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?

December 9

Recipes with winter squash #1

We grew a lot of winter squash this year. I do love them but I also need

variety otherwise it will be a long winter.  My favourite meal is a lamb and squash tagine. You can find the recipe below.

Lamb and Squash Tagine

300g diced lamb

1 onion

1 red pepper

2 cloves of garlic

lump of ginger chopped up small

2tsp turmeric, paprika, cumin

1tsp ground coriander

chilli

50g dried apricots

500ml stock

200g (we use more!) of squash

juice of half a lemon

Put everything in a pot apart from the squash and put it in the oven for 1hr at 150C. Then put the squash in and lemon juice and cook for another hour.

We like this served on cauliflower and broccoli. Not the trendy grated cauliflower and broccoli, but florets.

There are lots of squash recipes here: http://www.thegardenofeating.org/2015/11/winter-squash-recipes.html

 

November 11

What I have learnt this year

As I come towards the end of my no-dig year I realise that I am a convert. So many of the vegetables and fruit did better than I have grown for some time.

What I have learnt about compost/manure

  1. Only use well-rotted manure. Mine was too fresh and sat in lumps that slugs and snails could hide in.
  2. Seaweed works well and plants love it but it works even better with some compost on top.
  3. It is a struggle to make enough. I have two allotments and probably only make enough for one plot.
  4. Leaf mold is good on the sandy soil. It works even better with a topping of compost.

Successes

  1. The squash have been fantastic. Only one of my Crown Prince squash plants survived but it provided five squash. Usually I have one plant, one squash although I did see that Charles Dowding managed six off his plants so still a little way to go.
  2. Sarpo Mira potatoes were fantastic and I will definitely grow some of these next year. Thank you to John for sharing his surplus plants. I only had four seed potatoes but the crop will probably last us all winter.
  3. The leeks are enormous!
  4. The kale is big and healthy and I actually managed some red cabbages this year.
  5. Flat leaf parsley is hard to keep up with and my lemon grass is doing really well in the polytunnel.

Things that didn’t work so well

These things are not because I used no-dig rather than the weather or my lack of knowledge.

  1. My onion sets had rot but my seed-sown onions didn’t. Next year I will grow all my onions and shallots from seed. I planted the onion sets in lumpy manure and the slugs and snails dined on them.
  2. The Celariac are much, much bigger than previous years but the wood lice have taken up residence in them.  The compost was well-rotted so I will just have to try again.
  3. My garlic was thrown by the cold spell in spring and thought it was winter again. This year I have planted half outside and half in the polytunnel.  We shall see what the difference is.
  4. I need to keep the grass a bit lower and remove the grass hanging over the edge of beds. Slugs and snails hide there!

What has worked well for you this year?