Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Category

31082842545_932e299d28_oI’m going to give a go at growing veg in a different way. Mostly, I  wanted to break the growing areas up into manageable bits.  It’s a visual trick really, but I figured it was all so much less daunting if you could see it as one small bed at a time, rather than a massive unmanageable area. OK so the beds aren’t that small but still…


With this in mind, I researched various gardening set ups and am planning on dabbling with the no-dig method.

I have always ignored it as a method, because  quite frankly the do-dig method works very well.  There I said it.  Furthermore, I’m going on to say both methods appear to work. Controversial of me, I know – as usually people have to choose a side and laugh at the other.  With the ‘old allotment boys’ laughing at the folk who “think they don’t have to do any work” and the no-dig gardeners rolling their eyes at the ‘old allotment boys’ and sighing “at what cost to the soil” and stating that the old method doesn’t work… and “why do work you don’t have to do?” and so on.

It’s ignorance that is the problem – no-dig doesn’t mean no work – seems to me there is a lot of time spent moving compost about and mulching and weeding.  And the digging method does work, because you know….people have been using it all this time. I really dislike the snorting and laughing at the other camp – it doesn’t matter – do whatever works for you. I particularly dislike being told by anyone without successful experience…

Anyways, most of my experience with veg growing has been by trial and error – this is true for most gardeners and different things will work with different climates and different soils etc.

As I read more about it, it turns out that some of the things we just naturally arrived  at doing, fit in with the no-dig way – for example I try to start as many plants as possible as modules in the greenhouse  – they just do better.   And I haven’t fed my tomato plants  in years … well.. forever. Because we always replenish the greenhouse with compost from the compost heap.  And as it goes I always put the wood ash from the fire on the heaps so there is no potash shortage, and have always had good tomato crops.  Also when adding compost to the veg beds before planting out the hungry plants – like squashes beans and sweetcorn, we have just added a layer of compost on top.  These are all part of the no-dig method, and I have been doing it all along.  Who knew.

There are lots of calls on my time in other areas of life, and a certain amount of stumbling about trying to find my feet in difficult times… so no promises. But these new beds are inspiring, and doing things differently suits.


So, it’s tweaking my veg growing habits into a slightly new but actually not that new way.  And venturing back out gradually, one smaller bed at a time.

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It is very mild – yes stormy with more high winds to come this week, but mild.  I have often not lit the esse,  and, unheard of in harvesting records, we picked courgettes and beans in November and are still picking tomatoes from the greenhouse – though they are finally coming to an end.

The downside of the mild weather is the stores are not doing so well – I’ve already mentioned the apples going bad before time. Yesterday revealed a pumpkin was showing early signs of going.  This wasn’t in the plan.  Right now I want to concentrate on christmas baking, but I’ve got veg store processing mixed up  in it.  Today, as well as cooking the roast, and a family session of making gingerbread men/stars/trees/angels/you name it, and stollen, and mince pies, I am now making the fourth batch of curried  pumpkin and lentil soup.  Not a  bad thing – it is delicious! – but not was I had in mind for today.  So, if you too have squashes, pumpkins and apples stashed.. time to check those stores.     Making  apple curd next…..

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pumpkin and squash

There’s something lurking in the shed….well several somethings, our pumpkin and squash harvest. This lot was brought in a couple of weeks ago, and we cut the last few green ones to see if they will ripen in the light of the french doors.

Along with the apples, in another shed (apparently you shouldn’t store them together…something the apples give off can make the squash go bad – is this true? no idea.. we put them in different sheds so they will behave) this harvest, thankfully, are not taking up freezer spaces. The freezer crisis is bad, and we did not have any pigs to put in this year! – how we shall clear space for thingymas foods, not to mention future pig years, I’m not sure, but it is a good problem.   The pumpkins are grown for halloweeny reasons, the crown prince is our favourite large squash, but I am really taken with the little sweet lightening – I like the idea of a squash of manageable size, and will be experimenting with other small varieties next year.
podding beansWe also have had a bumper bonus harvest of haricot beans, thanks to a really good bean year, we stopped picking the beans for slicing and freezing and let them mature up and we have had many pounds of podded beans.  Not an unpleasant task to sit chatting and podding by the fire.

