Monday 28 August 2017

Harvest Monday - when will it eeeend?

Ha ha, well not that I'm complaining about having lots of veggies, but...we have lots of veggies! Because it's hard to know what the year will bring (weather / pests etc) it's handy to grow spares / just in cases. Also, if you can preserve goodies in some way for enjoying throughout the whole year, the extras come into their own too. Plus it's nice to give extras away to friends and family.
On the harvest front this week, I've had plenty of cucumbers, courgettes and beans. These were from one picking in the back garden earlier in the week. Most of the garden is quite shaded, so the plants tend to be a bit more slow-growing / smaller than at the allotment. It's still amazing to see what can be grown in a small space. The two veggie beds are 'no dig', I just add last year's used tomato compost from the lean-to on top of the beds. There's hardly any weeds and the soil structure doesn't get disturbed, easy. Every year I say to myself not to bother growing courgette there because it's too shady but always stick one in anyway...and this year it had a very slow start but has actually been growing towards the lighter area (and is now blocking the little path through the bed) and I can't avoid treading on it when I pick the beans growing up the fence, but still, I'll leave it in a bit longer as it seems fairly happy and the fruits are not bad. (eeep, a big house spider just ran across the floor..I don't mind spiders too much but those ones are really fast and I don't want it running onto me when I do my stretches on the floor....must get the spider-catcher implement at the ready)
In the lean-to at home, the first sweet peppers have ripened this week. This one is 'lipstick'.
And tonight I've picked a couple of small 'quadrato'. I meant to top-up the pots with fresh compost but didn't get round to it. What with that and the spider-mite issue I don't think the fruits will get too big but there are quite a lot of them, so should get a reasonable crop. I've removed the worst affected mite plant and have started spraying the others with a water / chilli oil concoction (not sure if this is the best thing to use but I had some chilli oil as a gift so thought I may as well try it...if you Internet search spider mites there are lots of different suggestions for natural sprays).
At the allotment, I hadn't been for a few days and on Saturday found this rather large courgette....
...along with lots of other things! I laid them out back at home to get a few pics.
The purple blauhilde beans have been particularly prolific. I could've picked loads of chard and more kale too but thought I probably wouldn't get round to dealing with them, and they'd be better harvested another time.
The courgettes are interesting as they're from two different plants. The bigger plant produces very shiny fruits whereas the smaller plant is more matt. I haven't done a taste comparison yet!
Yesterday I picked a few more bits. I've tried to be more organised this year and actually have some wintery things to plant out (winter purslane etc) so to make some planting space I dug up some potatoes - these are from just two plants, so looks like it could be a good crop.
Minxie was trying to get in on the photo action as well.
Aaaw (those are my runner beans in the background).
The two corns picked Saturday and yesterday were interesting
I've never seen a cob completely full of kernels. This is one of the cobs that I helped pollinate by hand, sprinkling the tassels from the top of the nearby stalks into the top of the cob silks. Seems to have been effective! I'll try and be more thorough amongst all the plants next time
We've been eating the corn straight front the cob plus cut off some kernels to add to dishes like this pasta concoction, including all homegrown veggies of course. Ooh and last night I picked a load of kernels from a cooked cob and popped them in the freezer (I don't have enough freezer space to add the whole cobs).
Tonight Jan made a delicious omelette, using the peppers, some courgette and beans.
Our sandwiches this week have been tasty too, lots of basily, cucumbery, tomatoey mixtures.
And we've made a start on the fermented cucumbers, yum, which I've now moved from the kitchen worktop into the fridge.
Out at Eves Hill Veg Co where I volunteer, the toms in the big polytunnel are heavy with fruit, lovely.
And I spotted one of the trays of seedlings I sowed a couple of weeks back. I think this was one of my trays anyway. Although now I'm not sure!

So, that's me for this week, thanks for reading. I'm linking in as usual with Harvest Monday kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres. Head over there to see what other people have been up to.


