Wednesday, 29 June 2011

I've grown too much AGAIN !!!!

Last year I vowed not to grow excess amounts of veg on the plot this year, but I'm not sure how it happened but I have done it again.  Although it's lovely to share with the neighbours (which I did today !) but it all takes time to look after such vast amounts of plants. Trouble is I can't bring myself to compost healthy plants so even though I give away lot's of plants every year, I still have way too many.

I had a good harvest today and It's scary to know that although my fridge is full there will be more to harvest on my next visit. Next year I have to get it right !! how do you manage to just grow enough ? or do you also do as I do and grow too much ?

Here is some photo's taken on the plot today, it's all looking very lush. I dug up some garlic from the second bed  and this variety 'Cristo' is huge, it fit's into the palm of my hand.

The Globe Artichokes are enormous and growing like crazy.

The onions are growing well, they looked like blades of grass when I put them in as I grew them from seed.

I have lots of  self seeded Sunflowers and Calendulas, all brightening up the plot

The pumpkin and squashes are in

The Spinach has been amazing, but is slowly going to seed now so I have sown some more today.

The Runner beans and French beans have now reached the top of the wigwams and are all in flower.

The Tayberry has quite a few fruits now and I have been eating some for a couple of days.

The gooseberries have loads of fruit, the green ones are huge and the red ones are just turning from green to red and are delicious.

I am growing Cape Gooseberries in the greenhouse and this one is really getting big now and has quite a few fruits forming

And finally  here is the Broad beans, Mangetout, and Calabrese that I harvest today. I haven't grown calabrese before and I am so pleased with it as the heads have grown so big over the last week, I will definitely grow it every year.

It's been an amazing year so far, and there is so much more to come. All the potatoes are dug up now as I only grew first earlies. I will post the results on the varieties soon, as they were unusual  and I haven't grown them before.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

What a Harvest !!

A visit to the allotment between showers on Tuesday paid off as there was a bumper harvest ready for the picking.
An amazing amount of strawberries, a huge bag of spinach, I get a bag like this every other day!  I had my first picking of broad beans, but they are still small as I prefer them small if they are going in a salad. Then there was a few tasty Tayberries which were also the first, but there are quite a few more to ripen so not too bad for the first year.  The blackcurrants were kindly given by my friend as mine all got eaten by the birds whilst still green.  They stripped the whole bush in a couple of days before I had time to net it. needless to say  LESSON LEARNT !!!

I have enough Lavender bushes now to harvest lot's to dry in the airing cupboard in a pillowcase. I will use it to fill the fabric hearts that I make.  I didn't take too much yet as they look and smell so lovely on the plot.

I made Strawberry Jam which I haven't done for ages. I made 9 jars and they were large jars as well !! it took ages to get to setting point. I doubled up on the recipe, which doesn't always work for me, but the thought of washing the preserving pan and doing it all again put me off, so I doubled up and as I said it took forever to get to the correct set.  I was still a bit unsure of how well it had set even when it had turned cold. However we had some for breakfast and it was perfect !!!! and my daughter-in-law loved it. PHEW !! so glad I didn't have to start again.  I make a lot of curd's which is so easy, but Jam is harder to set I find.

We have been away from home for a couple of days, so I'm sure there will be lot's more to harvest when I next visit the plot which weather permitting will be tomorrow.

I'm growing a 'Cape Gooseberry' in the greenhouse, well three actually.  It's the first time I have grown them and I already have little fruits forming on my largest one, which I must re-pot as it has outgrown the pot it's in.
The harvest I'm most looking forward to is the Courgettes and the mangetout.  I have flowers on the courgettes and just a few pods growing on the mangetout at the moment, so I will have to be patient.

I hope you are all getting some good harvest's.
M x

Friday, 17 June 2011

Book Review - ' How to make your own Drinks'

I have been sent a lovely book to review and thought I would share my thoughts about it.
It's called 'How to make your own Drinks'  and is written by Susy Atkins. For most of us that grow our own fruit it's a very handy book as it's a good way to use up a glut of fruit, other than making jam.

To be honest I probably wouldn't have looked for a book on the subject or even considered buying one, as apart from trying to make some wine from a kit years ago (not successfully to be honest !) I haven't really had a hankering to make my own. BUT being honest again ! i have to say that this book is not only good to look at it's also inspiring and really makes me want to have a go.

It's a beautifully laid out book with clear instructions, and the photography is excellent.  As part of the introduction says - I quote :-
This is a straightforward, no-nonsense introduction to drinks-making at home. Most of your core ingredients are out in the fields, hedgerows and gardens, there for the taking. Let's get started. (Which I agree with.)

The nice thing about it is there are drinks for all occasions, including  fruit cordials,  champagne, beers, and even spiced tea's  such as Mint tea, Lemon Verbena Tea, Lemon Balm tea Fennel tea and many more, even Lavender lemonade ! oh and even fruit syrups to add to puddings and ice cream.

Here are a few photo's from the book just to give you an idea on the book.  If you are into making your own drinks or want to have a go this is an excellent book, and if like me you are a sucker for beautiful books it's a lovely one to have and look through.

If you get a chance to look at a copy I really do recommend it.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Truly Allotment Heaven today

I feel very fortunate to have my allotment plot ! I read about long waiting lists and that in some areas especially in London that it can take between ten to fifteen years to get a plot, so yes looking around my plot today seeing all the lovely veggies and flowers growing I really appreciated my 'Allotment Heaven'.

I worked from 1.30 pm until 4.50pm weeding mainly, as the rain seems to make the weeds prolific and the onion bed took some backbreaking work to weed.  I dug up 3 plants of my early potatoes ' Ulster Prince' and took them straight home, shared some with my lovely neighbours and cooked a few for our supper and they were delicious. We don't eat many potatoes so I have only planted first and second Earlie's this year.

I have dug up my first bed of Garlic 'Cristo' which this year thank goodness didn't get rust. It is a great crop and I think once again I have gone a bit overboard as I have a slightly larger crop to come up yet of a French variety.

The Globe artichoke bed looks brilliant and has a little squash in between Globes and lots of Asters  I can't wait for them to flower as it's the first time I have grown these flowers
The Spinach (three different varieties) is amazing and I am picking a large bag every other day and also giving the neighbours some. I intend to keep sowing so that I have enough until the winter months as we love it.

The Tayberry has fruit and I can't wait for it to fully ripen and pick my first berry, Yum !
The cucumbers in the greenhouse have tiny fruits YEAH ! we love home grown cucumbers and the tomatoes are full of flowers, and I have loads of lettuces and peppers coming on in the greenhouse. So all our own salad stuff sorted !

And here are a few photo's taken around the plot today. Lot's of flowers and bees buzzing, truly Allotment Heaven.

What more can one ask of life ?

Almost forgot to mention that I have been sent a lovely book to review which I will post about over the next few days. I think most of you with fruit growing on your plots will like this book,  it's all about making cordials, wines, beers, soft summer drinks and more from fruit we grow, buy or forage.

Have a lovely week.

M x