Should be further on than this!

Not sure what is wrong with me but finding it really hard to get out in the cold and do some work. Did manage to make a start on the two beds at the top of the garden although they still need fed with about twenty wheelbarrow loads of manure. Hoping for an improvement from the asparagus bed in 2017 it was a very meagre crop this year. I’ve yet to do anything in the veggie plot bar plant out cabbage, collards, chard and kale plus sow more lettuce. I think I’m perhaps being overly optimistic with regards to the outdoor sown lettuce but we’ll see. It’s funny as soon as I don’t have any lettuce to pick I start craving it!

cleared-beds   veggieplot

Both polytunnels are at least complete for the winter. They both contain transplanted strawberries along their back walls. In the first one there’s some PakChoi progressing very slowly plus lettuce and oriental greens from seed that are just starting to peek through. In the second one I’ve left a chilli plant to see how long it lasts who knows perhaps it will be a mild winter and it will live to see 2017. I’ve also sown broad beans in the hope of a crop that is not decimated by black fly. I’ve tried on a number of occasions to grow broad bean outside – this will be my last attempt if the blackfly invade the polytunnel.

g1   g2

This is not a pretty sight but I’m sure the worms will love it. I did this last year on a smaller scale but going all out this year. We only put the fire on a couple of weeks ago and already I have a dust bin full of ashes layered with stuff we normally throw onto the compost heap. I reckon by the spring I should have at least 10 bin loads to dig into the veggie plot. The runner beans loved this smelly disgusting concoction.

ashbin

Finally, December in a couple of days and still there are flowers out around the garden…

rocket   bud   cornflower

honesty   campanula   sweetrocket

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Bone Dry…

Not had the heart to post as there is so little going on in the garden apart from the most boring of jobs -watering! We’ve not cut grass for almost three months and I can’t remember the last time we had rain. Even the weeds have given up the ghost. Temperature in the 30s for weeks on end and no rain does not bode well for a good crop of veggies. Although, having said that the chillies seem quite happy both in the polytunnel and outside.

dried chillies   Scotch bonnets

This is the first time I’ve grown Scotch Bonnets from seed so I’ll be quite pleased if I get a small crop. The Hungarian Wax and Cayenne have done really well in the polytunnel and as you can see I’m threading and hanging the surplus Cayenne chillies.

duck salad    courgette bahgis

We have been eating lettuce till it’s been coming out of our ears. No sign of it even bolting which is rather amazing given the heat and the sun. Well, it wouldn’t be summer without an over abundance of courgettes! The last pick got made into courgette bhajis which we’ve frozen for winter treats. We’ve also had a feta and courgette frittata which was pretty tasty.

toms

We’ve been eating lots of Greek inspired dishes given the number of cucumbers and tomatoes we’ve had. For the first time ever I appear to have a crop of aubergines that look like they might come to something. Lots of bell peppers, aubergines, cucumbers and tomatoes still to be picked from the polytunnels which we’re planning to live off until our holiday at the end of the month.

squash

A very disappointing crop (I use that word very loosely!) of squashes. You can see how dry the ‘grass’ is so you can imagine how difficult it has been trying to keep the squashes alive let alone fruiting well. There are still a few left unpicked but they are pretty pathetic especially the butternuts. But at least it’s something unlike the beans, onions and the beetroot which went straight onto the compost heap!

collards    tolttilos

Kale, collard and chard are all doing fine as are the tomatillos and I might even get a crop of parsnip and leeks as they seem to be doing well. It’s a funny game this gardening no two years the same.

Dry as sticks….

You would not believe the change in the weather. I seem to spend all my time watering the veggie plot(s) and polytunnels. Last rain was about two weeks ago and none forecast for the next 10 days. Coupled with temperatures in the high 20s to high 30s everything seems crispy, the grass crunches as you walk. I’m hoping I don’t lose too much to drought as there is no way I can water more than the edibles apart from a newly planted buddleia which is getting a drink, and the hanging baskets which are at least on a watering system.