Monday 21 August 2017

Harvest Monday - aaand they're stiiilll coming

Summer harvests are continuing nicely. Tomatoes in the lean-to at home have been pretty good. I've lost a few, where they've split at the base and gone a bit mouldy in the split - basically I should have picked them sooner - they've got overripe and taken in too much water. But on the whole I've been quite pleased. There's still lots more to pick too.
I've been adding them to stew-type dishes, plus we have them in sandwiches and something a bit more special, with mozzarella and drizzled with olive oil. I'll have to get a photo next time.
Ooh and they're nice slow-roasted too. I've frozen some of these for later.
I hadn't taken many harvest photos so thought I'd get this one today...just a few pickings from the lottie. I hadn't been down since Thursday so after finishing a couple of small gardening jobs earlier today I headed to the plot to have a lookee. The blauhilde purple climbing beans are really getting going....not sure why I sowed so many, I have five wigwams of them! You don't really get the scale from this piccie but that bigger 'courgette' is over a foot long.
I love the colour of the kale when it's chopped up.
Rather tasty dinner tonight, mmm.
I've now sliced up all the purple beans and frozen them in portions. What with these and the runner beans from the back garden that I've been picking all week I think we're sorted for now. I've also cooked up all the chard this evening too (thinly chopped the stems and cooked them for a bit first before adding the leafy parts) and am planning on making a big pesto with them tomorrow, probably freezing some.
So the freezer is gradually getting stocked up, hopefully supplying us with tasty food over the winter. Fingers crossed there's enough sweetcorn to freeze some as well.
And to end today, here's the inside of one of those blackberry cakes I made last week...I may have to force myself to make another one tomorrow.

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


Monday 14 August 2017

Harvest Monday - they're still a comin'

Phew it's that time when, if all has gone well so far, us veggie growers are trying to keep on top of all the harvests. In the lean-to at home my tomatoes are continuing to crop nicely. The plants which may have had some kind of virus have put on new healthy growth, so that was good news. But I've just realised one of my pepper plants probably has red spider mite, so I need to have a close look tomorrow and try and sort it out (which probably means ditching the plant?), and hope none of the others have it either.
The courgettes and cukes are also to continuing to produce lots of goodies, though the older plants at the allotment are suffering quite badly from powdery mildew. The younger ones aren't so bad. And I have three cuke plants in the partially shaded back garden which are alright (but crop very slowly compared with the ones in full sun on the allotment).
And the beans are properly getting going now - green dwarf French beans, climbing purple beans (both on the allotment) and runner beans in the back garden. I've started freezing some of the dwarf beans and will do some purple ones too. There are so many purple bean flowers, I might do some fermented beans if they crop really heavily (and give some away or do a swap for something I don't grow).
They're quite versatile though, always tasty as a side dish (here drizzled with balsamic vinegar) and we had some cold leftover with lunch today. A few years ago when we had a really good harvest I'd cook loads up and we'd have them as our afternoon snack. The potato here is mashed spuds which I froze (late winter?), but I needed the freezer space now, and also needed the glass container they were in - plus the main potatoes will be ready to harvest soon, so might as well use these up first.
I've picked more corn this week too. We had a cob each on Friday....
...and shared one tonight, with freshly picked kale, courgette, tomatoes and beans (and there's an egg under there somewhere). The corn goes really golden when it's cooked - when raw it looked the same as the ones above). The variety is Sativa Early.
The other day I roasted a big batch of beetroot (all the b's), which were actually 'seconds' from the market garden I volunteer at. Mice or some other rodent had gnawed the roots but the roots were so big it was easy to just chop off the affected parts and still be left with a good amount of beet. I made these into another tasty beetroot hummus.
Another thing I haven't grown myself - a huge marrow (actually overgrown courgette) from my friend's plot. He hasn't been able to get down for a couple of weeks (he's the chap that uses a wheelchair and needs it to be reasonably dry on the plot to get around). I went and picked his greengages and courgettes for him and found this massive marrow too. He didn't want it, so today I made a batch of spiced marrow and tomato chutney, which is handy as we're just on the last jar of last year's lot. I actually chopped up the marrow yesterday and prepared some of the other ingredients too, but was too tired to make the whole thing. I'm glad I left the rest until today as the simmering / reducing takes ages and I'd have been up until goodness knows when last night.
Mid-way through. It's quite a sweet recipe, with chopped dates in too.
Just need to label these up now. And I didn't make too much of a mess, which is unusual for me. As we often have the chutney in sandwiches, I gave it a whizz with a stick blender to get out the bigger chunks.
On the fruit front, I've been picking more blackberries of course.
Not as many today though, a lot were too soft / starting to go mouldy from the rain, as I hadn't picked any since Friday. I ate quite a few of the squishy-but-not-mouldy ones though, whist picking - they were really good.
And there were just enough to make a couple of blackberry cakes, fancy that. I use an easy recipe from Mumsnet here, though actually use a little less sugar, add some cinnamon, and find it takes longer than 20 mins to bake. I made double the recipe today.
Freshly out of the oven, (which reminds me, to make the most of the oven being on, I slow roasted some sliced tomatoes afterwards too). Anyway, one cake is to take round a friend's tomorrow evening, and the other is to take to the market garden on Wednesday, mmm. They don't look very berry-y but should hopefully look good when cut open.

