Thursday, 22 June 2017

For the Record

It's great when the soft fruit gets going (and some peas)

Just so I can keep tabs here are the last four pickings of strawberry Marshmello on the scales - each at two day intervals:





Not to be left out the raspberries have started ripening:

Time to hone my preserving skills.  Judging by the mess I made of the gooseberry jam (it caught) honing is definitely required.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Time For a Tonic?

At the allotment this morning and not all is well.  Half a row of raspberries has veined leaves like this:
Raspberry Leaves showing classic symptoms of iron deficiency.
and early cabbage Greyhound is also a bit blotchy.

Cabbage with blotches - Manganese deficiency?
Returning home with pictures and consulting the books both seem to be mineral deficiencies. Given recent climatic conditions it could simply be waterlogging showing up in different ways.  All the same I will be looking for a suitable tonic for each.  The iron deficiency might benefit from a sprinkling of ericaceous fertilizer as this  states "Extra Iron For Richer Green Leaves". Manganese sulphate might be harder to come by.  The advice seems to be not to over lime susceptible soils.  This seems harsh for a brassica patch!  If there is an organic trace element cocktail in the shops/garden centre I will probably get it as an insurance.

Now on a more cheerful note, I also picked the first strawberries of the season today. Now when is Wimbledon?


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Three Weeks is a Long Time in Propagation

Coriander now:

(I had already harvested some plants yesterday before I took this picture today)

Coriander 3 weeks ago:

And I did promise to update progress on the water cuttings of mint and basil

Mint cuttings now:

3 weeks ago:

Basil cuttings now:

3 weeks ago:

The growth on these cuttings is easily outstripping the progress of seedlings sown at the same time or earlier, 

Then and Now

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A Voyage Around My Garden

Here's the current state of play:  Looking from East to West, there are beans in the foreground, brassicas beyond.

The East End (reverse view)

In the corner the globe artichokes are showing a bit of muscle.

The blueberries are responding to winter pruning in their pen.


Here is a closer look at the brassica, each plantlet at its station 18 inches from its neighbour planted through the weed suppressant fabric. At the rear are the early planted cabbages and cauliflowers already well away.

A closer look at the early brassicas,

Moving along further West there are peas, cucurbits and sweetcorn (also through weed suppressant fabric) carrots (under nets) and alliums.

Cucurbits: Squashes and Pumpkins:

Sweetcorn with two courgettes beyond.

In the next corner the old rhubarb is looking robust

and alongside at the West End there are first signs of another robust cropper: Jerusalem artichoke.

The alliums are looking very happy.

Heading back from West to East the fruit cage now has a net over it.

and the early potatoes are flowering.

View of the potatoes and fruit East to West.

These pictures were taken yesterday 7/6/17 a dryish day between two very wet ones!

Getting Around

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Beecause You Can

 I've been trying out my new present today.  I asked for a camera lens that would be able to photograph bees (and a tripod to keep it steady).

Initial experimentation suggests I have got just what I asked for! A big thank you to the family.

Bumble Bee

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Book Review - The Jam Maker's Garden

There are three bays of cookery books in our local bookshop, celebrity chefs beaming out from the front cover of most volumes, but I could find only one book devoted to preserves (a worthy River Cottage manual).  So I was more than happy to hear about this new book by Holly Farrell published today. In one volume there are fifty recipes covering the the full breadth of ingredients and techniques.  The presentation is modern: recipes are afforded a page each with a facing page picture.  The content is modern to match:  No old fashioned Piccalilli, but in it's place Giardiniera  (or Mostarda di Frutta if you really have a craving for mustard).  No pickled onions as such but pickled garlic instead.

The organisation and internal cross referencing, from the fulsome Contents page to the separate indices for plants and recipes, ensure easy navigation to your chosen topic one way or another. I particularly appreciate the "Use in" jam jar tag on the Growing pages. So if you have a glut of apples, for instance,  you can see that there are eight recipes which include this ingredient. Unlike the celebrity chefs this author is happy to keeps a low profile and allow the recipes to take top billing.

My Pickled Rhubarb

My first cheeky question to the publisher was: Are there any rhubarb recipes? and sure enough there are two - both of which I have now had a stab at. There is also the option to make rhubarb cordial/syrup. The instructions were easy to follow and the quantities sensible rather than industrial.   Other inclusions you wouldn't find in traditional preserves books: Pesto, Chilli jam and Chilli dipping sauce as well as "so retro as to be modern" Rosehip syrup.  I have not focused closely on the Growing pages mostly because I am up and running on the ingredients front. All the signs are that the recommendations have been well considered.  I feel a novice would have to be very patient to hold off on these recipes until their growing plans came to fruition but I guess that is the nature of growing. You can also buy when seasonal to enjoy the lowest prices. Having said that, now that I have a recipe, I just might get a quince and/or medlar.

All in all I have no hesitation in giving this book 5 stars and recommending it to anyone looking for a  comprehensive contemporary preserving guide.

Making Jam

Saturday, 27 May 2017

A Late Goal for Chelsea?

As I write this Chelsea and Arsenal are about to take to the pitch to contest the FA Cup Final. But my Chelsea goal is simply to get these allium Puple Sensation to flower before the Chelsea Flower Show finishes - and before all the tulips go over!

This bed at the front of the house has been my foray into flowers since I dug up the disappointing hydrangea that occupied it to date.

Back to edibles:

The cucurbit team forming a defensive wall:

Together with the sweetcorn the should be more than enough for this year's cucurbit patch!

Purple Sensation

7/6/17 Here's a later picture of the purple sensation: