Subscribe with Bloglines At last I've got my plot!: August 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Started the tidy up!

Yesterday I had two hours free so I went to the plot to start the tidy up. I started hoeing the weedy 'tween bed paths, but got sidetracked into clearing the pea bed which was looking very messy. Then I weeded it out and prepared it for the next crop.....winter cabbages.
Then I weeded the leeks again, and tidied up the carrot bed (with the marigolds behind the leek bed). I also had a pick off of some more veg.....we are overrun with veg and I'm now giving it away.
Here you can see the Sweetcorn Tuxedo which are still a bit white inside the very well filled husks. These are going to be wonderful eating. We have now finished the Sweet Nugget which was very very tasty.
Looking towards the top of the plot you can see the Brussels Sprouts netted against the Cabbage White butterflies (I keep finding them inside the netting!)

The empty beds have spuds still in them gradually being used up. Then I will go all over them and dig them well to remove all the escapee spuds before they start off again next year.
Here is the bank....raspberries in the background, then the cleared patch , which you can't see, then the nettles which DH was going to strim down yesterday,,,,but found that he needed to replace the strimmer line (which was at home!) so I have to wait a bit longer for that. He did do all the perimeter paths so I can't grumble.

After he has strimmed the nettles I am going to spread my compost all over the area, and cover it with cardboard and plastic. Next year I will put the pumpkins here as there is plenty of room. I can't dig this area as the tree roots are very near the surface and are like a net just an inch or so beneath the surface. I figure that if there is enough water for nettles to grow then I can probably get a pumpkin to flourish if I help it along a bit with a bucket of water every time I got to the plot.

We have a quiet month ahead so I can concentrate on getting both the plot and the kitchen garden at home pristine before the winter comes.
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Olive Oil Pickle

Easygardener has asked for the recipe so here goes.....

Taken from "Preserving" by Oded Schwartz (A fantastic book on all aspects of preserving!)

"A classic from the colonial American kitchen, this pickle is easy to make and is a great standby. It is mildly sour, refreshing, and keeps extremely well. You can replace the cucumbers with thinly sliced, colourful peppers or carrots."

1 1/2 pounds pickling cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch thick.
1 1/2 pounds onions, finely sliced
2 1/2 ounces salt
17 fl oz cider vinegar
2 1/2 fl oz water
1 tbsp dill seeds
1 tbsp celery seeds
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
2 1/2 fl oz good fruity virgin olive oil.

1) Put the sliced cucumbers and onions in a large glass bowl, cover with cold water and add the salt. Mix well until salt is dissolved, then weight down to ensure all veg are below the surface. Cover bowl with a cloth and leave to stand overnight.
2) Next day drain the veg. Rinse well under cold running water, then drain again, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Pack into hot sterilised jars.
3) Put the vinegar, water, herbs and spice into a non-corrosive pan. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, then whisk in the oil.
4) Pour the vinegar into the jars. Poke the veg with a wooden skewer to ensure there are no air pockets. Check that the oil and spices are evenly distributed and the veg are covered, then seal. The pickle will be ready to eat in two weeks, but improves with keeping.

The blurb says that........
the recipe is "easy" (it is!),
cooking time about 8 minutes,
yield..... about 3 pounds,
shelf life..... about 1 year,
serving suggestions...delicious with cheese, such as Cheddar, Red Leicester or white Stilton.

NB I found that it was easier to distribute the herbs and spices through the pickle if I enclosed them in a cloth pouch in the vinegar/water mixture then put them in with the drained veg and mixed them in well before packing the veg into the jars.

BTW Does anyone know where I can get more of the Porosan Preserving Skin which I use to help seal up the Tesco Coffee Jars which I use for pickles. I have almost run out....!
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

"At last" I went to my plot yesterday

We have had visitors almost non-stop for what seems like weeks, and a trip to Kent for a wedding, and I have been very lax about the plot. I have visited to pick the raspberries every other day, dig spuds for meals, pick the sweetcorn, and spread the lawn mowings as mulch; but haven't done any weeding or hoeing.....and it shows.!!! photo until it is better.

