Monday, 29 July 2013

A Week of Firsts - Summer Harvesting

The first carrots from my bottomless buckets - success.  Definitely doing more of these next year.
Container carrots

The first Sungold tomato to ripen and the first Summer Patty Pan Squash.  Contrary to everything written in my books about the squash family not producing very well in containers - mine are starting to produce and look really healthy.  Needless to say, the container they are growing in is huge.

Sungold tomato and Summer Squash
I am very disappointed with my tomatoes this year - the trusses are sparce with not many tomatoes per truss, even the bush tomatoes, although full of flower, just aren't turning into tomatoes.  Not sure what has gone wrong.  I have loads of tomato plants, more than I have ever planted before, looks like its a good job I planted so many - the harvest is going to be pitiful.

The first of the Runner Beans - success.  Many more to follow I hope.  If I only had space for one vegetable this would be it.  We had these for Sunday lunch with roast chicken - together with shredded cabbage, baby carrots and courgettes sauteed with butter and garlic, and of course, some of my lovely Charlotte potatoes - it's a good feeling when everything on your plate is home-grown.

Runner Beans

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Summer Pudding Garden

Now that the Blackcurrants have finally ripened it may be time to think of Summer Pudding.  I have been freezing punnets of Redcurrants, Raspberries and Strawberries - so my garden has yielded all the ingredients that I need (except for the bread of course).  I would quite like to add a Whitecurrant bush to the mix as I have heard that the fruit is a little sweeter and if I wait for a few weeks I could add Blackberries, but then it would be Autumn Pudding rather than Summer.

I have spent the last two days picking Redcurrants which look glorious shining from the bushes in the sun - it's a messy job but someone has to do it.  A few pots of Redcurrant Jelly a few pots of Blackcurrant Jam and one or two with all the berries mixed together, and if there are any berries left over, maybe a bottle or two of cordial.

This year I have an overabundance of small fruits, last year, except for gooseberries, I had nothing - so I am determined to make the most of natures' bounty with foods to remember this hot summer by in the depths of winter.

Have you grown all the fruits needed for a Summer Pudding this year - as long as it isn't too tart and there is plenty of fresh cream to go with it, what could be nicer on a hot summers' day.

Summer Pudding - amazing dessert at The Gate #desert #food

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Soft Fruit Season and July Harvest


summer cabbage

I always say that I won’t bother planting summer cabbage as there are plenty of other things to eat, but in between the broc being harvested and waiting for the beans, I have a row of summer cabbage that have matured just at the right time.  We had the first of these on Sunday for lunch – just the right size for the two of us – slathered in butter and very succulent – I’m glad that I decided to plant some.


courgette flower

The courgettes are just starting to produce – this has to be the biggest flower on the container courgette that I have ever seen.  I am picking the courgettes whilst they are finger-sized – if I let them all grow to full size they overwhelm me and I have to start finding ways to use them all, whereas when they are picked fairly small I can use them up no problem.


July is the month for great harvests – early each morning I spend an hour watering and harvesting whatever veg is ready – potatoes, peas, courgettes


and on checking the row of beetroot found quite a few at tennis ball size, so I pulled half a dozen


But it is the soft fruits that are the stars of the month



Strawberries – which are almost at an end and Redcurrants



I have been picking a punnetful of raspberries every morning, the plants are looking a bit tired and dried out but they are still fruiting their socks off.


And finally the gooseberries, masses of them, some I will leave to get larger and riper, I love to eat these raw as they are so so sweet and juicy, I’m not too keen on the tartness of the smaller ones, but they make good gooseberry crumble.


The blackcurrants are almost ready too – it looks like I am going to have a busy time over the next few days.  The freezer needs sorting out now so I can squeeze everything in – it is too hot at the moment to stand over a boiling pan making jam – so what doesn’t get eaten straight away, will be frozen until the weather cools off a bit.


How are you coping with everything coming all at once

do you freeze, bottle or make jam

or just try and eat everything fresh as and when you harvest


This is the first post I have published using the Windows Live Writer as I have been having so many problems with Blogger – it takes a while getting used to a new system so I hope it has turned out all right.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Am I A Terrible Gardener?

When I see the state of my veg plot - I think I probably am.  I cannot seem to keep on top of everything.  If I were to show you pictures of my plot as it is right now - you would cover your eyes and run away screaming.  For all you 'neatists' out there - those of you who expect nothing less than perfection - you would be horrified at the state it is in.

First broad beans of the season

During this hot weather my time has been taken up with watering and harvesting with no time left for weeding.  The plot went bananas whilst we were away on holiday, the sun and rain being perfect conditions for everything to run riot.

Six cucumbers developed quickly - all at the
same time and all the same size
Yet, even though the plot is semi-wild I am still getting good harvests.  Last Sunday I picked five heads of broccoli - it never ceases to thrill me when I see something ready to pick that I hadn't spotted the day before - one day no broc, the next it is ready for picking.

We had this with cheese sauce and roast gammon, freshly
picked that morning - so tender and tasty
surplus strawberries in sugar ready for making into conserve
runner beans in large pot
Would the harvest have been better 'sans' weeds - maybe, who can say.  I won't be posting any pictures just yet though until I get it a bit more under control.  I will show you my jumble of a container garden which is going great guns too.
purple tee pee french beans

Curly kale
Romesco cauliflower in raised bed edged with Echium
container courgette plant - courgettes just starting to form 

Outdoor tomatoes

I am doing the best that I can, but with it being so hot my gardening time has been restricted to early morning and late evening - although I love this summer weather I tend to wilt like a lettuce in the heat.   It has been a little cooler today so I have been making up for lost time.  Can't stop, just off to get everything watered.

Hope you are all enjoying this lovely weather
after all we have been waiting for it
for a long, long time.
Are you managing to keep on top of all the weeding and watering?

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Humble Spud

"The flowers of the potato, delicate petals whose stamens bunch together to form a point, are amongst the most charming in the vegetable garden.  Marie Antionette wore them in her hair.  Summer rain and even cloud makes their flowers close and droop like a swan in repose.  As dusk falls, they gently close."  Nigel Slater

I have potatoes growing in florists buckets, sacks and in the ground.  Those in the ground are flowering and look much healthier than they did last year.  I emptied one of the florists buckets to see how things were progressing.

These are Charlotte and I was pleased with the result.  We had some for dinner this evening with fresh peas and a fillet of Sea Bass.  Delicious.

Have you tasted the first potatoes of the season yet?  If not, you have a treat in store.
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