House        IMG_0764

I think my veggie plot is in danger of turning into a flower plot if I’m not careful. It started with the red bergamot added in with the rhubarb, then a ‘bit’ of comfrey, then sweet rocket, borage (of course) and calendula. I also added some gladiola bulbs for cut flowers, tiny perennials and cuttings to grow on and of course a pyramid of sweet peas!

bergamot    glads    sweetpeas

I’ve now got two polytunnels, the veggie plot with the flowers, two long beds at the top of the garden and a patch in front of the big hut all growing veggie. I’m also growing fruit all over the place. The veggie plot is being given over more and more to salad and leafy veg as I can water it easily. There are about about six varieties of lettuce on the go at the moment along with a couple varieties of rocket. The basil (like most things) is really struggling with the heat. Kale on the other hand just grows! Eating lots and lots of salad.

dry veggieplot  bowllettuce

The polytunnels are romping away – they have put on even more growth since I took this picture as I gave them a drink of the very stinky comfrey juice the other day. I’m going to make a HUGE batch of this from all the bloomin comfrey romping about the garden. The first tunnel is filled with 15 tomato plants (too many I fear) and the now fruited strawberries. The second has chillies, sweet peppers, aubergines and cucumber in…I’m not very happy with the look of the ‘soil’ but everything seems to be growing away – that’s a big clump of honesty in the front – forgot that is also in the veggie plot!

toms      chilies

The squash bed is doing well and the ‘asparagus’ bed is now filled with spare (aka the weakest) squash, chillie and tomato plants. At the back of the squash bed I’ve planted giant sunflowers (Titan) which are now over seven foot high along with some dwarf sunflowers. Next to the squashes I’ve planted leeks which I’m hoping will take advantage of the shade on their roots offered by the squash leaves and the trench I dug and filled with manure. A bit of an experiment…

squashbed      leeks

These bed are about 22 metres long and I’m thinking of extending them to maybe 30 metres. Also thinking my ideal veggie plot is a single, metre and a half wide, 120 metre long strip.

Well June and July have been fruit months we pigged out on raspberries and strawberries with homemade muesli for almost six weeks. Last night we had a red gooseberry, rhubarb and blackcurrant crumble – scrummy. The freezer if full of rhubarb and black currants however the rasps and strawberries were all gobbled down as they became available. I note my greengage tree has a total of four fruit showing and the blueberry bushes look decidedly short of fruit…such is gardening….hmm no picture of the pond as the weeds are even bigger than they were in June – an autumnal task me thinks.

goose    rhubarb    Rasps

 

 

Not much work getting done

It’s the first of March today and I really thought I’d be further along than this. The weather is miserable, cold, wet and windy so I’ve been mainly huddled indoors except when I’m out running nothing stops that!

After a query  on ‘Gardeners Corner’about Jerusalem artichokes a very kind member, whom I’ve never met, sent me a whole box of them (chokes not queries). I know where I want to plant them but the area needs clearing and so far I’m about half way through. I decided to grow Jerusalem artichokes because Anjafinne said they make great chips plus I have this horrible corner that I would like to fill with big yellow flowers. I’m hoping for a great flower display and food. They do make nice chips!

Chokes with fish
      Fish and Artichoke Chips

chokesinbox     sideforchokes

My lovely box of Jerusalem artichokes and the start of their new home. I’ve put the string across to give me moral support else I could be doing a clear up here for weeks. I’m aiming to get this finished and planted up by the weekend.

stir2   stir 3

stir1   stir4

We had a stir fry last week with bits and pieces, the mung beans were done in the sprouter, the ‘spring onions’ were courtesy of some of last year’s onions I sprouted in a jar of water, carrots were from the veggie plot (they were a bit anaemic mind) and the oriental greens (flower tops and all) were from the poly tunnel. Nothing goes to waste in this household!

kaleandcabbage    kaleandcabbage2

Somehow don’t think we are going get through all the kale and cabbage but we are trying. This lot (plus some frozen peas) went into a spicy Indian dish we had with mushroom pilau and dhal. Not a lot of meat being eaten at the moment.

collardsmarch   carrotscollards

Just nipped out to take a picture of some of the collards in the veggie plot they are looking a bit nibbled but still throwing up as many new leaves as I can use. Last week it was collards with mince and dumplings.

