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.

Missed May…

I missed blogging in May just too many things going on both in and outwith the garden. Could really have done without the huge storm on the 28th of May. In the picture below you can see a river running through the polytunnels. I’ve had to replace the bark chipping paths as they got washed away.

After the stormNot sure how but the contents of the tunnels survived despite the sudden drop in temperature after the storm. I really did think I’d lose the lot given everything was sitting in cold wet ground for days on end. Mind, having said that I lost a good number of strawberries due to botrytis but I’ve still had a pretty good crop. Poly one has been planted with 15 tomatoes plants alongside the strawberries. Poly two holds 6 aubergines, 6 bell peppers, 2 cucumbers (I lost one) and 8 chillie plants (one is a cheat I bought at Lidl already fruiting!).

poly one  poly two
So far I’ve had five lots of strawberries with maybe two more to come. The chillies are a novelty for June and have been put in oil for use on pizza!

strawberries   red 2

I find trying to get everything into ground at this time of year a real challenge This week I finally finished the veggie plot. I have one wee bit to do but the rest is planted up with, mange tout, lots of lettuce, sweet potato, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, tomatillos, kale, beetroot, onions, garlic, leeks, collards, parsnips and turnips. Yesterday I sowed runner beans which I hope do better than the French beans which look to have been eaten by all and sundry!

veggieplotseed  veggieplotdone

At the top of the garden I extended the ‘onion bed’ a little bit and planted winter squash, leeks and sunflowers. An odd combination I know but I had too many leeks to fit them all in the veggie plot. Mind they are so thin you can hardly see them unlike the mole runs which are very visible. I’ve also added more lavender and a couple of peony roses.

In the adjacent asparagus bed I’ve planted lots of chillies, more squash and three tomato plants.

squashbed

Back in March in a nasty corner at the opposite end of the garden I cleared a few weeds and planted some artichokes and comfrey. It’s now all gone a bit crazy but the chokes are growing. I just hope they are robust enough to see off the bracken, nettles and brambles.

Chokesmarch   chokes

Finally, I know I’m always saying no more projects but…this is a last ditch attempt to grow celery and celeriac. Really should have taken some before pictures as these are just the end result. In front of the little fence lots of foxgloves amongst other plants and behind is the celery and celeriac together with some sown (but yet to appear) spinach and pakchoi.  The little fence is to keep hens out. Phew, just keeping on top of stuff for eating is taking time let alone the rest of the garden. Now if the weather is kind this lot can grow and I can get on with other work.

new project   new project two

Next big job is whipping the pond into shape this is how it looked on the 10th of June…hopefully a bit tidier come my next post.

pondbefore

 

 

 

 

 

 

One step forward…

I thought I was making really good progress and when I look at these pictures I can almost convince myself that I’m ahead of the game. I’ve cleaned out the two polytunnels, dug in 18 bags of compost and added edging around the paths to cope with the added height in the soil. The strawberries are growing away nicely in poly number one along with a tray of sweet peas that need planted out and some newly sown parsnip. In the second one I’ve left some honesty growing at the front but everything else is gone! I’ve got trays of leeks, kale, collards, cabbage and marigolds on the go all doing nicely. I have sown lots of squash which I had in the polytunnels but overnight temperatures are now dropping below freezing so they have been brought indoors where they may or may not germinate – I’ve ordered more seed from Moreveg just in case I lose the lot!

Polyoneclean   Polytwoclean

Sunday I spent eight hours cutting grass and while it looked really good when I put the mower away a couple days later the dandelions were back with avengence. I love this time of year everything looks so fresh and new and it’s amazing what you can get done with a few days of good sunny weather.

up the garden

The nettles are very obliging at the moment but I am going to get on top of them by hook or by crook. Actually, for some it was by scissors as I’m hoping for a second flush since I cut all their tops off. A large bin bag of full of nettles followed by lots of nettle cooking…

1bagnettles   1nettle productionline

These all went into nettle, mint and feta cheese pies. Most of the pies went straight into the freezer although one never made it to the freezer instead we had it with a bit salad which included lettuce that had over wintered in the veggie plot.

1nettlepiecut   1nettlepiesalad

Almost at the end of the squashes now, only these few butternuts left but given it’s May next week I’m quite happy that they have lasted this long. Another recipe that worked a treat (always looking for things to do with squash) squash bhajis – really scrummy hot or cold with a yogurt dip.

