Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When Rain Stops Play Outdoors

Between the showers was the title of yesterday's post, not so today its just one unending downpour! I decided I would use the stash of Courgettes while still fresh.
I checked the sidebar of the blog, there under labels, courgettes, there are 34 posts?! 
I first made Angela's Courgette cake back in 2009, delicious, moist and moreish, but not feeling 'cake like' I decided I would try muffins using the same recipe and they turned out gorgeous!
Angela, by the way was our next door neighbour on the Hydro Farm allotments
The recipe for Angela's Courgette cake can be found here
The muffins will not be iced as the cake so they can then be heated for breakfast.
Angela's Courgette Soup was next on the list,it does use 900grms of courgette after all! I have made it to the blending stage without adding the cheese as I am going to freeze it in portions.When defrosted then I can add the cheese, Blue, Stilton or Brie plus the cream for serving.
 I also discovered Courgette & Apple bread in there which I had forgotten about and Margaret's Stuffed Marrow recipe to use if any of them 'get away'!
Mark's Courgette appetizers, they can be dried and packed in jars with Balsamic Vinegar & Olive Oil. have a browse if you are wondering what to 'do' with all those courgettes which this hot ,humid and wet weather is cultivating!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Between the Showers

 Today's harvest from the allotment, it was not very colourful until I added the carrots and beetroot from the raised bed.I cut down the Broad beans and stripped the pods which are filling the bag on the left.I just cut the stems leaving the roots to rot down in the ground as legume roots are rich in nitrogen.
There are 7 courgettes! Time to start making soup I think.
The carrots from the covered raised bed are really tasty, these are the Sutton's baby veg which we are using while young and tender, leaving others to mature.
We are coming to the end of our new potatoes, these are old reliable Home Guard, there are more beetroot and 2 nice  size heads of Broccoli. A few weeks ago we didn't think we would have anything much to take home as we started so late but the heatwave helped and dare I say it , those nice soft summer showers!
 The tomatoes in the lean to tunnel are just about OK, not a lot to harvest at all.I have almost stripped all the leaves and branches now as they don't need them to ripen and hopefully the plants might put on a spurt.

3 Kgs of Broad Beans when shelled  yielded just over 1 kg of beans, which will be blanched and then shelled again before freezing. Broad Beans have a very short season in the summer, I have frozen them each year and instead of trying to use a glut of them I enjoy them during the winter months.The 2 jars of baby beets were pulled last week, they were roasted and just put into jars with red wine vinegar to be used almost immediately

One of the first heads of broccoli or to be more precise its Calabrese which is what we buy in Supermarkets as Broccoli. Calabrese has one central head while Broccoli is usually sprouted.This was one of the first  be used last week,they have matured to a good size.

After cutting the head with a sharp knife, cut a cross in the stalk and give a liquid feed and with any luck we will have some tasty side shoots in a few weeks.
I sowed Golden Globe swede turnips and last Sat they were up nicely

Ditto the baby turnips which will be ready to harvest in approx 10 weeks from sowing. I also sowed more beetroot and carrots so a little good weather over the next few weeks should keep us in veg for another while.

I had noticed what  looked like side shoots on the Sweet Corn so today's mission was to investigate. There were no cobs on them , I think they were just side shoots or suckers. I removed them from the plants they were on, hopefully the right thing to do!

The cleaned up Sweet Corn bed,there are now 2 good sized cobs on each plant as I also removed any small undeveloped ones from some of the plants as they would not mature at this stage and would only be using up the plants energy. If we get 2 cobs matured on each plant we won't be doing too badly as  again they went in late due to us changing allotments and then the wet Spring.

A ladybird nestled in the top of one of the plants.
A lot of the onions were already bending so I bent over the remaining ones in this bed. I think the idea is that the onion does not waste energy on the green part and the bulbs bulk up a bit before pulling to dry in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Carewswood Garden Centre and Cafe

 Last Sunday was not beach or lie out kind of weather then I remembered that Carewswood Garden Centre  ( Tripadvisor) were having an Open/Family day. This is an old Garden centre which as far as I know had been closed for a while then I heard a rumour that a young couple  had taken it over! In the teeth of the worst recession in years, in a business which is closing garden centres all over the country, were they mad?
I set off early to find out which is why the centre looks quiet but by the time I left you could not get a parking space in the ample car park!
There is a lovely cafe where food cooked/ baked on site is served, veg is grown specifically to use in the restaurant  and to make the range of ready made sauces,jams and cakes to take away which on the day were disappearing quickly by people who had obviously bought there before!
David Leahy is the young man in charge of the garden centre and planting and his girl friend Juulika is in charge of the cafe and food side of the operation.
Carewswood as anyone from Cork will know is between Castlemartyr and Garryvoe in east Cork and well worth a visit as it is very family orientated also.

