Monday, 21 July 2008

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Courgettes galore and other stuff

It's that wonderful time of year when anyone who grows their own veg begins to really reap the benefit. My courgettes are producing, on average, one fruit every 2 days. With 4 plants on the go, the harvest is mounting up. I made a lovely vegatable curry the other day, with virtually all my own produce, courgettes, runner, french and broad beans, vietnamese coriander and garlic. To add make it more of a main dish, I added a tin of red kidney beans. Dan loves curry, but the number of veg in this one was too much for him and he wouldn't even try it! A shame because I'm sure he would have loved the taste. The new courgette seedlings are through, but one has got eaten by a slug!
The garlic tops were beginning to yellow, a sure sign it was time to dig them up. If they are left in the ground too long the bulbs split into individual cloves and begin to re-grow. The first autumn we moved in, 4 years ago, I bought some cloves from the garden centre. Each year I have selected the biggest to re-plant for the following year. I am really pleased with the results this year, the bulbs are generally bigger and looking good. At the moment they are drying off, and I will plait them to hang in the garage. Hopefully they will last us most of the year.
I picked the rest of the cherries last weekend. Unfortunately a lot were split due to the high rainfall, but after sorting and stoning them, the 4 of us that like cherries had enough for Sunday dessert. Hopefully next year will bring a better crop as the tree matures. I also picked the blueberries that were ripe, and in an effort to give everyone a taste, decided to make some blueberry muffins. The recipe I picked was not the best, we were a bit disappointed with the results, but they got eaten anyway. The grapes are beginning to swell, and dropping out some of the graplets that didn't pollinate. It looks as if we should get a reasonable amount, but the lone plum has dropped off, so we wait until next year for our first one.
The runner and climbing french beans are doing well, I need to pick them every day or two so they do not get too large. I'm particularly pleased with the climbing french ones as I've never grown these before. They are lovely. It's a shame I lost one of my sowings of lettuce as we have a bit of a gap now. We haven't resorted to buying yet as I left the stubbs in from the last lot and we are picking the smaller leaves that have grown, but I don't think we will have enough to keep going much longer.
The second sowing of radish was a bit of a disaster, as they got cabbage root fly and were inedible. I have pulled them all up, and will try again when we get the next wet patch of weather, which according to the forecast could be today. I do wish I didn't have to waste time going to work, but only another week to the holidays! It won't be long until I pull some beetroot. Matt will get to eat some fresh before he goes back to Hull.
I find it takes about 30 minutes to water all the pots in the garden and greenhouse now, but it's worth it. I have been picking delicious cucumbers, and I have a few tomatoes showing orange. A few more days should ripen them off nicely. The peppers are not doing so well, I have some fruit, but tiny green caterpillars have eaten a lot of the leaves, and there have been holes in some of the fruit, so I cut them off to divert energy into growing new ones. In the garden I had several celeriac bolt (begin to flower). Once they do that there is no point in keeping them, so I used them to make some soup. With plenty of thyme and marjoram the flavour was lovely, and at least I felt I'd got something from them.
I must find some insect repellant though. I sat out in the garden with Dan the other evening and collected bites all around my ankles. It's a bad year for mosquitoes (or good, depending whether you are a human or mosquito). We are using the plug in mosquito killers you buy to take on holiday inside the house, which work quite well, but as I was only outside for a relatively short time, I didn't bother to light the citronella lamps in the garden. Regrets now!
The sky is beginning to lighten, its 4.45am, so I'm going to close now, get dressed and go out to water my pots and perhaps enjoy a cup of tea, looking at the results of my labours. It's the best time, so quiet and peaceful!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Cherries!

This won't be a long post tonight, but just wanted to post the fact that I picked 4 cherries today. Lovely! Sweet, juicy, almost black, I'll see whether all the others are ripe over the weekend. The beans are doing well (runners, french and broad), and I'm picking courgettes almost every day. Picked 2 cucumbers today, but still waiting for the tomatoes to ripen. The courgette seeds I planted over the weekend are not up yet, but it hasn't been long yet, maybe by the weekend!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Garden Visit and Jam.

