Category Archives: Experimental Chillies and be;;s

Chillies and Cherries #gdnbloggers @Victoriana_NG

I very nearly forgot! Whilst I have picked one purple haze already, I have also grappled with a jalapeno and a couple of hungarian hot wax. They are both unripe, they both could go red on the plant. However, I have removed them so that other fruit get something of a chance to develop. The are both varieties that have a kick anyway, so i’m taking my chances with them as they are.

Then there are the cherries, morello to be precise. I have managed to grow cherries!! And in Birmingham! That might sound reasonable to you, but I didn’t expect the tree to crop having only been in situ less than a year. Alas, we had a handful of cherries. And my, how nice they did taste!  I simply cannot be detailed enough. This small harvest, I think we had one each, tasted so superior to shop bought ones.

I thoroughly recommend this variety, and just growing cherries anyway. The tree in question, a bought two-one morello and sylvia-was from Victoriana Nursery.

Chillies and cherries, both a success.

 

Sweet and Spiced #gdnbloggers

You know, I haven’t sneezed so much this week. This may be down to the slightly wibbly wobbly weather. I am however now rather tired of seeing strawberries. As Wimbledon has drawn to a close, and the single handed champion-yes, that’s what the men’s winner is called-was told game, set and match; the crop has started to reduce.

With the strawberries waning, there are other things compensating.

We have blackcurrants and red currants; in an increased quantity to previous experience. In fact, when the rain abates, I will go double check the red currants that need harvesting. There are strings of the things, and the plants themselves are relatively new. I have yet to figure out what to do with the white Versailles currants. The red ones are most likely to be jammed or preserved in one way or another.  In harvesting black currants, I do quell and resist the urge to say  ‘this children, is where your ribena comes from’. And these are not diddly things, they are rather round and squishy berries, that really do evoke the memory of ribena.

As mentioned before, the strawberries are now dwindling. There are several pounds that have been frozen. As well as currants, raspberries are starting to come through. Having replaced the slightly dodgy canes, the newer ones are establishing. Donated by a friend and colleague,  this is a polka cane and this the pink fruit that you see. These are rather plump and juicy things that are being stored for jams and things. The yellow one that you see, is technically an autumn variety called ‘Fall Gold’. These do kick off rather early, and are just as good as the pink ones.

So there is a lots of sweet stuff.

Now the spicy

In the poly tunnel there are a number of different chilli varieties. What you see above are examples of purple haze cayenne and jalapeno. I have removed the purple haze as the poly is cooler than expected at this time of the year. It is now sat on the window sill next to unripe tomatoes, and hopefully it will turn to the bright red cayenne that is so familiar to chilli eaters. The jalapeno that you see, I found by fluke and you can see that it is actually a decent size. There are few other fruits forming on the plant, and I will keeping an eye on this one to see how it changes. Apparently, jalapeno crackle as they ripen and change colour. I have in the past, made jalepeno chilli jam. And I remember, the pain of having chopped them up. The moral being to wear gloves on handling. I have also spotted white flowers on the adopted apache, as well as the chillies such as prairie fire, patio sizzle, sparkler, orange habanero, coffee bean and devils rib. These are chillies that are smaller and a different shape to the familiar cayenne and jalapenos, with an altogether different flavour as well. Previously, there as been a good level of success with the patio sizzle. Small and pointy fruit, with one hell of a kick.

And no….I don’t paint my nails so that they match plot produce. Not really….honest.

Jubilant July #gdnbloggers

If it wasn’t for this lot; I would wholly miserable. There are no runner beans on the plot, the courgettes have all mostly been written off. I should at this stage in the growing season be starting to swim in courgettes. At the moment, I have the grand total of zero. All the plants have been subject to carnage by slugs and snails. I would be very surprised to get something, if anything, over the coming weeks from the courgettes and the rather spiny and spindly looking courgette and runner beans.

On the other hand, I am very close to throwing a small histrionic fit over strawberries. Every other day, I have been harvesting between 1-2lbs of strawberries. I say harvesting, it’s a case of picking the fruit before the slugs get to them. I would really like someone to invent a machine for hulling and chopping. Fruit has been stashed in the freezer; I am hoping that my jam making mojo returns so that the strawberries can be spiced with chilli and redcurrants maybe.

