MY container garden is rejuvenated by some new arrivals.
It was at this point in my gardening session that I noticed a lot of abandoned pots in the boarder that a resident before me must have discarded. I rescued most of these apart from the one that seems to be the source of all snails and the wooden window box which was already occupied. I also found a huge slug. So, after my mini safari, I used some of these pots to plant some mustard. I know they are small so will require more watering but given the Norwich climate and the fact that winter is coming I don’t think it will be too much of a problem.
My lettuce and radishes are still surviving and my herb pot and chillies look great. I have also discovered a fig tree with fruit on it that seems to nearly be ripe. I sense a fresh fig and pancetta salad in the future. There is also a rosemary bush hiding in the boarder which is nice to know about since I don’t have much in my pot since it is slow growing. I have gathered the fallen apples up and will be making myself some delicious deserts with them soon.
I have also made a volcano cake for the UEA 50th anniversary celebration “Cake-off” so wish me luck with that (the judging is later today). It’s so nice to be back being busy with my studies and my garden. Happy gardening, Ele
After what I am terming a mild success drought, is nice to finally get some new things to plant and try my hand at. I have decided that the spinach I grew from seed had reached the end of its usefulness so it was time to chop it all off with scissors for one last harvest and then use that pot for my winter salads. I planted a mini pack of winter salads from www.organicplants.uk . I am becoming limited in terms of space so they are all a little cosy in that pot. I will see how they go but I might have to transplant some of them into the boarders.
I also dug up the one solitary bean that I managed to germinate. From what I can gather from research, there is no way it is actually going to produce any beans for me this year and it hasn’t really shown much enthusiasm since I planted it outside so I have replaced it with some bunching onions. I have also planted some chard which I think will look beautiful in the green glazed pot with its many coloured stems.
What to do with the September gluts to make them last all the way through winter.
Returning home to bring in the harvest seems like an old-fashioned notion but in my family it is still very much the done thing. My dad is a little too gifted at growing for domestic uses given I was confronted with the following: a bucket of tomatoes, a bucket of peppers, a bucket of insect covered redcurrants and 2 pounds each of raspberries and blackcurrants.
Given the bucket of redcurrants I figured that redcurrant jelly was a must. The recipe I used is here (http://goo.gl/9bHlMf) however I would have to recommend against buying a Kilner jelly strainer if you are considering investing in one. It was poorly designed and resulted in something that looked like the vegetarian equivalent of the Texas chainsaw massacre. Definitely make sure your jelly bag is well secured before adding the redcurrants.
I decided to turn the raspberries and blackcurrants into both coulis and jam. The jam recipe can be found here (http://goo.gl/MNbWYE) and it was utterly delicious. If you haven’t made jam before or are nervous of it then I would recommend this jam as a good starting point. It sets relatively easily because of the high levels of pectin in the fruit. Also, my rule for jam is that I would rather have great tasting jam that is a little runny than some perfectly set jam that tastes vile because it is burnt. Runny jam doesn’t last so long but if it tastes good it won’t need to. We collect jars all year so we have some for jam making season but if you don’t it might be worth looking for some on www.freecycle.org or in pound shops before you splash out on expensive ones from a shop.
The coulis I made was simply a pound each of blackcurrants and raspberries plus 400g of sugar. This was just bought gently to the boil and then left it to cool. I then ladled it into containers for freezing. I also froze some in individual ice cube trays. These are the perfect size to drop into some plain yoghurt for a fruity treat. This also might be a good idea if you have young children and you want to get them eating healthier yoghurt with less sugar and additives.
With the buckets of tomatoes and peppers I made a delicious soup with the roasted peppers and tomatoes. The recipe can be found here (http://goo.gl/6Em55v ). I froze most of this huge batch of soup since it is nice, with winter fast approaching, to have some healthy, vitamin rich soup to tide you over, especially since tomatoes and peppers remind me so much of summer. Though gathering this amount of produce is hard work, it’s definitely well worth doing. It is satisfyingly thrifty and most of all delicious!
The pest battle intensifies and I make some fantastic discoveries in the garden.
It seems that now my plants are established and consistently yielding lots of great tasting produce that the bugs of the garden have noticed too. I’m pretty sure it’s snails or slugs that have been having a go at my oriental vegetables. The vindictive portion of my brain is considering putting a ring of salt around the bottom of my pots but I know in my hear t of hearts that my conscience wouldn’t allow indiscriminate gastropod murder. I have resolved to pick any up that I see and relocate them to the hedge. The radishes too are a little on the holey side but I’m not sure what’s eating those. I think I will be asking agony plant again.
I have transplanted the one bean that survived my clumsy attempts at sowing to the wine box that it was originally supposed to inhabit. I am pretty sure I won’t get any beans off of it this year but it was at least a useful learning experience. Also it has highlighted that I really ought to go out and get a few basic gardening tools. I can’t keep transplanting things with spoons.
Further exploration of the garden has yielded some incredible discoveries though. I have discovered a compost pile, two apple trees and a bumper crop of blackberries. Unfortunately the blackberries are located about 9 feet up at the back of the hedge so some ingenuity will be required to get most of them down. However the few I did manage to acquire made a delicious crumble.
Also, due to the tragic demise of my old camera (It unfortunately took an almost unbelievable dive from the arm of the sofa into a pint of water) I have finally invested in a brand new camera which I must say is utterly glorious. Also on the technological front, don’t forget you can follow me on twitter @GreenSideUpEle
Looking ahead to September
Given that I awoke this morning to the sound of heavy rain I felt my decision to plant my next batch of beans inside was a good one. Hopefully this batch will germinate and eventually be transplantable.
In harvesting news I have had the first taste of the spinach. I made delicious herby burgers with a lush salad of lettuce and spinach (recipe here). This particular dish has also reminded me that next year I really want to try and grow some tomatoes. They’re something I eat so often and enjoy so much that it would be foolish not to give growing them a try.
Looking ahead to the more immediate future I have been thinking about what I want to plant in September. I think chard is going to have to feature given that it both looks fantastic and is one of my favourite leafy green vegetables and, in my experience really hard to get hold of anywhere other than farmers’ markets. I also have some perpetual spinach seeds I will plant when the spinach I planted in July goes to seed. I was going to just plant the new spinach in the same pot as the old but since I have had problems with leaf miner it might be better to do a little bit of crop rotation to minimise pest build up. Sometimes I wish there was a fast forward button for the garden so I could have even more delicious veg sooner! Happy Gardening, Ele
With the winds getting colder and the nights drawing in, it’s good to have something seasonal and comforting to eat in the evening.
For the stew
500g stewing steak, cubed
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 large onion
3 medium carrots
1 medium courgette
1 large potato
1 heaped tablespoon of plain flour
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of yeast extract (marmite)
1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
For the dumplings
100g self-raising flour
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons of water
- Fry the stewing steak off with the oil in a pan large enough to hold all the meat in a single layer. This stage is the most important because here we are caramelising the sugars in the meat and building up flavour.
- While the mead it browning, chop your onion.
- When the meat is well browned and any liquid it has released has evaporated add the onion and continue to fry on a medium heat.
- Chop the rest of your vegetables and add them to the pan when the onion is starting to become tender.
- Sprinkle the flour on top of the meat and vegetables and stir it through. At this point brown crusty deliciousness will be beginning to form on the base of your pan. Add enough boiling water to just cover your meat and veg and use a wooden spoon to scrape the delicious residue from the bottom of your pan.
- Add the bay leaves, yeast extract and Worcester sauce and cook for about an hour and a half. Your stew is ready when the meat is tender and soft.
- Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Add the dry ingredients and parsley to a bowl and mix in the water to a soft dough. Set aside until required.
- When your stew is 15 minutes from serving, roll your dumpling mix into balls roughly 2cm in diameter and drop them onto the surface of the stew leaving room between them for expansion. Put a lid on your pan and cook for 15 minutes.
- Serve either on its own or with a big chunk of bread. This is not a dainty dish but it tastes like a hug in a bowl!