Also, hopefully the weather will be better this Wednesday - it was really rainy last week so I didn't get any photos again. We had a productive day though, despite the sogginess.


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


Monday 7 August 2017

Harvest Monday - more summer harvests...including sweetcorn!

Wow we've had done really windy weather over the last week. The allotment is now bone dry and the runner bean plants at home have got lots of damaged leaves. But fortunately the only real casualty was a sweetcorn plant, which got blown over. They have shallow roots and this particular plant was on the edge of a bed, so I think was a bit vulnerable. But considering how strong those winds were, it could've been a lot worse. I know some people had bean plants ripped out completely.
Last week I harvested those lovely's what I made with them....roasted beetroot hummus, yum. Basically it's a normal hummus recipe (chickpeas, tahini, garlic, oil, cumin) with roasted beets added. Easy, and delicious. I froze one tub and we've eaten the other.
Very nice in sandwiches (here I made us 'open sandwiches'....'cause you get more filling that way), with some of our toms and purple basil, grown in the lean to at home.
I've picked two or three times this amount over the last week. Lovely colours.
Some have ended up in curries, along with the ubiquitous courgette, and dwarf French beans
Or tonight's tasty salad, with cucumber / yogurt / mint thing, home sprouted lentils and cous cous with more dwarf beans and courgette.
Other meals have included my favourite easy dish - veggies with only uses one pan as you can cook the noodles in the same pot, saving on washing-up, hooray. This included courgette (of course), runner beans, kale and fermented carrot (I still have a few in the jar in the fridge from ages ago).
On the cucumber front, we're picking this amount every two or three days, plenty for sarnies, salads and snacks.
I've been growing gherkins to make fermented pickles, and prepped everything to make a couple of jars. Looks good eh? I even picked some vine leaves as that's meant to help preserve the crunch (due to tannins in the leaves).
Well, all is not as it seems....I quartered the gherkins lengthways, trimmed the ends so they fitted in upright, and squeezed them into the jars. Then I thought, oh I'll just have a nibble on these ends, only to discover a few bitter pieces, and of course I didn't know which gherkins they'd been sliced from. So I had to take them all out and try both ends of every gherkin. Then I thought I'd better try a piece from the middle of a 'safe' one, which ended up being bitter. Wah. In the end I decided it was too much hassle to avoid any bitter pieces, composted the lot and used crystal lemon cukes and ridge cukes instead (which i haven't had any bitterness issues with). They are now sitting happily on the counter (piccie below), in their brine solution (of which I made far too much, so am now wondering what else I could ferment).
On the fruity front, I remembered to check my second dwarf apple tree down the far end of the plot, in case there were any windfalls (I have four dwarf Apple trees altogether, two at the top, two at the bottom). There were a couple on the ground, so I picked them up then gave some of the others still on the tree a bit of a twist. They all started to come away quite easily (the stalk comes away from the branch when they're ripe), so I thought I may as well harvest them all...because knowing me, I'd forget about them and lose them to windfalls / insect damage. They're really huge this year as well, biggest I've ever seen them (double the size of the ones I harvested last week from another tree). So now we just have to remember to eat them.
And there have been more blackberries - three colanders-full in one picking. The freezer is getting very full of them. I had to make a couple of blackberry cakes, just to save a bit of freezer space, ahem.
And yes, today I harvested our first sweetcorn of the year. It's a really good size and I'm pleased with the pollination of kernels, it's almost fully pollinated.
Enjoyed after simply boiling for a few need for butter. I can't wait for the next one. (Obviously Jan and I did share this one, half each!).

You're meant to be able to tell when they're ripe by the tassels going brown, but I find they go brown before the corn is properly ripened, so instead I do the trick of testing a kernel with a fingernail - peel the sheath apart a bit to see some kernels, then break into a kernel with your fingernail - the juice is milky when they're ready.


Well it's now raining, so hopefully the plot will be getting a good soaking. This week I've tried to be organised and have sown a few things in modules, for Autumn / winter harvest (if they work)...rocket, winter lettuce, coriander, oriental greens. I also noticed that the mango seeds I planted in pots a few weeks ago have germinated. I don't normally buy mango but a friend gave us a couple of fruits, and as I'd like some more house plants I thought I'd try propagating them. So after watching a couple of YouTube videos, I prised the seed cases open with a blunt knife, popped them in compost and covered with bubble wrap. I'll have to take a piccie of them...and try and keep them alive until then!


Oh and lastly, out at the not for profit market garden I volunteer at, we got busy with sowing various Autumn and winter salads, weeded the sweetcorn, planted out more salad. They're getting amazing harvests but I didn't get chance to take photos this week. It's looking good though.


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