A good harvest so far….

It’s the middle of August and the extremely hot weather has finally broken. We’ve had virtually no rain since May and the temperatures have regularly been in the mid 30s so not the easiest of gardening conditions. Looking back at my May post and everything looks so tidy! Now I can hardly see the pond the plants are so high and the veggie plot is just mental. Getting inside poly tunnel number three requires a machete while poly tunnel one is more or less finished as most of the tomatoes have been harvested. The Green Zebras and the Crimean Black are from the polytunnel the other tomatoes were grown outside. At least five kilos of cherry tomatoes have been split, sprayed with oil, sprinkled with herbs, slowly dried then frozen…a bit of summer come the winter time. There are masses of outside tomatoes but they are a good way off ripening. I hope the late blight stays away.

toms

The mad veggie plot – NOTE to self do not overplant the raised beds! DO NOT plant beans in with anything else. PROVIDE adequate support for tomatoes, beans, chilies and tomatillos. ONLY plant squashes where they can trail over grass not over the top of other raised beds, beans or tomatoes! The raised beds have made such an impact on the growth of crops as to be amazing. I cannot believe how lush everything is. Despite the heat and lack of rain everything has romped away. I have been watering using two ten litre watering cans per bed per day – much less water than I would normally use but obviously targeted and presumably held in the bed.
veggieplot

These tomatillos are taller than me now and the husks look huge do hope the fruit expands to fill them. These freeze really well.

tomentillos

Been having a few fermenting experiments including carrots with dill, turmeric, lemon, coriander and ginger. A short 5 day ferment with a ratio of 10 grams of salt to 500 grams of carrots. Verdict – the carrots with turmeric has the best flavour and texture we’ll be doing that one again soon. We’ve also been playing around making goat’s cheese using kefir. This is way too scrummy especially on toast with raspberry jam!

I’ve been eating fresh fruit from the garden with my muesli since May; strawberries, raspberries then blackcurrants (3 kilos also in the freezer) I’m now on late rasps from the garden and blackberries from the hedgerows. I’m hoping I can keep this going with the plums picked yesterday, the blackberries still to be picked and the frozen blackcurrants until at least the end of September which means I’ve managed to provide us with five months of fruit outwith a grocery store. The apples look like they are only fit for making apple cider vinegar – yet another brew going on in the kitchen!

Update at last….

Don’t you just love gardening, months where it’s almost impossible to be doing anything outside then months where 24 hours in a day is just not enough. Well, we’ve started the gardening year with good intentions…like adding a third polytunnel, ten raised beds on the veggie plot and growing salad stuff on the balcony. I began the year by clearing up the pond area what a mess that was. The herb garden was not much better so it too got the armageddon gardening treatment.

before_after

It’s taken us a couple of weeks to get the polytunnels sorted out. The cherry tree had to be trimmed back to allow in as much light as possible and still not sure if we’ve managed to create sufficient light. Unfortunately this is the only place in the garden where polytunnels won’t fly away!

The first one is planted up with strawberries to the front and back (foxglove missed seeding from last year) then green zebra and crimean black tomato plants. Down the centre of the middle bed and at the back of the other two beds I’ve sown carrots – not sure if they’ll come to anything but at least they’ll germinate what with the heat and regular watering. Had no success growing carrots outside however as they are supposed to be a good companion plant for tomatoes I thought nothing to lose and I might end up with the odd carrot. The trays of pots contain 36 chilli plants (main jalapeno) and the seed tray is sown with tomatillo and cape gooseberry (never grown these before).

The second tunnel is bursting with broad beans that I sowed last autumn. I’ve grown these outside but they always get attacked by black fly and never produce a crop. SO FAR these are fine and the bean pods are starting to swell. They need to get a move on though as I need the space for chillies, cucumbers and melon.

The third tunnel has sweet peppers in the middle bed and more tomatoes to the left plus I’ve sown beetroot down the centre bed and at the back of the tomatoes. I’ve got sunflowers, cucumbers, winter squashes, courgettes and sweet corn in the pots and parsnip, cabbages and pakchoi in the trays. Once I can get the seedlings outside I’m going to plant sweet potato in here. The trays in front of the poly tunnels have kidney, cobra and borlotti beans all destined for the new raised beds.

Over the winter the first tunnel was filled with a variety of oriental greens – worth buying a polytunnel just to grow these! The pie below is packed with them – basically a savoury egg custard laden with oriental greens and baked in a spring form.Green pudding

Speaking of eggs – we have four new hens (marans coucou)  they are stuck in their coop at the moment as both the polytunnels and the veggie plot need an exclusion zone around them. The fencing for the tunnels is now complete but they’ll have to wait another week or so for the other fencing to be erected. I find it impossible to work in the veggie plot with hens as they want to be into everything. Looking forward to getting them onto the compost heap though and kicking the living daylights out of it!

Then to the big project…10 raised beds in the veggie plot. These are made with decking: they are the length of the decking (2.4m) and half the width (1.2m) so only three cuts per bed (plus the cutting of the supports). The hard work come with preparing the beds, first the soil is weeded and dug out into bins, a bin of fermented stuff (wood ash, veggies, fruit, coffee pads etc) is added then three barrow loads of horse poo. The soil in the bins is then mixed with three bags of compost and added to the beds. It takes me a day to complete one bed.

So far I’ve got two planted up with a third in place – rain has stopped play for the next couple of days but hopefully by the end of next week I’ll have five planted…more tomatoes, beans and maybe some pak choi.

two planted snip

I’m going to try growing the three sisters at the top of the garden; sweet corn and squashes are coming along in the polytunnel so I should get some runner beans on the go to join them. At least I’ve managed to weed the long strip that will host the sisters although it’s going to take some feeding before I can begin planting.  In the meantime the grass still needs cutting and the wonderful lemon balm continues to provide me with a lovely infusion.

Finally, the salad stuff on the balcony hmmm not sure how this is going to play out. I’ve got five boxes of lettuce, three of herbs, four of flowers (some edible) and (to be added) three of dwarf cucumber which I’m hoping will grow down the railings. These only went out yesterday so looking a bit grim as are my yet to fill out hanging baskets. Happy gardening everyone…balcony

 

Time for the big clean up…

It’s almost the end of October and I’ve done just about nothing in the garden until yesterday and today. We’re still eating (and will be for a couple of more weeks) our badly misshapen but scrummy tomatoes. I’ve had tomatoes with just about everything but I think my favourite is with a blue cheese omelette. It’s something about the sweetness of the tomatoes and the saltiness of the blue cheese. Mind a ‘polytunnel’ plus chorizo pizza comes a close second!

omlette   polytunnel-pizza

I sowed these trays of seeds (kale, cabbage, collards and pak choi) before I went off on holiday and my kind neighbour kept them watered. Hopefully, once I’ve finished working in the polytunnels I’ll get these planted out later in the week. This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago and they are really screaming to be in the ground.

plugplants

I have at last made a start in the polytunnels (not sure why I can’t get motivated at this time of the year?). I’ve lifted all the strawberry plants from the middle of polytunnel number one and transplanted them to the back of both polytunnels that should give me about 100 plants if they all recover from the move. In polytunnel number two I’ve planted broad beans which hopefully will escape the black fly. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to sow the large pile of seeds in polytunnel number one. After that the veggie plot needs tackled!

broadbeans     seeds2