Tomatoes have filled out and up, with fruit forming after the bright yellow flowers. Mum had a lovely large marmande one, only for it to explode. I suspect that it might have become over ripe; a couple of money make have turned as has one single solitary tigerella. The surprise however, has to be the fleshy and fruity morello cherries. This is the first year on the plot and the tree has done very well to have survived frosts and inclement weather. There are less than a dozen cherries, but these are rather special in being the first ever crop. Have only pinched three ripe ones, so we shall see about the others. All being well, they will be harvested before the wildlife gets to them. I think I actually jumped to see that the cherries had turned, they were squishy to the touch, that’s the only way I can describe it. Though I have probably picked them a little early. I guess they could have done with a little more sunshine perhaps, and turned a little darker still. There are three sat on the kitchen window sill next to the tomatoes, so they may turn yet.

With the roses blooming on an almost daily basis, the gloom does lift a little. I have been waiting for William Shakespeare 2000 to bloom, and you can see the first three blooms that have developed this year.  The bouquet above also contains a raft of lost label roses, the yellow one is rather productive. No idea what it is called, but it’s a brown limbed creature that cascades outs. Might even be a climber, but it is rather nice to pick.

In the poly tunnel, the chillies are also getting going. There are lots of white flowers and also purple tinged purple haze flowers. Jalepenos are starting to form as are hungarian hot wax. You see the one purple haze chilli, that I am hoping will turn red. The jalaepeno, apache chilli, orange habanero and devil’s rib have formed large white flowers. In comparison, patio sizzle, prairie fire and sparkler are forming the most delicate, tiniest of white flowers. With all the plants in flower, this means feeding regularly and making sure that the plants don’t get too arid. They do dry out, but too little water and the flowers will drop off.

So there we have it, we can’t be too miserable, now can we?

Fruit ‘n’ flowers #gdnbloggers

I am temporarily hiding from the allotment. If I head down there now,  rather than be able to stay upright and water things; I will be standing in the poly tunnel sneezing and repeatedly. Admittedly, this is only the second time that I have reacted badly to the airborne pollen. I know that there are people out there who have suffered for longer and with arguably more severe symptoms. They have my empathy, as the anti-histamines turn me into something of a bumbling zombie. The choice is difficult to make, between sneezing so hard you wonder whether you brain is going to fall out through your nose, your ribcage feels a little like it will  crack and explode or feeling so zoned you have no idea what time it, what day is it, and how did you lose six hours whilst asleep?

The aim is to go play on the plot tomorrow during the middle of the say.

Yesterday though, I found fruit and flowers.

In the polytunnel, there are increasing number of purple haze chilli flowers, with one rather pointy purple chilli already formed. The other chillies are at varying stages, but there are buds forming that in some cases have formed lovely  white flowers. There is a distinct size difference. The larger chillies, such as jalepenos and hungarian hot wax form much larger flowers compared to smaller chillies such as prairie fire, sparkler and patio sizzler. I had to try very hard not to jump, as on close inspection, I found that a lovely lady spider-complete with a white spherical ball of a belly-had made her home in the leaves of a devil’s rib chilli. She is far braver than me, and I left her alone; she really wasn’t bothering me. I have started to water the chilli plants once a week. Given how it gets in the poly tunnel, that does mean that the soil does dry out in between feeding, so once fed the soil is moist for long enough. One thing I will say, is that the so far, the copper slug tape is helping. There is the odd nibble of leaves, but nothing has so far been reduced to a stalk.  There are blue pellets of doom, I’m afraid; these are sprinkled sparingly, but are in use.

Then there is actual fruit developing. Aside for the handful of tomatoes that now visible, and the red, ripening strawberries are being picked. I have noticed, that this time last year, I had made gooseberry and chilli jam. Which, seeing as I have gooseberry bushes now laden with fruit is no real surprise. They are all green, the ones that I can see. Though there are red, green, yellow, and one’s called invicta on the plot. This means that I will have to check the colour for ripeness, and probably try and squish them. One just to happen to fall off as I brushed passed, and was just asking to be bitten into. The result being, that I don’t particularly like tartness. I think I leave them for a while, whilst I determine what I might actually do with them. There was both pickle and jam made last year, and I need to decide which I fancy doing again.

Last year, we had a small harvest of currants. This year promises to be a little larger, as observed when riffling through leaves. The fruit hang like beads, and can be found  beneath a canopy of leaves. The bushes are still young, and still become established. The varieties that I have are red lake red currant, versailles white currant and wellington blackcurrant. The blackcurrants just happen to match my current nail varnish.I will be keeping an eye on them for ripening fruit, and again trying to decide what to do with them.

(And yes, that is slug, hovering in the fruit bushes)

Summer is coming…One hopes

mooli

I cannot sow and grow mooli-japanese radish-to save my life. Each and every time that I do, the crop bolts; we end up with mooli pods. I have long since given up, but Mama F has taken this challenge head on. What you see above, is the result of her handiwork. They look like a mooli, but I think they are probably icicle radishes; there are probably mooli on the plot somewhere, and she will no doubt tell me. But as you can see, they are straight, day glow white, and they were, edible. They ended up in a salad, rather than meeting their fate in a paratha, which is normally the done thing. I have however, been charged with getting more seeds to so that they do end up in a paratha. The key is though, that we have had a mooli-of a sort- from the plot, and it is home grown.

The chillies are coming, the purple ones at least. Imperial purple flowers have formed on the purple haze plants and fruit is forming. The other plants are not to far behind with smaller and white flowers becoming visible. Hopefully we will have some chillies before long.

Roses! For me, these are a true indicator that there is change on the way. The roses in Dad’s back garden have already started to bloom and blossom, mine are usually not far behind. There are easily two doze or so bushes on the plot. These range from rather posh roses, through to the lost label roses that you see above, to a couple of poundland roses. These form a triad of flowers; with glads and sunflowers usually being on the plot. The glads are on their way, but there are no sunflowers this year.

I like my roses, with the wonderful smell of zingy lemons that hangs in the air as you poke your nose in to take a waft.I am rather looking forward to home made bouquets as we have seen in the past. To be honest, I don’t tend them as pedantically as I could, beyond the removal of dead heads and stems for the kitchen vase.

gooseberry

Raspberrries and strawberries are in full flower and ready to fruit. Some of the goosberries are already laden. There does appear to be more than last year, which is a good thing. Maybe more pickle, and the odd jam to make.

Plot produce picking up

 

Things are starting to pick up! Inside the poly tunnel, the first of the chilli plants is starting to flower. The Purple haze variety has sent out a couple of flower buds. These tend to be a purple rimmed flower that indicates that the fruit will be a matching purple and eventually turn red. I did have a quick scan around the other pots, and I think the jalapenos were also on the turn.

Across swathes of the allotment, there is a carpet of white flowers. These flowers, all being well, will turn into strawberries. I don’t think I have seen quite so many strawberry flowers; they seem to have run riot.This is not altogether unexpected, the idea was that they would run riot and send out lots of runners and form a carpet that would help reduce other weeds from springing up.

In terms of other soft fruit, there are the tiniest of gooseberries coming through. To be honest, I had not seen much by way of gooseberry flowers. The plants are still young, and will still need time to become more established. I am looking forward to see the different colours, there are red, yellow and green varieties that are all looking very leafy.

Then there are tomatoes. There are quite a few plants, seventeen, at the last count; and they have taken something of a beating with the inclement weather. At the moment they do look a bit weather beaten; however they can’t be that miserable as there are baby tomatoes. There are tiny fruit on both my plants and those planted on Mum’s half plot. They could be a little more leafy, but all being well, they well catch up.

 

Poly potting up, yet again

 

All of this years chillies are now in the poly tunnel and in their final pots. There are twenty six pots, some of which contain more than one chilli plant. This is by far the most ambitious number of chilli plants grow; I think previously I had only had half the number of plants. This is testament to the germination rates of the chillies. Whilst there are habanero chillies amongst the number, there are no super hot chillies this year. There are also a significant number of smaller habit, patio chillies rather than the taller, sprawling varieties.

In the above picture, the one’s on the left are the smaller varieties.  The patio varieties are distinctly different, with rather serrated edge leaves. The hope is that these will continue to flourish, and that ultimately, we will have some interesting chilli fruit.

