Sunday, September 28, 2008

Savoy anyone?

This beauty is one of 12 that were grown under netting and have managed to keep caterpillar free. Lots of colcannon mash for the freezer methinks.

The parsnip experiment worked

After sowing pre germinated parsnip seed into toilet rolls with mixed success last year, this year I planted pre germinated seed directly into a bed. The result being 100% long straight roots. I will undertake 2 sowings next year, with the second being in late spring in a raised bed to produce lots of small roasting size roots rather than big ones like shown.

Preserving for the winter

Here is a small selection of our preserved food for winter use.
Pasta sauce.
Sweet chilli sauce.
Sun dried tomatoes.
Blackcurrant jam.
We have much more in the cupboard, from tarragon vinegar to Wellies courgette soup, spaggeti bolognese to cranberry chutney but I would need a long wall to fit them all on.

Strawberries into October?

Our grapes (Cardinal) grown in the tunnel yielded over 30 bunches of fabulous sweet fruit. The same variety planted outside are some 6-8 weeks later but despite the poor weather are now ripening and will be ready to eat in mid October.

These "Aromel" everbearer strawberries just keep on giving us fruit, 60 plants yield 4-8lb a week and are most welcome in autumn. The first frosts will put a stop to them but we are making the most of them whilst we can.

The freezers are full and still it comes!

We have so many carrots that I am going to bottle a few jars with my pressure canner to see how they taste. These are just a nice size to try it with.

Despite making lots of 8oz jars of sweet chilli sauce, believe me its divine, we have lots of "Evington yellow" chillies plus scotch bonnets and long red ones. Some more sauce may be in the pipeline.

The sweet peppers grown from Tesco finest range sweet pointy peppers again have done exceptionally well with fruit up to 18" long.

These are the French Black tomatoes we grew from saved seeds, the tomatoes were originally bought at a French market. They are sweet with a nice acid bite, prolific and versatile. We will definitely grow them next year.

Winter Prep

In readiness for winter, fruit bushes from last years prunings are now in the cold frame along with raft of agapanthus. The fruit is very hardy but young plants always fare better with some protection and make well established plants quicker than those taking the worst of any weather.

These strawberry plants from last year will fare adequately well on this bench prior to being brought into the greenhouse after Christmas for forcing.

An important job is to weed out growing or overwintering crops to help prevent disease and allow as much light into them as possible during the short days. These are leeks (Bleu de Solaise) getting weeded out ready for winter.

Magic beans

We have grown a double row of borlotti beans for drying. The pods (above) look stunning as do the actual shelled beans (below).

Another type of bean we are growing this year, this time as seed guardians for the HSL are Madeira Maroon (below) which lok like jeweled sweets. These have been very productive and will be grown again next year.

Several other varieties of bean are still ripening and include coco bicolour, ryders top of the pole and several others.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh for a bit more time

For those who look at my blog regularly, I can only appologise for the lack of updates this summer.

Normally I work in a quarry and work 4 days and then get 4 off. Unfortunately due to the credit crunch I have been redeployed and now work Mon-Fri and can be anywhere in the country. This has obviously had a huge impact on my free time and taken some adjustment.

I fully intent to start regular updates very soon as lots has happened on our plots, not least our coming second in the best Leicester allotment this year, we came third last year so we are still improving.