Category Archives: Soft fruit

Pudding, potting up and moolis #gdnbloggers

The initial plan for the day was to pot up rescued chilli plants. I had decided that i wanted some more in the poly tunnel; and in the coming days I try and find some more. I popped down first thing to have a general mooch, also to harvest gooseberries. More on the gooseberries later. Early on in the day, I was okay, I wasn’t sneezing so much; all was well. Fast forwards three hours to when I wanted to pot up the peppers; and I kid you not. Whooping sneezing; the horrible, squelchy, bogey-fied, ‘all right, there, Punam?” sort that has your plot neighbours wondering if you are okay and shouldn’t go home and lie down. With my “Yes, thank you, it’s just hay fever” response, I did try and carry on. I was going to pot up the chillies even if my brain made an exit. It took forever, to pot up those peppers and add slug tape. Once completed, I cried off; left Mama F and scarpered home whilst clutching rolled up balls of tissue. Mama F heard her first born whine and snort that she was going home.

Today was all about food. Making the most of what was harvested. Mum’s focus was all about the moolis-the things that I can’t grow-and mine was pudding based with gooseberries.

A lot gets written on this blog about growing, but not an awful lot gets written about eating; surely as a GYO thing, that is important! I was rather glad to see that the tomatoes aren’t doing too badly; the courgettes on the other hand, are a cause for concern with not a lot a fruit as they are slug/snail damaged.

So, first thing first. Mum harvested a few mooli. Declared that these would be dad’s lunch as she raised one aloft. There was also a handful of coriander that was harvested. I simply cannot get mooli’s to grow, I get seed pods. My mum on the other hand, was and is committed to the cause; she has sown loads on her plot and is now reaping rewards. Mooli-or japanese radish-is used not only as a salad crop, but Mum stuffs it into chappatis. With the coriander that she also harvested, today’s harvest was lunch. With atta (dough) already made, Mum grated the radish, added salt to the squeeze out the water; before seasoning with the contents of her spice tin. Adding to a rolled roti, this was then cooked on a tava. I had mine with a 5 minute raita as an accompaniment. You can also stuff chappatis with fenugreek, and this is next on Mum’s agenda. A note of caution, mooli’s are spicy, hot and blowaway the cobwebs. So if you don’t fancy the heat, stick with conventional radishes.

{You can find recipes for both of these in #plantpottales -the yellow one!}

As mentioned, before my focus was more sweet rather than savoury. This years gooseberry crop is exactly double compared to last year. Last, 250g came from the then new bushes. This year, with 500g, I’m making cake rather than jam, pickle or gin. I seem to have lost my jamming mojo, and will try to get it back at some point. The crop was added to a sponge mix containing desiccated coconut and golden caster sugar; one of the tins is still in the oven as I type. I fancied making a pudding, rather than jam as it seemed an interesting experiment to do.

So what happened with the cakes?

goosecoconutcake.JPG

Now cooling. I assure you, they are golden and not burned!

Anyway, I am now dosed up with anti-hay fevers stuff. Exiting stage left; to feed to the veggies and harvest some roses.

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)

Blooms and Buffy: Frocks, fruit and flowers

The last week has seen several episodes of rain and flooding; not very conducive to going to allotment. I finally made it to the plot today to see what the state of play was; there are weeds to  be got rid of but also lot to positive about.

 

The first handful of strawberries have been harvested. A couple of them a little under ripe, but they are bright red and edible. I may have even eaten one to taste check, and I not even a big fan of strawberries. These have arrived a little earlier than usual, with strawberries usually cropping around Wimbledon fortnight. I know that sounds very cliched, but I do have memories of hearing of Andy Murray winning wimbledon and only having one strawberry that year.

The rain has done little to thwart the roses; they are a bit damp and fluffy, but still blooming. There are easily a dozen roses in that bouquet and in an assortment of colours.

