Sunday, 17 August 2008

Waiting in the Wings

Having been harvesting like mad for the past few weeks, I am very encouraged that there is more to come!

Each time I visit there are masses of runner beans, peas, courgettes and onions to harvest, but there are other crops that are maturing nicely.

The sweetcorn cobs are swelling, but are not quite ready. I peeled back some of the skin and tested the top of one, but they are not ripe enough yet. The shallots are nearly ready and the tomato crop is huge, but none are red just yet. It is tempting to pick a few of them and ripen them at home (especially as I was told today that there are a few cases of blight around).

The perpetual spinach is doing well and we have already had 2 meals from what we have picked, but there are more leaves coming. The broccoli and cauliflower are getting nicely packed heads on them but are probably a month or two away from being ready.

Everything is growing like mad (including the weeds), but we did manage today to weed the entire strawberry bed and there are lots of runners which will provide extra plants next year.

But for now, most of the time is spent harvesting and there is nothing more satisfying that pulling produce from plants that you have grown from seed.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Piling on the Pounds

I have been given a whole trayload (4lbs) of blackcurrants and redcurrants by one of my friends from further down the allotment. He had a huge harvest and asked if I could use them. Could I?!

When I got home I looked up receipes and within a day or so I had made some redcurrant jelly, some blackcurrant ice cream and some redcurrant & blackcurrant jam. Delicious. The jam and the jelly will see us through the winter and the ice cream will be a treat on hot days.

The cupboard where I keep such preserves is now completely full, so I will have to find another storage space for the pickles and other jams that are "waiting in the wings" to be made.

I have also been given some Bramley cooking apples and they have been lightly stewed in a little water and frozen in convenient portions.

The runner beans, onions, courgettes and beetroot are all doing very well. We have loads of courgettes (so many that I have given away more than I can count)and I regularly look on the BBC Good Food website for inspiration on how to cook them in new ways and trying out different receipes.

The runner beans are prolific and we have already harvested 7lbs. I have prepared and frozen about 10 portions already and we have either eaten the rest or've guessed it - given them away.

The white onions are huge and some have been harvested already and are drying out in the greenhouse. I managed to plait some of them and hang them up from the ceiling of the greenhouse, and it looks quite "French".

The beetroots that are ready have been harvested and cooked and preserved in vinegar. There are many more to come as I did some successional sowing throughout the spring and early summer.