DH has promised we will go and strim all round the paths and the bank sometime soon; and I will have a good weed all over, and hoe all the paths, and then we'll be able to see what else needs doing.

Meantime I am pickling furiously. The shallots are soaking in brine at this moment, and I have made two batches each of runner bean pickle and olive oil pickle. Both are fabulous and DH has "ordered" some more.

We are also picking more beans and cabbage than we can eat and I am freezing the former and giving away the latter. Courgettes are also cropping well and we have just about the right amount of them, thankfully, as we find frozen ones are not good for much more than soup.

The Victoria plums which I dried in the dehydrator are very very scrummy and very tempting to just snack on all day long. Because I am not sure just how long they will keep I have put some in the cupboard and the rest in the freezer. There are also bags and bags of prepared non-dried ones in the freezer for winter crumbles.

A plot neighbour asked yesterday whether we were self-sufficient in vegetables. I explained that this time of year we have plenty and I haven't bought any veg for over two months, but that in the winter I do have to buy some. We seemed to last almost round to the new season's crops with spuds, but I did have to buy some for about a month.

Next year I will plan the roots and winter greens more carefully to make sure we go all through.

The onions this year were a bit of a disaster. I have plenty of reds but the white ones really got the white onion rot fungus and, although we made the best of it by cutting off the bad bits, a lot have had to be thrown away and there are only about 20 which will keep. So I'm sure I'll be buying onions before next spring.

I did use a lot of the manky ones best bits in my pickles so it wasn't a complete disaster. (The Olive Oil Pickle is particularly tasty and was a way of using up the onions quickly, and dealing with a glut of those pickling cucumbers and some outdoor cucumbers.)

Yesterday I bought a packet of carrot seeds that can be sown right up until I am hoping for some early crops next year with them. I will also do some in tubs and in the beds in the tunnel and see if we can get some even earlier that way. The packet says they prefer "well-drained, moist, rich, cool root conditions"..... so that might mean they won't flourish in the tunnel but I will also sow some in the back garden beds as another trial. The variety is T&M "Nantes Frubund (Fast Crop)". I will report on the results.

Hoping to get back there this afternoon to start the big tidy up!!!

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I have visitors at the moment....two teenage needed to replenish the fridge!!!! I hadn't been to the plot for 5 days and expected to find marrows instead of courgettes.....but it wasn't too bad. The big yellow one here is 9" long.

I pulled a few carrots to see how they are progressing, and was pleased to see that as yet there is no fly damage. I have tried the earthing up method as the soil is quite seems to be working.
Likewise the beetroot, I pulled a few to see what is happening and some are big but I think they need a little longer before I can pull up enough to pickle.

The cauliflowers were a little past their best, and some were turning pink. They are also smallish. I suppose I planted them too close together. When I tried them at home two years ago the curds turned brown, which was not due to rot. I researched this and discovered that it is due to boron deficiency. The cure is Epsom salts. But I'm not sure pinkiish curds are a result of the same deficiency. Anyone got any idea?

This lot was quite heavy to carry home, but I won't do two trips up the steep hauling way, so I had to manage.....

Whilst there I weeded the leeks which were smothered in nasturtiums. These are only small yet as I was late getting them in. I have put them quite close together as we like lots of small ones. Some didn't thrive so that has left some biggish spaces which will allow some to grow large....for soup.

I also checked the sweetcorn which still need a few days. I was hoping for some today as they are real crowd pleasers.
The corn and squash bed is a real jungle with lots of different squashes lurking under the leaves. I understand that it is best to leave the plants until frosts finish them off and then take the squash....but I am finding it hard to keep my hands off them....!
When I left this morning it looked like this. Still plenty to do but it'll have to wait until next week now as I am busy here.

This afternoon I will have to hunt out the info on freezing cabbage as we won't be likely to finish this lot up before they lose their freshness.
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