And the one thing, that snow-balled from that, was chutney. Hot yellow sun chutney actually.
To think that I first made this years ago, but let’s think about the core constituents. Most of which were sown and grown on the allotment.
And since lots of people are looking at growing food in their gardens and green spaces, I thought that this might be an interesting reflection.
First things first. The yellow tomatoes. You’ll be hard-pressed to find these in a supermarket, or even a local fruit and veg market. There are many different varieties of yellow tomatoes out there; many of which are heritage varieties. Varieties that have historically been grown at home, on allotments, but not necessarily commercially. I’ve grown sun gold and cream sausage and these have been really abundant croppers.
There are options beyond red tomatoes!
Yellow peppers, are fun to grow. I’ve always grown them so that they are green, but yellow ones are possible.
Courgettes. Yellow ones. They do exist before green ones. And generally one or two plants are enough. Don’t sow too many! Else you won’t be able to give them away for love nor money. These do make a change; everyone grows courgettes and particularly green ones. There are standard shaped courgettes, but you can also try the space-ship, patty pan one varieties that can also be used to get some variety.
Yellow ones are quirky, and will make your ratatouille more interesting. If you salt these, as you would with any courgette for chutney, these will add a bit of variety.
You can chutney all of this, or you can make a spiced Indian dish.
As we approach December, seed garlic has been in the ground for a while. Depending on what variety it is, is only starting to send up green shoots. There have some rather harsh frosts already, and these are no doubt having some form of effect on the cloves planted. There isn’t an awful lot else on the plot-well, Mama F’s- so garlic is certainly something to keep an eye on.
It has been a long time since I cultivated garlic, and Mama F was rather eager to make sure she had some growing. When I have planted garlic, I have always planted it in the October-November window. This would then lead to a crop in June, July and August. We have both soft and hard neck varieties, with Elephant garlic in there as well.
Sowing and growing your own garlic is relatively straight forward. Break up the bulb, to then separate out the cloves. The ground should be well drained, free-draining ideally. Heavy clay tends to be quite sticky and gloopy. Make a hole, using your finger or a dibber. Slot a clove in to cover up to the tip. Don’t leave the clove exposed, as you may have to then fight with the birds who eat it before you do. That is mostly it, you might want to feed the garlic in the Spring. Between now and then, green shoots should rise up and the bulb start to form. If you are a particularly windy site, you might find that green leaves start to burn but this is nothing major to worry about. Keep your garlic weed free, leave enough space to clear any wayward weeds.
Garlic varies in it’s flavour and it’s strength. Mama F requested strong flavoured garlic, it is a staple of the many dishes that we have in our kitchen. I do find that home grown garlic has one hell of kick compared to it’s supermarket equivalent and this does varies across the varieties. The size of cloves will also be different. I’m not sure how that impacts on flavour and vigour. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend planting your left over supermarket garlic. I’m not sure that would be useful.
Be aware though, there is a nasty critter called Allieum Leaf miner that rather likes all things garlicky, onion and leeky.
With Garlic being mostly quite straight forward, Chillies are a different kettle of fish. There is both an art and a science to growing chillies. It is early, very early to start to sowing and growing chillies. Now, is the time to think about what you want to grow and how.
There is a whole armada of capsicum out there. From the superhot, to the super sweet bell peppers. Take your pick, choose your pepper. Your choice will determine how things kick off. In the past, I have sown chillies a day after Boxing day, in a heated Propogator. Chillies, depending on their variety, germinate at different times. Sow too early, you have leggy critters. Sow too late, and you might one or two chillies. Looking after them, you have to strike a balance. You could have beautifully leafy, luscious beauties and no chillies. Or you gave not so leafy, but fruitfully abundant plants that have you ready to make chilli jam. I don’t think that I have ever grown one plant that is the same as the next. There is also the weather and making sure that plants are robust. Watering too often, plants might be okay with it, and so amble along. Arid and dry, plant has a panic and sets fruit to survive. Growing chillies is not boring, and all bets are off.
Evening all, the first day of the Christmas holidays has me in a reflective mood; trying to figure out what to do next on the plot. The weatherman has just forecast a very wet, windy and turbulent festive period. Leading me to think about making plans without venturing outside and getting soaked to the skin.
The whole plot does required tidying. Winds and rain has tossed around bits and pieces as though they were flotsam and jetsam. That can be easily remedied in just walking around and putting things back in their places. The nature of the wind, the buffeting on the windows always makes feel ill at unease. It would sad, if either the wendy house or poly took flight as though some farmhouse in kansas. The allotment site is windy, and things have been known to take flight before. So always unsettling to hear the wind whistle and then moan.
The inside of the poly does require tidying as well, Since it was raised, it has merely house pots of chillies. There wasn’t, sadly, a plan to start filling it over the winter. There was, a hope that it would actually survive the winter, and I could then focus in the growing season in terms of planting and growing. A notion, that set about when sorting out the seed stasher. Established that I have lots of cress and basil seeds, not likely to sow them. All freebies, actually. Perhaps suited to a loving home. As well as lots of black cherry tomato seeds. Enough to cultivate a small forest. Didn’t have a vast variety of them, as I had thought. This year, the tomato crop was prolific. Fruit didn’t go red on the vine, but it was bumper crop. Good use was made of them all. I didn’t label any, so that makes it difficult to consider what I should or shouldn’t think about sowing. Since I didn’t have a poly when these were being cultivated,all of the tomato plants were planted without cover and in raised beds. The question then being, what shall I plant in the poly. I am not likely to sow seed directly. There is a mistrust here, of slugs and such like. Critters knibbled on the potted chillies, which rather brassed me off to be entirely honest. I have no sympathy for the creature that gnarled through the jalapeños. That, my friends, is called karma.
Mother has had word with me, about the number of plants I sow. Don’t sow so many, being the long and short of it. The only concession that I make, is that I tend to get carried away, and not all seeds might germinate.
With the polytunnel, I am hamstrung by the size. It is not massive. A nice neat size of 3m x 2m. Inside, there is a wooden plank down the middle-the one pops constructed, remember-leaving a horseshoe shaped space to sow things into. I would like to cultivate plants so that they are at least 8-10 inches high, whatever they might be, before sinking them into the ground of the poly tunnel. There might have to be the blue pellets of doom, by way of preventative measure.
Must get the inside of the polytunnel weeded though. Being warm and light inside, there is a fair bit of grass that needs to be removed. A process that might involve the inside actually being dug over once more, and each offending blade being painstakingly removed. That plays on my mind, in making sure that I have an adequate canvas to play with. It’s also a bit grubby on the inside, watery tidemarks that need to be wiped down.
Other than tomatoes, I have a list of things that I would like to dabble with. As observed in a previous post, I would like to grow some superhot chillies. So chillies and peppers will feature, hopefully. Again, despite what Mama H has said. A re-match with Aubergines too, having failed to get a single fruit last year. We had lots pretty lilac flowers, but not a lot else. Cucumbers are a potential, though I only have the outdoor variety at the moment. May have to look into that. And melon. Something that may require a structural investigation, as they require a bit of support.
And all in the confines of 3m x 2m. Defying the laws of physics, and turning the poly into the tardis. The inside, being bigger than the outside.
Had to do a bit of re-arranging in the Wendy house. It’ positively heaving with chillies and bells. Some of which are small and bushy, others are getting quite tall. Early Jalepeno and it’s friend have been shifted outside and placed under improvised cover. There is one single solitary, long red Marconi. As of yet, it’s still green. A few more frauzauber and Nigel have been harvested. As well as couple of purple rainbow chillies.
Have observed about a dozen small sweet bell peppers. Wonder if they will get any bigger.
That’s Peace and Happiness, before you have to go translate it…
To the untrained eye, this looks a mess. However, if you were to ask me nicely; I could tell you what most things are and where. The gallery above, is a walking tour if you like of the half plot. I will try and get some specific bed pictures up. I appreciate that it looks like a great big green mess in the gallery. Today is the first day of the Summer holidays for me, so an opportunity to see what I need to do. It goes without saying, that weeds are a problem. This time last year, we had a deluge; and the weeds were well up to ankle height. As well as that, I didn’t have so filled raised beds. They are there now, and they contain crops.
Two more raised beds have, thanks to Pops, been constructed. I had scavenged last week, bags of garden waste. Sat on the plot for best part of a week, these were emptied today in the beds. I know that these are upside down, before you point it out! The pots are on the spikes, so that hopefully no one gets hurt. It is safe to say, that having raised beds has been a boon. Whilst the clay is fabulous, full of nutrients; the position of the plot means that the whole thing gets flooded. This brings pools of water, slugs and other things that eat crops. With the battle against the weeds. The areas of open ground where there are no raised beds, have been choked by weeds. The plan is to now pull up the weeds, cover with newspaper, and perhaps even black plastic on top of that. I have been avoiding that, thinking that raised beds are enough. At least the black plastic can be planted through, the newspaper and pulled up weeds can help the clay composition.
This is going to be one of the big battles. To be clear of as many weeds as possible, and cover the ground. With the beautiful weather that we have had, the clay is like concrete. There is now way a magic fork or spade is going to slice through it. It is just as bad, when it is winter.
As I sit here, the weather lady has just delivered her forecast. For the moment at least, the nice weather will remain. A bit of harvesting was done to today. A small amount of Florence Fennel. A crop, that I had forgotten that I sown. So was very surprised to the see the dill hovering amongst the leaves of the Astia Courgette right next to it. The Florence Fennel was sautéed with the Kestrel potatoes. Lovely looking first second earlies, with pink smudges that look like little faces.
In the wendy house, you will see the vast array of chillies and bells. We have in there a huge number. We have just to name a few, Nigels outdoor chilli, lemon drop, frauzauber, spanish mammoth red, early jalapeño, purple beauty and long red marconi to name a few. Those are the ones that were at least labelled. I think a few of them, have thrown a bit of a tantrum in the wendy, having moved from the classroom. They were perhaps not used to the different temperatures. As mentioned previously, we are having nice weather. A few of the chillies, have been a little burned, and perhaps are sulking because of that too. They are watered and fed regularly. I am still not convinced of treating them in a mean fashion. The resplendent purple rainbow chillis remain in the kitchen at home. There were seven of these altogether, only one of these is in the wendy.
Triffids rise again, on the plot. Not only are there squashes, but also sweetcorn and sunflowers. I had though that the sunburst sunflowers, were relatively small. Yet these are nearly as big as me. No quite giant, but bigger than I had expected. Very leafy, and yet to form any flowers. I do believe that the squashes may take over the universe. I have long expected and anticipated the leaves getting as big as dinner plates. In my experience, that is a good thing. That is happening, yes. Now, we are on flower and fruit watch. Already, we have had a few striato di napoli and astia already, in addition to two beautiful tennis ball sized summer ball. I have never sown a yellow courgette, so this was a lovely crop. Mama H and I are still at odds over the bush baby marrow. Resting on a brick, it is as big as it should be. Mama H wants me to wait for various dishes to have been eated, before I harvest it. If it explodes, it’s not my fault, all right.
Tomorrow is another day, and for the moment; it is summer.
The last month or so, has meant that a suspension of major play. Whilst an eye has been kept on the plot, and things watered; there has no been the windows of opportunity to have some major undertakings. This week, however, was a turning point. With the weather here in Blighty becoming brighter and more summery; the plot has seen a bloom of bounty occurring. There are of course weeds, that is to be expected. In some places though, the weeds are as thick as they are high. So this will form the basis of the much of the work done over the summer. I would not want to be in the same position as I was this time last year when the whole plot was carpeted top to bottom with weeds.
What we have seen, is a bounty and a booming one. The warmth and the light as caused something of a surge.
Potatoes and Cauliflowers makes for Aloo gobi. The cauliflowers were from Aunty tish, white excel. I believe. To date, we have had two healthy shaped and sized specimens. Mother was excited enough harvest and text me a picture. I was at a concert at the time! That was the first. The second, was harvested for Aunty Indra. But it was not alone. No, it came with orla new potatos. We had already harvested a dozen or so, that Ma curried with some snowball turnips and ruby swedes. These were beautiful potatos, really very creamy and I found them to have a distinct salted flavour. As though they were ready salted crisps. There are kestral potatoes to take up, in the next stage of harvesting. All the potatoes in the raised beds are currently flowering. Well behind, are cara and sante potatoes. These are however, in open ground. Must harvest the third, and also have broccoli to come home too.
Been a busy day today, trying to get the various garlic and shallots up. Most of one bed has been cleared, but there is still a harvest remaining. There is quite a variance in the size of the different crops. The shallots are really quite small in their clumps, but a vast improvement on the crop from last year. Half a dozen clumps compared to three or for last year. The garlic, is the most interesting. Some of the beautiful pink bulbs are huge! Easily as big as my fist. There are also those that are tiny, no bigger than say a onion set. These are also the ones more difficult to dig out. I daresay, that this is weather variable, and a dependent on when they were sown. I have yet dig up any onions. A disappointment, as hundreds were sown. Garlic is now sat drying with the dry weather; the foliage will be chopped shortly.
Beans and peas are a sticky point. There are broadbeans, with their flowers following you around the plot as though they were eyes. But no beans and peas, in that there is one runner bean plant, and one pea. My fault, as I haven’t paid as close attention to them as I could have.
Courgettes and marrows are getting altogether exciting.
Really must get around to harvesting them. The foliage is ever expanding, with leaves now being as big as dinner plates. The summer squashes are certainly doing well, though the like so patty pan and yellow scallop are somewhat behind. Have yet to see any sweet dumpling, or cobnut and any of the pumpkins.
With Moolis and radishes, I have established, that I don’t like them. Dad likes radishes, so he had a few of those. The moolis, however, have been a challenger. And have bolted faster than a prized horse. Rather than chopping them down, have kept them for the seed pods. These can be curried or eaten as a snack.
