Sunday, 13 August 2017

Doing a runner

Not me. I don't run. But elsewhere on the plots things are running away.

The Strawberries seem intent on conquering the world but spreading themselves around (much to the delight of the Wife who has already potted on a load of runners).

Then there are the Tomatoes which are sprouting six ways to Monday. They got a major haircut anyway, because although there are plenty of flowers, some of which have set, the toms are not ripening fast enough. So cutting down on foliage means that the plant doesn't have to worry about growing, and there is more sunshine available to ripen the fruits that have set.

And of course, the courgettes are trying to escape as well. They're sending out runners everywhere, but fortunately they're still plagued by fruit.

Mind you, I don't want to move them too much. Because underneath the runner above (look at the top right area) there is a small plastic tray. And Mr Ribbit has made himself at home.

Well Ribbit can help himself to as many slugs as he likes. There's plenty to go around.

The 2017 Courgette Tally:

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Sun, rain, sun, rain

Seems that the weather is a little mixed up at the moment. When we went to the plot about midday it was nice and sunny, but that soon changed for an hour with an absolute downpour. After hiding in the greenhouses to avoid the dampness (used the time to clean the insides of the glass) we emerged into brilliant sunshine again.

Mind you, it did mean that we didn't have to water outside. But the Toms and Chillies in the greenhouse we in need of watering.

There are nice buzzy bees all over the flowers at the plot. The Artichoke is once again inundated.

The Cosmos is in full bloom (excuse the shadow).

And the mini-sunflowers at the front are falling over because of the amount of blooms.

But no butterflies. OK, I tell a lie, we did see the odd cabbage white. But nothing else. Maybe the rain chased them away? There has definitely been a marked decline in butterfly numbers over the past few years. This does not bode well.

But we do have a few extra flowers in one of our strawberry beds. And no, I don't mean strawberries. The bed seems to have picked up a few invaders. How many intruders can you count?

Tomato (top right), Foxgloves (top left), Chinese Lantern (Bottom), Wild Flower (Middle left), Dock (Bottom left).

And the courgettes are still flowering too.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

How do you eat yours?

Courgettes are coming thick and fast now. There is no stopping them.

And the sweetcorn are starting to set. We have our first tasselled corns appearing. We're going to have to keep an eye on them, unlike last year when we completely missed our chance because we were a little too late.
A far cry from where we thought we wouldn't be having any at all this year.

The tomatoes are now starting to produce in earnest as well. They are somewhat crowding the new greenhouse.

But our poor beans are not doing so well. They never really recovered from the slug damage they got earlier in the year.

We have now gained a small extension to our plot. The plot next to us (plot 31) has been partially converted to bays to contain manure and woodchips. The remainder has been converted into two smaller 3.5 rod plots with a little awkward spot (less than a rod) alongside the bays. This small bit is our new addition.
I think for the time being we're just going to cover it to keep the weeds down and build some beds over winter. Although I suspect this might be an ideal spot for next years courgette mound.

On the subject of which...
The 2017 Courgette Tally:

So how do you keep on top of your supply? What recipes do you use? Here are two of our current quick courgette cookups. Three if you count my old cake recipe.

Recipe 1.
Bring a portion of pasta to the boil and set aside to cook. I use Penne or Fusilli (Rotini).
Fry up some onions and garlic in a little vegetable oil in a large pan/wok.
Add diced courgette and fry for a little while.
Add tuna (or mince).
Add a tomato pasta sauce.
Combine with the pasta and serve.

Obviously there is a lot of scope for variants. I usually mix in chillies to make it a little spicy. I use tuna, but you could add quorn (for the vegetarians), seafood (prawns, mussels etc. for the pescatarians) or minced meat (for the carnivores). Even better if the tomato sauce is home made from your own tomatoes.

Recipe 2.
This one is a firm favourite of ours.
Bring some spaghetti to the boil and set aside (similar to above).
Fry off a few diced onions in a little oil.
Add salmon chunks.
Add a small tub of Philadelphia cheese.
Stir in a handful of chives and black pepper.
Combine with the spaghetti and serve.

So how do you eat your courgette glut?

Saturday, 22 July 2017


We've had a little bit of rain over the past few days. Some places more than others. So we carefully checked the weather report before walking to the plot this morning.

I say walking, it's about 2 miles away and we usually drive there. But now the car has failed it's MoT. It needs about £1,400 of repairs on a car worth about £200. So now we're carless, which means we have to be careful what we take too and from the plot. Since we've had a bit of rain it's time for wellies. And breakfast. And kitchen waste. It all adds up.

Anyway, the plot is looking pretty good.

The sweetcorn is starting to put forth flowers at the top... which means that somewhere down below there should be some corns forming. But I can't seen anything at present, but there are a few lumps on the stems.

The Cape Gooseberries are also doing well(ish). Notice the ones at the back, compared to the ones in the front. Huge difference. The ones in the front were put in there after the onions were pulled at the start of July. But there don't seem to have done very well. I guess they don't like onions.

Meanwhile in the second greenhouse, there is lots of promise from the tomatoes. But unfortunately not much in the way of immediate production.

Oh, and the courgettes are still pumping them out like crazy. Been giving them away at the office and to neighbours.

The 2017 Courgette Tally:

Didn't really get much of a harvest today though. Been getting more throughout the week.

And the Star Flowers just keep on coming. There are little seed spikes that are left after the flowers have moved on. Guess the Wife will be gathering those for next year.

Going back to the rain. The weather report said that it would be raining in the afternoon. And there are dark clouds gathering on the horizon. Well lets just say that dark clouds can travel faster than us. We were about 5 mins away from home when it started absolutely throwing it down. Needless to say, we were drenched by the time we made it back. Guess it's time to start looking for a new car.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Trimming the bush

Tomato bush that is.

