Friday, 31 August 2012

the year of exotic fruit

Although it has been a real struggle to get worthwhile crops of many things this year my frantic sowing of just about any seed I could get my hands on has had some interesting results.  I've never grown squash before but here's a nicely swelling uchiki kuri growing in a sheltered spot outside.
and a melon 'charentais' spreading all over the greenhouse. The plant has a number of fruit showing and I just hope it doesn't get too cold too soon to give them chance to ripen.

For the first time ever I'm getting a decent crop of aubergines. I've often grown them before but usually only get the odd fruit as most just seem to rot away.
aubergine 'halflange violette'

I know that tomatoes are not especially exotic but the outdoor ones are actually ripening this year. Normally they struggle but these 'Maskotka' (freebie seeds with a magazine) seem to be enjoying our Cumbrian climate.

Now, in case you think I have a magic touch I must add that the butternut squash haven't produced a single flower, never mind any fruit, and the peppers are still as green as the front lawn! You can't win 'em all.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

food hedge

My experimental 'food hedge' has proved a great success. I've only grown runner beans against it this year but it will be climbing peas and anything else that I can find suitable next year. The pics show what it looked like at various stages.

I'm amazed at how well the runners have done, considering they are in containers and not the open ground. (many thanks to Elaine of U.K. Veg gardeners for the seed). Today I picked just short of one pound of beans and I've previously had a couple of similar pickings.
beans means.....beans!

Harvesting and preserving are continuing to occupy a lot of my time. Apart from having the chest freezer almost full I've done pickled beetroot and onions and made the first lot of chutney. Heaven knows why I'm making more chutney when I still have about twenty assorted jars from last year but it just feels the right thing to do. Saw some Kilner jars on special offer in a local shop the other day so I might have a go at bottling as well. Mmm, might have to find another cupboard somewhere!

In order to make best use of the space I have available I make small sowings throughout most of the year to ensure continuity of supply and try and avoid gluts of any one type of veg. Today I've done one tub of carrots (Early Nantes), spring onions (Lisbon) and lettuce (Little Gem). When ready the lettuce seedlings will be transferred to individual pots placed in a large tray so they can be moved in and out of the greenhouse when bad weather threatens. You can also bring them into the house and grow them on a windowsill if you don't have a greenhouse. By doing that you can have something fresh from the garden even in the depths of winter.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

flat out...

....not on my back but at work in the garden and the kitchen. Well, it felt like flat out to me but I suppose most folks would consider it a little gentle exercise!

After more than a week of decent weather there is just so much to do.  I guess all British gardeners have been hoping for some relief after a miserable summer. So there's the inevitable weeding, summer pruning, planting out of winter veg. and harvesting all the maturing crops. And it's not just the harvesting but all that's involved in preserving for the winter. The freezer is filling up nicely and I've made some pickles but there's a load still to be done.
After cleaning and prepping, these turnips and cabbage are now in the freezer  

I'm growing melons and squash this year and noticed the first baby melon yesterday. Not sure how it's going to perform but it's in among the cucumbers in the greenhouse and being treated the same as they are. 

Talking of cucumbers, how's this for a  curly cue
I bet you won't find one like this in a supermarket!

That's it for now. The trouble with being out in the fresh air all day is that you get that lovely warm glow and want to just curl up in bed!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

still here, still gardening

For one reason or another I've not been able to keep my blog up to date. I suppose it's mainly down to the long awaited decent weather which has meant a stack of work to be getting on with. The harvesting, preparing and storing of food has to be dealt with on top of all the general work such as weeding, grass cutting, hedge clipping, summer pruning of the fruit trees, etc.

I finally did get blight on the potatoes but I recognizedt it in time, chopped down the haulms and managed to get a reasonable yield considering they were lifted three or four weeks too early. Top performer and one I'll definitely grow next year is Picasso which has the potential for some huge yields, given decent weather conditions.

This morning I noticed that one of the trusses had broken from the tomato plant stem due to the weight of fruit it was supporting.
Three and a half pounds of juicy toms on one truss ain't bad. I've had to tie up the other trusses with strings from the greenhouse roof to stop them suffering the same fate. The variety is Hildares F1, seed bought from Lidl.

And on the subject of tomatoes I'm picking a couple of pounds a day at the moment. Some are being eaten fresh but a lot are chopped and frozen to use in the winter.
These are Amish Paste, supposed to be good for making sauces, etc.

Cabbages have done quite well this year, they must like cool conditions. This one is 'Greyhound' and weighed in at over two pounds.
Earlier in the year there were very few cabbage white butterflies around which was a blessing but they seem to have appeared with a vengeance now the weather is better. Most of my brassicas are under debris netting but I do have a few unprotected and it's a pain having to constantly check them for butterfly eggs.

Well, I'm blogged-out now but I will try and keep things up to date as the harvest progresses.