August 2020

4th August - And it really feels like Summertime on the plots now: whenever I come home, I bring at least one box of produce with me, and often several. Mostly these need attention before i can shower and sit down for a while too! These colourful harvests don't just provide great food for now, but much will be preserved in one way or another so it can be enjoyed during the colder months of the year as well. 

Such a wide range of colours too, all of which adds even more goodness to meals. 

So, let's have a look at Harvest Monday, where we share what we have brought home with other growers from around the world, thanks to Dave from Our Happy Acres (link at the foot of the page)

You can see from the header photo it has been a bountiful week, one surprise of which has been Sweetcorn. I had two plants over after planting up the block in the polytunnel, so planted them outisde in the middle of the Squash bed, where I had to stake them it was so windy. Thye only grew a metre tall, but each had a single cob form, not the tidiest of cobs, but sweet and delicious anyway. 

Another first for the year has been Figs from the Brunswick tree in the garden. So far there have been around a dozen big fat ripe fruits, with lots of smaler greenish one looking as though they may soon perhaps join the party. I am keeping  a careful eye on the tree, as I don't want to miss any that suddenly swell and ripen in a matter of days

Not a first for the year but a first this Summer is Calabrese. The four plants all produced a head at the same time, so most of the spears from them will soon be frozen away, to enjoy in later weeks

I cut the heads carefully, leaving as many leaves intact as possible, so that perhaps there will be another cops of indiviual spears later down the line. I do hope so!

Tomato plants inside and out are now in full production, and I have already made some Mixed Tomato Chutney Preserves Aug (2016) This is an especially useful recipe for early in the season when it is mainly cherry tomatoes that are ripe, and it also makes good use of those really tiny ones too. I make a couple of batches of this each Summer, and I wuld nver want to be without it. Not only tasty in sandwiches but added to sauces or stews too for extra flavour

Runner Beans and French Beans both freeze very successfully after a brief blanch in boiling water. This year I am freezing them in individual portions, Runner beans cut into diamonds and French beans whole, which akes it easier to take what you need, rather than fighting with a massive icy block of beans everytime you'd like to cook some

The Cucumber plants are eventually getting the idea that female flowers are needed, and, with a gift from plot neighbour Jane, I had enough to make a batch of Cucumber and Dill PIckles Preserves Oct (2017) as well as some Fridge Pickle Recipes 2017 (July)

 

 

Here is this year's whole Blueberry harvest, not huge, but much better than I thought it might be, given that they were somewhat neglected last year. The plants in the ground are looking very healthy, and those in pots are improving. The plan is to plant those potted bushes in the ground after leaf fall: there is space for them, so perhaps next year's harvest will be more generous

And here is the whole Greengage harvest!!! This is the largest harvest ever, and they are just luscious. I shall make some jam, but am also looking to perhaps make some sort of tart. I'll let you know!

Bearing mind I have only had this tree four years, I am really pleased it has produced such a good harvest already

Celery is good too, despite being green (not earthed up or grown in a block, just a short row in the polytunnel) The stems are very juicy and full of flavour. I am using them in salads and also as part of a mirepoix.

And Aubergines are developing well. This is the first of the Black Beauty ones from the tunnel, a nice solid one, which will be joining some Potato in a curry later in the week

Blackberries are excellent this year and most days I come home with a bowl of them, sometimes to share, sometimes to cook. A compote with some windfall apples makes a quick and easy pudding, but is also useful frozen in small portions to take out and add flavout to Winter puddings from time to time. 

Other harvests include Radishes, Pak Choi and Potatoes a mix of Charlottes and International KIdney, which I have found makes a nice light, crispy roast potatoes, most unexpected, that. Salad Leaves are a regular harvest.. picking leaves rather than whole heads of Lettuce some of the time is definitely meaning plants last longer

Out on The Plots This Week:

I have really cracked on with that jobs list this week, and #146 is looking much more open and tidy, which feels good. The old Pea bed has been cleared, compost and Blood Fish & Bone added, and the space divided inot two, one part of which has the last few of the Cavolo Nero Kale, Purple Kohl Rabi and Musselburgh Leeks are planted there, safely under fine mesh. The other half has two Tomatillo plants, which are now well branched, some of the Chrysanthemums and Forget-me-nots for next Spring

The Asparagus bed is weeded and the old Parsley plants pulled up for the compost, clearing the space around one of the Apple trees. The Asparagus plants are looking healthy and are still growing new shoots, which is a good sign.

I need to decide what to do with the two little triangular beds. One has a nice rose in it, which I shall leave, but not much else, while the opposite one has a few Crocosmias,a Kniphofia and two Dahlias. Whatever I decide, they need the soil improved as it is very thin... or should I do away with them?

The Oarsman Leek plants are growing really quickly. This is an early variety, one new to me, and it does look as though theere could be a first harvest early in the Autumn

The tiny little ones in the front are Musselburgh, planted out now that the last of the Potatoes in that bed are dug. I am hoping they pick up with plenty of water.  I do remember the early ones looking pretty sad at the same stage though, so I am quite optimistic

Over on #145, the Sweetcorn is thriving and tassels at the end of the cobs are starting to darken. You never actually know what there will be inside those green sheaths, but it shouldn't be too long before I shall be able to find out

I have tried to keep up with watering everything, which is very demanding, but without that, crops would be now really struggling.  Therer are more established coprs, like Winter Brassicas, whih are large enough to manage without water for a week, but lots are newly planted or newly sown, and still only have little roots.

One really good thing is that the seed saved from Daubenton's Perennial Kale is germinating!!! I hope the seedlings are nice and strong

In fact , everthing sown is now coming up, even the Lettuce after a few slightly cooler days this week.. Lettuce seeds will not germinate if the soil temperature is above 26C... but thye might not enjoy the weekend's forecast of over 30C again. It was a bit of a gamble sowing it, but I may get a few plants eventually

Rabbit update: Little MIss Cottontail is of course still living happily on the plots, munching the odd Tomato to go with her grass....but now there is a little trail of carrot pieces for her, leading into a live trap. I have tried to disguise the shiny metal mesh of the trap with grass and compost bin bits, but it might take some time to tempt her in.

In the Polytunnels This Week:

The Cucumber plants are speeding up production at last, and I hope it lasts!

 

Lots of changes at this tme in the year. The seed-sown Onions are now on the drying rack, leaving a lovely huge empty space to plan for. As the Sugar Snap Peas were "rabbit-ed", I am considering growing some inside in relative safety, and of course the time for sowing overwintering crops like Perpetual Spinach and Winter Radishes will soon be here.

The Red Swan Bean plants are nearly ready to come out, and the Soy Bean plants are turning a very bright yellow, which is unexpected. The actual beans in the pods seem very small though, so this may not have been a successful first go

The Olivia Khol Rabi plants are getting on with their job however, and you can see tiny swellings around the stem bases.

Far fewer whitefly around this week, too. I shall have to keep a check on it so numbers don't build up again, as then black mould on the leaves of plants will be avoided during the Winter months

And the Gogorez Sweet Peppers are really large, and are needing to be supported. On one plant a whole branch has partly pulled away with the weight of fruit. I am not sure if they will be OK of not, but at least they can be eaten green at this size and be flavoursome

At Home This Week:

I have spent a long time in the kitchen, but that is what it is like here at this time in the year: daily harvests to deal with, so they they don't stack up around me or disappear into the fridge and then when re-discovered, are past their best. Definitely one to avoid!

The first jar of Pickled Cucumbers is done, and the fist batch of Fridge pickles is in a box in the fridge, althought this certainly won't be being forgotten, as it one of my favourite snacks!!

As well as the Mixed Tomato Pickle, I have made some Tomato and Basil pasta sauce for the freezer (not bottled, that comes with larger batches I shall be making once the Tomato glut arrives). There are plenty of beans in the freezer, and now Calabrese again, plus some portions of Blackberry & Apple

And the big bowl of Greengages now awaits

 

 

I do like having lots of cut flowers, and right now it is mainly Dahlias, with a few Gladioli and the remnants of Sweetpeas. These are the ones I cut this morning.

Apart from the sowing of Sugar Snaps,  I have been able to keep up with my planned jobs a bit better this week thank goodness

Next on the list will be:

Pruning the GReengage tree now that the furit is harvested

Removing still more leaves from the Tomato plants, both indoors and outside

Taking some time to plan the most efficient use of the space in the polytunnel, and what to do with the odd shaped bed on #145, which as never been very productive

Thinking time is important!

Thank you for reading about this week's progress> Hope you found it interesting

 

 

My contact email is

info@alittlebitofsunshine.co.uk

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

www.ourhappyacres.com