Weekly Update:16th July 2016

Happy 18th Birthday to the best sister in the world!

Busy, busy, busy…

This week I have:

  • Weeded, fed and mulched all of the overgrown rocket, parsley, dill and old Chinese cabbage and lettuce beds and the paths alongside it.
  • Weeded, fed, mulched celery and celeriac bed.
  • Weeded, fed, mulched calabrese and cauliflower bed.
  • Weeded brukale, brussels sprouts and cabbages.
  • Weeded, fed, mulched other cabbage trench.
  • Planted out last soya beans.
  • Planted out last pepper from indoors into the greenhouse.
  • Planted out last of cape gooseberries (going to need potting on).
  • Weeded and mulched last year’s celery trench and gave remains that had gone to seed to the pigs who loved them.
  • Weeded and mulched a path covered in goosegrass so now we can pick the tayberries and jostaberries without getting our legs and arms scratched off.
  • Weeded, fed, mulched pak choi bed and spring onion bed.
  • Picked lots of strawberries – I am expecting them to be all gone by the time I get back from my week away.
  • Picked lots of raspberries, blackcurrants (coming soon with the recipe I made this week when I get back), carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, calabrese broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, radishes, courgettes, kale, perpetual spinach leaf beet, pak choi, swiss chard and the first blueberries yesterday!
  • Lots of cooking with home grown produce this week: homemade pizza with perpetual spinach, swiss chard, red and green pak choi and kale in the topping; bolognese with perpetual spinach in it followed by lasagne made over from the left over gloop, served with first calabrese broccoli and courgettes, peas and kale before having lettuce and lots of cucumber; stewed blackcurrants with puddings; stewed jostaberries; blackberries (some growing inside a greenhouse), raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and tayberries with our brownies. Making a birthday cake today –  which will again be served with berries, sorry sister.

Mum:

  • Planted out spring onions I had grown indoors.
  • Potted on tomatoes.
  • Potted on basil.
  • Planted out lambs lettuce.
  • Tied back potatoes that were drowning other beds.
  • Picked HUNDREDS of raspberries, blackcurrants, jostaberries, redcurrants (they look like jewels) the couple of cherries our baby trees produced (Morello has produced quite a lot that will need picking this weekend before we go).
  • Freezing lots of the fruit. The exhaustion of picking fruit, picking through the fruit to take off the mould or damaged parts and then packaging and freezing is terrible…

I will be trying to write one more post on flowers for bees in the vegetable garden before I go, will hopefully post it tomorrow. Otherwise, happy gardening and cooking to all and see you in a week.

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Weekly Update:9th July 2016

Finally better and finally some good weather. It is feeling more like summer.

I am frantically trying to get the garden ‘under control’ (can anyone really do that for a crazy vegetable plot?) before we go away on holiday in almost a weeks time. It means lots and lots of weeding and mulching to keep that goosegrass and mustard out of sight.

This week I’ve managed to:

  • Weed, feed, mulch a sweetcorn bed
  • Weed, feed, mulch two beds of lettuce
  • Weed, feed, mulch all of the courgettes and winter squashes
  • Cleared an old bed of bolted lettuce and Chinese cabbage and mibuna (harvested some seeds and threw the plants to the poultry and pigs)
  • Cleared some very weeded paths and mulched them before the weeds grew back
  • Weeded around our Japanese Wineberry and Boysenberry (new purchases from the winter this year)
  • Weeded the celery, celeriac and leek trench
  • Weeded, fed, mulched spring onion bed
  • Weeded, fed, mulched an old kale bed for my last carrot sowings when I return from holiday

Mum caught my flu after me but fortunately is back on her feet already and managed to:

  • Prop up some potato plants that were spilling out into the paths again
  • Weeded some raspberries
  • Did a lot of fruit picking and storing
  • Netted our morello cherry tree and the one cherry on the sunburst cherry tree before it fell off

We saw a grass-snake in the garden on Thursday. It was beautiful.

Picked lots of stuff: lettuce, courgettes, broad beans, cucumbers, carrots, kale, first Calabrese styled broccoli which were amazing, romensco cauliflower and normal cauliflower, peas, onions, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, tayberries, three cherries and a couple of blackberries that had grown in our greenhouse. I also picked the last batch of rhubarb for my strawberry and rhubarb jam – see previous post for the recipe, it is yummy. Recipe: Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Last week of posting and then I will be absent for a few days – from the internet and the garden.

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Pickings for supper a couple of nights ago: first Calabrese broccoli heads, kale and cauliflower and some courgettes buried underneath

 

Weekly Update: 2nd July 2016

It was a pretty lousy June. All rain. The last week was slightly disappointing – I’ve been ill and kept in bed for 4 days – something I am not very patient about! It means I have been neglecting the garden ENTIRELY and instead watching a vast number of movies, reading and stuffing my face with soup, Magnums (of course they are good for a sore throat) and Nutella and banana on toast… Like I said, it has been an odd week.

The only thing I managed to get done in the garden at the start of the week was weeding some of the swede bed and feeding it. Very disappointing amount grew and the slugs have been at the leaves.

Other than that, I have abandoned my mum to look after it but at the same time I have left her to look after me, my poorly sister, take my brother to and from school, look after the animals, cook for us all, wash up for us all… So she has managed to:

  • Do a good amount of raspberry and strawberry picking – the appalling weather was making them mould and rot, very sad.
  • Tying back potatoes that were spilling onto the paths and getting slightly trampled.
  • Picking courgettes, runner beans, peas, first of the potatoes for us, Romaneso cauliflowers, the last cabbage and today she picked our first cucumber and made us cucumber sandwiches – one of the best cucumber recipes ever for when the sun does decide to shine.

It has been a pretty trying time. I am not happy with not being able to contribute at all. I did plan to finally make some strawberry jams and try out a raspberry recipe I hoped to blog about next week. Plus, July means summer holidays and summer holidays means a week abroad and lots of weeding to do before then to keep the garden under control for my relatives while I am away. Four days sick is a bit of a pain!

Well, here’s hoping that July will be more sunny and less rainy. At this rate an early influx of blight and powdery mildew seems inevitable so fingers crossed and good luck to all kitchen gardeners all over the UK. I hope that summer comes soon for everyone.

Weekly Update:26th June 2016

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My favourite rose in our garden under a pear tree flowered this week

What a wet June it has been!

Thank goodness the sun is meant to shine today and I am glad it did so on Friday – it was my brother’s 14th birthday!

It was fitting that we harvested our first carrots during his birthday week as he is our carrot and cucumber monster. We made burgers and chips to have with our salad on Friday and his classic dish – pasta, cheddar cheese, tuna and mayonnaise, pitta bread and salad last night. I made him his requested coffee  walnut cake (nothing to do with garden produce, only the duck eggs I used are home produce, oh dear) and today I will be baking his second favourite, a marble cake as a surprise. It means a busy, wet week but I have managed to get something done in the garden:

  • Weeded and fed one of the runner bean trenches (yup, we have three this year).
  • Weeded and fed purple sprouting broccoli babies, perpetual spinach (which I picked for the first time and used it along with kale and komatsuna on top of a pizza earlier this week, see recipe: https://wordpress.com/posts/thekitchengardenblog.wordpress.com ), Chinese broccoli and Aztec broccoli.
  • Cleared and mulched paths.
  • Weeded and fed young cauliflowers.
  • Ripped old cauliflower leaves infested  with cabbage white caterpillars and tried to coax the poultry into eating the. They unfortunately have never cared for them but the ducks love brassica leaves so I think they might eat a few by mistake when they are on the actual cauliflower leaves…
  • Netted my new cauliflowers.
  • Weeded and fed turnip patch.
  • Mum cleared away a trench of old forget-me-nots and moved some overcrowded raspberries there.
  • Mum planted out more peas I had grown indoors.
  • Mum gave the cucurbits a milk/aspirin anti-powdery mildew spray which they will really need in this weather.
  • Mum netted more strawberries, a blueberry bush and a redcurrant.
  • Mum potted on half the cucumbers into larger containers.

Continuing to pick strawberries, raspberries, salad leaves, radishes, beetroot, peas, broad beans, first carrots, first blackcurrants (just a couple darkening now). I’ve got a couple of courgettes almost ready and a cucumber on the way…

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Produce picked for a supper this week: lettuce, spinach, rocket, carrots, beetroot and radishes

Weekly Update: Saturday 18th June 2016

This week we have:

  • Netted berries and tied up broad beans (they just keep growing taller) and fruit bushes falling into the pathways
  • Sown more peas and lettuce seeds
  • Planted out more peas from indoors as well as some lettuce and chicory
  • Weeded a very overgrown flower area and pathway
  • Weeded around the struggling cranberry bushes
  • Weeded and mulched a garlic bed
  • Moved some potatoes from the pea trench that had self-sown themselves – we get a lot of that happening in our garden
  • Planted out Salsola and spinach
  • Sowed more radish seeds direct

We have been harvesting lots of strawberries and eating them fresh in the evenings and freezing the rest in preparation for some variation of jam. We have also picked and eaten the usual salad (lettuce, spinach, rocket, radishes), kale, broadbeans, tree cabbage, first raspberries of the year, cabbage and beetroot – the biggest I have managed to grow so far that I am very proud of – and a couple of baby courgettes were slipped on top of our macaroni cheese earlier in the week while it was under the grill because they had started to rot from the excessive rain. I also made a strawberry and elderflower cake using our homegrown strawberries and homemade elderflower cordial – look out for the recipe next week! I also put some rhubarb in the freezer today.

 

Other exciting news is that we left a collection of runner bean roots in the ground in one of the trenches so we did not disturb the celery or kale that had been left there. Mum loves leaving things to go to seed at the moment to harvest at the moment or to leave them to flower for her bees who seem to really love brassica flowers. It meant that I was banned from clearing this particular trench from last season which was just as well because the runner bean roots have actually grown some runner bean plants. We heard that this could happen last year and my gran tried it out but it did not work. I suppose we had kept the roots warm from being fleeced during the winter to protect the celery and they remained well fed too. We were very surprised to find them and have now fed and cleared around them. Let us see if they produce any flowers?

Weekly Update – Saturday, 11th June 2016

The weather this week was a great improvement. It was the sort of weather you wanted to be outside in all day long; half the time playing in the garden, the other half lying in a cooling swimming pool! It was my sister’s fete today, raising money for her school trip to Tanzania next year so we got little done in the garden this week as we donated a fair chunk of time to preparing for it. It involved mum preparing a lot of plants (digging them up, potting them on, etc.), picking elderflowers and making elderflower cordial (more shortly), lemon verbena sugar (again, more coming soon) and for me making fifteen jars of ‘Jumbleberry’ jam (more next week). Well, fifteen and a half – I got to keep the half from one of the batches to eat on my toast myself and it was delicious, I just finished up the pot this afternoon.

This week we managed to:

  • Net some strawberries from the birds that have found them already. We have started picking them (some wild strawberries, some posher ones) which we have eaten with chocolate cake and pouring yoghurt for pudding at night.
  • Mum netted a redcurrant bush today. I netted a blueberry whose flowers have finished.
  • Weeded hamburg parsley, beetroot and turnip broccoli and fed them.
  • Planted out last three courgettes from indoors and the only pumpkin (I only had three seeds left as I never bought anymore this year and only one germinated so it might be pumpkin-free harvest this year. Fortunately, I have LOTS in the freezer left over from last year…). I also fed the other courgettes and winter squashes.
  • I’ve started weeding the garlic patches.
  • Mum fed the potatoes with liquid feed.
  • I planted out Nigella flowers, lupins, cosmos flowers.
  • I planted out two new runner-beans today and sowed indoors more peas and soy beans. The soy beans are just refusing to germinate this year.
  • We harvested more salad, including the first beetroot of the year and some more peas and new kale (I’m giving the old flowered kale to the chickens and pigs now along with two lettuces that bolted. There are plenty left to make lettuce soup from and sharing is caring). The broad beans are ready to start harvesting next week.

On a sadder note, I did see my first cabbage white caterpillars crawling all over a flowered broccoli. There was a mixture of feelings, something like being close-to-tears. I haven’t seen anymore, yet…

Next week I will be posting more information about making Jumbleberry jam to use up any left over fruit in the freezer to make space for this year’s harvests. I will be writing about how to store your harvests shortly and recommend some reading material, for practical and enjoyment purposes!

Weekly Update: 4th June 2016

It has been a really tough week. The garden has been neglected but I am sure that it was very happy to be watered by all that natural, torrential rain. It could have done without the chilly temperatures though but the squashes and courgettes look alive, for now…

This week I have:

  • Planted out all of the orach (Real Seeds Company purchase).
  • Planted out the lupins in a flower patch next to a bee hive while they were trapped indoors during the rain – haha, finally! They don’t care much for my presence …
  • I also planned lupins in the areas of the squash patch (they are meant to make them taste better?) and some dotted around the place as they will get quite big and needed a lot of space.
  • I weeded the rhubarb and fed and mulched it.
  • I weeded and mulched some paths to try and keep the weeds at bay for a while.
  • I weeded the quinoa and amaranth patches that are impossible to weed when the sun is out as they are too close to the bee hives again so I made the most of the foul weather.
  • I weeded and mulched a lettuce patch.

I think that was it. Not a very productive week. However, we did harvest our first bounty of pea pods to have with out homemade matte paneer curry with rice, lentil Dahl, naan, lettuce (of coarse) and cucumber raita (sadly not homegrown cucumber, yet). They were really delicious. I will have to sow as many as I can this month before I run out of time!

This week mum:

  • Planted out the rest of the lettuce from indoors that I had sown too close together… oops.
  • Dug up and planted some plants into small containers for a fete my sister has to sell them at next weekend.
  • Planted out the thyme from indoors around brassicas.
  • Tied up the blackcurrant bushes that were falling over from their laden branches – the bees are going nuts over the berries this year, particularly the raspberries. YUM.
  • Netted some strawberry patches.
  • Cleaned up some of the debris still inside the greenhouse, we are so bad at cleaning.
  • Cleaned around the outside of the greenhouse.
  • Pruned and tied back a budlier that was shadowing the greenhouse.
  • Poured liquid feed over the carrots, beetroot and some kale when it was not raining.

Here’s hoping the weather improves and that it is a better week all round next time. Come on June, give us a good summer please.