 20% off the good range of plants for the day
 Children's play area where you can buy the safety bark etc for playgrounds
 Some of the mouth watering range of home made goodies
 Handmade soaps which could be mistaken for edibles!
 Geranium workshop on the day
 Wall of herbs
 This young lady was selling home made lemonade
 easy access around the displays, very important for buggies and wheelchair customers
 Kiddies cookery class ready to begin, Chocolate cookies were on the menu
 Co owner Daniel on till duty

 Carewswood mission statement
 paint your own plant pot, plant it up and take it home

 The poly tunnel full to overflowing with veg for the cafe

Daniel & Juul believe in recycling and using natural materials as much as possible, this beautiful gate & fence blocks an unsightly corner

 Cabbages covered from the white butterfly

 More veg being grown for their own use, veg plants were on sale earlier in the season but had been completely sold out

I enjoyed my stroll around and will be back again as any young couple starting off in business need  support and they have obviously put their heart and soul into the centre and it will be nice to see it develop over time. They don' t have a website  but as with all young people nowadays you can find them on Facebook & Twitter!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Sowings

 We have learned over the years its a mistake to sow everything together as you end up with a glut of different veg and if it is a hot summer as this one has been (so far) then you don't want to be cooking every day to use up the veg.
I had some of these seeds which are Sutton's Speedy veg they are ready to harvest in 10 weeks from sowing which would take us to the end of Sept and into Oct therefore  utilising  the ground as much as possible and for those of us paying for allotments that is the bottom line.
The first early spuds, a lovely variety called Premier has just vacated its space so I have followed up with planting out my leeks and also sowed these veg varieties in any spare space.
Baby beets,turnips and carrots.They are picked and used small so are tender and tasty as we can vouch for the carrots which we have been using in another bed already!

 Thinnings of an earlier sowing of the Speedy baby veg and sugar snap peas with the Premier earlies which are a lovely tasty, floury white spud, all went to make a delicious meal this week.

What you need to transplant leeks, a dibber which would be ideal but it was sitting in the shed at home so I had to find a suitable substitute and a full watering can. These leeks had been sown at home and already transplanted into a seed tray and should really have been planted out sooner but with our tropical summer I didn't get around to it.

Make a hole with the dibber and drop the leek into it, if the leeks are long enough then about 5ins would be fine as this is the part which is blanched white.

Don't fill the hole with soil, pour water into the hole and it will fill in and settle itself.

Half of the leek bed sown at this point, lots of warming winter soups to come!

The brassica bed rejigged.Sprouts are at right angles around the edge, broccoli which is hearting up nicely  to the right and 2 lone heads of cabbage now covered with netting as we discovered we have a marauding blackbird who got through the netting and munched his way through about 6 heads already.

Line to the left is baby turnips, right is Golden Ball turnips and 3 short rows of baby beetroot in front.This is the 3rd sowing of baby beetroot , I am pulling them small and roasting them, then packing into jars with red wine vinegar.They can be used within days but I'm not too sure if they would last as preserves all winter but they are being used almost immediately!
The darker lines are compost scattered over the seeds not for any particular growing reason as they all grow downwards but it is easier to see where I have sown the seeds!
The netting was put back down and secured before I left.
This morning was dull , very overcast and very humid I sprayed the remaining spuds as you could almost feel the potato blight in the air, talk about ideal blight conditions! We have had blight warnings all week here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Courgettes & Comfrey

 This is son Billy's first year plotting with me, he had said they use quite a lot of courgettes and was looking forward to seeing them grow and picking fresh ones.I thought you will have some job coping with a glut so just put in 3 green and 1 yellow courgette plants.They have been very slow with the cold nights we had been experiencing but this week they have been reaching glut proportions! The smaller ones were almost overnights and the larger one was deemed a bit small the previous day!

I wanted to make some Comfrey 'tea' to feed our new plot. We always had it on the Hydro Farm so while I was in Blarney recently I paid a visit to catch up with plotting friends. I met Zwena, Rosie & Tom and came home with an armfull of Comfrey which grows wild  there and some rhubarb !
Comfrey should really be used before setting flowers when it is at its most potent but as with everything else this year I am like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, I am late !
I removed the flowers and chopped the stems and leaves, I had invested in a small covered plastic bin for the purpose and put the leaves etc into a hessian sack.
I had found a 'handy' bit of stick to cross the bin and attached the bag to it and  filled the bin with water.I covered it and it is recommended to leave it 4 to 5 weeks to 'mature' by which time it will stink to high heaven when the lid is removed! The resultant 'tea' should normally be diluted at a ratio of about 15 to 1 before spraying the crops with it.Comfrey is a very rich source of Potassium which is essential for plants that fruit, flower or set seed. The bag can be disposed of in its entirety onto the compost heap when its finished with, by putting loose leave in even held down with bricks etc you get  slimy bits which clog up the watering can!

 Pic courtesy of  The organic centre , I looked for a pic online to be doubly sure I was using Comfrey as I was recently surprised to see on a gardening programme that what I know as Borage was being called Comfrey? They may have the same benefits but I would prefer to know the correct name.
There is lots of info out there on Comfrey and its benefits, I found the Wikipedia article here a good source.
Last but definitely not least, a ladybird doing her 'thang' gobbling up greenfly on the broadbeans. I have blasted them a couple of times with the hose and also removed the tops to deter them , the greenfly not the ladybirds!
We are enjoying exceptional warmth and sunshine here this week and hopefully for much if not all of July, its been 7 years since we had anything resembling a heatwave over here!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Red Lily Beetle

 My beautiful lily which grows in a pot just outside the patio door was sending out the wrong signals, I kept staring , not quite sure what I was seeing. The leaves were either half gone or semi transparent and there were black lumps as I thought on the undersides of quite a few of them, then I spied this lone red beetle on a leaf.

 I have never seen a Lily beetle before but immediately knew that is what it was. Because I had become aware of the damage almost immediately on looking at the Lily I can only suppose it was not there this morning and had either landed or hatched out and immediately set to work!
 I took a photo of the Lily just in case it does not survive another day!
I searched the shed and came across this bottle and on reading the different bugs it dispatches there is the lily beetle, not a red one but a beetle just the same. I drenched each leaf on top and the underside and then got tissue, cleaned each leaf and then sprayed again to be sure to be sure!
Fingers crossed that is the end of the Lily beetle if such it was, maybe someone with a little more knowledge would comment?!