Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Stormy Days

Who would believe it's August? The weather we've been having, stormy and windy, and lots and lots of rain... and hot, which is the only clue that it is supposed to be summer...hot and sticky... uncomfortable.

Anyway we've been making small progress with the garden. We have decided we need a shredder, so we can shred all the hornbeams, rather than simply put them into the brown garden waste bin - if we can shred them, we can compost them or use them as mulch. We've been looking on Freecycle, and pricing up for a new one, but we suspect we'll have to bite the bullet and buy one.

The tomatoes are still ripening, I noticed today the first one on the tumblers that has started to change colour, but these photos were taken a few weeks ago to show the baby toms and loads of flowers, very sweet. The other tomatoes are still going strong, but not changing colour as yet.

The beans and courgettes are producing, we've been eating beans, and some peas, but as we haven't got many pea plants we haven't had many peas. Our favourite thing to do is eat them fresh out of the pod as soon as they're picked, they are so sweet and fresh and green. We will defo grow more peas next year, these are great.

This is what we planted the spuds in, they have ALL produced green growth, and I've earthed them up already. Hubby lifted all the tubs yesterday and put bricks under them to raise them off the hardboard, with all the rain the tubs were sitting in a pool of water.

The mini greenhouse is still standing despite the windy weather, and the cues and chillis are doing well, not changed colour yet, but I think the lack of sunshine hasn't helped.

I cropped all the beets from the smaller raised bed, and made some beetroot and orange chutney, recipe from The Complete Book of Preserves and Pickles by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew. After making the chutney, I still had lots of beets left over, so I pickled them :-) They won't be ready to eat for a few weeks, but when I tasted the chutney to check the seasoning it tasted good!

We've also picked a load of apples from the tree, there are still plenty on there, they'll last another couple of weeks I reckon. I incorporated some into the chutney, and have stewed the remainder for the freezer. I did 2 lots of spiced, and 2 lots of plain stewed apple. And we now have 16 tubs of stewed apple to go into porridge or onto ice cream, for months to come. My new favourite gadget is the Apple Master from Lakeland, it is a doddle to use, and so quick, it made the preparation of 4 carrier bags of apples a breeze. I Highly Recommend this product! It peels cores and slices, so all I had to do by hand was take out the bruised bits or scabby bits. Fab. I reckon we've got about the same amount of apples still on the tree, so I intend to dehydrate these, and store them that way. Will write about this when I do it.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Planted some spuds. Never grown spuds before, hopefully these will give us new spuds for Chrimbo. We'd been looking in the seed catalogues and they only sold them in fairly large quantities, more than we needed, as we had 3 recycling tubs and we reckoned that we could pop 4 seed spuds in each, so we only wanted 12 at the most. We'd looked in the chain garden centres, no joy. We had almost given up, and were about to order some from the seed catalogue places, when we decided to try our local independent garden centre, Dundry Nurseries, on the offchance that they had some. And lo and behold, they sold seed potatoes individually, you just bagged up how ever many you needed and they weighed them. Our 12 seed spuds cost us the princely sum of just over a quid. Ace. We also picked up some compost, for the same price that B&Q were knocking the same amount out for. We like local companies, and try to support them wherever possible, so in future we need to try Dundry first for other supplies, they seem to be well sorted for veg, and have some unusual seed varieties. The guy that owns Dundry Nurseries is often a guest on the local radio breakfast show.

The supermarket garlic has failed, the leaves have died right back. It was only an experiment, but it's still a disappointment. Never mind, will try again later in the year, I know now I planted them too early. You live and learn. Will try again by planting some cloves in a week or so, for cropping next year.

We've been eating courgettes, basil, coriander, tomatoes, beetroot, salad leaves, and we had our first runner bean - it was a solitary big bean, so we took it off to allow the rest to develop. The French beans and the runners have yet to really get going, lots of flowers and leaves, but only a few strings of beans as yet. Hope we're not too late. Harvested a few pea pods, to try and encourage the plants to keep producing, we had a couple of pods raw, straight from the plant, so sweet and green, absolutely delicious. We'll definitely grow peas again.

The chillis and cucumbers are coming along great, lots of growth and lots of fruit, no ripeness yet, but give it time. And the freecycle toms are starting to change colour at last, whoo hoo! And the freecycle sweet peppers are finally getting flowers, I'll keep them in the greenhouse and hope for the best. I feel pessimistic, as it is late in the season though.

I cooked our first onion, 3 courgettes, and a load of tomatoes last night, and made 3 portions of ratatouille-type stuff, and have frozen them, they'll go great in mince, or with chicken, or even whizzed up as a soup. I also trimmed a lot of mildewed leaves off the courgettes, and binned them as they can't be composted. I know why they've got mildewed, infrequent watering and overcrowding, too many plants all together. So I fed them all, and wiggled the growbags a bit further apart to give the plants some room - kill or cure, they aren't very productive at the moment so chopping off leaves won't be a problem. We will see how they go.

Also been thinking a lot about the front garden, not for growing veg, so not really relevant to this blog, but it's gardening so I'll note my thoughts. Want to tidy up the front and make it look neater. The H4H petunias we planted have been a great success, and give off a lovely delicate fragrance in the evenings, so I'd like to grow more fragrant flowers, like lavender, and pretty ones like poppies, and buddleia. We have a rosemary shrub in the front which is over 15 years old, and it's very leggy and woody, so I've taken some cuttings, fingers crossed they take, and next year I'll remove the old plant. I took some of the old plant out this weekend, and tidied the front up a bit, not much different but it'll take some time. There are some other old shrubs out front, so they'll need cutting back or removing in the spring too. And a blue atlas cedar that needs cutting back and down otherwise it'll take over! I need to do all the cutting back in such a way that the people who post things through letterboxes don't use our garden as a shortcut - which is why the shrubs were planted in the first place. Need to plan it carefully. Thinking about a trellis fence, or something similar between us and next door... not decided yet tho. A simple but pretty physical barrier, which clearly denotes our boundary. We also have a large hornbeam shrub in the front, which I'd cut back a couple of weeks ago, it is large and square, and I'm thinking about removing it to soften the look of the front garden. Lots to do, plenty of time to do it.