Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Salad

 We had a lovely trip to Llandudno yesterday, considering it is only about 40 minutes away we have made plans to visit more often. It is a small welsh seaside resort & the boy really did enjoy himself so it turned into a pleasant afternoon by the sea.









As it was still warm on our return home I made a salad out of what we had available in the garden to be served with dinner.

Mixed salad leaves, radicchio (at least I think it was), cucumber & some spring onions.  I would love to know why they are called spring onions, they take an age to grow so are ready in the middle of summer & I always seem to struggle with them. 

Anyway, I also boiled a few new potatoes & Mike had some shop bought tomatoes with his as none of my plants have any ripe fruit yet.

Cooks privilege as I was the one to harvest & prepare the above, there was no quick opening of ready made salad bags for me, was this - 
A sort of pimms, I say sort of as I forgot to add mint & cucumber, it still tasted very nice though.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 29 July 2013

Chickens, broccoli & jam

Interesting blog title did you think?

My sister, a few weeks ago decided she would like to have a go at growing her own, I gave her some veg plants, she bought some seeds, pots & a plastic greenhouse & listened to me as I talked about getting some chickens next year. Her husband thought it was a great idea, I have spent several years talking Mike round to the point he agreed, unfortunately lack of space means it will be next year for me. My brother in law purchased a coop with a run, he built a larger run to attach to it & at the weekend bought four chickens.


They are so entertaining, & they really do have their own characters, I really can't wait until I get mine.

Onto the the broccoli, in an earlier post I mentioned I hadn't netted my summer brassicas. I wasn't too worried as I had been out morning & night to remove caterpillar eggs & the odd caterpillar. I now know why I was only finding a few caterpillars, the little horrors had migrated to my pristine looking broccoli heads. I cut two heads for dinner last night, very lovely they looked to. To ensure there were no lurking caterpillars I cut the heads into florets & put them into cold salty water. Five caterpillars wriggled out, I left the heads soak for a bit longer. Another caterpillar was found in the bowl.  I changed the water to a warm salty mix, after a few minutes six more caterpillars were found. I gave up then, I didn't want to eat the broccoli & the family were none to keen either. The plants will be donated weekly to my sisters hens in return for some eggs, I shall make lemon curd & cakes instead. If that isn't a lesson in why you should net yours brassicas then nothing is.
Several weeks ago as the strawberries were ripening in the sun they were lovely & sweet. Now they are all ripening at once they don't seem so sweet so I made some jam.
Yes you can buy jam very cheaply in the supermarket, but jam made simply with your own fruit & some preserving sugar really has to be priced at the luxury end of bought jam.

500g of freshly picked strawberries, a good squeeze of lemon cooked over a low heat until there is lots of juice in the pan & the berries are soft. Add 500g of preserving sugar & stir until dissolved, boil for 10 - 15 mins before doing a jam test. ( a spoonful of the mixture on a cold saucer, if it wrinkles when you push your finger through it is ready if not boil it for a couple of mins more & repeat). Pour into sterilised jars & there you go. Yum, it really is a divine.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Bug house update



I though I would give you a little update on the bug house. As I'm sure you can see some leaf cutter bees have visited. Upon perusing the garden one morning I found they had nibbled pieces of leaf from the raspberry bushes. I'm very excited I never expected much interest in it to be honest.

Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Leeks

This year I am growing my leeks in tubs. I didn't have any leeks last year due to weeding them out of the bed they were in by mistake. The bird feeder used to be next to the bed in question. The birds being very messy eaters scattered seeds far & wide. I was pulling up the sprouted seeds one day & it wasn't until the scent of mild onion hit my nostrils that I realised most of the leek seedlings were in my bucket.


I had read somewhere that leeks follow on from early potatoes. With having a small plot my early potatoes are grown in tubs. The compost from the tubs was sieved by the lovely Mike & mixed with some of those chicken manure pellets. The compost was poured back into the tubs & leveled off. I made some holes with my dibber & the leeks were planted.

The blue recycling tub you see in the photo contains 20 leeks, I have two of these tubs & a couple of smaller pots containing 3 or 4 leeks each. If the roots seem a bit long & straggly I trim them, there is no need to do this but its one of the jobs I enjoy doing. You can also trim the top of the leaves but I have never done this as I really don't see the point. As long as they are planted with a good bit of depth to them you will get a lovely white shank. The planting holes are not filled in after, you simply water them in & gradually the soil falls into place around the leeks.

 I love leeks wrapped in ham & baked in a cheese sauce, should there be any left overs & rarely there is the cold mixture is used to make pasties & I like using filo pastry for this. Naturally as it is cold at harvest time there will be plenty of leek & potato soup served with some good home made bread. Soda bread by choice.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Summer brassicas

For some reason known only to the deepest, darkest recess of my mind I didn't net my two types of broccoli this year.

I am growing your box standard calabrese & for the first time some tender stem broccoli. The tender stem has been a huge success. It is rather like Purple Sprouting, you cut the main head when you deem it big enough for your needs & it sends up lots of lovely side shoots for you to pick over a period of time.  


My terrible photographs were taken a couple of weeks back, the calabrese is bigger now & one of the tender stem plants has nearly finished producing.

Anyway, they were planted in the bed where I have my fruit bushes. I can only think that the space & positions of the fruit bushes meant I was unable to net the veg plants effectively. That & I was under some kind of illusion that the cabbage white butterfly's would ignore my garden this year. Well they haven't. They have been fluttering in force for days now.

I used to be quite squeamish, it is amazing how having your plants eaten by bugs & slugs can knock that out of you.  I am on patrol twice a day squishing baby caterpillars & butterfly eggs. The little rotters have even attacked my baby winter brassica plants. I shall be investing in some new netting for when the latter have been planted.

Enjoy your day

Friday, 19 July 2013

Celery in pots

You have just got to try this next year. Especially if you are limited by space like I am. I have five pots of celery & they are growing fantastically well.
Just look at them!


I am so pleased  & they were so simple to do. I have wrapped some cardboard around the stems now & tied it into place with some string. This is my effort to blanch the stems & make them a nicer paler green, a bit like the stuff you buy in the shops because believe me, my celery is up there with the best of them.

I sowed the seeds earlier on this year & when the plants were big enough I transplanted them into some larger plant pots. The pots I used were the flower buckets you can buy from Morrisons. I think you get six in a pack for the price of 99p. You do have to drill some holes in the bottom of them for drainage but at 99p you can't complain really. 

I mixed some multi-purpose compost with some chicken manure pellets & the baby celery plants were popped into their new homes. They are watered every day (twice in the heat we are experiencing now) & fed once a week with some tomato food. I am so so pleased with the results & am really looking forward to harvesting them.I am planning to grow a few more next year.

Now, the bad lazy blogger that I am I would just like to say I have been reading your blogs but it has been whilst I have been in work & I can't really comment then. It has been unbelievably busy here what with work, huge harvests from the garden ( I have mange-tout coming out of my ears) & the boys final week in primary school. I have a couple of weeks off soon so normal service will be resumed.

Enjoy your day

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A new place to sit

Not a post about vegetables but I would like to show you where I have been sitting in the garden lately. When I have been by myself you understand, I'm not completely unsocial!

I sit perched on the edge of a veg bed, a bit like a little gnome, without the fishing rod, though. I like gazing at my little pond in this heat. I have yet to see anything in the pond, but the area is surrounded by flowers & fruit bushes so there are oodles of bees - which is always a good thing & it is very peaceful. A rather nice stress reliever at the end of the working day.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A little haul

My word its warm. I'm not complaining the garden is galloping away with itself, it is just so warm. The garden is just about in full production mode, though some things are a little way off. I'm still waiting for the turnips, the strawberries are taking forever to ripen, I have chillies on the plants but the sweet peppers still only have some flower buds.. I have harvested my black currents, the red & white ones are very nearly ripe too.

Anyway back to my little haul, for dinner on Monday evening Mike & I had a vegetable stir-fry with some pickings from the garden.

Above picked from my tiny garden, a red onion, carrots, pak-choi, a green courgette & some purple podded mange tout & very tasty it all was too.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Sweetcorn

In the partly cleared shallot/garlic bed I had space to transplant my sweetcorn plants. They had been growing quite happily in the greenhouse but they really needed to be planted.

I sowed the seed several weeks ago now in toilet rolls tubes. The roots like a long run so I believe so the tubes gave them enough space.

Can you see them right in the middle. I have twelve plants in all & they have been planted in a block formation. 4 x 4 x 4.

The reason for planting like this is the tassels on the cobs are the female flowers. The tassels at the top of the plant are the male flowers, they sway in the wind & scatter the pollen That's a basic description anyway.

I had some spare chard plants so I have taken a chance & planted them around the first set of cobs I only hope I haven't left it too late to transplant my sweetcorn plants. Allegedly I should be expecting one or two cobs per plant. Time will tell.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 1 July 2013

With great excitement

Look at what I harvested yesterday & today -

 The top photograph consists of the veg we had for dinner yesterday evening.  Carrots & the first new potatoes & broad beans of the season. They were absolutely lovely.

The next three are Shallots (fancy long french ones), red & white onions & garlic. They are drying in the greenhouse & it smells absolutely lovely when I enter it.

I have oodles more shallots in the garden, I am leaving them to bulk up. The bed was in desperate need of a weed. In fact I truly didn't realise how bad it was.

Anyway I have more shallots, beans, potatoes & carrots to come, well what a small garden can provide for anyway.

Enjoy your day