The stormy weather predicted and the clocks changing this weekend makes it feel a good time to retreat to the warmth and safety of indoors and enjoy the stored food.

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harvest autumn


I’ve been watching the apples on the bramley trees.  It is always a matter of timing, picking late means the harvest will keep longer, but we have to balance that against missing the moment and having rather too many windfalls.

Each year is different, so we cannot go by the calendar. In many ways crops are late this year, thanks, probably, to the cold spring. But the weather forecast made up our mind, with high winds forecast for next week and the apples rosy and willing to let go of the tree at the lightest touch, we decided to pick.

We have twenty one boxes of apples in the cold store, and the pressure is now on to process and/or eat them before they go bad. I hate wasting any, but we have freezer space issues, so I see a lot of preserves in my future.
bean wigwam cityThe freezer crisis is in part due to the really good season we have had in the veg patch, that and perhaps planting way too many beans. I admit to 12 wigwams of french beans, and a line of runners…. but last year had proved a bit of a bean disaster so it made sense to plant more…. Annnnyway, we now have enough frozen beans to eat beans at least twice a week for a year, plus jars of pickled beans (very nice with cold meat), and we have given them away, swapping them for freshly caught pollack etc. We have now opted to let the remaining beans mature, hope the frosts hold off long enough to have beans to pod.
The stormy weather predicted might do for them yet. But at least the apples are in.

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beans beans and courgettes

Life seems to feature a lot of these at the moment.   And a lot of picking, slicing, blanching and freezing. The runner beans we are trying to eat fresh, as they are the best that way, but these flat French beans, and the purple ones, are all for the freezer, to feed us throughout the year.
Life also seems to involve freezer tetris too, as we resist putting on another freezer, if we can just reorganise, use up, eat up produce..

Tis a good problem to have.

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This week has been gloriously hot and sunny.  I say glorious – I mean in a factor 40, hat wearing, fair skinned, avoiding the midday sun, good for barbecues but not ideal for the garden sort of way.  Watering has taken forever and we have had to plant out the last of the plants in the evening so the poor things didn’t have to take the full blast of the sun.

But it has been enjoyable too, with social gatherings around the barbecue, and evenings sat outside after the sun has gone down still enjoying the atmosphere. What I wish I spent more time doing is sitting in the shade of our pergola.  The clematis has smothered the southern side and is marching to take over the rest – which is great since I worried we had killed it when we put the pergola up and had to cut the clemmie back hard only last year.
in the shade of the pergola
Inside is a delight – sitting on a lounger amongst the hardy geraniums and granny’s bonnets, with bumble bees busily working their way around, and the flowers of the clematis glowing with the sunlight that I am shielded from.  I promised myself the next spell of good weather I will spent more time lurking in there!

And it must be summer because the elderflowers are out – I have started my first batch of elderflower champagne, ordered a lot of citric acid for cordial futures and we had our first elderflower fritters of the season,

Rain promised over the next few days – which the garden desperately needs, so no summer shade for me for a while.

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It is that busy time of year when everything is hatching and growing and the sudden warm weather means all the plants came out of the greenhouse and want to go in the ground, and we find ourselves outside still watering at 10pm
Vorwerk chick

We had a hatch at the weekend, this time a mix of Vorwerks and French blue marans. The Vorwerks were a bit of a whim when I was having a bad day – they are striking looking chicks, with reverse colouring to their future adult plumage.
brown-neck and chicks

We snuck them under a broody hen and she is a very proud mum.

cool sheep
Thankfully we booked the shearer with perfect timing and he came at an unearthly time on Sunday morning and sheared the sheep, and they are now cool sheep.
The ducks failed us, and the second hatch only gave us two ducklings.. we may have to pop duck eggs under broody hens at this rate.. but one of the ducks is laying again so we live in hope.
Mostly though, it is about the veg, trying to compost and plant and all of the plants want to go in at the same time.. ie NOW! The cold weather suddenly passed and it all became a bit urgent and late too. However we are getting there.

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