Several people from the Garden Club visited me on Thursday evening to look at my tiny garden. Everyone was very kind and complimentary and I look forward to seeing what other people have done in their gardens in the next couple of months. Sasha didn't manage to find my house, but brought along a whole bag of lettuce to the pub, which was gleefully shared out among us.
Today is Vicky's birthday, so as she decided on an Indian Takeaway for her birthday meal, we had a roast dinner last night. I had the first picking of runner and french beans to go with it, as well as some broad beans and courgettes. I also harvested another pot of spuds, Lady Crystl again. The yield was around 500g, but only 4 potatoes, 3 pretty big ones. They tasted good, but I was hoping for more, smaller ones. Still as they were planted in recycled compost, and the tubers were those I'd saved last year, I hadn't spent much on growing them. Next time I'll try a pot of the Vales Emerald and see how they are doing.
As the courgettes are doing so well, and aren't bothered by lack of pollinating insects, I put in a couple of seeds to grow on in the greenhouse in the autumn. The main plants will have exhausted themselves by then, so hopefully this will extend the season and there will be room once the tomatoes and cucumbers are out.
Yesterday I also noticed the blackcurrants on the Ben Conan bush were begining to drop, so I picked all of them, even the slightly unripe ones from Ben Sarek. Altogether, once I'd prepared them, there were 400g. I also had 400g of blackberries I'd picked from the hedgerow last autumn in the freezer, so I combined the 2, cooked them up with 400ml of water and sieved out the seeds. I ended up with 900ml of juice/pulp, so I added 1kg of sugar to make a lovely jam. There is a definite blackberry flavour, but a tang from the blackcurrants, and it has set well. I had some small ceramic pots from some desserts we'd bought a while ago, around 200ml I suppose. I got 5 of these, plus one conventional 1lb jam jar. My mum was very pleased to get a small jar today, as she doesn't bother to make jam anymore, but does appreciate home made varieties.
I love it when all the work that has been put in earlier in the year begins to pay off. The satisfaction of feeding home grown produce to the family is enormous, even though I haven't room to be self sufficient. Looking forward to the cherries soon!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Gooseberry sawfly

I was horrified when I went into the garden yesterday to find my gooseberry bush looked just like a skeleton! I had heard gooseberrry sawfly were voracious, but there had been no evidence of nibbling before the weekend, and being a bit preoocupied with Dan's 18th party, I hadn't checked up again. There weren't any gooseberries anyway, it's a young bush, but I doubt I'll get any next year either now!
On a more positive note, the blueberries are showing colour, the mix of blue, blue/green and green berries look very pretty. I think it will be a while before we pick them though. The cherries are showing red, again a bit longer needed, as they should be black ones, but we have had a couple of raspberries each. Not a lot, I grant, but perhaps next year! This grow your own does take a bit of patience, especially with fruit. The lone plum is still with us, and the blackcurrants are pretty much....black, so I'll try one of those soon, and pick if they are ripe enough. Amazingly, I realised we even have a couple of nuts on the cobnut bushes, that's so exciting.
As for the veg, we've had enough courgettes to more than pay for the seeds, and they survived their little holiday with the neighbours for the party. They left a few presents behind, in the form of courgettes! It was a good idea to clear the garden of the more movable pots as one of my camellias lost a largish branch when James fell on it!
I tried some of the broad beans last night, cooked up with garlic, tomato, courgette, sage and thyme. It was a lovely veg combination, and in a few weeks I should be able to do it completely from the garden. We might even have some runner beans to pick by the weekend too.
The thought of having more space if the Iwade allotment project is successful is wonderful. At the moment I can only grow enough for occasional meals, or just enough for one, but with more space it would be possible to grow so many more varieties of veg that are too large for my tiny pottager plot. I went to look at the proposed site yesterday evening, very rural, which hopefully would deter vandals of the 2 legged kind, but I bet there's plenty of bunnies and birds just waiting for a delicious feed. It does have definite possibilities though so fingers crossed.