Monday 29 September 2014

Harvest Monday ......

So weather-wise we've had a bit of a mix again. This weekend has been really hot and sunny, a bit foggy and finally today we have had much-needed rain, though it's only really got going tonight.

Here's my round up for the week :

Some not v impressive peppers (I picked these first, there are some better ones). Anyone know what causes these brown bits? They were ok when these bits were cut out.
Contemplative crystal lemon cukes.
I brought a few onions back from the shed. I've grown Sturon from sets the last couple of years. I did autumn onions a few times but they never worked out that well so am sticking with spring planting.
Apples! A good crop this year. This doesn't include the ones we've eaten :) also I spotted a large gherkin peeking out. Unfortunately I wasted several gherkins as I found them at the back of the fridge all soft and mushy. Yuk. I'd run out of jars and forgotten about them. Oops.
Rubbish sweet corn from the back garden, tasted ok though. I only had three plants and they obviously didn't pollinate v well! The ones on the allot were better.
Last of the ripe toms from the lean to in the back garden plus a chilli. Got more chilis but still green so thout I'd take this one off to encourage the others to ripen.
The rest of me toms, removed to ripen-up. I've now taken out all the tom plants too, it really must be autumn.
A few more strawbs :) they were super-sweet, yummy. Last ridge cucumber.
These nuts are from an allotment friend's plot. His hazels are much bigger than mine! See previous post for a comparison. I helped him pick his and we shared the results.
Yesterday we decided to eat another one of the butter nut squashes.
It had a really tiny seed cavity like the last one! Not good if you want to save seeds but good for the tasty flesh. It's Sprinter
We roasted it and made some of Shaheen's quinoa and carrot meat balls / burgers, they were really tasty. We did change the recipe a bit (by accident). Jan got a bit carried away with the grating, and grated the carrot instead of steaming and mashing, so we added an egg to bind it all together. The photo doesnt do them justice :)
Tonight I dropped in to my allotment friends (Andrew) to give him half the nuts and he kindly gave me a bag of quinces and some of his apples. The apples are small but v sweet.
Tonight I also thought it'd better sort my potatoes out after they've been sat around for a while. I've tried to keep them out of the light as much as possible.
Minxie liked the cardboard box but not the potatoes.

And here's the mess! Top is the long term keepers, then clockwise....the mankiest (you can't see how bad they are, some even had living creatures inside, most will go in the compost), anyas (which have started sprouting), Colleen 2 bags (earlies. These have started sprouting too), and the medium term keepers.

This is one of my least favourite jobs, so I'm glad it's nearly over! I still have to put them in bags tonight though.

I didn't get any harvests today as I had to leave work late and it was dark by the time I got home (after I'd popped in to Andrew's) but think I might have some beans in the back garden ready to be picked...not too many left now though. I had wanted to check out my carrots on the plot but maybe I'll get time tomorow (and if it's not raining)

I went to a great open day at Norwich Farmshare on Saturday, which I'll report on soon...

Linking in to Harvest Monday over at Daphne's Dandleions



Sunday 28 September 2014

Nutty comparison

So today I thought I'd have a lookee at my nuts! I decided to compare 3 different hazels, mine, Andrew's (allotment friend) and Turkey hazel (grown a lot by the council in ornamental planting)

First, the size...

Quite the difference! L to R (biggest to smallest), Andrew, me, Turkey hazel

And next the cracking

The turkey hazel split but mine and Andrew's were quite clean. No skin on the turkey.

The size of nut unsurprisingly reflected the size of the shell. Taste-wise, they were all quite nice but mine actually was the most hazely. This could've been because the other two were 'fresh'. I'd got the one from Andrew's plot on Friday after work and the turkey hazel whilst on a wander last night (there was a residential street covered in them!), whereas mine have been set out on a tray for a few weeks.

I got a tubful from Andrew's plot today - he'd collected loads around the same time I did mine (it was him who tipped me off they were ready). I spied some more in his trees from the path outside the allotments the other day and offered to collect them for him to save him the hassle (he moves himself around on the ground on the allot as he doesn't have use of his legs..amazing guy). I'll post a pic of the nuts tomorrow, they're rather large! Anyway we'll split the pickings. He said his last lot varied, some didn't have any kernel (? Is that what it's called) in and when he roasted some they were a bit mushy but he reckoned it might have been cause he didn't leave them to cure for a while first.

