July 2020

6th July- I love the way all the fruit is not ripe at the same time, it gives me a chance of keeping up with it all in the kitchen, which I really appreciate! Let's move straight into Harvest Monday this week and you will see what I mean

First to the table this week are Redcurrants, which have a beautiful jewel like quality as the sun shines on them through the bushes.Just beautiful! There is a bumper crop again this year, and i have already given away as much as I brought home yesterday, with plenty more still left to pick. The ones in the top photo are cooked down and in the dripping jelly bag already, so that I can make the tradtional Christmas Dinner accompaniment of Redcurrant Jelly, which, to be fair, I love to have all year round.  By next week there will be other ideas to use the rest of the crop, I'm sure, and all suggections are of course welcome!

Strawberries here, as you know, are ended, and Raspberries have now given their final fragrant, luscious picking. They have been extra good this year. There is plenty of beautiful jelly stored away, and I have eaten Rasperries in various ways almost daily for the last three weeks. Harvests are of course moving on: Redcurrants now, Gooseberries and Blackcurrants still to come!

Tomatoes are beginning to ripen now, both in the polytunnel and on the plants out in the drive at home. These Sungold, with one tiny Black Opal .. I ate the larger one before I thought about a photo. Never mind, there will hopefully be many more to come

Courgette plants are still lacking that lush look, although they are producing fruit, for which I ma grateful. Not enough to think of goodies such as Courgette cake yet though!

I do seem to have ended up with rather a lot of Shallots! I started off with Jermor, planted in the Autumn as usual, but then added some bulbs of an unknown French variety I bought in the greengrocery section of a local Garden Centre, named then Rosebourne by me. Huge, juicy shallots that I kept in pots in the polytunnel all Winter... were they Autumn or Spring planting? Who knows? These were then planted out in the Spring, but by then I had some Red Sun ones bought for £1 at the Potato Day. These last did less well that the Autumn ones though, but all the others excelled themselves!, as you can see

Once they are fully dried off, I shall keep the best to re-plant this coming Autumn, use the smallest ones to pickle and keep the rest in a basket in the kitchen to use as and when

THis week I dug up the Garlic, as the leaves were yellowing fast: they are Carcasonne Wight. I grew far fewer than usual, as there is only one of me eating them, and they are a reasonable size. My neighbour Clive had some enormous ones.. Solent Wight possibly.. so perhaps i shall try some of these next year too. I'll keep some of the best of these to replant cloves from though, and hope they do well again next year

French beans are prolific still: some of these will be shared with friends, some will go into the freezer. I hope by feeding the plants well, they carry on like this for a while yet

Cherry Belle Radishes have grow in just under three weeks: nice and crisp and enough ready at a time to go with salad!

 

Other crops this week have included Beetroot, Summer Cabbage,Spring Onions, Lettuce leaves, Peas, Mangetout,MInt and Coriander... lots of green seeds almost ready to harvest too

Here is a crop I rarely harvest, as I usually just enjoy it as a potted plant: Scented Pelargonium Leaves. This one is Attar of Roses, and the plant has now overwintered twice, although dying right back, so it is a tough one!

I have picked some leaves to lay flat in the bottom of the cake pan to scent/flavour a sponge cake. Haven't done this for years, so looking forward to the results tomorrow!

Which nicely leads into this week's flower harvest of Dahlias, Sweet Peas and Cornflowers

On the Plots This Week:

It has been incredibly windy for the past few days, which measn things dry out and need watering of course, but not as much as in that intense heat, so there was some time to deal with some of thos maintenance jobs thta have been building up, such as cutting back that Rosemary and Sage hedge on the walkway between the two plots. Loppers wre needed for some of the thicker stems, and a quick tidy up across the top with shears at the end. I can now push a wheelbarrow full of plants etc along the path without losing any on the hedge

The other side of this hedge borders the Blueberry bed, and I shall attack this later in the wek, weather permitting

While I was taking up the Sage branches, there were quite a few that had rooted into the underlying compost, most of which I just pulled out. One was particularly well rooted and formed a separate plant, which I have saved. The bed at the top end of #146, where I had planned to grow flowers for cutting, has proved a dismal failure, so I now think it would be more sensible to use it for growing Mediterranean herbs, and this little Sage bush will be the first occupant later in the year

 

I also tackled the long stretch of shoulder-high nettles filling the space between the polytunnels and my neighbours' plot I had to wait for a cool morning, so I could comfortably wear long substantial trousers, and two long sleeved tops with the cuffs tucked into my thick gloves, all to protect me from being stung,,, and it did: I escaped unscathed!

