Sunday, August 22, 2010

Exotic harvest

Quick post today as I am off to Robert's Cove.Harvest from the plot yesterday was colourfull and tasty! Lots of tomatoes & courgettes (still)! Tomatoes ripening on the vine is almost a novelty over here as we have had so many cold wet summers with so little natural sunshine and heat.
Star of the show has to be a big boy beef tomato, weighing in at 400grms and this is not the biggest one there are 2 more to ripen.

French beans are still being produced by our 3 plants.
Blueberries, coming to the end of their harvest and the foliage on the bushes has turned a beautifull shade of red.Look closely and our first and only blackberry from our thornless blackberry bush is in there too.There are more to ripen and I also noticed our autumn fruiting raspberries have fruit set to ripen.
Our first globe artichoke was ready to pick and was dispatched for supper.I think these really need to be eaten home alone!I just steamed the whole head and pick off the leaves one by one and dip in butter, the real stuff none of your dairy spreads for this.There was a good big choke in the centre too, very hard to describe the taste but yummy would be good.
Rhubarb is coming to the end too as we want to leave some to feed the plants for next year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fruit Day on the Plot

Our sweetcorn, there are at least 2 large cobs on all the plants and 3 on most! The size in relation to my hand, don't look at the nails!Lots of heat and sunshine would be good to ripen them but today it is raining, hopefully moving away this evening
The sweetcorn bed which has 12 good plants and one which though growing has never caught up with the others.We had a visitor to the plots on Mon.who showed us how to check if they are ripe enough to pick by peeling back the leaves and 'popping' a seed with a nail, a milky white liquid shows they are ready but the one we tested was still quite clear.The tassels are turning brown which I thought showed they were ready to harvest.
Our experimental bed with dill, coriander and celeriac.I have been using the dill and the coriander is producing seeds. We tried to save the seeds last year but it was so wet they rotted .A word of mouth recipe for stuffed tomatoes with pureed courgette, breadcrumbs and some coriander green seeds.
Close up of the celeriac, I have scraped away the soil to show the bulbous root.I don't think they will grow to the size we see in the shops and an online search for info on when to harvest is in order.If they could be left in the ground to pull when needed would be ideal.
There were 3 rows of turnips here but we decided it would also be the ideal site for our 2 Goji berry bushes so 2 rows got transplanted , I left one row in situ 'just in case'.The Goji berry bushes are small so I don't think they will notice the turnips for a few months.
This was the garlic bed where 3 rows of swede turnips are now in residence.Brassicas follow alliums in the scheme of things?
Our wine bottle edging to the patio and our two artichokes which have 2 heads nearly ready to pick and about 6 more smaller ones.
Big boy is turning a blush!
I was coming home from the plot on tues, and spotted blackberries along the pathway. I stopped to pick a few into a small container which I had with me.I also picked some Japanese wineberries which are a relation to both the blackberry and the raspberry.They have gone wild on an untended plot and Zwena said to pick them instead of leaving them go to waste.They are delicious and from reading about them very easy to propagate and grow.Zwena said I could have a few of her cooking apples.
Finished jam, not a lot but I only had 300 grms of fruit not counting the apple.
There is also a plum tree on the same plot which has not produced plums of any quantity for years, this year the branches are laden down!I picked 1 kilo and found an excellent recipe on Cooks United.
1Kg of Plums,stoned and chopped
700 grms of sugar.
No Liquid
Leave to soak for 8 to 10 hours, I left mine overnight
Put the whole lot into a saucepan and cook for around 20 minutes,this gives a lovely soft set jam which is delicious!
I had the gingham and saw the jam pot cover idea over on Ann's blog

Something completely different, Aoife had this strange plant growing up through the netting, we thought it was something just gone to seed. It turned into this beautifull poppy flower!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weird and Wonderfull on the Plots

Visits to the plot are wonderfull bringing home lots of produce and not a lot of work just keeping things in order.I took my camera around the various plots to show what is providing colour and interest and not a little curiosity!A picture tells a thousand words so lots of pics and few words.
Our own artichokes have finally started appearing
Japanese wineberry, looks like a strawberry but tastes sweet and juicy.
Some artichokes allowed to continue in to flower
Apples on one of the 10 new trees which Zwena planted last year in a new orchard area.
Our own pumpkin.
View up the path of the new plots showing some of the flowers.
Lots of sunflowers, competition will be fierce for the winners this year!
Rosie's well ordered plot
Pears on Rosie's 2 year old tree.
Rudebecka and fennel flowers make a striking scene
Zwena's 'famous' Kiwi tree after being cut back and pruned to allow light and space.
Greengages on Zwena's plot.
Plum tree is also on Zwena's plot, the branches had to be supported with ropes as the weight of the fruit was threatening to split the branches.
Our onion Guru Christy has his onions in orderly ranks.
I plaited ours up and brought them home today to hang in the shed to continue drying as the forecast is not too good for the remainder of this week.
Big boy beef tomato is getting bigger and one of them has started turning red today
One of our miserable cucumber plants, long spindly and yellow.
The tiny fruits on the top of the second one, none grew on the lower parts of the plants.
View up our plot.
From another angle

Kevin wondering how long is it to Halloween!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mark's Courgette Recipes

Mark,one of our fellow allotmenteers emailed this recipe with step by step photos for anyone with a glut of courgettes.Anyone with 2 or more plants is probably in that category so I am sure he won't mind me posting it for everyone to enjoy, it seems simple and straightforward.