Well, we'll see how this next load turn out, I'll set them out on a tray for a while :)

Oh and I went to an open day at Norwich Farmshare yesterday, great place, I'll post soon about this. Also met Bob Flowerdew who was there to open the event and stayed around all day (he actually lives in Norfolk). Anyone who doesn't know, he's well renowned in organic gardening and is a regular on Radio 4s Gardner's Question Time. I have one of his books Grow your own, Eat your own, which is very good. I decide not to take this along to be signed!


Monday 22 September 2014

Harvest Monday - confusing

The weather can't make it's mind up at the moment, hot one day, cold the next. Today has been nice n warm after a chilly start but last night was very cool. Makes deciding what to wear for the day tricky!

So this weekend has been very productive in terms of socialising but not very productive on the plot or back garden! Well, you can't have everything. (By the way, any Throwing Muses and Tanya Donelly fans out there...totally awesome gig last night!)

And on to the harvests

This was Tuesday I think. Noticed this butternut squash had split so brought it home. I have two b squash plants,,each with two fruits. I didn't think one was quite ripe but turns out it was in the end.

Yes minxie, it's chard, you wouldn't like it.

Couldn't resist a face...reminds me a bit of one of the characters from The Dark Crystal (augrah) but the eye's the wrong side.

Anyhoo, when i cut open the butternut squash it was like this:

So not too much damage. The rough bit just sliced off easily.

It made a nice trayful of roast squash which went into a sort of curry. I roasted it one night after work and then made it into the curry the next morning before work...not like me at all!

A little selection from the plot, weds or thurs. Actually I think those beans are from the back garden as haven't got many growing on the plot. The intermittent warm weather has brought on a few more strawberries, a great treat.

And again from the plot, still some courgettes squeezing out.

Tomatoes and a chilli from the back garden lean- to. I think I have about a bowlful left to come (that's if they all ripen, I've stripped off all the leaves now)

Today from the plot. Not all the chard I picked as we'd already put in the cooking pot! I decided to start bringing home the butternut squashes, one at a time as they're heavy! I also dug up another bag of potatoes and there was a courgette and some beans another day I didn't take pics of.

So all in all, not a bad week. Tonight I've made stewed fruit with some of the fresh berries and some from the freezer plus some of the apples (ones which were damaged and wouldn't keep) and also made a pan of tomato / pasta sauce to go in the freezer.

Had to make sure I didn't get the spoons mixed up! Could've been an interesting flavour combination.

Linking in with all the good folk at Harvest Monday, hosted by Daphne's Dandelions :)








Monday 15 September 2014

Harvest Monday - the times they are a changing

Well, the weather's changing anyway, and the nights are getting longer and colder. We still have a bit of warm weather, though it can be quite different one day to the next.
I love looking out for things to forage and this is a good time of year. This weekend I've been at my folks in southern England and even on their street in town I spotted quite a few bunches of grapes hidden amongst the ivy along a wall next to the pavement of a house being renovated. We picked a few just to see what they were like...quite small and pippy but the ones in the sun were quite sweet. I suspect the owners don't even know they're growing there. I hope they discover them as it would be a shame for them to go to waste.
I love seeing other people growing their own too, even if they don't have much space. Walking around, my eyes are always caught by fruit trees, looking amazing dripping with food at this time of year. There was a nice looking pear tree in a tiny front garden on the way to the train station from my folks, covered with fruit...brilliant!
Anyway, on to my harvests this week:
Still a few summer squashes tentatively growing. The plants themselves are looking very spent but whilst they're still producing I'll leave them in. I don't have anything to plant out to follow on from them at the moment anyway so may as well leave them.
Last few berries and squashes. I bring onions home from the shed when I need them.
My late apples started having some windfalls but most of them weren't ready (didn't come away when twisted). I pick some chard when we need it, this lot is self-sown.
Corn, which I ate a couple of the small cobs but blanched the rest to freeze - I pick off the individual kernels as my cutting technique leaves too much on the cob. These are from the corn I direct sowed, the ones grown in pots were ready and eaten and while back.
Still lots of potatoes to dig up, this bagful came from two seed potatoes.
Potatoes starting to get slug damage and really all need digging up when I get chance
Minxie is not impressed
Thursday...quickly picking as much as I can as not able to get down for 3 days
Friday morning from the back garden lean-to. The red pears next to the bowl have a tiny bit of blossom end rot but not too bad.
Friday morning, back garden beans. One particular plant is giving out lots of curly beans, even though they have space beneath them so no need to curl. Weird.
Sunday from the allot, after I got back to Norwich. I'd read that at some of the larger allot sites two ladies were seen helping themselves to people's crops and loading them in a van, so I though I'd bring my winter squashes home to finish curing. I think our site is so small that it would be too obvious for someone to come with a van but you never know. Excuse the shadows on the photos, hard to get a good pic in my house after dark...
Potatoes and berries - Sunday from the allot too. Usually I'd dig up the pots at lunch and go back after work so they have some time to toughen their skins but yesterday they only had about an hour, it'll have to do! I don't have a car so take my old-lady trolley to walk heavy stuff back form the allot. It was full on Sunday!
Monday from the back garden...still lots of beans and toms. Also hacked back my rocket plants which I'd been ignoring for several weeks and had got pretty huge. I decided to make.....
Pesto! There was so much rocket...I toasted a medium pan full of walnuts and blitzed with some olive oil and a teeny bit of salt. After putting in the jars I topped them off with a layer of olive oil to seal it in. I think it lasts better without the cheese in and I expect when we use it up we'll just add cheese to the dish.