Hello, Sunshine, where have you been?

tomato

If you ask my Mum, the tomatoes have been looking routinely quite sad. They needed watering, and they were cheered up with doses of haitch two oh as and when required. What was more important, was sunshine. Sunshine, which has been somewhat absent and has finally turned up. And very welcome it is too, as it has kick started and renewed feelings of optimism as far as the allotment is concerned. According to the weather people, the sunshine is going to be around for a while; a week at least. With that in mind, the tomatoes have been sent outside to the path in Dad’s garden to start the process of hardening off. Unlike last year, where the tomatoes were all grown under cover; these are going to be outdoors and in raised beds or open ground. Currently they are all having a strop in pots, and I am hoping that if the plants sun bathe for the next few days that I can then take them to the allotment and bury them a bit deeper. The appearance of yellow flashes, tomato flowers, suggests that these all need to get a wiggle on and fairly soon.

This year’s cohort of chillies are the current room mates of the tomatoes, and will also need to be removed to the poly tunnel and be potted up. There are chillies here that are supposed to be small and stumpy, as it were, and those who are supposed to grow tall and abundant. I did sort them out into two groups to make the sorting out easier. The taller chillies will be potted up into large flower buckets, whereas the smaller ones are going to put into pots as they are not expected to take up a huge amount of room. In the last few weeks, the chillies have rather had something of a grow spurt and on time. In the next four weeks they will grow further before being moved to the poly tunnel. Having been sown a little late doesn’t appear to  have to knocked them too much.

With the chillies hitting a stride, there are also emerging seedlings. Recently sown cucumbers and squashes have started to come through. With the frost window remaining open until the next May bank holiday, both of these have got four weeks to grow and become more robust.  In my experience, squashes grow very quickly; you sometimes have to re-pot them to key up. I am hoping that with the four week window they are suitably sized for planting out once that they have been hardened off. With the cucumbers, I do intend for these to be planted and grown outside. I have previously grown crystal lemon outside and harvested a crop.

Seedlings are sat on the sidelines, mean making crumble. Last year I was able to harvest trugs full of apples and these were then frozen alongside some plums. Today has been spent making a plum and apple crumble. The second in four days!

With the crop of a previous year being used up, we can look to the future crop. A walk to the plot meant finding cherry and apple Blossom. The two cherry trees, Sylvia and Morello, are new additions to the plot; so it was rather heartening to see white buds n the Morello, but a lovely white bloom-just the one!-on the Sylvia tree. I wasn’t expecting to see any blossom on them this year, so I am really quite surprised to see blossom. I did check on the Concorde pear, that appears to have taken the frost on the chin, and is still looking frilly. The darling peach tree does still have a couple of deep pink blooms, there had been half a dozen; I did fleece at one point only for the wind to disagree with the shrouding.

The otherwise heavy clay of the allotment has had a chance to dry out. This has been to the relief to the heritage garlic that Marshalls were kind enough to provide for the plot. Garlic is wonderfully resilient, and is actually doing quite well given how much rain it has suffered. There are no signs yet of any bolting, and the ground is weed free so the bulbs should be making the most of the nutrients available from the clay.  The foliage is still very green and leafy, and with another eight weeks to go there is still a lot of growing to be done.

heritagemarshall

I do like it when the post person delivers something that you’ve been hotly anticipating. Copies of ‘Sow Grow and Eat’ landed on our doormat and rather made my day. My thanks to the fabulous Howard-(the artist who once sunk spuds, remember him?) for having put the cover together. You will also spot that the Loldeantimber trug is now something of a cover star, it also appears in the book. Given how the trug is used so much on the plot, it was definitely going to end up in the book.

Chillies 2016: Phase two potting up

As well as cooking, the second batch of chillies have been potted up having waited for a good week or so.

 

These are still very delicate looking, and all being well will start to bulk up in the coming weeks.

There is an alternative link here.

Will be keep an eye on these, there is no plans to sow any more. There are over twenty small pots now sat on the window sill; so that will mean a rather busy poly tunnel if all of the plants stay in there.

Potting up 2016 chillies: Phase one

Upon the window sill the chillies were getting a bit leggy. To stop them keeling over I have potted them up into small pots. I have done this using normal multipurpose compost. It is still a little cold and these are somewhat pampered chillies.

 

You can find the you tube links to the videos here and here

The seedlings that we have at the moment are:

  • Devil’s rib
  • Jalapeño
  • Hungarian Hot Wax
  • Orange scotch bonnet and habanero

I have potted thee seedlings right up their pair of seed leaves. Hopefully this will act to anchor them in position. There are still some seeds that are waiting to crack in the heated propagater and three more babies have been retrieved to be potted up at a later point.