Slice courgettes into 2-3mm slices
Put into a dish and sprinkle with Olive Oil
Heat a griddle pan ( any heavy based pan) to a high heat, when smoking place slices on
By the time you lay the last piece onto the griddle,
begin to turn them over in the same sequence
to get the nice caramelised ridges
When all turned over, drop them into sterilised Kilner jars.
Pour in a little balsamic vinegar and cover with olive oil.
Leave some headroom and seal the jar.
Put in a dark cool place and sample in a few days.

These are a nice addition to a salad or even on a piece of fresh
Remember Mark? Obviously not just wasting his time sunbathing, he was planning recipes for the forthcoming courgette glut!Mark also sent a link to this Gordon Ramsay video on Youtube for stuffed courgette rolls

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Jam & Chutney making

I have been busy making rhubarb jam and chutney as we have a glut of rhubarb on the plot and it seems a shame to just leave it unused.
I made chutney with a recipe from Nic at Nip it in the bud blog. I am not a lover of chutney, I made beetroot chutney last year and gave it away!I have to say this tasted lovely even just after making so I am looking forward to using it in a few weeks when it has matured.
My sister Kathleen's late mother in law used to make rhubarb and fig jam which we always looked forward to getting a sample of.It is not available commercially and I think I now know why....the price of dried figs in this country!I shopped around various supermarkets and health food shops and the figs were working out nearly 14e per Kilo! I eventually bought them in the English market, the 4 lbs needed for this particular recipe cost 23e. This jam is more fig and rhubarb than rhubarb and fig but tastes delicious.There are lots of recipes online, the one I used is on the Times website credited to V.Giles.I may make it again but use a different recipe using less figs as this one uses 4 lb of rhubarb, 4 lbs of figs and 4 lbs of sugar, but I made 14 jars from it.It is not a sweet jam but definitely tastes morish!
Some of it has already gone to eager tasters who have declared it a winner!
One recipe did mention that both of the main ingredients are mild laxatives so maybe it should be used with caution!

We have been in and out to the plot, mainly bringing home produce at a very satisfying rate.Lettuce, carrots,tomatoes, onions and fruit.
There are 10lbs of blackcurrants in the freezer, all from our one bush!I did make some jam but will look forward to the smell of fresh jam making in the kitchen during the winter.
Bluberries are ripening at last.Strawberries are putting up lots of new green growth after their cleaning up last week.
Brussel sprouts are forming on the plants but aphids(blackfly?) are becoming a problem on these and the turnips tops.I have been blasting them with the hose which seems to be working so far but the affected leaves remain marked and curled.
Pumpkins and courgettes are producing daily!
We have 2 cucumber plants in the greenhouse which are another disaster!The leaves are yellowing and small despite feeding and watering regularly?!I must remember to take some pics the next day I am out.
I bought the above plants in Aldi this morning. There is a Tayberry, a Goji berry and a red goosberry. They are all healthy looking and for 2.67e each I could not pass them up.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sam O Doherty Elizabethan Serenade

All of my pics of our day out at Bloom Flower & garden Show set to music, it is the silly season after all!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Robert's Cove

I have been in Robert's Cove in the mobile home since friday,these are some random pics from there and the previous weekend when we had a family BBQ.This is Callum & Katie investigating sand and seaweed.
Because of our proximity to the Gulf stream which comes close to our southern coast we have an abundance of wild flowers growing wild along the roadsides, here are crocosimia and fuchsia near Robert's Cove and blackberries are ripening already to what looks like being a bumper harvest.
When I was coming home yesterday I thought I would take some photos to show the area around the cove, this is looking down on it and the caravan park is nestled to the left under the shade of the headland where it is protected from the winter storms .
I climbed up on the ditch to get the cows in the photo!
A close up of a ditch full of colour,some one has replanted lots of these all along a roadside in frontof their house. Because of the profusion of fuchsia it has been adopted as the symbol of West Cork food producers
When I returned some of the tomatoes in the plastic greenhouse at home had begun to turn red at last.
The greenhouse,I have to say I don't think it is the ideal place to grow on tomatoes as some days I have forgotten to open the flap and condensation drips down from the roof.The condensation turns the leaves brown and some of the toms on the upper branches suffered blossom end rot, at least I am putting the two together! The lower fruits are perfect and fully grown. I cut back all the top growth to allow the fully formed fruits to grow and ripen.
Flower bed over grown with nasturtium which reseeded from last year but they make a great splash of random colour around the place, I was never one for regimented flowers.
Sweet peas have reached the top of the shed.
Some of last week ends group for the BBQ, it was a beautiful sunny day and we sat out on the deck after the sports on the beach.
The sack race on the beachThe egg & spoon race

3 legged race lining up
They are off

Youngest son Barry with grand son Ben cheating a little!