Swedes and Turnips have been going well. Lots of foliage, and small half tennis ball sized fruits that Ma curried. Tasted quite nice these.
There are loads of weeds, and cabbages to be sunk at some point. I am rather sick of lobbing caterpillars too. One of the broccoli plants was completely obliterated by the little critters. I will be constructing further raised beds. The level of success, is in my mind, a product of raised beds. A good part of today was spent collecting bags of grass to fill them with.
I swear that the sweet peppers in my classroom and be chillies in fact, are getting bigger by the day. There really is a tangible difference; in the height. Leaves are fanned out, basking in the day light. I don’t think it matters so much about the heat. The sweet peppers are standing to attention. Their stems becoming thicker and more robust. On both the Spanish mammoth and the purple beauty, there are small, tight flower buds forming. Loaded with promise. To think that they can get to a meter high. That would be as big the the window, then.
The purple rainbow chilli is equally illustrious looking. It is also fanned out. Compared to the pepper, the plants are some what dainty. But the number of flower buds is far greater than the majesty of the sweet peppers great broad leaves. The leaves are smaller, neater. Tinged with a shade or two, smudged purple. Little white fluffy flowers are just waiting.
We go from little fluffy, to big fluffy. The lipstick in the Wendy is blooming. The one flower, is larger than the dainty ones on the purple rainbow. Bigger, fluffier and you can’t miss it.
The chillies that were sat outside, have been brought back into the Wendy. Attacked savagely by slimers- I has to pick one up and lob it from the pot-they are going to be looked after. Cue blue pellets of doom. The chillies in the Wendy all need feeding, some form of acceleration. Compared to the ones in the classroom- the classroom ones are the top set-the contents of the Wendy are very, very, diminutive. The ones in the classroom do, however, get fed with the tomato feed almost religiously.
Moving again, from white fluffy, to bright, beautiful yellow. A bright, splash, of quilled yellow. That is the one single solitary flower, from the astia courgette. The courgette itself is no bigger than say my finger or thumb. But the flower is beautiful. Already, compared to last year, a courgette success.
Yesterday, mama H took a knife to the mustard and harvested it as saag. Harvested and frozen for dad’s
Dinner. Talking of radishes, he is being supplied with radishes as they come. I don’t personally like them; but he’s not complaining.
There is broccoli and also some white excel cauliflowers. The cauliflowers have been netted; but alas some stupid birdy has chomped on bits of the broccoli. So these were covered today.
I was awoken by mama h this morning, she was in full bounce. Whilst I would be having a short lie in; she was going down to the plot to harvest fenugreek for dad’s dinner.
So it had to be cooked, didn’t it.
We had also gone to the shop around the corner, as mama h wanted a second watering can-the kenny-for the plot. As then it would be quicker to water things with two of us. Whilst we were there, we picked up some bedding plants.
On the left are some red, white and salmon pink geraniums. In the middle Are marigolds, with Indian pinks on the right. There is a part Bollywood theme going on here, I think.
There was some shuffling in the Wendy house. Was about 30 degrees in there today, not the 40 as seen during the week. I have decided to carry out an experiment.
I used to grow chillies like this many years ago, when I actually as some success with them. The black pots are very heavy, space in the Wendy at premium. So these are sat outside, near the raspberries. Each pot is effectively a a small greenhouse/cloche with bag over it.
Still have a bag of 75pence experimental wilkos bag of onions to sink.
Having left them over the Whitsun holiday, the classroom brassicas were potted up. I’m very bad at pricking out and separating. There are both cabbages and cauliflowers in there, and there were hundreds of seeds over zealously sown. Many of which were quite leggy; so those that were fairly strong looking were those that were potted up.
Chillies and peppers:
Quite a varied outlook with the chillies and bells. Some, the earlier sown ones perhaps, are very strong looking. Approximately 10 cms tall, and looking leafy with a few possible flowers. The middle group, is getting there, with the bottom set still looking very diminutive. They too were left alone over the holiday, having been watered. They certainly have flourished over the holiday, with the added bonus of good weather.
The potential here, comes from the flowers that exist. These are tiny, and will be monitored over the coming weeks. Of course, there are the three in the 4TB. So this makes for an interesting experiment; the second group have exposure to the outside whereas the classroom ones don’t. These have also started to flower earlier and are exposed to more sun light.
And there is sunlight. For that we must be thankful!
The chillies and bells will be fed weekly, as the flowers and foliage develop. The tiniest of the flowers is a rather bruise coloured purple. No surprise as the chilli is purple. Nigel is also flowering, so all is very positive!