Preserving and progress

Rain has stopped play today, it’s grey and grim outside. The perfect opportunity to take stock of what is happening on the plot. Means I can update you on the blog, also work on another creative project. A project that builds on the blog actually, none too dissimilar and to be made public later on this year. Let’s just that whilst the blog is updated as and when I have something to share; the creative project is something of a summative assessment of all plot based learning experiences. That is a story for another day though.

So what has been happening this week?

The chillies are cropping weekly, and with the hungarian hot wax chillies loitering on the window sill I wanted to use the constructively. Mum’s been using them in her kitchen as per usual. They’ve gone into assorted Indian dishes, and even the odd fenugreek stuffed chappati. That is after all what they were grown for. The same goes for the harvested garlic crop.

The plums in the pan aren’t mine, not sure where they are from. I fancied making a jelly, and this is somewhat popular amongst friends and colleagues. I was rather traumatised emptying the jelly bag of the purple pulp; it didn’t look particularly nice. It looked as though it belonged on a medical ward. The juice for the jelly was a wonderful claret colour, and that meant wiping down all the surfaces onto which it dripped.

Chillies and garlic also went into a chutney, and I even did an experiment. I found a recipe for piccalilli and have tried this for the first time. I think its a bit mellow and probably needs more a kick; however it awaits taste testers.

Courgettes have started to crop; no thanks to the confused weather. There are other squashes and crops starting to come through too.

The ghost rider pumpkin is starting to sprawl out with its dinner plate sized leaves. Spotted a few babies, that may or may not have been pollinated. With the scarlet emperor beans in full flower, the climbing french beans have started to form gangly pods.

Garlic 2015: The result @TheGarlicFarm

The garlic is up. All of it. Both raised beds have now been emptied of the overwintering alliums, and I have not been disappointed. I have been trying to grow garlic now for five years. Over that time, there have varying levels of success. And then there was this years crop. This has to be by far the best garlic harvest that I have had for a long time. The biggest of the bulbs are huge compared to those harvested in the past. And they are rather garlick-y to smell too!

All drying out to be used in the coming weeks.

The Garlic Farm. Try it.

Soft fruit Saturday: Jam pan play time

I am very lucky to have plot neighbours who don’t mind sharing their fruit. Rather than make ice cream; this lead to an episode of preserving.

I had frozen these in anticipation; only I didn’t fancy waiting. An equal amount of fruit and sugar were used; with a little water. With the jamming process, we ended up with a beautiful claret coloured preserve. It smelt divine! All the time though, I felt as though I was torturing ribena berries.

Plot produce kicks off

The plot is starting to kick off now. As you may have seen from another blog post, the poly is well and truly alive. The tomatoes are five foot tall triffids. Yes, these are the things that only week ago were only eighteen inches high. They are now starting to send out yellow flowers, and some of them have started to set. What you see at the marmande and cream sausage varieties. Not in the pictures, but in the poly tunnel we also have the tiniest of money maker tomatoes.

Beyond that, the scarlet emperor runner beans have started to display lovely red flowers. The blue lake and cobra french climbing beans are somewhat behind, and only just starting to climb and live up to their name.

Chilli report: July 2015

poly

The poly tunnel is alive. It truly is standing room only in there. I have had to stake the tomatos and also defoliate as well. This allows some more energy to go to the fruit-according to my mum-but also allows the plants to be better ventilated.

I was starting to wonder about the super hot chillies. As to whether once again I had missed something in their growing conditions. To be entirely honest, I was chiding myself about not watering them that much. I have harvested a good clutch of hungarian hot wax; and I am hoping that these will go yellow with being on window sill. The would be red cayennes are by far this year the longest I have ever grown! This may be down to letting them stay on the plant for longer than I have in the past.

