22nd August, 2011

It's been an intensive weekend of harvesting and cooking. First, I harvested the spuds as the haulms were dying back. In Gardener's World, Monty Don had target spot (early) blight and he advised to dig up the tubers before the spores infected them. I'm not sure I had early blight but decided that it wasn't worth the risk, besides the haulms were not going to make the tubers any bigger. As it turns out the potatoes were quite large and will make excellent bakers, moreover I have a big yield. There are about three apple boxes worth. They are mostly kestrel variety with a red mixed in which I forgot the variety of. I must write these things down.

As for the cooking, I made a passata with the tomatoes from the greenhouse; two lots of courgette cakes for freezing; chocolate beetroot muffins (yes beetroot!) which were delicious and even the kids ate them despite their concern over the red tinge. If I had told them they had beetroot in them I doubt they would have eaten them (all the more for me and the better half!). I pickled more beetroot and some spring onions that had bulbed up. I made some very tasty curries with the French and runner beans to accompany a courgette and prawn curry and finally triple quantities of a kohlrabi casserole which we ate on the day and the leftovers were frozen for later. I used some of this year's green chillies and dried red chillies for the curries too. We also had a salad using home grown tomatoes, cucumber, grated carrots and pickled beetroots. And to use up the plum glut, I made some plum jam and then some plum sauce to brush on meat and fish dishes.

To burn off all those calories I worked in the garden doing mostly weeding and trimming. The strawberries got tidied up with all the straw cleared, beds weeded and runners removed.

As it was sunny I dug up the onions so they could dry in the sun. A good yield.

Another good producer has been the blueberries. I have three plants with fruit that ripens one after the other so we get about a long harvesting period. There's sill plenty to come on the last bush.

Some animal has been attacking the lower leaves and branches of the plum tree. Several branches had been broken and the fruit removed with leaves strewn around the base. I assume it must be a badger as the damage had to be caused by a creature of some size (ie not a squirrel) and not too tall since the branches above ~2-3 feet tall were not affected (ie not a deer) and something that eats plums (ie not a fox). And I have seen a badger in the area. Anyway. I needed to remove a few branches including the one that had snapped and there are still plenty of plums left higher up and I think I have enough to share, perhaps I might even get to see the badger one evening. That would be a treat unless he gets a taste for my veg!

I did some late sowing of purple sprouting broccoli, pak choi and Swiss chard. I'm hoping I'm not too late.

15th August, 2011

It was with some trepidation that I went on holiday 2 weeks ago. Many of the veg were ready to harvest and a warm dry spell could have been disastrous. I was fairly confident that everything would be OK as I had organised the in-laws to check on the plants in containers and water if necessary; also I had set up the automatic watering system in the greenhouse for the tomatoes, aubergines, chillies and peppers. The main reason for my complacency was that I was going on holiday and usually that means it's going to rain. Well true to my form it did rain but I was not unhappy about it because for once the family and I went abroad to Tenerife where we had a wonderful vacation and it did not rain at all.

On our return I was concerned that we may have missed the peak of the plums ripening, but that was unfounded and we are enjoying a glut, so much so that I made some jam.

There is so much fruit on the tree that one of the branches has snapped. Perhaps I should have thinned the fruit?

Another glut is the French beans which are a very tasty yellow variety. The yellow colour also makes them very easy to spot when picking.

In the greenhouse the tomatoes were also so heavy that the supports broke but it hasn't done any damage.

The aubergines are looking great but the fruit is still small so I'll have to be patient.

There are plenty of runner beans.

Hopefully the parsnips are going to be as good as the carrots, there's good top leaf growth.

The onions have all collapsed and are ready to pull. I haven't made the mistake of bending them over this year as this can cause neck rot, so I hope that their natural bending won't do the same.

The kohlrabi should have been harvested whilst I was on holiday as they are quite big now and probably woody.

The sweetcorn is ready and I'm looking forward to the first cobs this weekend.

These are the leeks in their planting holes and seem to be doing ok.

Finally for now, the pears are looking really good. I can't wait to have the first bite.