Monday 8 January 2018

Harvest Monday - a new year

....but first a quick look at the end of 2017, as I had an unplanned gap in blog posts (not for any particular reason, they just didn't happen, and time flies).
So of my friends had a lovely candlelit wedding on the winter solstice. She asked me to bring along a dish for the reception and I thought it would be nice to make it completely from homegrown goodies. I made a winter salad with roasted butternut squash, red onion and garlic plus home-sprouted lentils and boiled beetroot. I'd made loads so there was enough for us to keep some, and it was quite good heated up too.
We were here in Norwich on Christmas Day and whilst needing to use up some bought veggies before heading off to visit family the next day, it was nice to include homegrown goodies too. So in the morning we nipped to the allotment to lift a few leeks for the chestnut pie filling. Funnily enough there was no-one else on the allotments, huh. The chestnuts were ones I'd foraged for in October and previously roasted and frozen, which made things easier. And of course we had roastie potatoes. Jan made the pie pastry top, a lovely buttery flavour, mmm.
Last week I noticed that a few of the sweet dumpling squashes had started to ooze a bit from their skin, so it was a good excuse to cook them up.
The first batch I roasted straight, with just a little oil. I'd ummed and ah'd about how large to cut the pieces, and in the end decided to just cut them along the indentations, which meant they didn't take too long to roast.
For the second batch I added some small onions which I'd brought back from the allotment shed, and also sprinkled a few homemade/grown chilli flakes.
The squashes have a very sweet flavour, so a little chilli kick adds a bit of diversity.
It's been handy having some pre-roasted squash in the fridge, which can just be added to various dishes like this risotto Jan made. We've also had a curried rice dish, one with pasta and one with bulgar wheat.
On Friday I went to the allotment briefly to stock up on a few veggies - the leeks are growing slowly but surely, and by harvesting alternate leeks it means the ones inbetween have more space to grow-on.
I have a couple of dwarf curly kale plants and picked these leaves from one of them (Jan used them in the yummy risotto).
And I have quite a few Nero kale plants, so whilst the leaves aren't huge, if I pick enough of them it makes a reasonable harvest. I try and pick from different plants each time to allow the others to grow-on inbetween. I was also going to pick some mizuna but thought we probably wouldn't use it up quickly so decided to save that for another day. I'm hedging my bets a bit and leaving the mizuna and one kale bed uncovered - the strong winds keeps blowing the covers off, despite weighing them down, and the kale plants are actually getting squashed by the supports, so fingers crossed the pigeons don't decide to have a meal of them.
Back at home I still have winter salad leaves growing in the lean-to greenhouse. Including some lovely sweet rocket -
And juicy winter purslane - it's pretty amazing how well this stuff grows back after each harvest. I have a few pots (using the old tomato compost, complete with tomato plant roots still in situ, probably breaking down and feeding the purslane), so again I can harvest from different plants each time. Hmm I have a quandary though - usually I sow some peas around now to harvest Spring shoots, but all my pots have salad in. Ooh, what to do?

Back down at the allotment, I had a good few hours yesterday in the sun (yes....sun!), mainly pruning a big old buddliea (to encourage new growth) and moving a stack of timber that had been near a couple of my rotational beds, and had been a source of hidey places for slugs, snails and woodlice. I don't use much timber on the plot anymore but it's still handy every now and then, so the stack is now further away from any annual plants. I also want to get on with clearing more of the weedy beds (which actually includes a lot of self-sown rainbow chard) and around the fruit bushes, then spreading compost or leafmould on top. I aim to disturb the soil as little as possible, so in some cases the clearance will just involve snipping the plants off at ground level and leaving the roots to decompose in place. I also want to lay cardboard to kill off some of the grass paths (too much hassle to keep cutting them all, plus the couch grass encroaches from them). So that's my plans for the next couple of months, plus no doubt getting side-tracked by many other things along the way. How about you?


Ooh, one other thing, I've just signed up to My Harvest - a study by Sheffield University into different aspects of allotmenting throughout the year, including how many hours spent there, physical inputs, harvests etc, recorded in a diary. I thought it would help improve my record keeping as at the moment I only really record quantity / timing of seeds sown. They're still looking for participants if anyone else is interested.


Thanks for reading this week, I'm linking in as usual with Harvest Monday, this month kindly hosted by Michelle at From Seed to Table.



  1. Wow, your kales and leeks are looking wonderful. It's great that your growing winter salads in your greenhouse. Your risotto and winter salad look good, makes me think I should check on my squashes as well.

    1. Hi phuong, I hope your squashes are all ok, I found another one that had started to go mouldy on the outside (a blue kuri variety), but luckily could still use most of it so I diced that up and put it in the freezer.

  2. I'm currently searching our recipes to use our Crown Prince squashes. Like you we have buddleias in need of cutting back and fruit trees in need of a winter wash and ... Just need some gardening friendly weather. It never became light today,

    1. Hi sue, yes it's a bit miserable at the moment, today was pretty gloomy and everything just seems damp even when it's not been raining. Sometimes once you're actually out there it's not as bad as you think but it can be hard to get out in the first place!

  3. sounds like you are busy; nice looking leeks, reminds me I need to get some seeds planted. I had a small planting last year and they were very popular with my customers. Thinking of two plantings this year, early spring and midsummer

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