Saturday, 14 October 2017

Carrot failure (again)

It seems we never have much luck with carrots. Our carrots this year were grown in just coir. In previous years we've tried soil, compost, sand and various combinations in between. We thought that keeping it loose and free from the normal rich mix you'd expect in a growing medium, that we'd get something different. But alas we ended up with the same branching a splits that we've had in previous years.

Hopefully though, they'll taste just as good.

The Corn that we pulled last week has been sitting in a large tub in the greenhouse. I was hoping that they'd start to dry out. Bad move. Looks like the mould and the wood lice have started to move in. So instead we opted to pull all the outer leaves off and take the cobs home to dry in the kitchen. Apart from those which were not fully formed or a bit scrappy. They'll be offered to the chickens.

These make some pretty damn good popcorn. But I also am going to try making cornmeal for baking cornbread.

And finally the time of the courgettes is coming to an end. There are still a few last little ones growing, but the leaves are definitely past their best. Perhaps one more week before they all get culled.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Death to sweetcorn

Well it looks like once again we missed the optimum point for harvesting the sweetcorn to enjoy it's delicious ripeness directly. But not all is lost.

First our small forest of corn stalks needs to be felled.

Now in permaculture principles, nothing goes to waste. First and foremost is obtain a yield. So we have a whole load of corn.

Now most of this seems to be past it's best for how people eat the traditional corn on the cob. But these make perfect popcorn. Even more so, as a baker, I can make corn-meal out of them for baking corn bread and muffins. Something I'm very eager to try.

Next we have the stalks.

These have been put in the greenhouse to dry out over the next few months. They will be used for feeding the Ghillie Kettle.

Finally there are a whole load of leaves and the tops of the stalks.

Some will be composted, but most will be used as mulch on the new beds which I will be making over the winter time.

Whilst I was clearing the corn, the Wife was collecting the last of the tomatoes. The stalks may have died, but the fruits were small and sweet, just bursting with flavour.

And finally, the two weeks we've been away have just flown by... but the courgettes just kept on coming.

So much so that I've kind of lost track of the real numbers. So now I'm down to reasonable guesswork. We're certainly doing a lot more than last year on numbers, but then again we have twice as many plants. We really wanted to do Butternut Squash, but of the 6 plants we put out, only 1 came up with a true squash. The others were in fact, courgettes.

The 2017 Courgette Tally:

Guess I'm going to be giving stuff away at the office again.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Tomatoes, Apples, Chutneys and Jams

The Tomatoes are on their last legs. The leaves are starting to curl up and the green toms have just been sitting there for a couple of weeks and not turned red.

Time to pick and consider chutney.

But of course you cannot have a decent chutney without apples. We haven't had a decent crop this year. Well decent as in quantity anyway. The quality is top notch. Very few have got maggots in them. Perhaps it was worthwhile putting out that Codling Moth trap. Certainly they are very sweet and juicy. We need a few for the Jam (Blackberries have been in the freezer for a month) and the chutney.

The courgettes on the new mound at the back of the plot seem to be over.

There are a few newish leaves and flowers so they may yet offer up some goodies. But to ones at the front of the plot, and the Butternut Squash seem to still be charging along. I expect many more from them.
So we piled some of the toms, apples, courgettes and such into the big bucket to take home.

We've left some of the toms still in place in the hope that they may mature during the week. But I think it's doubtful.

As I work from home two days a week, I can nip to the plot in the evenings. So last Thursday when we went we had a visitor. A reasonably friendly chap who we call "Ben". Short for Bent Tail, because he seems to have a damaged tail.

He thanked us for the remnants of the courgette cake by leaving a deposit. All adds to the compost I suppose. Though it goes for the new compost bin which won't be used until 2019.

The 2017 Courgette Tally:

So this evening I made 8.5 jars of Blackberry and Apple Jam.
2kg Blackberries
5 large sweet apples.
2kg sugar.
The Blackberries were frozen, so it was simply a case of throwing them in a large pot on a high heat. As the thawed and the juice started flowing, throw in the sugar. I used 1kg normal and 1kg of Jam sugar. Grated up the apples and let it simmer for a while., When the froth had dissipated and the temperature was 104C, then it was decanted into washed clean jars that had spent the time sitting in the oven at 100C. Sorted.

Tomorrow I'll do chutney.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Honey and Jams and stuff

Just a quick visit to the plot today, chiefly because I arranged to pick up some honey.

I also grabbed a few ripe tomatoes, dared to try a sweetcorn cob, and of course courgettes (they just keep on coming). I was also given an aubergine and pepper and some Sloe Jam.

This is the great thing about an allotment community. If you have too much of a glut of things then give them away to friends and neighbours. You'll get gifts in return. Barter was the original form of trade.

Meanwhile at home, I have a couple of kilos of blackberries in the freezer. Really have to get some apples from the tree and start making some jam. And I also have a can of make-your-own marmalade which I really ought to do as well. I foresee and extended stint at the cooker in the not too distant future.

The 2017 Courgette Tally:

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Produce show

Now I'm never one for the prettiest veg, heaviest this, longest that. Veg grows in all-sorts of shapes and sizes. It's this so called supermarket mentality which gets a lot of veg thrown out because it doesn't look right and people won't buy it. That to me is plain stupid.

The end result of veg is to eat it. So I prefer categories that allow you to show that. So I only entered two categories. Bread and Cakes. And to go with the alliteration, Courgette Cake and Beetroot Bread.
The Courgette Cake I've done before. Unfortunately though, it didn't come up to the standard of those who entered various cup cakes and layer cakes.

The Beetroot Bread though was nice and pink. Although oddly the insides, once cut, was just a normal colour. Just a nice pink crust.
Anyway, it tasted of a faint beetroot flavour and it came second... out of two entries.

Not much actually doing on the plot today though. Mostly it was spent sheltering in the greenhouse from the torrential thunder storm that rolled through.

But at least we hit over 100 courgettes during the week. I suspect there will be more tomorrow though.

The 2017 Courgette Tally: