September 3

A changing harvest

The start of September usually signals a change in harvests for us. The courgettes are slowing down and the sweetcorn is ready.  We picked our first cobs this week and they were very sweet and tender. Now it will be a race between us and the badgers to see who gets the most!

The chillis are now in full swing. I have two types: cayenne (long and pointy) and one from a seed packet called Chilli Shakes. When I looked at the packet more clearly it is yet another mixed packet that I bought and so I don’t know what type this is.  I really MUST stop buying mixed packets!

I am also picking chard regularly now. I add the leaves to almost everything. Tonight it is chilli made with black beans to which I will also add shredded chard leaves.

L to R: Leaf beet, Lucullus and Rainbow chard

It has taken me a very long time to work out what to do with the stems. I read somewhere that we grow chard for the leaves and the french grow it for the stems.  After reading a blog post from the Frugalwoods about their mammoth chard growing and storing days, I too decided to chop the stems very finely and add them to stir fries. It works a treat and now no waste!  I believe the french use the stems in a gratin – I do love a gratin but am not convinced about a chard stem gratin.

The allotment seed catalogue from Kings has arrived and I have already spent a pleasant hour perusing the delights.  The more blogs I read about growing, the wider the range of seed companys I need to use. For instance, I want to grow Aji Limon chillis this year so will have to get them from the South Devon Chilli Farm. I will get the Stupicke tomatoes from Sarah Raven and the Coriander Cruiser from Simply Seeds. (I have just bought the coriander because it is on sale at 29p!) And I haven’t even made a list of all the things I do want to grow yet.

I did something I have never done before. I pulled up some tomato plants that were still productive.  Zlatava was a tomato that I tried for the first time this year and found it to be watery and tasteless and prolific. It didn’t matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of the wateriness so I pulled the plants up. It felt wrong but who wants food that they don’t like to eat?

What are you thinking about growing next year?

My thanks to Dave at Happy Acres for linking us all up with his Harvest Monday posts.

March 5

A little bit of a harvest Monday 05/03/18

Oh we have had a cold time this last week. Snow and freezing rain and we are just not used to it. The whole country shut down and I had two snow days at home. Yes, it even reached us here on the south coast of the UK.

In 2010 we had a lot of snow and on Christmas day I went down to the allotment to harvest some veg for the meal of the year only to find that the weight on top of the polytunnel had meant that it had collapsed. I didn’t have crop bars going across for extra stability because who would have thought we would have that much snow down here! Anyway, I spent the next two or three years bent double in the polytunnel growing short vegetables whilst I saved up my pennies for a new one.  So, when it snowed, I went down and brushed it off the tunnel – several times a day! The best bit was the freezing rain as it coated the tunnel and made a wonderful sound when pushed off from inside. There’s a short video here of me doing that cracking ice-1ow8hpz.

I am still picking leeks and parsley and eating the squash we grew over the summer but do have one new vegetable that is just  coming in to its own and that is purple and white sprouting broccoli (no not stripey, two different plants). The white never seems as prolific as the purple and I do love sprouting broccoli. I have three plants of each but I am not sure that is enough.  The first harvest is always the best – I eat it like asparagus. Lightly steamed and dipped in mayonnaise. Yum.

I may not be harvesting much but the seed sowing has started. There are chillies and aubergines potted on in the propagator upstairs and tomatoes just sown in the propagator downstairs. I also have peas in the greenhouse but I am not sure whether the recent cold weather has seen them off or not. A week or two will tell.  I also sowed four types of beetroot: Boltardy, Bona, Boldor and Detroit 2. They too are in the unheated greenhouse but are quite hardy seeds.

How are your veg growing?

 

February 13

Harvest Monday 12/02/18

Stored vegetables

We grew a lot of winter squash this year; Crown Prince, Waltham Butternut  and Hunter – a type of butternut.