But! Remember the habaneros? Well, I should have paid more attention, and tomorrow I will double check. There is for the moment, one single solitary orange habanero. I will check if I have a chocolate one. In addition there are the tiniest of pumpkin chillies. I would have had had longer look; only as I was defoliating I heard “Puunnnaaaam! Come home now! You been here a while” My mother was on the plot, and she had come to fetch me back home. In punjabi, and at the top of her voice.

Hey pesto: An experiment

The basil on the plot has been used a little bit; but could be used a little more. Whilst the pot is small, and needs to grow-I only bought it recently from urban herbs-there are a small amount of leaves that could be used to make an experimental amount of pesto.

I have never done this before.

The recipe that I have followed is from Jamie Oliver’s Pesto. Rather than use mum’s blender, I opted to use a pestle and mortar. Mainly as it wouldn’t involve too much washing up. However, this way felt a bit more traditional. The garlic and basil are from the plot, the rest of the ingredients are from shop. I have yet to grow a tree for pine nuts.

There was bit of huffing and puffing, in thinking that this might be a bit difficult. That the basil and garlic would need a bit of bashing; or pounding as the recipe directs. I wouldn’t call it pounding, and it wasn’t that hard. The garlic mashed up quite easily, I think the freshness contributed to that. As well as the freshness of the basil as well, it had been washed before hand. The pine nuts were toasted on mum’s tava-this implement is normally used to make her chappatis-and the pine nuts were dry toasted. I may have over toasted a few of them, but that actually added to the flavour.

I deliberately made a small amount; enough for a piece toast, I found.

The taste test?

Lovely. Perhaps less garlic, the recipe does actually stipulate less than I used. I was feeling enthusiastic. And more cheese. Will definitely try this again.

Harvest and homebrew kick off 2015

The garlic foliage has dramatically keeled over, indicating that it is rather good to go. The seed garlic was sunk last autumn, having been purchased from the garlic farm. Over the years, I have brought and planted lots of different varieties of seed garlic. This was the first ever batch from the garlic farm, and I do have to say, I have not been disappointed.

IMG_5020

As of yet I have only harvested the one bed; I have two beds of over wintering garlic. The foliage had fallen over completely, was all very straw like and yellow. The bulbs didn’t take much lift, and moved out of the soil quite easily. The vast majority of the bulbs are very, very big. By far the largest that I have ever managed to sow and harvest. Big clumps, that are almost trying to split away from the main one. And they honk. Honk of garlic. There are assorted varieties here, and the purple ones are my own personal favourite. Not least because of their size, but because of their smell as that indicates the flavour they will yield. These are solid and stable cloves. What will happen now, is that they will be left to dry for at least a few weeks. The skins and peel should dry out and become crispy. These are better than good garlic bulbs, and I don’t do plugs of people just for the sake of it. This is produce that has come from an excellent seed producer and exceeded my expectations. I would certainly order again from The Garlic Farm.

Then comes the home brew.

Also harvested from the plot today was the last of gooseberries and and also raspberries. I am lucky to half allotment neighbours who ask me to liberate their excess fruit. I don’t ever filch fruit, by virtue of ethics, I always ask permission for the fruit is liberated.

With the gooseberries, this was always going to be their final fate for this year. I have so far made an experimental jam with them, and also an experimental Indian pickle. Their final fate, was to be used to infuse gin. There was a lot of experimentation last year with all sorts of fruit. An interesting learning experience, that produced interesting Christmas presents for family and friends. I also received, via a twitter conversation, really good advice from the lovely Thane Prince. Add coriander seeds to the gin. This advice worked last year, so I am taking it up again, having raided mum’s garam masala stash. Whilst I also plan to make some form of raspberry ice cream; the gin is one possible experiment with those that I have been looking at for a while.

The process is simple. Put fruit into jar, add sugar and steep. Then place into an airing cupboard and wait for a bit. The raspberry gin is apparently quicker than the gooseberry gin; a matter of only a couple of weeks. Gooseberries will be left for a while longer.

