Come on summer…
Blueberry Lemon Cake
-225g granulated sugar -2tbsp lemon juice -180g plain flour -2tsp baking powder -Pinch of salt – 1/2 cup of milk -1/2tsp vanilla essence -3 large eggs -1tbsp lemon juice -1/2 cup vegetable oil -300g blueberries -1/4tsp plain flour
So I have a confession…
I have not worked in the vegetable garden at all this Christmas break.
I know, very bad. But I was juggling work, university work and working in the pig run to prevent it from resembling the battle of the Somme over winter. Those are my only excuses.
Despite my lack of care, the garden has looked after itself pretty well (the grass is thriving in all of the beds it should not be in…)
It has been so long since I worked over there regularly that I had actually forgotten what I still had planted and left to harvest. I had forgotten the kale, the rest of the sprouts and carrots, the tree cabbage… all I thought we had left were potatoes. So I made a big effort and harvested and prepared lots of our produce during the week.
Carrots: these are the last of the carrots sown this year. They were under horticultural fleece and managed to survive some of the freezing temperatures we had suddenly. Not one has rotted so thank goodness we are on sandy soil. They were delicious and not a lot of damage or forking going on. We even had one gorgeous proper sized carrot!
Think they are ‘Flyaway’ carrots.
Celeriac: first homegrown celeriac harvested from this crop. I know, lazy. But it was in really good condition, a good size, and tasted really good. I like to boil mine but roasting them makes an excellent replacement/accompaniment to roasted parsnips as they apparently taste the same. I have also eaten it raw, grated with apple, in a salad and that is surprisingly good too.
Brussel Sprouts – the left over small ones from Christmas finished up. They did really well and packed a punch to the taste-buds.
Kale – the kale is still alive and doing pretty well despite the various slug/pigeon/ cabbage white attacks it had this year. I do love kale boiled and it goes great in stews, on top of pizzas, in casseroles or stir fries. Kale is brilliant because it fills in the cold ‘hungry gap’ aka, winter, when most other things aren’t available.
Garlic – I sneak up a bulb every time I need it. Garlic is still prolific in our garden from years of growing it.
Potatoes – Too. Many. Luckily, they taste really good and are in pretty good condition.
All of this dinner was homegrown, except the lentils. Self-sufficient and proud of my little garden for doing so well all on its own.
It is time to do the annual check list of how this year when in the vegetable garden.
It was an unusually cold, uneventful spring this year – we basically skipped it and went straight from winter to summer. But boy, what a summer it was! Major heatwave and no rain for weeks on end. It was glorious, even if it did mean a lot of watering all day long…
But how did this all impact on the plants?
Lettuce – started off really good but struggled with the hot weather in the heatwave and bolted. We bought loose leaf lettuce plants from Sainsbury’s and planted them out and they did pretty well despite the weather. When they bolted, the ducks and chickens loved them.
Spinach – bad year for spinach, not a lot germinating, probably because my seeds were too old. I bought some new ones at the end of the season and got a few to grow, but it was too late by then. Oh well, next year!
Rocket – very good rocket growth this year. Planted some at the beginning of the season and at the end and both batches lasted ages – the last batch has only just gone thanks to Jack Frost.
Radishes – they love sun and were whopping sizes.
Carrots – started off very badly. I sowed them in early March and they did not germinate at all. Sowed some in June/July, thinking it wouldn’t work, and we got a beautiful crop. Some really big ones too!
Celery – I wasn’t going to grow celery this year but a neighbour gave us some spare plug-plants so I used them. They grew pretty well, but were not very tasty. I think they needed more watering a care.
Celeriac – again, wasn’t planning on growing more, but were given plug plants. They seem to be surviving, along with last years crop I never got out of the ground… at least the pigs will be happy…
Cauliflower – didn’t come to anything, as usual!
Peas – had some really good crops but the pea plants themselves died off really quickly. I think it was too dry and they needed more care and watering. Mixed bag with the germination rates.
Beetroot – did fantastically well. I only planted one batch and we still have three buried in the ground to get through. Bolthardy is amazing.
Cabbages – I was too late to sow brassicas so we bought some plug plants from the garden centre. The savoys and spring cabbages did not do very well and ended up going to the poultry, but the red cabbages… I am now converted. Beautiful, huge, delicious and a few more left to get through…
Brussel Sprouts – ran out of time to sow seeds but were given plug plants. They are huge and delicious. Producing really well despite my lack of feeding and weeding this year.
Sweetcorn -OMG. Best sweetcorn harvest ever. So big, yellow and yum. Really big cobs! So exciting.
Pumpkins – amazing crop, some big and small ones, each plant produced lots.
Courgettes – really good. Mixture of types of courgettes grown this year, including Defender, Golden Zucchini, Grisdella etc. All produced lots, really yummy. Cucurbits do love sun.
Cucumbers – didn’t do great, but did fine. Needed more watering and care. Only got a few Passandras and Femspot varieties, I think.
Tomatoes: did pretty well, but again needed more care. Got a few outdoors and indoors this year thanks to the sunshine.
Broccoli – ran out of time to sow so bought plug plants. Did pretty well – lots of small florets rather than big ones. Probably more water needed?
Aubergines – plug plant bought as my seeds did not germinate. I think harvested one? A few grew but did not develop into edible stage.
Sweet Pepper – plug plant as seeds did not germinate. Got quite a few small but delicious ones.
Runner-beans – very good harvest. So many grew after my fears none would germinate due to the hot weather. Roots left in ground from previous years grew again. Got an amazing supply and was still harvesting in November!
Chickpeas – only one plant survived out of the billions of seeds planted. Didn’t develop anything. Will have to try again another year.
Onions – did not do great. Not very big. Needed more water probably.
Garlic – as good as always!
Potatoes – amazing as always! Bought some early Charlottes and Red Duke of York and a main crop Kingsman. Planted some old ones we chitted out from previous batches. Lots of growth and some incredible sizes.
Parsley – good supply from previous year’s sowing.
Chervil – ”
Chicory – ”
Strawberries – great year. Lots of lovely delicious red gems. Made lots of strawberry jam.
Raspberries – very good year. There were some to be picked in late November still. Lots of raspberry jam.
Pears – didn’t get any because fox ate them all.
Grapes – only got one batch because birds ate them all.
Cherries – birds ate them all but the Morello was laden.
Damsons – good supply from one tree. Made one pot of damson jam which was delish.
Apples – very good harvest from all trees. First Bramley harvest, was yummy.
Quince – diseased so didn’t produce anything.
Mulberry – no produce.
Medlar – produced but did not develop and then eaten by birds.
Blueberries – good crop.
Redcurrants – very good crop.
Jostaberries – a lot stolen but birds but good crop.
Blackcurrants – ”
Gooseberries – no crop.
Chives – very good crop as always.
Parsnips – no actual parsnips but great flowers growing.
Plums – lots of Victorias and Green Gages. Made some good plum crumbles.
Sweet Potatoes – disaster. Didn’t cut off vines so no root growth.
I think that is all…. thanks for the year 2018. It was busy, juggling with university, heatwaves, water leak fears, drought fears, and now freezing weather, but what a lovely time we had! Looking forward to another summer of playing in the sun in the garden.
Merry Christmas everyone from the Kitchen Garden in advance. And just to finish it off, what a good year for space2grow – one year ago it was established and it has so far one 3 Bloom awards, has been given sponsorship and its volunteers and supporters are rocketing, including santa…
I haven’t made a lot of soups in my time – carrot and coriander once years ago and a vegetable broth at River Cottage – but I have always wanted to make pumpkin soup with a homegrown pumpkin.
We did really well with the pumpkins this year and after my siblings had carved their spooky faces into two of them for Halloween, I turned one of them – forgotten which one, might have been Bob or Reg… – into soup. Cruel, but it was either that or feed him to the pigs.
Here is my super-duper easy pumpkin soup. You could add more seasoning to it of you would like more flavour. I have heard suggestions of chilli and peanut butter before…
Serves… a lot. At least ten people.
-1 medium sized pumpkin, 1.5kg, de-seeded -Olive oil, for roasting and frying -1 large onion, sliced -700ml boiling water -1 generous tsp Bouillon vegetable stock powder – A pinch of salt
Hello blog. I’m sorry it has been a while but I’ve been busy with university and been spending hardly any time in the garden.
But I wanted to let you know the exciting news about space2grow’s triumph at the Farnham in Bloom awards last week.
Just to catch you up incase you don’t know: space2grow was established in September 2017, a year ago, as a charity garden offering mental support through horticulture for anyone, old, young, people who wanted to interact or take a break from the world, to people with addictions. A year on and the original six of us from the steering group have been joined by 30-40 volunteers.
In July we were judged by Farnham in Bloom. As we had only been running for less than a year, we were not expecting much (except Corin, who was wearing his lucky shirt on awards night). We were awarded an Advancing award in South East in Bloom a week or two previously, but as Farnham is our charity’s location, we were very excited about this awards night. A mixture of volunteers and steering group members turned up on Thursday night at the awards and we were very happy and surprised to be awarded an Excellent for a community project, but to also be the first group to be awarded the brand new Madge Green Community Award.
Madge Green was a influential gardener part of Farnham in Bloom who sadly passed away last year and this award has been set up in her honour.
We had our pictures with the mayor and everyone was really kind to us, telling us how impressed they were with what we have achieved.
So here is to space2grow, starting its second year as a triple-award charity.
Hip, hip, hooray!
Check out the official website: https://www.space2grow.space
space2grow just celebrated its 1st birthday. We had a buffet in the therapy cabin where we had homemade apple crumbles, pies, rice dishes, and a delicious potato and leek soup with homegrown produce.
A year ago there were six of us looking at a bare acre in wet September. Now, we have nearly 40 volunteers that come to work as part of a relief from mental health problems, ranging from addictions to depression, as well as people who just like to get some fresh air and be part of a community project.
Not only did we celebrate the charity’s birthday but we were also celebrating the award we received last week. Despite being less than a year old, space2grow entered into the South East in Bloom Awards, not expecting to succeed in anything at all, but we were surprised with a 3rd category award – there were five levels of achievement with the first being “Emerging” and the fifth (highest) being “Established and excellent”. Somehow we won an award in the third category called “Advancing”.
Well done space2grow.