Monday 28 July 2014

Gherkiny #2

Well I didn't get chance to take a pic of the next stage as it was late last night. I set out some more in salt last night too, to do a comparison, this time adding a vine leaf as this is meant to keep them crunchy. Here's a pic of the two jars, see the colour difference.... fresh green for the jar made tonight and loss of colour for yesterday's, with today's curcurbit harvest in front. So for both jars I rinsed the gherkins with clean water a couple of times, patted down with kitchen paper, and packed in to the jars, adding freshly picked dill and mustard seeds plus white wine vinegar. 

Cucumbers and gherkins for pickling

With today's harvest I'm trying natural fermentation, you use salted water instead of vinegar. This process is meant to produce healthy bacteria, which is inhibited by vinegar. Pics will follow.

Here's a pic of some of yesterday's harvest, more dwarf French beans and berries! Tonight after work I picked the last big batch of red gooseberries and gave them to a friend from work who's going to make wine :)

Cucumbers, gherkins, dwarf French beans, tomatoes, gooseberries and blackberries

Sunday 27 July 2014

Very berry

I'm pretty sure I've used that title before but hey ho....Got an early crop of blackberries, this pic is from mid-week and have picked another tub since then with more to harvest tomorrow. Seems very early! There's also lots of gooseberries and red currants still to pick....a good year for fruit but the freezer is already very full, we're planning on buying a new fridge freezer soon with bigger freezer capacity!

Blackberries, gooseberries and red currants


My first ever attempt at gherkins....stage 1, sprinkle with salt and leave over night to draw out the water. These were quite chunky fruits so I've chopped them up a bit.

Think I might try a couple of different methods....this one will be fairly traditional, with dill (have some sown from seed). 

Sunday 20 July 2014


This weekend we've had storm after storm, with some amazing lightning and incredible thunder. No pics unfortunately. I was about to head down to the plot this afternoon when I heard some thunder in the distance so decided against it and started shearing the garden grass instead. There was light rain for a while that I didn't mind working through, with a bit of lightning, it was quite fun actually being out and hearing and seeing it. But it wasn't long before the rain got heavier so I jumped into the lean- to.....what followed was the heaviest rain I've ever seen! Our street completely flooded (cars had water over the lower part of the hub cap) and our front yard flooded - it's paved but we have lots of pots ( they all are paved ....ex city council block), the yard slopes down slightly with a small drain at the base of the wall between the properties which was not big enough to cope with the volume of water. Luckily there wasn't any chance of it getting into the house as we have a doorstep about 2 inches high. The water was probably about an inch and a half at its deepest in the yard but that was at the lowest point of the yard so not near the door. I was getting ready with towels just in case though. 

And in the back garden the narrow tube from the lean-to gutter to the water butt was over flowing so I had a trug and bucket underneath and was popping in and out to empty them into the butt when they got full. When the rain was at its heaviest I spotted that the pipe in the ground meeting with the main drain pipe from the block roof wasn't coping with the flow either and water was starting to pool around the base of our lounge wall and creeping up towards where our cable tv comes in, yikes! I was getting ready to bail it out into the water butt next to it using old plastic milk bottles when the rain started to ease and the water level dropped.....phew.

So that was all rather exciting. The rain carried on for quite a while but the standing water in the road, yard and back garden soon drained away...we virtually had an extra pond int the back garden for a while there where there's a dip in the grass. It's easy to see how water can cause damage so quickly and take people by surprise.....our systems just aren't designed to cope with that level of water in one go. All the more reason to build my own place one day based on permaculture day......

So anyway, I didn't go to the allotment today so instead here's some from yesterday's harvest of the first crop of dwarf French beans. It was only by accident I spotted they were ready as I was weeding next to them. They went into a mix of all home grown veg; onions, courgette, Nero kale and a few toms. Oh and the comedy carrot. The filo pie is most definitely not home made...they're from a lovely deli in Norwich called Clarke and Ravenscroft's :)

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Rubbery surprise

...I was just sorting out my work bag for tomorrow and felt something rubbery inside......
It was a couple of holey chard leaves I'd picked earlier! Better than the pair of rubber gloves I was imagining ( and thinking, do I have a pairing of rubber gloves?)
I had good intentions of making a healthy tea but instead we had potato wedges (home grown pots of course) with quorn sausages. Oh well, may be tomorrow!

I also learnt today that it's very hard to pick raspberries in the wind...the canes keep moving! But I did manage to work my way through the rows. The wind was really chilling though and I actually ended up with numb fingers before beating a hasty retreat home ( hence the need for wedges) 

Monday 7 July 2014


The toms in our lean- to seem to be setting fruit really well so far this year, fingers crossed. Here's a quick run-through of some of them, I love the way even when they're small the shapes of the different varieties come through:
Super marmande, a big variety  I got free on the front of a mag I think.

Craig - a pack of seeds I've had kicking around for a while, also from a mag. Looks like a nice medium sized fruit.

Sweet cherry, as you can see, a small fruit. Good crop so far!

Red pear, a cute pear shaped fruit funnily enough. Free on a mag. (I think the same mag as the marmande, earlier this year? ) 

This is just a shot showing a bit of the jungle that is our lean-to. It's actually more ordered than it looks! Just enough space to squeeze through between the groups of toms. Although this photo has made me see a naughty extra stem that I hadn't spotted before (rhs). I might just leave it though usually I'm quite ruthless! 

That's it for now....wondering how long before the first ones ripen. The last few years I've grown a small bush variety (I nick named Tiny Tim) which ripens early but ran out and forgot to order more. Hmm the real name escapes me at the mo.....oh yes, Red Alert I think. Will order more for next year.

Saturday 5 July 2014

Crunchy broad bean snacks

So I tried the spicy recipe from here

The recipe uses dried beans soaked overnight etc, whereas I was using fresh cooked beans so hoped it would have similar they are
This is about half the amount as we'd eaten the rest! They turned out quite well. I didn't add any sugar to try and be a bit healthier but I can imagine them being even tastier with it. I guessed the amount of beans to add as didn't know how the dry vs fresh weight would compare. It was a lucky guess and filled a baking tray-ful. Also as the dried beans are 'split' I did this with my beans too, to try and get an even bake. It was an extra process but seemed to be worth it. I had the oven on tonight anyway, to make potato wedges with the tasty early pots (Colleen - which always make me think of jolene by Dolly Parton...there it goes gain in my head!).

Friday 4 July 2014

Fruitful evening....ho ho

Some more raspberries and saskatoons picked tonight 

And I saw two oystercatchers fly over (I've never worked out where they're going to and from), two bats flying together and a fox (not flying).....naturey! 

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Broadly broad beans

Just podded all these beauties! Should've started earlier in the evening, it takes longer than you think.