Saturday, 30 June 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

Just a quick post to say thank you to Jane at Tidy Gardens by Jane to thank her for passing on the One Lovely Blog Award. I am sincerely grateful to her for this honour and list below the rules.
First I have to thank the person who gave me the award, then list seven things about myself then pass the award on to ten fellow bloggers.  Here goes:-
  1. I am originally a Yorkshire lass from Sheffield
  2. I have one brother six years younger than me who lives in Edinburgh
  3. I used to exhibit and sell my watercolour paintings (something I no longer do - the muse has left me)
  4. I started my first garden in 1972
  5. I have been married twice but have no children
  6. I am a bit of a nature geek and love the great outdoors
  7. I was once rescued from drowning as a little girl when I fell off a boat in the Norfolk Broads
Zoe at Zoe Lynch
Carolyn at Urban Veg Patch
Green Dragonette at Green Dragonette

Thanks once again Jane

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Peas Please Me oh yeah

"We have our first dish of peas.  The aisles of bean plants grow tall and the green walls are full of bulging pods.  Annie says she will pick the peas for dinner, but we rush to the garden to do it ourselves, excited at the start of yet another harvest.  Compared with the gathering of strawberries, pea-picking is intricate but undramatic.  There is no sudden glow of crimson, no soft warmth of fruit.  It is a world of shapes, pea being undistinguishable from leaf only by reason of its bulk and form.  We pick by feeling rather than by sight.  The pea plant is a gentle green, deep and soft against the pale colour of the lettuces that shelter from the sun in the shade of the pea rows.  Our baskets are full of hard, rattling pods, we pull lettuces for salad.  It is good to feed oneself from one's own earth (Clare Leighton)

Feltham First and Hurst Greenshaft peas
This morning I picked my first peas of the season.  They have been slow in coming and haven't grown as tall as I would have liked - but at least I have a harvest.
Pinned Image
via pinterest

If only a small amount of peas is available, I use them braised in the French way with some shredded lettuce leaves, finely chopped carrot and spring onion.  But they could be used with cucumber and mint cooked in water for a few minutes, seasoned and a little sugar added.
Pinned Image
via pinterest
 I expect I will get only a few servings from the small row and the container peas but I will try to pick them regularly to keep the pods coming - if they are allowed to mature this stops the plants producing.
Pinned Image
via pinterest
 At the end of the season I like to leave a few on the plants to harden off so that I can use them for next years' seed.  I could just wait for the pods to dry, crack open and let the peas fall where they may - but I usually collect them and store them in jam jars ready for the next pea-planting season.
Pinned Image
via pinterest
 If I had enough room I would successive-sow pea rows in order to get fresh peas through the summer, but in a smallish garden this would take up too much room so I have to make the most of my one row and two different types of pea which will stagger the harvest.
Pinned Image
via pinterest
As you can see from these pictures I found on Pinterest - peas are eminently photographable - they make my mouth water just to look at them.
Pinned Image
via pinterest

Saturday, 23 June 2012

A Sneaky Peek in the Greenhouse

My last post was a bit 'doom and gloom' so I thought I would do one on a more positive note.  The greenhouse is empty now of everything but tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.  I don't feel as though as I am gasping for air everytime I walk in there with every nook and cranny filled with seedlings and growing plants, waiting to be planted out.

cordon tomatoes
The tomatoes are reaching great heights now and tomatoes are starting to form
I have been worried about the greenhouse being a bit damp and cold but have kept the door open a little to make sure that the air was circulating  enough to keep them healthy.

grafted cucumber
After a slow start the cucumber has started to climb and has several fruits  - one or two of which are getting to a good size
These are the long 'Telegraph' type cucumbers - I prefer the half size ones really but I had problems with them rotting off so I will just have to be content with the only one I have left.

Aubergine - Black Prince
After announcing to the world and his wife that I have no luck with aubergines and wasn't going to bother with them again - I succumbed and bought a plant - and you can see that although it looks a bit moth-eaten, it is producing fruit - I shall just have to wait and see whether these develop to a decent sized fruit.
Chili and Sweet Peppers
These are growing well in the mini-greenhouse and small fruits are beginning to form
Tomato plants from cuttings
The cuttings that I took from my original tomato plants are growing well and starting to form flowers - they are on their way to catching up with the 'mother' plants.
Container strawberries
The greenhouse strawberries are just about finished but the ones in hanging baskets are starting to ripen so we will have a bit of continuity on the strawberry front.
Tumbling Toms in hanging basket
These have been very slow to form fruits - I almost decided to take them indoors as it has been so cold - there are very few tomatoes on them so far - a little bit disappointing - the same goes for all the outdoor tomatoes - maybe they will catch up a bit if we have some warmer weather.
Tumbling Tom
And finally although they aren't growing in the greenhouse - I thought I would show you the container peas
It won't be too long before they are ready for picking - they are filling out nicely, as are the broad beans
So there is some progress in the garden and together with some calabrese that I picked this morning - I think we are going to be all right.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bugs and Beasties

All is not well in the vegetable plot.  I normally like to look on the positive side of life - but am finding it increasingly hard.  Everything seems to be against veg growing this year - the weather in particular - but there is also the question of how to control the insects and gastropods that have invaded the garden.

