Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Harvest Monday - crouching Lou, hidden strawberries.

Well here we go, more strawberries. I've picked about 12kg so far, plus about the same for my friend Andrew who can't get down to his plot at the moment. So if I'm not on a slug-hunt I'm picking strawberries. But I did find a cute toad a few times in the same spot, tucked away under the dried grass I use as mulch on one of my strawb patches (however, yesterday there was a massive slug in its spot instead, ugh).
One batch went a bit wrong....oops. I only left it alone on the hob for a minute honest! Just enough time for it to bubble up and over.
For a different batch I decided to add a bit of rhubarb from the back garden. As rhubarb's rather tart, I mixed in some marrow jam that Jan's mum gave us a while back. The jam has an unusual flavour, it's kind of sweet/savoury so I'm not sure what spices went in...maybe mixed spice? I'll have to ask. Anyway, I puréed it up before freezing. It'll go well topping the breakfast muesli later in the year. There are two big tubs of strawbs over on the counter that need to be processed too but I didn't get chance tonight.
Other harvests have included a couple of batches of baby chard (from the self-sown plants)
And a couple of batches of early potatoes. They're very buttery, yum. (Variety Colleen I think, without checking). We had some tonight drizzled with olive oil. Of course, when I was lifting the potatoes from the ground I managed to spear the best ones with my fork...(Not these below though, phew). And I found an absolutely massive toad, the biggest I've ever seen, luckily I didn't spear him/her. The tops of my earlies are starting to die off now. Once I've lifted them I'll plant-out the leeks in the space. Oddly, the slugs seem to only be going for the maincrop potato tops but maybe that's thanks to the toad keeping busy amongst the earlies. I have at least three toads, as there's a more orangy coloured one around too.
I decided to pick the last few of my autumn-sown broad beans because the slugs were just attacking them and damaging the pods. My spring broad beans are coming along ok (as long as I keep dealing with the slugs and snails regularly) apart from blackfly have discovered them and rust has started appearing too. I've nipped off the tops of the worst affected blackfly plants but there's not much to do about the rust. I've never had it before but apparently it's caused by the damp, which isn't usually a problem on our dry sandy soil. This year however, it's very wet with all the rain.
Jan made the beans into a stew with some of the potatoes.
Back at home the tomatoes are doing well in the lean-to. Here's stripey tigerella. It's quite difficult to move round in the lean-to now, suddenly there's a jungle. Hopefully I'll get lots of fruits as well as leaves. There's lots of flowers anyway.
In the back garden most of the lettuces have been demolished by snails. Ironically I'd been quite vigilant checking for damage on the allotment but not in the back garden...but I found some hidey places today, with some rather large snails.
I have some more salad seedlings on the go and made a start at potting them on tonight. But I'd left it a bit long and they've all gone spindly and intertwined, making it really difficult to carefully tease them apart. Hopefully some will survive anyway, I've got more to do tomorrow.
Bishop's Garden - open afternoon
Yesterday we visited the Bishop's House Garden, next to the cathedral. It's usually private but they open it a few times a year for different charities. In all my years in Norwich (21!) I'd never been before, so it was about time.
It was lovely, quite large and gave a different perspective on that part of the city.
Old gatehouse
Wildflower meadow with labyrinth snaking through
Amazing pear tree in the middle
There were lots of different areas including a veg patch (well, not really a patch!)
Double row of tomatoes in the greenhouse. The taller ones at the back actually had a few fruits ripening.
Gigantic fruit cage
Big compost area too
A few traditional borders
Main lawn
Bee orchids in a cordoned-off patch of uncut lawn


So that was a nice afternoon, a pleasant distraction from the mess that this country is in. Sad times but we'll see, nothing seems to be set at the moment and anything could happen. I wasn't going to mention the EU referendum but there it crept in at the end. It'll be even more important now to grow our own, in a sustainable way, and to encourage others as well....looking after our environment, healthy food and contact with nature as well as saving a bit of money where possible.


Ok, thanks for reading, I'm linking in with Harvest Monday kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres, just sneaking in before it becomes Tuesday.



  1. Beautiful strawberries and those potatoes? Yum!! It's funny with tomatoes - they seem to sit there for a while, growing inch by inch and then all of a sudden...woof - jungle it is

    And LOVE the veg patch at Bishop's Garden - could really have used one of those fruit cages for my cherry tree this year!

    1. Thanks Margaret, mm I just finished my lunch of leftover curry with potatoes, yum.
      The tomatoes have certainly put on a growth spurt, some are taller than me now, and we're having to shimmy through to get out the door without being tomatoed hehe.
      Yes it's a beautiful veg area in the bishop's garden, I might go back later in the summer to see how things are coming on. The fruit cage was so big it would have fitted over our whole back garden!

  2. What beautiful strawberries! And the Bishop's Garden looks quite lovely. The fruit cage looks like what I had in mind to make if the deer keep after our berries like they have been.

    1. Thanks Dave, the strawbs keep coming..over 15kg now! I've given away most of the last ones I picked, so keeping my friends happy.
      The fruit cage was really huge. One of my allotment neighbours has made a fruit cage out of scrap wood etc, (to keep off the birds rather than deer). it's not as pretty as the posh one but is very effective, and lighter on the bank account!

  3. So many strawberries, it's great that you keep up with processing them. Hard work but so worth it in those winter months. Tomatoes always seem to take weeks and weeks to ripen, it's so wonderful when they do finally come on.

    1. Hi Phoung, yes the harvesting and processing of soft fruit seems to take ages, but definitely worth it. I need to keep an eye on space in my freezer as I'd like to freeze some summer savoury harvests too (if I get any extras left after eating fresh), like courgette dishes etc.
      Yay, can't wait for tomatoes. I have some nice basil which will be ideal to enjoy with them.

  4. We were in Norfolk at the weekend and our overnight hotel was in Norwich. We were picking strawberries in the rain yesterday.

    1. Ooh, hope you had a nice weekend Sue - will you do a blog post on it, I'd love to see where you went / photos? You'll have to stop by and say hello another time if you're here for longer.
      It's raining here again right now, a bit gusty too.