2lastfive   2squashbhaji

Last blog I showed my new seed drawers now they are labeled and filled to capacity. Yesterday I picked up 30 packets of veggie seeds for 15 centime a packet – a bit short dated but at that price definitely worth a punt.

.3seedtray    3seeddrawer

Aldi usually do these boxes of perennial at this time of year and I had such success with the one last year I decided to buy two this year. Between showers I managed to get them all planted along with some pom pom dahlias. Actually I’ve planted so many flowers and bulbs in the veggie plot I’ll have little room left for all the veggies that need to go in…

3aldibox    veggieplotapril16

So it looks like I got a lot done but I’ve still lots of seeds to sow, the asparagus bed is a mess as is the old onion bed – oh and in about two days time the blooming grass will need cutting again and the nettles I cut down have become triffid like…best leave off blogging and go sow some sunflowers, courgettes and cucumbers.

 

 

 

 

Nonstop Kale….

Getting a bit hampered by all this rain. It’s just too wet to cut the grass so that’s getting away from me….on a more positive note the onions are all planted and I think I’ve rescued my very spindly tomato plants! Thanks to advice I got from the folks at Gardener’s Corner my tomatoes are growing away nicely. I transplanted them up to their necks in the brown pots then made a screen using a ring binder and paperclipping white paper to the inside to reflect the light. It fits the little table perfectly and does the trick you can see the recovery they have made!

2spindly   2notspindly

The rest of the post seems to be about squash and kale! We usually include sweet potato when making a dahl but it’s all change now as we’ve started to use – you guessed it – squash! We’ve had dahl, chicken dahl, and king prawn dahl the last was so scrummy you are only getting a photo of what was left!

1dahl   1Chicken   1kingprawn
We still have lots of squash remaining but as they feel as solid as a rock there should be many more meals to come. This was slow cooked pigs’ cheeks done on the wood burner with squash and kale.

1squashdahl   pigonfire   pigcheeks squash

Alas, three days ago I picked the last of the curly lettuce from the polytunnel. Hopefully, the lettuce I’ve sown outside will be up shortly. You’d think with all the salad I’ve been eating and all the running I’ve been doing the pounds would be falling away. Well not sure about the pounds but I did have to splash out some euros on a new pair of running shoes as the heels on my old ones were wearing away. Monday makes my 50th 5K in 17 weeks!

last salad    new shoes

Kale the vegetable that just keeps on giving! It’s now starting to look like it’s about to flower but even then it’s putting on new growth. This was kale with pasta and black garlic not long after that we had kale and oatmeal risotto again!

3kale   3blackgarlic  3bgpasta

Finally, a weeded veggie plot just ready for sowing if only the rain would stay away for a couple of days. AND a photo of ‘saag bhaji’ except it’s not spinach it’s kale!

veggieplot  kale and curry

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds, snow and sadness

Well, it’s snowing now but the past few days have been wet and very windy. So windy in fact one of the trunks on an old tree just snapped in the wind. You can see how it’s smashed the fence on the way to landing in the neighbour’s field. Always sad to loose a tree or even part of one. Must admit the fact that it was covered in ivy probably added to its downfall. Much of the remaining branches have been stripped bare by our delightful red squirrels. sad

I find February is such a frustrating month (by then desperate to get my hands in the dirt) but this year I’ve been indulging in some free online courses from Futurelearn I really enjoyed the one on Rabbie Burns and am looking forward to the one on family history (my other passion). Even so I’ve been doing some gardening jobs…

seeds

Just getting out my tins of seeds gets me excited- how pathetic does that sound. Now, I made a note in my diary not to sow too early or too much stuff so I’ve exercised some self-restraint.  I’ve sown some beetroot in modules and that’s in a polytunnel. The rest of the modules are in the back bedroom for the time being.

Chillies    seeds flower

I’ve sown chillies, nasturtiums, sweet peas, onions, leeks, aubergines and tomatoes.

seeds onion     seeds leek

Some signs of life already….hoping to get the flowers, onions and leeks into the polytunnels by the end of the week. Please don’t go all leggy on me.

seeds sprouting

More parsnip and swede from the garden with the second half of the precious haggis, peas are frozen and not from the garden. To be honest  I thought the swede would be like wood by now but it cooked up well.

parsnip     haggis

I’m becoming a crazy ‘collard’ woman I just love this veg. Next week we’re going to have black garlic and collard pasta I’ll report back. Last week it was collards with more squash (bigger portion this time!) potatoes and corned beef pie.