Tonight I also blanched some of today's bean harvest to freeze (the rest were fully cooked, which we take to work as snacks in the afternoon, it looks weird but tastes good!)
Linking in with all the good folks for Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions

Friday 12 September 2014

Hazelnut update

So I picked my hazels last week, a few had fallen by themselves. I was going to leave them a while longer but an allot neighbour had been researching his (he has a mixed hedge planted by the council when he took over the plot a few years back. It was planted to screen off a wire boundary fence which runs alongside a pavement, so also helped to discourage people from hopping over the fence too. It has spikey hawthorn and blackthorn as well as the hazels). It was his first year too so new ground for both of us.
Anyway, he read that it was the right time to harvest. Although only a few had been falling off, they came away when pulled lightly. He does all his gardening from sitting on the ground as he has MS and doesn't have use of his legs since last year. He leaves his wheelchair at the top of his plot and moves around on his bum. I give him a hand with things occasionally but he manages most of what he needs to do himself, amazing! So he was shaking the trees to get what he couldnt reach and from just a few trees he got several buckets of nuts!
This spurred me to check mine and they were at a similar stage. I only have one tree producing so didn't get as much, but am still really pleased, especially as I didn't actually ever expect to get any nuts (I'd planted for pea sticks)
Here's my harvest about a week or so after picking. I'm writing this Friday on the train to visit my folks for the weekend. On Tuesday most of them had ripened enough to come nicely out of the green cases, leaving a nice tray of nuts to ripen further
Ooh look, there's a little birdie trying to eat my nuts! And a 1p for size comparison.
In Norwich the city council seem to like including Turkey hazels in their planting schemes for housing estates. They do produce nuts but they're a lot smaller than our hazels. I did collect a few one year but they're so small it's too much faff for what you get back. Maybe if I ever get really desperate...
Turkey hazel nut. They're small and flat! Here's one I picked up on the way to the train station. Absolutely loads on the trees but too much effort to hull them as they're so small.
So I think I'll leave mine to ripen a while longer and then maybe try toasting them. And maybe have with melted choc? Mmmm.

Hmm, I've just had a vague memory I might have had one or two nuts on the tree last year. Obviously wasn't much to remember.....I hope the tree continues to improve every year though! And then if I can squeeze another one in, there'd be three altogether (I've got a much smaller one too) so maybe could coppice on rotation to get pea sticks and keep the trees small-ish. Well, will see if I save a couple of nuts to try growing another tree.

Monday 8 September 2014

Harvest Monday - late again

It's been a busy evening, I've made tomato and chilli sauce, cooked up a big pan of runner beans, blanched and frozen a big batch of beans and made two jars of gherkin pickles! Phew.

So it's a v quick round up from me, a good week again

Sorry, squished photo! Tuesday on the allot including most of my hazel nuts, a first for me this year. They came away lightly without needing to pull too much.
Mid week from the back garden, nice beans
Saturday from the garden, more beans n toms
Saturday from the plot, last of the plums and hazels. Can you spot the 3-eyed alien?
Today I've picked more from the plot but didn't get a photo, 3 courgettes, some chard, big bag of potatoes (still lots more to dig, realised the other day I hadn't been taking pics of them), a gherkin and cuke (possibly the last), a few rasps. Also another load of beans from the back garden. As we now have our new freezer (yes!) I took the opportunity to sort some beans to freeze as mentioned above.
I also intended to start sorting my potatoes into keepers and user-uppers but didn't get time so that will have to wait. They're in bags in a big cardboard box in a dark spot in the house, they'll go in the shed eventually.
Night night!