There was also some adventuring this week. Adventuring, that I have been looking forward for some time and is completely unrelated to the allotment. I actually went to a convention. Not a conference, a convention; a convention celebrating Joss Whedon’s Buffy:The Vampire Slayer and Angel:The TV series. Two shows, that I have very fond memories of having watched them as a teenager; and two shows that I can watch over and over alongside Star trek and Shakespeare. So I went.

 

And it was rather fun! An amazing opportunity to talk to other whedonites and to meet some of the stars as well. The highlight was meeting Anthony S Head who played Rupert Giles. There were eight guests in total, and it never ceases to amaze me just how iconic Buffy and Angel were. Hearing the guests talk about their jobs was simply mind blowing.

This was the first time that I had ever been to a convention, so I was a little bit worried as to what expect. It was however a really positive experience, and sat there at half ten talking about Buffy episodes at a disco was rather surreal. As you can see, part of it involved dressing up. That is my attempt at Bad willow, though I do look more an extra waiting to keel over in GoT. On the right, that’s a better attempt at dressing up to attend a whedon prom.

I can safely say, that whedonites are by far one of the most amazing groups of people in the world. I flew solo in this adventure, I didn’t take anyone with me. Yet there were couples there-a couple of which had very new babies in tow, I take my hat of to them!-where whedon was a shared passion. So in being by myself, i was adopted and made to feel very welcome at my first convention.There was a huge diversity in age ranges and nationalities, people had travelled in from very far afield. Apparently, there are not many Buffy/Angel conventions, so this was a rare one.

Weathering the strangeness

June has arrived, and it has been rather strange in it’s infancy. The weather hasn’t exactly been the best, confused and entirely erratic. We have had rather nice windows, punctuated by cold and chilly days reminiscent of early autumn.

With that, I have been looking at the tomatoes and squashes that were transplanted prior to the end of May bank holiday. (I was adventuring, and more on that later) Ordinarily, squashes grow like triffids; they are rapid, hungry and likely to take over the patch of ground into which they have been sunk. Looking at them though, they do rather look a little developmentally delayed. Perhaps it is early, perhaps I am overestimating them; but they should have started to get a wiggle on. I suspect that the inclement and inconsistent weather has some what confused them.

There are factions of the plot that are doing well, that are resisting the variance in the weather. Waking up from a slumber, the grapevines have started to send out leaves and bulk up on their frame. Small clusters of flowers and fruit have been spotted, and indicates that the vines are so far quite happy. Even the currant bushes are starting to flower and flourish, and look as though they have been strung with green pearls.

June, July and August generally involve garlic being harvested. In spite of the horrid weather, the Marshalls Heritage seed garlic appears to be romping away. It is a little wind burned, which given the windy nature of the site is not all that unusual. The foliage is still lush, green and is now nearly a metre high; it looks rather robust. It may be some time yet before the foliage starts to die back and become raffia like.

 

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.

 

Promises Promises: Buds to bloom and burst

It is the day after the night before, as Storm Katie ran amok around the British Isles. Mum and I headed down to the plot to see if there was any damage. The poly tunnel and walk in green house are still standing strong. My biggest concerns are always the grapevines and the fruit trees. Somewhat mindful of the potential inclement weather, I had staked the thin wiry trees to give them a bit of a fighting chance. There are puddles on the plot, on the lower part at least. This always happens, and the continuing plan is to raise that part of the plot.It is for that very reason that I have raised beds to help overcome the soggy soil.