parsnips      tender and true

We had a chicken dinner on Sunday with squash (I’ve still got about 20 of these left) and more ‘Tender and True’parsnips – not very pretty but they sure tasted sweet. Will the squashes last till April I wonder? You can buy ‘Tender and True’ from Mr Fothergill’s or from Moreveg  for 50p!

veggieplot2_3_16

The veggie plot this morning, garlic growing away on the right, still lots of eating in there even though it looks a bit bare. The Rhubarb is starting to come through on the far left.  Maybe with all the salad I’ve been eating I can treat myself to some rhubarb crumble and custard in a few weeks time.

Finally, I’ve tamed my seeds, I bought this little set of drawers at Aldi so all the seeds are out of the multiple tins. And to think I used to get exited about handbags!

Drawers of seeds

Happy New Gardening Year…

Calendula in January

This sneaky little self seeded calendula was in full bloom this morning can’t think of a better start to a year of gardening. At the moment it’s all about harvesting veggies, planning for the coming year and the never ending clean up.

Hen enjoying rocks

I do think the hens approve of the cleaned up rocks it’s become a favourite hangout for them. Oh, and the good news it they are through their moult and have started laying again.

Little bowls of salad

The salad stuff in the polytunnels is really coming into its own now. Thinnings of Pak choi have been eaten as baby leaf  the rest are being left to grow on a bit for stir fry. We can’t eat the Chinese cabbage quick enough I didn’t realise how tasty it would be raw. The cabbages are in polytunnel number one – number two polytunnel is below. I’m holding off eating the lettuce as it’s still quite small so we’re eating everything that has overtaken it! So far I’ve oonly had the Texel Greens  raw in salad but some may end up being cooked as the leaves are looking a bit big. I’ve ordered a load of Oriental Greens for next year from Moreveg they have such a great variety. I do think I like winter polytunnels better than summer polytunnels!

Poly Jan

More greens, we had a nettle, feta and mint quiche (had to buy the fresh mint) last week and mince and dumpling with perpetual spinach another night. Scoffed the mince and dumplings before I thought to take a picture.

Nettles for quiche   Perpetual Spinach

To use up some of our kale and squash we tried this little dish  below – Butternut squash and cheddar bread pudding. The recipe really wants to be halved as it makes a HUGE amount! You can find the recipe here. We made ours with a very well aged Gouda instead of the cheddar.

Squash and Kale dish

Hoping for more cheap eats from the garden over the next few week….

 

 

Winter gardening

We’ve had some amazingly good weather so I thought I’d tackle the rocky outcrop at the top of the garden which was getting way over grown. Might have gone a little bit overboard on the clean up but at least now can you see the stones. Just out off shot there’s a nice big patch of young nettle coming up so that will be going in a nettle quiche before long.

2_stones    7_top

Down at the bottom of the garden both the veggie plot and polytunnels are still producing. A little way off picking anything in the polytunnels just yet but perhaps in a couple of weeks. The salad leaf and tatsoi are romping away as are the texel greens and mizuna.  No sign yet of the wild garlic or the Echinacea. In the tunnel where the centre is packed with strawberries the pak choi and chinese cabbage seem to be coming along nicely but no sign of the potatoes.

6_greenhosues   1_greens

While the veggie plot looks a bit sad it’s still full of goodies there’s kale, collards, cabbage, pak choi (almost finished) swede, parsnip, turnip, swiss chard, perpetual spinach, celeriac, rocket, carrots and sorrel all for the picking – plus some skanky looking calabrese which may end up in a soup. If the weather holds up I’d like to get this into some sort of shape before Christmas. A couple of dry sunny days on the trot and I could get some serious weeding done and dig in lots of manure. How amazing it would be to have the veggie plot in shape before the new season begins.

4_veggie plot   5_veggie2

Finally, you must try this it is so tasty…kale and mushroom oat risotto. You use pinhead oats in place of the rice – we used our own mushrooms and kale so it was a very cheap dish. You can find a recipe here.

Oatmeal risotto