Here they are after we had harvested them in October . As you can see, the bench is quite full. We ate the Butternut squash first because they do not last as long as the Crown Prince which will still be going strong in May.  There were five Crown Prince in total and they all grew on one plant. Normally I have five plants each with one squash on so I do put the vigour of the one and only plant that survived the slugs down to no-dig. I have also just noticed that there is an Uchiki Kuri, the bright orange one, in there as well.

 

This is what the bench looks like today. Just the Crown Prince to go and they are probably the best-tasting of all of them.

New no-dig bed

I have created  a new bed for some squash this year on a slight slope. Being a no-dig gardener, I have put cardboard down first, watered it, and then manure and home-made compost on top  and covered it with black plastic that lets the rain through.  A new bed in 15 minutes. I reckon I will get three squash plants in it.

It is not essential to put compost on top of the manure but I have found that plants seemed to do better in that mix rather than just compost or just manure.  That could be more about my compost and manure than anything else. The compost I have is full of weed seed because it was made before I got on top of the weeds which is why I covered the bed with black plastic. Again, it isn’t essential to do this but beds that I haven’t covered, where I used my compost, do have weeds growing in them. I need to get the hoe out!

I am as desperate as everyone else to start sowing seeds but the weather is so cold at the moment.  I might sow some chilli seeds in a propagator on the kitchen windowsill but that is all until this cold snap disappears.

Multi-sown seeds

I really enjoyed Charles Dowding’s latest video about growing multi-sown module leeks. He certainly seems to grow a lot in a small space which is what I want to do. Leeks are one of the seeds I will be sowing soon.  I have Musselburgh which were free with the magazine Kitchen Garden and are ready from October onwards; Tadorna, which I have not grown before,  are ready in December  and Blue Solaise which are ready from November onwards.  With these three, I should be able to have leeks throughout the winter and into the early spring. I planted 50 leeks last year and they are just about to run out now so I would say I need another 20 at least.

Harvest

And so to the harvest. I really can’t show kale again which doesn’t leave much to show this week.  I do have large clumps of parsley in the polytunnel and so a salad of parsley, cucumber and tomatoes all chopped really small would go well with my chicken tagine tonight.  I know people talk about the hungry gap starting in April/May but mine seems to start now!  I do still have a freezer half-full of blackberries, raspberries and black currants which we eat for breakfast every morning.

What is the best fruit or vegetable you have stored over winter?

January 14

It will only take half an hour! And a harvest

You know what it is like. You take your eye off a plant – a helianthemum – for 5 years (!) and it outgrows its allotted space. You have half an hour so you think you will just pop out and give it a quick trim. Ha!

The first thing you find is that the local cats have been using the top of your much loved Helianthemum as a toilet. It is after all quite cold at the moment and who would want to put their little botty near the cold floor when there is a nice, cushion-shaped plant near by.  So, you clear that up which is not easy and then continue.

You then decide to put the clippings into the dalek compost bin only to find that rats have taken up residence. It is cold after all.  So you tip it over, spread it out and make a lot of shrieking noises just to scare them off and put the clippings on the big, open compost bins. You do however, see some suspicious holes in the big bin.

You then have a good idea! You prune a holly bush and stick the twigs of holly in the helianthemum to keep the delicate little bottys off ! And it has only taken an hour.

One thing I am very pleased with though is my bowl of salad in an unheated greenhouse. I planted the pot up in early November. I don’t keep records (but I might make it my New Year’s Resolution to do just that) so I am not quite sure when, but we have had a picking each week from it throughout December and now into January. I just pick the outer leaves, leaving the growing inner leaves and they seem to have replenished a week later. I will definitely be growing more of these pots next year.  I found some old polystyrene boxes in a recent clear out of the garage and they would be fantastic being slightly insulated. In the pot there is Little Gem lettuce, Mustard – which seems to be taking over and needs more frequent picking – Catalogne lettuce (I think!), fennel and coriander.  There have been several mornings when I have looked at them and they have been very droopy. It is quite cold after all, but they have all recovered as the greenhouse has warmed up. So, salad with tea tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What have you harvested recently?