I went to the top of the garden to check on the potatoes that are growing in sacks and was dismayed to find that the foliage in one sack had turned black.   When I tipped the contents out into the wheelbarrow I found that all the potatoes were rotten - I can only presume it is caused by potato blight.  The other three sacks seemed to be okay but I decided not to take any chances and emptied them out too.  The potatoes looked as though they hadn't been affected but the foliage had been badly eaten by something- I have never known slugs or snails to eat potato foliage before.
There were still snails crawling all over the plants - and then I found this 'den of iniquity'  (bottom right)  - I'm not sure what the collective noun is for a gathering of slugs - perhaps a 'slime' of slugs would be appropriate.

So I dealt with all those problems and decided to inspect everything else that could be attacked - and found this
One of my gooseberry bushes had been practically stripped of all its leaves - the gooseberry sawfly menace is amongst us.  I couldn't believe it - the bush was perfectly alright yesterday.

I wonder what else is going to go wrong and what other beasties are going to find refuge in my garden to cause havoc and destruction - only time will tell.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Slow Progress in the Veg Garden

I'm not going to rabbit on about the attrocious weather we have been having - only to say that I am grateful that it rained whilst we were on holiday - as I was worried that if we had a heatwave whilst we were away the veg garden would have suffered.  As it is, all I have to contend with is the amount of weeds that have sprung up, but even that is not as bad as I thought it would be.

Last years' Parsnip being kept for seed
 My first picture is of the Parsnip that I left to go to seed - it now stands at least 7 feet high and looks pretty magnificent.

 "Kitchen garden gods" said Juvenal, the Roman satirist, about the pungent family of onions.

Allium flowers, Onions, Leeks and last years' leeks gone to seed.  The onion patch is the weediest in the garden at the moment.

Early visitors to Troy, where Heinrich Schliemann excavated Priam's fabled palace, were said to have been fed on peas from the great king's larder.  One huge storage jar contained more than 400lb., which had remained perfectly preserved for 3,000 years.

Peas, Runner Beans, Broad Beans and container Peas.
These have all thrived in the wet weather - the runner beans were attacked by slugs when I first planted them out, one or two plants took a big hit from them, but they are starting to fight back.  I think the excess of rain has started to make the leaves turn a little yellow.

Calabrese and Broccoli - the names are Italian, but it is likely that these vegetables arrived from the eastern Mediterranean during the 17th century.  Philip Miller, who wrote one of the first gardening dictionaries in England in 1742, called broccoli 'Italian asparagus'; if you eat the first of the crop with some hollandaise sauce on the side, it is hard to decide which is the more ambrosial.

The brassicas are beginning to put on some growth and the pests don't seem to have bothered them too much - I did net them all before I went away as a precaution, but the slugs and snails seem to have left them alone in favour of the softer leaves of the spinach.

Modern carrots are all descended from purple and yellow types that came into Europe from Arabia in the 14th century.  Selection by 17th century Dutch growers produced the forerunners of the varieties that we grow today.

Progress on the parsnips, carrots, celery and beetroot is slow but sure - thankfully I still have full rows with no wind or rain damage.

Courgettes are Zucchini under a different name and they have the frightening capacity to metamorphose into marrows if you go on holiday at the wrong time. 

The squashes and courgettes seem to have stopped growing - they definitely need some warmer weather to accelerate their growth.  The spinach is surviving slug attacks, as you can see the leaves are a little holey - but I am not too worried yet as they are pretty hardy.

John Parkinson, the 17th century grand-daddy of all garden writers, recommended lettuce for "Monkes, Nunnes and the like of people ... to keep them chase"  Poor Nunnes:  lettuce on its own is not much of a diet.  Like pastry, it is a background for livelier ingredients such as walnut oil, olives, hard-boiled eggs and anchovies or bacon and blue cheese.

Surprisingly, as you can see from the picture my lettuce have survived relatively unscathed.  I have it growing in the ground and in containers, far more than I can actually use, it has burgeoned during this wet spell and hardly any sign of slug damage.  Hooray!

I will leave the rest of the crops for another post as this one is already rather lengthy - needless to say,  progress is slow but gradually getting there.

Greenhouse strawberries
(All quotes are from Anna Pavords' The New Kitchen Garden)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...