BOTTLING

There is such a glut of fruit on the allotment that I had to think of other methods of preserving it.

I usually get a good idea when I’m digging and this time it was no exception.. I made a blackberry and apple crumble the previous day and was going to put it in the oven on my return home. As I thought of that, there was an Eureka moment – I shall prepare the mix, together with sugar, leave it to stand for a while, perhaps even overnight, fill some Kilner jars and bottle it, use a water bath for 20 minutes and I shall have it all ready for the winter.

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All I shall have to do then will be to make the crumble topping and pudding is done. The only problem now is to get some more Kilner jars and some more storage space…..

THE LATEST HARVEST

As ever, my unusual plants didn’t let me down.

My long green wonder is Dutch croockneck – I knew it as Tromboncino. Never mind, it is very tasty roasted. The yellow ball is my favourite Zucca da marmelata. This is only a juvenile – 4lb. Last year the biggest one was 14lb. Again, very good roasted.

I did an experiment – somebody had some chitted potatoes left from the spring planting. A very good variety – Wilja. As I had a recently cleared piece of land after harvesting onions I decided to chance it and plant them to be ready for Christmass. I did this a couple of years ago and it worked. I’ll have to keep an eye on the weather and cover them if it gets too cold. Hopefully new potatoes for our Christmass dinner.

 

SUCCESS

All seems to be growing well and I’m busy harvesting some fab vegetables. This must be the first year I managed to grow some decent carrots – I said that before, the variety is called Flakkee and I am delighted!

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Not only carrots are doing well but also the beetroot – a mix of types, all very tasty.

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The pigeons on our allotment are so desperate that they peck at anything, even lettuce seedlings! The only thing to do was to grow almost everything vulnerable in a net cage – garden peas for one. This is the first year I managed to pick a decent amount – only because I put them in one of my net cages.

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All in all – a great growing year so far.

PLANS

After a long deliberation I decided that I would like to get a large polytunnel for the allotment. Found the website, the tunnel looked just perfect – 12ft wide and 20ft long. It would have covered nearly a half of one plot. The idea was I’d ask for it for my big birthday next year – or rather I wouldn’t want any Christmas or birthday presents, just a bit towards it. It was a bit pricey, I must admit. All that would have started next spring and I would have asked/begged a number of people to help to build it.

Obviously it wasn’t the right thing for meĀ  – I still had my doubts, mainly because of the price. All has been sorted out for me.

Reg had a nice little greenhouse on the half of a plot next to mine. Sadly he is no longer with us and his widow didn’t want to keep it – it was clearly meant to be mine. I bought it from her and after clearing it out and adding some manure to the soil we’re up and running.

I’ve got a few tomato plants, some sweet peppers and a cucumber – that should be climbing up along the wire I have arranged for it.

Outside I have two water butts, both have got a working tap and are elevated on support and have a pipe leading from the gutter to fill it.

There was a propagator inside as well so after clearing the ground on the side of the greenhouse I moved it there – a perfect fit.

I think I will line it with bubble wrap for the winter so we can have lettuce and tomatoes and cucumbers till later in the autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

ONE RAINY DAY…..

…and everything looks much greener. I didn’t mind the rain today at all, the ground was so dry and hard it will take e few rainy days to penetrate a bit further down.

These courgette plants are doing very well, they’re just a small sample of the different varieties I have got there. The round one can grow to alarming sizes – last year one of them managed to get to 7 kg! It climbs so I’ll be able to see them well as they get bigger. I saved some seeds from my last year’s giant so these could do just as well.

There are not only courgettes climbing up the structures but also some climbing beans, alas, the blue ones lose their colour after cooking .

READY FOR THE WINTER

My Grandma was, and still is, my inspiration in the realm of cooking and preserving.

She was the old school – no fridge in her days, it was a walk-in larder with a stone floor, no freezer either so any preserving for later was done by bottling. I’m tot quite sure if she ever used the salting method but I’ll have a look at it anyway.

Granddad had a plot of land where he grew a huge variety of fruit and Grandma bottled it and made jams. I think they would both be pleased how I try to follow in their footsteps.

 

It is rather easy – all you need is some Kilner jars, a large pan to use as a water bath and fruit of course.

One idea for the use of all these was – summer pudding. Not sure if it is still being made but it is rather yummy.

I can see having summer pudding at Christmas – what a lovely idea.

IT WILL BE A GREAT HARVEST….

…if these few courgettes, french beans and peas are anything to go by.

I’ve got a number of courgette plants and after last night’s rain they suddenly sprung to life and here we are!

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I grew some garden peas last year and made one big mistake – I didn’t protect them. Of course I didn’t have any as the pigeons were enjoying them too much. This year I sowed all my peas in one of my net cages and the result is here for all to see. They were just too nice to cook them so we just ate them straight out of the pod. I’ve got an idea for next year – I shall grow them again in a cage but this time I shall sow them close to sweetcorn plants and these can be their support. There’s an old method of growing things – ‘three sisters – usually runner beans planted close to sweetcorn and all that underplanted with squashes. Well, the way my squashes grow I wouldn’t be able to walk there so It’ll be just ‘two sisters’.

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And finally, I also harvested my first french beans. I like the climbing ones – much easier to pick!

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IN FULL SWING

It is harvest time!

As it is so hot these days I started going to the allotment quite early in the morning. The plan is that I will either water the most needy plants with the hose or, on alternate days, feed the ‘special cases’ either with the seaweed extract, comfrey tea or the liquid from my wormery.

It was the turn of the comfrey tea. My, does it stink!! And the smell seems to linger close to the ground, so when I was bending down, I got a good whiff of it. Never mind, the squashes love it!

I managed to pick another large box of strawberries, pulled out a lovely bunch of carrots and a few nice beetroot.

yesterday was a day to thin out the gooseberries…..

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…and I was pleased I had this lovely lot.

Got them home and in no time made a very tasty gooseberry and mint jelly. Goes a treat with cold meat, cheese or a quiche.

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As I was picking the gooseberry I also noticed that the currants are almost ready. That’s the beauty of having the fruit bushes in the net cage – I can take my time picking them, not like in the past where it was a competition between me and the birds. Guess who lost??

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Another benefit of net cages is the ease of growing brassicas. It was the same story in the past – try to stop the birds nibbling the leaves of the young plants so there was hardly anything left. I thought they wouldn’t like kohl rabi. I was wrong. So now the kohl rabi grows in the net cage and nothing gets at it and I can enjoy the fruits of my labour.

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CARROTS

It has taken all these years of working on the allotment and finally I managed to grow some half decent carrots.

My Grandad was a great gardener but he never grew them, he always said that he isn’t going to waste time – his soil was too full of stones and they always failed. I had a different problem – the dreaded carrot fly. But this year I chose some new (for me at least) seeds, called Flakkee.

And this is the first little bunch.

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BEETROOT

It was well worth the fuss in the early spring when I sowed some beetroot seeds in the trays in the greenhouse. I transplanted them later on the allotment and today was the day! My first harvest.

From this……DSCN1895

to this

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…in a couple of hours.

Delicious.