So a couple of weeks back, the tomato greenhouse looked like this...

I didn't manage to take a photo of it today because I was somewhat shocked. Leaves everywhere. The place had gone crazy. Needless to say the tomatoes needed a damn good hair cut. So I grabbed the secateurs and started lopping off leaf stalks. It was a crazy amount of leaves I took out.

Apparently though it helps the tomatoes. The plants are put under more stress. And when the plants are stressed they start producing fruiting buds. But also it lets in more light.

Anyway, after I managed to fight my way through the jungle I caught site of a lot f green toms hidden in there. So there are definitely some forming.

But then just as I manage to get to the very back of the green house, I spot something red.

Small, but perfectly formed and sweet. Our first toms. Just as well, because we've been living on courgettes for the past few days.

The 2017 Courgette Tally:

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Pros and Cons of Watering

It's summer and everything is growing and blooming. Unfortunately long dry spells can spell disaster for plants that need a decent drink.

I have tomatoes in the greenhouse, and if I leave them a little to long without a drink they end up wilting. So instead I place the pots into trays.

Watering the plants and then filling the trays helps keep them watered a little while longer.

Which leads to the next big question about watering during hot weather.. what time of day should you water? Personally for me, I've found that watering very early works better. When you water in the evening the surface stays wetter longer, allowing those pesky slugs and snails to come out and slither around. Watering in the mornings, means the water has chance to soak in allowing the veggies time to absorb it during the heat of the day.

My courgettes really seem to appreciate this method as then have really started to produce now.

And the sweetcorn has really shot up. Not bad considering that the start of the year looked like we weren't going to get any.

Even the rhubarb and grape vine is enjoying summer.

Whilst we enjoy some of the early fruits from the blueberries.

Now if only my butternut squashes would start producing too.

The 2017 Courgette Tally:

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The courgette tsunami has begun

Somethings we manage to do quite well with. Courgettes for example. But we've not had much luck with others.

Onions is one that we have a reasonable result. But it looks like this years onions have started to go over. The leaves are starting to die off.

So we decided to pull them all, and plant in some of our spare Cape Gooseberries.

Meanwhile I finished off dealing with the tomatoes in the 2nd greenhouse. It's Tom City in there now. (Oh, and the Chillies)

The the weeding and general plot maintenance. But it didn't stop us getting a small harvest.

It looks like I'm going to have to re-instate the Courgette Counter. So far this year we're at...
The 2017 Courgette Tally:

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Blooming heck

A little bit of sun and the flowers are blooming like crazy.


Star Flowers

Mixed wildflowers (Borage, Snapdragons, Cornflowers and a load I don't know)

Not only the flowers, the courgettes have shot up over this past week. So far we've harvested two of them. I suspect many, many more to follow.

One downside though, because we haven't been able to get to the plot in the evenings to pick the strawberries, a lot of them have simply ripened and rotted on the plants. I know it's such a waste, but there are only so many hours in the day.
Into the compost they go.

We still have a load of Tomatoes and Chillies to sort out. Guess that's my job for tomorrow after shop duty.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Phew, what a scorcher

It's hot.

Let me amend that.

It's damn hot.

Yesterday (Sat) we went to the Wimbledon Village Fair but we didn't stay long because the temperature out was pushing 30. Today (Sun) was going to be similar or worse. So we decided to wake up at "surely this time shouldn't exist" O'Clock and we were at the plot just a shade after 6am. We were fully intending to get a little work done and then head home before the heat got to us.

Big mistake.

First things first, we have a shed load of stuff still sitting in the greenhouses that needs to be outside. Such as the Butternut Squashes and some more courgettes. These went into the weed area which was the previous mound. But now a lot of the previous soil has been put back into the main beds, so it's a lot flatter than normal.
Yes, they are looking a little yellow. They were probably left in the pots about a week too many.

Secondly the Tomatoes needed re-potting and segregating from the mixup of stuff in the two greenhouses. Well we did get some of the Toms re-planted. But the heat meant we couldn't get all of them done. So we only did the bigger ones, trusting that the smaller ones wouldn't need the re-potting until next week (or it gets a little cooler in the evenings.)

The Sweetcorn is looking much better after our disastrous start. And the beetroots are doing well too (at the back in the picture below).

We've also started re-potting some of the flower and other odds-and-ends.

And of course, the strawberries are really on a roll.

Big thick leaves, and luscious berries as shown above.

Wait, what? You can't see the strawberries themselves? You want a close up? OK.

But you aren't getting the kind of close-up I'll be getting... after I've downed a gallon of water to beat this heat.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

It's like a jungle sometimes...

...makes me wonder how I keep from going under.

No, I'm not trying to outdo Belinda and her music with every post. The greenhouses are starting to feel like a jungle now. We definitely have to evict some of the current residents otherwise it's going to be a nightmare.

First off we have the Cosmos which has now moved to one of the arms of the flower bed. The stalks are still a little fragile, so a simple bamboo cane support helps them stay put.

Next to be vacated is the Cape Gooseberries and Chinese Lanterns. These have now been put in separate beds.

Meanwhile, I've been attacking the old courgette mound. Since this year it's been retired, or rather, moved, to another spot, the old spot has been somewhat rather over run with weeds.

Of course the problem is that there are quite a few rogue potatoes in there as well. So I need to pull weeds without disturbing the spuds. Well in the end I opted for a compromise of pulling big weeds then stamping down the other and putting a large piece of carpet over it. We'll eventually have to move the butternut squash out here later, but in the meantime the greenhouse now looks a little more empty.

I think it's time for a well deserved cold bottle of cider that I have chilling in the fridge.