Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Category

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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The seed sowing that is – a bit later than planned – due to the weather and ‘stuff’ occupying our time, but I have started sowing seeds. This year I am just going to keep a record on a page on the blog of what we do, rather than detail it every week.

We are working hard to dig new vegetable beds in the garden, the plan is to move as much as possible out of the fields and into the garden – thus we should have more grazing for the sheep and less lawn to cut. It is a nice theory anyway. This has meant the digging up of lots of bushes, some transplanting and the poor old rhubarb and loganberry got moved once again.( the fourth time since we moved here), but needs must. I don’t think we have room for everything we need to grow, but it might be possible to double up some areas – grow squashes in the pig run (no pigs this year) and have summer crops in the field veg patch, and only let the sheep in there during the winter months. It will evolve.

Nice to get out there and sort out the propagators and start sowing again, The seasons are turning as they should.

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the last

Today we harvested the very last of the tomatoes and courgettes.  Not bad considering it is nearly November .  The courgettes came good in the end, after a slow start, and we had the expected mountain, most of which is in the freezer – sliced and blanched and ready to be added to chillies and casseroles.   The tomatoes were a disappointing crop – we had lots but nothing like the usual, and they were so very slow to develop – blight has finally hit hard and we picked boxes and boxes of green ones.  Some will turn red, some will still go down with blight so I’m making plenty of green tomato chutney.

It has been a difficult year in the veg garden, not only has the weather been awful, and the pests plentiful, but we have had other family commitments taking our time.  Definitely not our best harvest.

However, I find myself now, sitting by the fire, having eaten a meal of our own home grown meat and veg, with the red tomatoes roasting in the oven, and  with the seed companies webpages open, pondering what I could grow over winter, and that in turn is stirring an interest for the next season.

And so the seasons turn, and we move on as always.

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runner beans




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