Monday 25 July 2016

Harvest Monday - the first tomatoes

Yay, tomato season has arrived, just a few at first but I expect it won't be long before they're coming thick and fast. We've also had some sugar snap peas (variety Sugar Anne) from the back garden (from the odd plants that survived the slug onslaught) They were really good, nice and sweet and crunchy. Plus a bit of lettuce from some plants in the lean-to (all my ones in the garden have been slugged too).
The self-sown chard on the allotment has really picked-up. I cooked this lot in a pan (colourful stalks and greens) along with courgettes then packed them into a couple of containers for the freezer.
I'm away unexpectedly, so after the harvests above from early last week Jan has kindly taken on some of the allotment jobs, including picking the goodies.
She's made a couple of batches of these classic courgette and cheese muffins, they look good.
And a mixed pan of veggies (finished off with the classic 'stick an egg in it')

I'm looking forward to enjoying some more when I get back, yum.


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



Tuesday 19 July 2016

Harvest Monday

Phew, the harvests have started coming in quicker. We've had some really hot days and not too much rain. It would be great if we could just get the occasional shower (never happy us growers, eh). My allotment is very dry but I don't tend to water down there too much (although I did give the courgettes a bit of rainwater today).
Talking of courgettes, they're growing slowly but steadily (not as quickly as if there'd been lots of rain, which is probably a good thing....other wise it would be glut-o'clock.)
I've lifted most of the onions and left them drying across some suspended chickenwire in the shed. A few of them had a bit of rot so I brought them home to use up. I also lifted the rest of my early potatoes so I could plant out leek seedlings in their place (there were a couple of bags like the one below). I've had another custard marrow and the first runner bean, ooh! I have two bean wigwams on the plot which I planted up with beans grown on at home first (sown in loo roll tubes). Both have lots of beans forming, goodie. My beans at home are a bit further behind as I kept having to re-sow due to mollusc munching. Also in the photo is some Rosemary.....I've discovered Rosemary tea which is very tasty (just add hot water for a few minutes).
I decided to freeze the onions so chopped them up and froze in a few small jars. There was actually quite a bit of onion once I'd got rid of the manky parts, so it was worth bringing them home.
After my first runner bean earlier in the week I've collected a few more too, which made a reasonable harvest altogether. I quite like looking out for runner beans on the's a bit like a findy game (unless I'm in a rush, in which case it's 'argh, where are they, have I missed any that are going to get too big').
I can't get down the plot for a few days so today I went through and picked all the bigger courgettes and chard. Tomorrow I think I'll cook them together and freeze them. Oh, you may spot a cucumber on the left aswell, I forgot about that, plus a teeny crystal lemon cuke too.
This week's been great for soft fruit...I haven't taken photos of it all but here's a selection
I took a fruit salad along to a friend's little boy's birthday picnic and made a potato salad too (drizzled with olive oil and Rosemary instead of mayo as it was a scorching hot day and I thought the mayo might go a bit funny). I love the raspberries so much, mmmm.
The other day I noticed that some of the apples on my dwarf trees had codling moth's the first time I've seen it. I didn't want to just compost the apples as the moths would presumably carry on their lifecycle within the apples and be worse next year, so I had a brainwave, picking them off and freezing them for a few days. I hope it worked to kill them as they're in the compost bin now!
In the back garden my sweet peas have just started to blossom so I brought a few in to the house...they're the perennial unscented variety which means they look rather pretty but don't set off our hayfever.
And I nearly forgot that earlier today I picked a load of basil and made another pesto

Well, I'm just in from a gig by the awesome American band Belly, who have just reformed after about 20 years...they are still incredible..I think I first saw them around 1993...time flies! So anyway, sorry if this is a bit rushed but thanks for reading :)