Successful Sunny Saturday

There are weeds cropping up all over the plot. There are also harvests to made too. I will be hoeing the weeds down soon. The harvests, though, have been good so far. Firstly, we have spuds. Potatoes/ Over the last four years I have variable harvests. From sinking into open ground to raised beds. I finally have a spud that I am proud of. Today, I have harvested probably about a couple of pounds of kestrel second early potatoes. The foliage had started to keel over, so I took this as a sign to harvest. I wasn’t so quietly impressed when digging over. I may have blasphemed a little bit; my mother who was in ear shot, exclaimed my name. Not at my blaspheming, but at the fact that I was handing over fairly nice looking potatoes.

A plot neighbour kindly donated some redcurrants that she was harvesting. These with the pounds of frozen strawberries already harvested went into a jam alongside some purple haze and cayenne chillies.

It does taste rather nice, and I don’t actually like strawberries that much.

I have been further monitoring the raspberry situation. To be honest, I am not in the least bit happy. Yes, these were planted in Autumn. A full season collection, I had thirty canes. Not all of these have foliage, and they are all very much still brown and sticky. Those that are leafy, have so far produced the grand sum of six-maybe-raspberries. All of the canes have rooted, I have done the tug test. They have definitely rooted.

On the other hand, I have ten fall gold yellow raspberry canes and two pink autumn bliss raspberries. The two autumn bliss ones are happy, having been cut back, and now fairly leafy and about to bear fruit. The yellow ones, have provided three yellow raspberries so far. This I can deal with.

With the distinct lack of pink summer raspberries, I am feeling a bit dejected. A lot like England crashing out on penalties. Penalties, can be practised.

Runner beans are shooting up their supports, and rapidly. So much so, I have spotted a cluster of red flowers. The climbing french beans however, don’t look so good and are still very small.

Book Worm Bonanza: @AstleyBookFarm

IMG_4936

It’s been a while since I blogged about books. And today, I just had to. Accompanied by a lovely counselling classmate and friend of mine, I spent the afternoon at Astley Book Farm. I have heard a lot of positives about it, certainly about the cake, so was looking forward to visiting.

The book farm is epic. A ten bob barn, where there are thousands of books, all priced at the princely sum of fifty British pence. The main body, is a nirvana for all bookworms. There are bookcases and bookcases of books.

I felt my heart go thud as I stopped at the Ian Fleming section. Bond books. Dating back to their first publication. Okay, I have the electronic versions, and I have now read all fourteen of the originals. But to have them there in front of you, in black and white, paper back. That is something else. I remember being an A-level student, trying to find original Fleming books, and having no luck. At that time, the universe didn’t mean for me to have them. Not until today, and I picked up a copy.

Then there is star trek. I like Star Trek, the next generation at least. So I homed in to two books. Like the Fleming books, there is something about the books, the history in the pages.

So many books, I can see how it would easy to while away the hours there and not realise.

Visit. You know want to.

Crazy Green Thumbs

Chronicling a delusional gardening experience.

Coffee to Compost

a Florida gardening blog

The Travelling Blackberry

My travels, my bike and my life in France

world radio gardening

online gardening radio; 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

penguinbookworm

Books, humour, and general musings

so long as it's words

so long as it's words... words and worlds

Sorry Television

Reading a book a week

Plot138

Grow Damn'it!!

Hedgepig Naturals

Natural nourishing care for that big ole epidermis!

My Adventures in Food and Gardening

sharing my passion for eating food that I've grown

Just Another Green Mother

Random ramblings about being kind to myself my family and the world around us

Budhill and Springboig Allotments

Budhill & Springboig Allotments have been around for over 90 years and offer a rewarding experience to all involved.

Gin Class Hero

The musings of a twentysomething

Electronic Scrapbook

Bits and pieces from all over the internet.

Growing Things From Seed

One busy family's approach to all manner of things

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 315 other followers

%d bloggers like this: