Monday, September 29, 2008
Harvest and booze
Lots of fresh herbs - chives, coriander (self seeded) and parsley
A few celery branches to give flavour to stews etc - still not big enough to really harvest the heads)
A few handfuls of yellow beans
the first red cabbage! A small one but there are quite a few so I can start now.
and my two splendid pumpkins that have cured nicely in this week's sun.
Also (the booze part), I prepared the blackberry vodka: I strained it out, and crushed the berries to get out all the juices then added sugar syrup and a few spoonfuls of port to give it flavour. Now it will sit in the cupboard for a couple of weeks to mature. Needless to say I tasted it, it was sweet fruity and has quite a kick :-)
All coming to an end
And start looking at the seed catalogues! And make the inevitable dos and donts list for 2009.
- Do plant aubergines, my neighbours got terrific crops!!
- Do set up a polytunnel for peppers and chillis and melons next year. Outdoors is just not hot enough for them.
- DO get some nicer tomato varieties, although those little Harzfeuer are very tasty.
- Do plant celery and celeriac earlier and water it well.
- Do plant loads of beetroot as we eat lots of that.
- Do plant those lovely Farador yellow courgettes and get in some real squash seeds as pumpkins do well here.
- Do plant more spuds.
- DO plant some dahlia bulbs as the neighbour has ever such nice ones, and they seem easy to grow.
- Do grow yellow onions from seed and put the red onions in later (April) so they don't bolt.
- Don't try lettuce again, it's a waste of time.
- Don't buy plug plant cabbage, do your own in successive sowings as you cannot eat 15 cabbages in a 3 week period... and cabbage is dead easy.
- Don't do broccoli in summer, get it in nice and early and then another planting in late June for September heads.
- Don't do those stupid Amsterdam carrots, get some good solid nantaise varieties and the Colmar Red Hearts, they give better results. Sow thickly in a polytunnel in early spring.
- Don't be afraid to try climbing beans, just get the right variety.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Last night I brought home courgettes, and the only broccoli we will have! It was delicious but only enough for one meal, after planting about 10 broccoli plants :-( Must find a better variety for next year.
The garden is pretty much a disaster area but i will clean it up this weekend a bit, start to turn it all over for winter.
The pumpkins are almost all ready, the last beans are starting to fruit and the winter cabbages are having a growth spurt.
Pics soon! It's time to log what worked, what didn't and show the state of the place before winter comes.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Blackberry liqueur and grape jelly
I took a big empty passata jar and filled it two thirds with ripe blackberries. Then filled up the jar with supermarket brand vodka.
At the end of the month I will need to strain it and add half a cup of sugar syrup. Another month to mature and it should be good to drink :-D
While we blackberried, the kids made a good find - wild grapes. We pick our berries in a grape growing area and many grapevines run wild. They picked a dish full of wild grapes, too sour to eat raw but I heard from Bob Flowerdew thatgrapes make great jelly, so I cooked them up, strained the juice out, mashing the grapes with a saucer; there was about a pound of juice, put in a pound of sugar and boiled it up. It did indeed make terrific jelly, just one great big jar of it (I am running out of jam jars), so maybe next year I will get another chance at that one!
Season nearly over...
Anyway I ripped up all of the tomato plants and stakes and the black plastic, the useless melon vines and the summer cabbages (digging only the cabbage leaves into the ground so as not to waste their nutrients). I covered that area and have decided it will make the onion and garlic patch for the new season. I guess roughly speaking, the rotation plan for 2009 will be:
- spuds 2009 vs beans 2008
- alliums 2009 vs tomatoes 2008 (and follow them up with the winter cabbages)
- Three sisters 2009 vs spuds 2008 (I will probably have time to do a little dabbling in that patch, spring radish, or seed beds)
- Beans 2009 vs brassicas 2008
- Roots 2009 vs three sisters 2008
- the brassicas are doing very well, I think they like it cooler, the red cabbages are terrific.
- The last lot of dwarf beans should be giving fruit in the next couple of weeks.
- The late carrots are growing well but they need to plump up a bit still.
- I have left the last three pumpkins on the vine for now, they still seem to be growing.
- The rhubarb is slowing dying off, it has finished for the year. Soon I will divide it and plant a third root and I will do the same with the artichokes. I want to mulch them both well with manure over the winter and spring.
- The celery is a bit of a mystery. The branch type doesn't seem to be growing well, although it is healthy enough, just too small, and the root type, I don't know what is going on with it. Maybe not enough water?
Good resolutions for 2009:
- Plant more earlier and under cover (works well for peas).
- Get a salad leaf box going for all year round greens (and give up on sowing individual lettuces, they just don't work for me).
- Plant more spuds, closer together, heavily mulched, more maincrop and a really nice salad variety. That Caesar variety was good, very big spuds.
- Repeat the Three Sisters experiment, adding in runner beans and planting the corn closer together. Get a nice variety of Butternuts going.
- Really look more into the varieties: this year was an improvement but next year should be better. Remember that the Colmar carrot was a success, the Lark corn and Coco de Paimpol beans do well here, the Gatrenperle tomatoes were crap but the Harzfeuer were nice and tasty. Get better varieties of beans, broccoli, beetroot (try that Cylindra type). Try two types of garlic to see which works best.
- Sow my own onions in January and plant them out.
- Get a polytunnel up and running and do aubergines, sweet peppers and chillies.
- Mulch and cover, mulch and cover, mulch and cover and GET A WHOLE LOAD OF HORSE CRAP ON THERE!!!!
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Back from hols
The allotment is in a slightly disastrous state - all the tomatoes have rotted from blight, the sweetcorn had lived its last and the Coco de Paimpol beans had gone straight to their dried state (Although that was Ok, I harvested them and shelled them), the leeks got overwhelmed with weeds, as did most of the rest of it. The broccoli went straight into flower so still haven't managed to taste any home grown broccoli.
So I have done a bit of emergency gardening since then, dug up the maincrop spuds (good sized spuds, they were "Caesar" variety, I would grow those again, even though overall the yield was not terrific, about 10kgs of spuds to 25 plants...), weeded the leeks, hoed the rest of the things, managed to dig out the meagre crop of early carrots (one largish bunch, bit disappointing). Picked the first pumpkins! Their vines had died. There are 3 still growing.
Still, now I really need to give everything a good weeding, dig out the tomato vines, the melons that gave 2 tiny melons that are unusable and the summer cabbage and manure and cover that section ready for the onions.
The brassicas are doing very well, the Sprouts and Kale and PSB are now at least 40-50 cm tall and do not seem to be attacked by anything. The red cabbage are starting to get small, compact heads, so I am hoping to be able to preserve some of that before the winter. I am still harvesting beans, beetroot, swiss chard (red variety) and fruit. And yes yes I need to take some pics again.
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