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

Yummy January…

I had really good intentions for January I was going to record everything we ate from the garden but things went a bit awry. For example on Burns’ night we had haggis, mashed swede and mashed parsnip (not tatties). The parsnip was the first I’d picked EVER and it was enormous more like a large swede with multiple arms and legs and I forgot to take a picture of it or the swede. Last week we had the oatmeal risotto again but instead of kale we used collards just as good if not better. I’m falling in love with collard greens.

Still lots of onions in the store but some (the odd white and red but none of the yellow) have started to sprout. The first one I stuck in a bulb vase and it grew what I’d describe as three spring onions (they went into the stir fried rice below). I’ve put another three into jars for more spring onions.

onions    snipped onions

Really should have wiped the plate before taking the picture below but just too eager to get stuck into what is my favourite dish – slow cooked pigs cheeks. If you have not tried these you are missing a treat. They went well with the perpetual spinach and mashed turnips.

Pig 2   Pig 1

More meat and two veg this time corned beef pie, collard greens and squash. Looking back that’s a pretty mean portion of squash and it’s not as if we don’t have loads. Mind, the ‘Sweet Dumplings’ are long gone. The basket’s filled with ‘Festival’ these are next on the ‘eat-up’ list.

cornbeefpie 2      festival

Another favourite, pasta with sage butter, this time it was done with our dried sage but next time we’re going to try it using fresh sage. I’ll let you know which one I prefer!

Sage 2      sage 1

OK, next year I’m going to fill one on the polytunnels with oriental brassicas and the other with salad stuff. I think I’ll start all the brassicas off in modules and then plant them out. This year I ate loads of pakchoi as ‘thinnings’ in salad whereas I could have had a much bigger mature crop if I’d spaced them out at planting. This baby(ish) pakchoi was very tasty and in a couple of weeks I should have another crop.
Pak Choi 2   Pak Choi 1

Hens are laying so bring on the quiche – this one used up all our stored onions that were looking a bit sad. Yet more salad – almost a daily occurrence at the moment. Tonight it’s going to be far from exotic – a large pile of salad with six fish fingers on top!

Salad and onion tart      eggs

Not fresh this time but frozen. This is low cal and tasty that’s a good combo. Chickpeas from a tin, bit of tahini, our chillies peppers and tomatillos from the freezer, couple of cloves of garlic and some lemon juice – whizzo! Nice on a Wasa!

chick pea 2   chick pea 1

Just green…texel greens (grows like a weed in the polytunnel) we’ve been using them like spinach they make a great sag bhaji, calabrese (well past its pick by date) soup and yet more salad pickings.

Texel Greens brocsoup more salads

And finally….lots more squash to see us through to March at least!

squash

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….