At this time in the year, the Autumn-planted onions decide to lie down and get ready for being taken up and dried for storage. I have taken the protective netting off the bed so they can make the most of any sunshine.

This year they are a really good size, and there are even a few red ones that haven't bolted, which is amazing.  They can take the time they need, as the next crop into that space will be Florence Fennel plants, and Spinach seed, both of which can wait another week without any worries

The second Onion bed, although a bit on the weedy side (job for this week) has just as nice looking Onions, which is just as well as the Spring sown Vulcan sets haven't performed nearly so well and have only quite small onions. Although I would expect these to carry on bulking up, (which they start to do as the days shorted ie after the Summer Solstice) most of them over on #146, and all of them in the Polytunnel are tipping over as though their time is coming to be lifted

Crops for the second Onion bed include Kale, Kohl Rabi and Swede, to go with the Calabrese and Cabbge already planted in place of the Shallots

Up in the Top Onion bed, Mangetout and Sugar Snap Pea plants are now in the ground, with the weldmesh support repositioned from #146 for them

Quite good to have these next crops ready when needed, rtaher than leave the ground empty

 

One of the tall Lilies is now open, strangely really, as the others are still in tight bud. Very pretty though and full of nectar and pollen, as this wasp discovered. He ate so much he had to rest before he could fly away

Most days I hear Green Woodpeckers, with their distinctive laughing call, and often see them feeding on ants in areas of short grass. They are quite nervous birds, always quickly flying away if anyone comes by, showing their bright yellow rump

Today though, I spotted on in a tree and by dint of skulking round behind someone's shed, managed to get a photo of him. It doesn't really show his green colouring from this angle, but you can see his black face mask and red moustache (females lack this red stripe) as well as his red cap. Haven't seen any youngsters yet this year, but it is a little soon

Good day for bird spotting, as I saw two adult and one juvenile Greenfinches too, although couldn't manage a photo. Really pleased to see them, as last year we did have a breeding pair, so maybe their numbers are on the increase again

In the Polytunnels This Week:

 The Tomatoes are looking particularly good right now. I've tried hard to keep them properly pruned and supported, and every plant has several trusses. I am letting those with smaller fruits, such as Golden Sunrise grow up onto the roof struts as there will be plenty of time for those later set Tomatoes to ripen.

Aubergine plants are looking much better now after their Epsom Salts watering a couple of weeks ago, and the Emerald Isles plants are now starting to set fruit, which si brilliant

Cucumbers however are still very slow. I think they miss the sunshine!

The Peas and Mangetout haven't much longer to run, but they have certainly been worth their square metre of space. The Khol Rabi plants that will follow on from them will be ready to plant out just in time

Onions however, the Ailsa Craig and Globo grown from seed, are putting on weight now that we are past the Solstice, and are looking very promising, which, as they occupy nearly 3m of space, is good!

 

At Home This Week:

I made two jars of Gooseberry And Chamomile Jam this week. It smells really good, and the little sample I kept back to taste was delicious... I can see it being used with cream in scones! There is one more batch of Raspberry Jelly to cook...it is already "dripped"...a followed by Redcurrant Jelly. Lots of discussuin with my plot neigbour Jane about other ways to use Redcurrants.. quite like the ida of using them in focaccia.

Forgot to tell you about the baby rabbits that sem to live in the hedgerow alongside the watermeadow, behind the last row of plots. They are very small and very cute, voracious munchers, and...small enough to dive straight through  a wire fence with gaps about 6cm wide!! If I hadn't seen it myself I wouldn't have thought it possible. Makes me look more carefull at the space under my gate for a start

I made good headway with the jobs list this week,a nd only have one thing left: weeding the Blueberry bed

Jobs added are:

- Weed the second Onion bed

- Take out the old Calabrese plants on #146 and barrow compost from bins for that bed

- Sowi Mooli and Turnips, leave space for Swede modules later, perhaps the following week

- Weed the bed with PSB and other Brassicas in it

- Thin out the Pak Choi in the polytunnel and plant the thinnings in an adjoining space

- Sow  Wallflowers in a tray of compost

- Move all the Brassica seedlings to the big coldframe in the polytunnels

- Weed the path area near the Wineberry

- Harvest the rest of the Redcurrants and Gooseberries

So another busy week then!

Hope things are going well for you and there are plenty of harvests to enjoy. See you next Monday!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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