Having checked for major disturbances, the first thought I had was about the Peach tree. A A variety called darling, this is a  very new tree to the allotment. Over the last week or so, I have been watching a small cluster of pink fuzz. The rest of the tree is forming buds, but this cluster is obvious because of its brightness against the bark. I have been checking almost daily, to see if the pinkness has burst. I’m not too sure if it is cluster of leaves or an actual blossom. This is a lot closer to success than my previous experience with a peach rochester tree, that didn’t do an awful lot at all. Hence the excitement of this tree actually doing something.

peachdarling.JPG

Concorde Pear also seems to be kicking off. Last year, we had all of two pears. I am not complaining about that, I am very glad for those two pears. They ended up on a chutney. For now the blossom isn’t actually very pretty, it’s fuzzy, spiky and awkward looking. My only concern is that we have a horrible frost and these will get obliterated as they have in the past.

pearconcorde

Last year the Moor Park Apricot formed maybe less than half a dozen leaves. (No that is not the rest of my plot, nothing to do with me.) A year later, there are more green buds forming, and that means potentially more leaves. This, like having a peach tree, was an impulsive experiment. The growing season is still young, so this like the other trees will be monitored and observed closely.

moorparkapricot.JPG

These are Darrow, blue jay and blue crop blueberries. I like my blueberries, least of all because they produced a surprise crop last year. Two out of the three have been there for a year, the third is a recent acquisition. I am comforted by the number of buds though, a good sign. Blueberry gin may well happen again.

blueberries.JPG

Spud sinking and plot pottering

It’s not raining! It’s Good Friday, and it’s not raining. Yet.

There is rain scheduled, it is after a bank holiday. Before it arrives, I have taken this opportunity to wander down the plot, sink potatoes and check on the fruit trees.

First with the potatoes though:

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Kestrel and Lady Balfour potatoes have been sunk into raised beds. I still have to sink pink fir apple, once I have filled the other beds with ‘orse poop. I put the seed potatoes into raised beds as there is better drainage, less resistance for the forming tubers and previous experience has meant a big, quite successful crop. I’m not sure yet if there will be any international kidney this year on the plot.

There was also the opportunity to look at the young fruit trees that are planted on the plot. With the site being windy, they could do with some bracing support so that they don’t keel over. I did quick count, and found that I had quite a few fruit trees, I guess I don’t need to buy any more! In the picture above, you see the morello cherry tree. This one, along with the sylvia, moor park apricot, darling peach, pear du comice, czar  and victoria plum were all tied to a stake sunk beside them.

With the exception of the Czar plum tree, all of the trees appear to be waking up and have buds forms on their boughs. I am not too sure about the Czar, as it has always been a little bit of a miserable looking tree.  The plot most certainly has it’s own little micro-cosm that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the site; i think the peach is the only that is sending out pink fuzzy buds. Have been watching it closely and willing the bud to burst.

Plot reccy: Valentine’s Week 2016

Had to wander down to the plot today to see what was still standing or not given the stormy weather that we have been experiencing. I also had some raspberry canes to plant.

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The clay is very heavy and sticky, making any meaningful work really very difficult. I had a quick check of the trees that were recently planted. Some of these have started to send out buds, which is quite promising. There was even some buds on the one remaining raspberry cane. This was heartening as the raspberries were today being replaced with another cohort.

Sprawling across two beds are masses and masses of strawberry runners. I am not sure of the exact variety, but they really have tried to make a break for it and escape their bed. The heritage garlic is a little under water and this is always my worry when planting it into open grown. However, I am told that it is fairly robust, so hopefully it will be okay.

#NABLOPOMO: So so Soft fruit

I had high hopes for the raspberries this year. Newly planted-well, autumn-the canes had been plugged in for a while and i had though they were established well enough to produce fruit. I was wrong. The canes did precious little, and didn’t actually produce a single fruit. On the other hand, the autumn fruiting ones were altogether a bit confused and fruited through the summer.

The black and red currants were also newly planted. They are all two years old, which would suggest that they would start to fruit. There was a few little beads of red and purple. And that was more than I actually expected, as the plants are still young and only fruit on wood that is older than two years old. I do hope that in the coming years that these start to develop more fully.

Gooseberries. These are also young plants. I spent ages last year, plugging in plants to fruit in coming years. Again, the gooseberries weren’t expected to crop a great deal. The 200 or so grams were however enough to form the basis of jam.