Collards     corned beef and collards

Finally, that polytunnel just keeps on giving I’m still eating buckets of salad. Leaves, beetroot and fishcakes – more exotic fare!

greens 1  greens 2  Greens 3

Before the next blog I need to weed and plant up the onion bed plus get a new area cleared and weeded for planting up jerusalem artichokes. Anjafinne we’re trying jerusalem artichoke chips and fish tonight thanks to your suggestion.

 

 

 

Time for a clean up….

No matter how hard I try I always seem to get well behind at this time of year. Before taking a two week break in September I was making progress but now I feel as if I’m back to square one. Talk about down to the wire we were out picking squashes in the dark last night as the forecast was for a big zero not that there were many to pick just some very late butternuts that I had left on the vine in the hope they would fully ripen. Most productive squash this year has been winter festival.

Before the September holiday I did manage to clean up the patio which had gone feral!

Patio before   patio after

and the front of the house…

before   after

The basil was a bit like the patio – totally out of control so took to collecting it in a shopping bag. Made lots of basil pesto some of which made it into the pasta dish below which included our own sun blushed tomatoes. The remaining jars of pesto are in the freezer along with bags of tomatoes, they’ll be a welcome treat come the winter.

IMG_0133   IMG_0141

The tomatillos came good and we’ve been eating green salsa with everything…again we’ve frozen multiple portions to add a taste of summer to those winter meals. Definitely going to grow these again.

greensalsa   Frozen salsa

Polytunnel Pizza…

After eight weeks of no rain we’ve had two days nonstop. So, I’m hoping things, that appear half dead, will be magically brought back to life. At least I’ll get a break from watering for a couple of days, except for the polytunnels that is. Things are starting to go a bit mad in the tunnels with basil, chillies, peppers and tomatoes all in full flow. My trial polytunnel melon is growing like mad but no sign of any fruit and that’s a ditto for those growing outside.

Tonight’s pizza was topped with red onion, green pepper, tomatoes, hungarian yellow wax and cayenne chillies all out of the garden.

IMG_0065      Polytunnel Pizza

We lifted the onions a few weeks ago and left them out in the sun to dry out. Yesterday we took the worst of the muck off them and now they are ready for storing. There is another small pile of ‘rejects’ which will get used up first as they are not really good enough to store as the necks are a wee bit too swollen. A bit of everything from the box above and an onion are included in this very easy to make couscous.  Looks a bit bland but it is very tasty.

Onions      IMG_0085

How crazy are these things! I’d never grown tomatillos before and didn’t know they’d look like little paper lanterns. At the moment they seem to be paper thin with no contents. I’m hoping to be able to make salsa with them but they’re a good way off picking I would say.  In the meantime, the salsa was made without the aid of the tomatillos just lots of other goodies from the garden.

Tomerillos      salsa

Quite proud of these as they are the first aubergines I’ve managed to grow to a useable size. I think maybe I picked them too soon but they seemed to grow then just stall so rather than just leave them they got roasted and made into aubergine and feta cheese dip. (Pulp of roast aubergine, onion, garlic, greek yogurt, and lemon juice)

IMG_0060       IMG_0084

Just can’t have enough basil, it’s growing in the tunnels and outside. After trying all sorts of ways to grow basil this is what appears to work best for me. Sow in modules, then when the basil is about 2 cm high plant out the cells in a block as below. I have three patches like the one below on the go at the moment so plenty of basil pesto for over the winter.

Basil    bergamot

Talk about nonstop this red bergamot has been in flower for months and even in its last throes it’s still attracting the bees. I’m definitely inclined to ignore the fussy pink one and stick with the red.

And finally, the squashes are all romping away, both this little lot in the veggie plot and those growing at the top of the garden where they are taking over the place. So far, this year, ‘Festival’ seems to be the most productive but there’s still time for the others to catch up. Next to the squashes I’ve just planted out some chard, collards, beetroot and broccoli plus sown another row of coriander.  Coriander has been a spectacular failure during this hot, dry summer but I’m hopeful of an autumn crop and as soon as the tomatoes are finished I’m going to blanket the tunnel with coriander seeds!

squash       IMG_0078

I’ve been well impressed with MoreVeg I like the range and although the packets of seeds are small (sometimes you only get three squash seeds for 50p) they are also cheap so you can afford to experiment. If you’re like me and always looking to grow something new they’re worth a look.