I'm linking in with Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres


Monday 11 July 2016

Harvest Monday - pesto

I had a load of basil that needed picking this week so decided to make a pesto.
Pesto usually has cheese in it but I tend to just use basil (or rocket) plus toasted walnuts (instead of pine nuts) plus garlic and olive oil
Because of the mixture of green and purple basil leaves the pesto ended up being a delightful brown tasted good though and goes well in sandwiches, here with a gooey goats cheese on sourdough
I also harvested the first small courgettes this week, yippee
Plus a whole load of broad beans and some marjoram
So I made a broad bean and egg stew, based on Shaheen's recipe but using marjoram instead of dill. Last year I made this so many times, it's quick and easy. Adding sweet just-picked courgettes gives it an extra dimension too (though it's delicious without the courgettes anyway.)
A few days later there were some more small courgettes ready for picking, plus I lifted a couple of onions to cook with too, here using up one to make another broad bean stew because I ended up harvesting the rest of my broad beans aswell (not pictured).... I was going away for a few days and it had been quite dry, the plants were dying off, so i worried the beans might get past their best by the time I'm back. Jan and I spent a busy evening podding them all and then blanching/freezing a few bagfuls to eat another time.
We enjoyed the stew with some more early potatoes. When harvesting, I've found that for some of the plants the seed potatoes still had a bit of oomph left in them, so I tried not to disturb the plants too much whilst rooting around for tubers, with the idea that they might continue to grow a bit more / produce more potatoes. This has worked in the past but the tops don't look too healthy so it might not be that successful this year. Soon I'll be clearing the area to plant-out leeks anyway.
The raspberries and other soft fruits have come along this week though.....yuuuum. My strawberries are nearly over so it's good to get some others to take their place. Bottom-left are saskatoons which are a bit like blueberries but the plants are less fussy about soil
Raspberries are my favourite though. They seem to be really good this year - I think the rain has helped them (I don't tend to water things on the allotment very much so they sometimes dry out a bit)

I'm still away but have left Jan in charge of watering the tomatoes in the lean-to and picking more fruit. I hear she had a good raspberry harvest yesterday, thanks Jan. I'm looking forward to seeing how things have grown-on when I get back tomorrow - it's amazing how much changes in just a few days at this time of year.


Thanks for reading this week. I'm linking in with Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres



Monday 4 July 2016

Harvest Monday

This week has involved (surprise)....more strawberries...that's over 18kg picked now. I've been harvesting my friend's as well and he's had about the same amount, crikey. There are still more to go so it looks like I'm going to beat last year's 19kg. I had to take my trolley down to the plot last time I harvested them all as they're too heavy to carry back (4 big tubs at a time, phew).
As well as more baby chard leaves, I've picked the first lot of bigger leaves. These are from self sown chard I transplanted a few weeks back, as single plants under wigwams for cucumbers to (hopefully) climb around when they finally get going. In the meantime the chard plants seem to have liked the space and horse poo. We had some of the chard with scrambled egg and some tonight with posh baked beans (cook-up a few different veggies like chard, mushroom, onion, garlic, and then add a tin of baked beans for protein and sauce - easy)
And the posh baked beans went nicely with some of these potatoes

I'm just back from the plot actually - I've had a busy few days and not had much time to get down there apart from for a few slug patrols and strawberry harvests. The other day I noticed that my redcurrants were ripe but that some had been stripped off the strigs (presumably by the blackbird I saw nearby). I was worried the blackbird might have been really tucking in, not leaving me with many (I love fresh redcurrants, yum). So tonight, on first glance it seemed like that may have been the case, but when I began lifting branches for a lookee underneath, a mass of currants was revealed, hurray.


My raspberries have also started ripening (possibly my favourite fresh berry), so I've been munching away on them (none have made it home yet, sorry Jan). But tomorrow I'm planning a big harvest day - strawberries, redcurrants, raspberries, broad beans first tiddler courgettes, just about big enough to be worth harvesting.


And it won't be long before the gooseberries are ready, I found a couple of juicy ones tonight, though the rest are still a bit hard. Plus I spied my first couple of teeny runner bean pods. Despite all the losses to slugs and snails, it's starting to feel like things are picking up now...


Oh, but I have found the small caterpillars of the diamond-backed moth on some of my brassicas. They munch away causing a sort of lace effect, so it's easy to notice if you have them, but it's a bit laborious to go round checking all the leaves. You can give the plants a shake and the caterpillars drop themselves down on a thread, making them easier to deal with (i.e. Squish or whatever). But do check the leaves for the cocoons as well. They're quite hard to spot and often seem to be tucked in along a vein making them even harder to notice.


There don't seem to be many cabbage white butterflies around this year so it looks as though the moths will be the pest to watch out most for on the brassicas.


In other naturey news, the cockchafer beetles were all out last night at dusk....they're quite big and very noisy (buzzy), so are easy to see. I expect the bats are having a feast on them.


Thanks for reading this week, I'm linking in as usual with Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres