Tuesday 14 August 2018

Harvest Monday - including edamame/ soya beans!

We've had some good rain showers this week, the allotment and back garden have been loving it (me too, as it means I don't have to spend time watering, huzzah!). It also means that my water butt at home has been filling up, so the lean-to greenhouse crops can get a nice drink of rain water too.

I took a harvest of the greenhouse basil earlier in the week, I love it when the leaves are huge like this. There's still a bit of purple basil too, though I've left most of it to go to flower...the flowers are purple too!
Tomatoes have been epic, with bowl after bowl. All varieties are doing well apart from super-marmande which has been suffering from blossom end rot, though fingers crossed, a few of them are now setting fruit without signs of it, (probably as the temperatures have cooled a bit so the compost mix in the pots doesn't dry out as much). 

Tigerella is definitely my favourite at the moment. They look and taste amazing.
My four over-wintered chilli plants indoors have some lovely ripe fruits on too, so I've picked a few of them this week, to make tomato and chilli sauce.

This batch had basil in too. I've made five tubs-worth altogether, which have gone in the freezer, there's still just enough room to squeeze a few things in.
It's been a colourful week too, with the first beetroots harvested. The variety is cylindra, and I multi-sowed them in modules at home first, before planting out under two of my bean wigwams. I had little gem lettuces growing amongst them earlier in the year too, so that small area has been very productive. 

The purple blauhilde beans are still producing well too, they've enjoyed the rain and so I've harvested a few handfuls over the week.

A nice variety picked yesterday...can you spot an exciting harvest? 
The sweetcorn (not actually the exciting harvest, but still pretty exciting), has come on this week and I've picked a couple of cobs. The variety is Sativa early. I've never seen aphids on corn before, but one of the cob husks was covered in them (and ladybirds). They didn't affect the edible part though.

We've had some really tasty meals, mmm.
Here's my exciting harvest....edamame / soya beans, wow! I had 12 plants I think, initially sown in loo roll tubes at home before planting on the plot. They didn't really need any special attention apart from tying to sticks when they got a bit tall.
I cooked them for a few minutes in boiling, lightly salted water.

They were so good, with enough to last over two meals for us both. So that's definitely edamame and chickpeas getting grown again next year (see last week's post for chickpeas)
I've had some more windfall apples, these have grubs in.
So I picked more blackberries...
..to make the first batch of stewed apple and blackberry of the year. The apples are quite sweet so no need for any sugar, I just added ground cinnamon mmm.

I'll end on a guided walk at High Ash Farm yesterday, organised by Norfolk Organic Group. It's just a couple of miles from Norwich, and quite well known as it focuses on farming for wildlife. I've walked around the farm several times before but you get a much more in depth perspective with a guided tour. Here's just a couple of snaps - first, one of the many fields sown with wildflowers...beautiful sunflowers have followed phacelia in this field. Apparently a lot of the flower varieties have finished much earlier than usual this year due to the heat and lack of rain. Last week's rain has brought the sunflowers out though, lucky for us.
And second, the group enjoying a grey heron flying past, putting on a nice show for us. But most unusual was a swallowtail butterfly that tumbled through the air along the lakeside - especially amazing as our guide had never seen one there before...quite a way from The Broads where they breed on milk parsley....what a treat!

That's me for the week. Thanks for reading and I'm linking in as usual with Harvest Monday kindly hosted by Dave at Happy Acres.

Monday 6 August 2018

Harvest Monday - full swing (and chick peas!)

There are quite a lot of harvests coming through now, with plenty of kale and chard. Here's a small bunch I picked earlier in the week, though last night  I actually harvested about three times as much. I'm still thanking the wasps who've been doing a marvellous job of picking off most of the caterpillars.

Ooh, and talking of caterpillars, I was carrying out a bit of tomato care (removing lower leaves etc to improve light and airflow) in the greenhouse at home and came across this cutie munching it's way through some leaves. 

I popped it outside with a few leaves and later on, after a bit of book and web research, identified it as the interestingly named 'bright line brown eye' moth, which is also known as the 'tomato moth'. The name refers to markings on the adult moths, and apparently it eat lots of different plants, not just tomatoes. Anyway I'm happy to share a few leaves with it for now...in fact it probably did me a bit of a favour as the leaves were quite dense and needed thinning!

It definitely hasn't impacted the tomato crop, I'm getting bowl after bowl at the moment, with four currently lined up on the worktop!  I'm really loving the detail on the stripey tigerellas. They're delicious too. One evening, when it's a bit cooler, I need to do a bit of batch prep with them, maybe I'll just do a tomato and basil sauce instead of slow roasting them...it's too hot to have the oven on!
Back at the allotment, the blackberries are continuing to ripen well. A fair few have already gone past their best on the plants (probably due to the rain last week, plus I haven't picked them as often as I'd like), but there's still plenty for us. I eat quite a few of the squishier ones whilst I'm harvesting, mmm. The beans are ok overall - blauhilde (purple) are now coming along nicely, whereas the dwarf beans are struggling a bit with the return to dry hot conditions. The crystal lemon cucumbers are romping ahead of the other varieties, their leaves are still looking ok whereas the others have quite bad mildew (which is worse in dry weather). The crystal lemons are in a bit of shade some of the day, so that may actually be helping them this year. Although there's a nice big courgette in this photo, I've only got one plant producing, and it's quite slow to put them out, so I don't actually have a glut for a change! The patty pan summer squashes are finally developing little fruits though, so we should have some of those soon. The tiny apples are windfalls, but are reasonably ripe, so we're able to eat those too, quite nice chopped into the breakfast muesli.

An example of one of my favourite meals at this time of year - chop it all up, fry a little bit and add a couple of eggs. This had some leftover potatoes in too,  yum!
And onto the chickpeas...I tried growing these last year. I think I just popped them in the ground (not even soaking first) - one plant grew up and excitingly started producing flowers...at which point I went to move it a little from growing into the path, and of course the stem snapped, ah! So this year I sprouted them at home first - soaked in a jar of water for a day, then drained and rinsed with water each day until they started sprouting, then planted out (probably about 3cm deep, just making a hole with a stick). I also put a stick in the ground at each location I planted a chickpea, so I knew where to look for them (they were a bit randomly planted, in the area I have two dwarf apple trees).

Anyway...ta daah! I had a few plants make it through, and once the pods developed, gave them some water, to encourage swelling of the pea inside (or peas...up to two per pod) and harvested when the pods felt nicely full. 

They didn't take too long to pod, but I imagine if you've got a lot of plants it could take a while.
I boiled them in a tiny bit of water for about five minutes. There were enough for us to have a tasty portion each, with a salad of homegrown goodies. The flavour was very fresh, a bit like a traditional pea but slightly different (bad description!). I'll definitely be growing these again (I didn't buy special seeds, just used dried organic chickpeas from the wholefood shop).
My next exciting unusual harvest to come is edamame beans / soya. The pods are there but need to fill out.

Apparently we might get another storm tomorrow night...we definitely need some rain again anyway.

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.