Friday, 14 September 2012

14th September 2012

The summer is just about over and the harvesting has been taking place for a fair few months. I have been getting courgettes, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, for a while now and they are beginning to show signs of either blight or are getting stringy. With children back in school and the weather a bit dodgy I have taken it upon myself to be the chutney queen this year, trying out lots of different recipes and phoning up friends to ask how they did a particular recipe.
Jobs to do: 1. Harvest all you can, if you have too many beans, you can par boil them then freeze them. As for the tomatoes and courgettes I usually make a ratatouille and then bottle them as a winter vegetable.
2. Of course do the odd bit of weeding, but in the vegetable patch I would just enjoy the crops to the end.
3. Watch out for the caterpillars on your brassicas, go and check them every day and pinch off any that you see eating your greens. I also still use slug pellets, they seem to love the tips of my courgettes and my lettuce.
4. Leaf clearing can drag on for a few months, but just keep sweeping regularly putting the leaves onto your compost heap. Leaf compost is full of goodness. You could even try stuffing them into specially designed leaf composting jute bags, I then put the bags onto my beds and let them decompose.

So today I would like to share with you a Beetroot and Orange Chutney Recipe, delicious in a cheese or jam sandwich.
1 kilo beetroot, trimmed, peeled and diced
2 large onions
3 large apples grated, you can keep the skins but not the cores Zest and juice from 3 oranges
1 tbsp mustard seeds
½ tbsp coriander seeds
½ tbsp ground cloves
½ tbsp ground cinnamon
400ml red wine vinegar
425g sugar

Throw all the ingredients into a pan and simmer for about 1 hour until everything has gone soft. Put it into warmed jars whilst it’s still hot and close the lids quickly to create a vacuum.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

7th August 2012

August is a time to reap in your harvests, this is sort of true with me and sort of not as this has not been a very good year for me, my vegetables were swimming in water for about a month and this meant that although some of my plants have survived, a lot didnt.
I have learnt two things here. One, is to raise my beds next year and the other is to realise what I can still sow and get into the beds now. Luckily I had lots of little seedlings growing for a 2nd or 3rd batch already coming along so all was not lost. I have been quite shocked to find that other people werent as badly affected as me from the bad weather and their gardens are doing very well. Anyhow, jobs. 1. Sow more lettuce, radishes, rocket, spinach..... 2. Plant out any more seedlings that are ready such as salads and peas, broad beans.... 3. Harvest everything you can, if you have too much of something either share it with friends, freeze, bottle or make jams and chutneys with it. Harvest any tomatoes or peppers that are ripe. 4. Remember to water the greenhouse regularly. 5. Try to keep order in the vegetable patch, weed and mow.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

5th July Don't worry keep going!

Going outside today determined to have a look at and a weed of my vegetable patch, I found that some things were actually doing OK. The courgettes will be ready for picking in a day or two. The garlic that I thought would rot in the ground actually looks alright, I had forgotten to pull it up as one should on mid summers day.
My cherry tomatoes have a few green tomatoes coming through, the plants themselves look abominable. Having not looked for a while I also found some strawberries that are ripe. My purple sprouting broccoli although slightly slug eaten seems to be loving the wet. What surprises for a soggy garden. Jobs: Go out and check everything – as it is wet the slugs are out with a vengeance. Put slug traps/pellets etc down. Weed in between rows. Cut borders with long scissors. Tidy things up, so that you can tell what’s what. Plant out any lettuces, rocket, peas, beans or other plants that you have ready to be planted. There is still time for sowing seeds, like broad beans or peas. If your first lot didn’t work perhaps the next lot will. Harvest all the time, courgettes, peas, broad beans, strawberries, redcurrants, gooseberries. Harvest whatever you can before the slugs or birds get at them. Cover and protect any fruit that you can with netting, cages or birdscare. This is vital as once a bird discovers some lovely looking redcurrants it only takes a day or two for them to disappear.

Friday, 15 June 2012

12th June 2012

This is not how it is supposed to be, it is raining AGAIN! And the forecast is not particularly pleasant either. So we must keep calm and carry on! There will be nice days and if we put the hard wet work in now it will pay off, I have been planting like mad – still, and weeding like mad. There is so much to do, lawns to mow, edges to trim, hedges to cut. The secret I believe is to set yourself tasks that are not too long, 20 minutes on each thing, it is much more enjoyable and you get a variety of results. Jobs to do: 1. Mow all lawns, this always makes you feel better. You just need to wait for a dry moment. 2. Sow more seeds – don’t give up yet, we still have many more months of the summer. Sow lettuce, rocket, carrots, beans. 3. Plant out any plants that are ready, tomatoes, peas, beans, salads. 4. If your carrots and beetroot is coming up they may need to be ‘thinned’, this means pulling up any little seedlings that are too close to each other to allow the carrots or beetroot enough space to grow into something edible. 5. Weed around you strawberry plants and ft the ground is wet add some straw under the flowers\unripe strawberries so that they don’t go mouldy. Your courgettes should be starting to grow now too make sure they are also weed free. I am a strong believer in a ‘Haxnicks’ product called the ‘speed hoe’ this is an excellent tool for weeding in between your rows of vegetables. 6. Watch out for the slugs. Just be wary.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

24th May 2012

It’s all very exciting, everything has started growing like mad – including the weeds! So really you could be spending a lot of time outside enjoying the garden, weeding the flower beds and planting out all sorts of exciting things. You shouldn’t need to water your vegetable patch unless we have a heat wave. Do not overwater. Jobs 1. Empty greenhouse, start to take most things out of the greenhouse as it will get too hot in there. Plants like tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, peppers, chilli’s and aubergines can all stay in there as they love the heat. Don’t forget to water well. 2. Plant out all kinds of beans, sweet peas, peas, courgettes, tomatoes, lettuces.... Make sure that you harden off the plants before actually planting them. When planted water well straight away. Some plants will benefit from still keeping the tunnels on such as tomatoes and strawberries.
3. Pinch out extra stems from tomatoes, pinch out broad bean tips. 4. Weed any beds that are getting out of control, try to keep on top of the weed situation. Don’t let your vegetables have to compete for energy from the ground. 5. Sow another batch of salads. If you are doing 2nd batches of beans or peas sow these too. Sow carrots.... 6. Harvest asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, and salads. 7. Get ready with some form of birdscare/netting for the soft fruit.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

16th May 2012

We have had such appalling weather over the past few weeks that many of us has abandoned the garden. But we are mid May and there are warm days on which to go out and garden in the sun, it is so good to get out and you will appreciate your efforts later in the summer. Jobs to do: 1.Plant out small plants such as runner beans, peas, lettuce, courgettes, squash’s, tomatoes...Don’t forget to harden off the plants first by leaving them in their pots in the place where they will be planted – cover with a cloche/tunnel if there is risk of frost.
Plant out companion plants such as marigolds and nasturtiums these deter insects. 2. Sow seeds directly in the ground such as carrots, beetroot, spinach.... Again if you have poly tunnel’s cover your seeds with them as they will a encourage faster and a more reliable growth. 3. Sow seeds in pots, more salady things like lettuce, rocket.... Sow sweet corn, 4. Weed gently where necessary, cut the lawn and keep the edges of the beds clear of weeds. Having a messy patch encourages slugs! 5. Weed around your strawberries as very soon you will be able to harvest the first of your crops, around the bases of the plants spread some straw to stop the fruit from getting mouldy/wet/soggy. 6. Lastly harvest – If your asparagus is older than two years, it can now be picked, rhubarb,
spinach and salads. If you are lucky you may have some strawberries too, but where I am I think it is still a little cold. Things are very slow to grow this year so far so don’t feel that you are doing anything wrong – It’s the weather!!!

Friday, 20 April 2012

19th April National Gardening Week

For those of you who havent realised, it’s National Gardening Week. And what a week it is, I take my hat off to all those out there perservering in this changeable weather.
Jobs to Do.
1.Planting out – I have been trying to free up space in my green house so I have planted out my courgettes and tomatoes this week. But they definately need to be under a cloche of some kind as any sign of a frost and that will be the end of them. Also with this changeable weather they still need mollycoddling if they are going to survive.
2.Even though it is rainy outside you must not forget to water all the plants in the green house.
3.Keep sowing new seeds. Find out what your friends are growing and try to swap excess plants.

4.If you have spare cloches or tunnels place them over your strawberries as that will help them to fruit earlier and protect them from the birds.
5.If you have fruit trees such as pears that don’t produce very well – like me -you may like to pollinate them yourself by getting an artists paintbrush and dusting the blossom of one tree onto another. If this seems like too much hard work you can hang a bouquet of blossoms from one tree on a different tree, then the wind and the bees are more likely to do the work. Painting the blossom is quite fun with children.