let twine themselves around whatever they can, then pinch the ends off.
Here's the harvest from the allotment from Tuesday/Weds and Thursday, stills lots coming. The apples were wind falls. I wasn't expecting them to be ready but they're super-sweet. I forgot to check on Thursday if there were any more as they're on a dwarf tree right down the far end of the plot. Also this doesn't include the toms or runner beans from home.
Tuesday (beans) and Weds

I'm going to do some cooking today as it's miserable outside...results to follow! Also I do have to cycle over and check on our friends' chickens, hopefully it'll clear up a bit later :/