May 2019

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Collecting Mustard Seeds

I was making curry for my birthday on Saturday (hello 22!) when I realised, to my horror I had forgotten to buy more mustard seeds from Sainsbury’s and we were all out ūüė¶ But heh, never mind. Then mum got really excited and vanished off to the garden to pick some lettuce and returned with a bowl of mustard seeds she had harvested from the vegetable patch, aka the weeds I am always trying to get rid of.

Now, the two irritating weeds that flourish in my garden despite my best efforts (apart from nettles that just pop up everywhere from the manure we use, that I am at war with constantly after one stung me on the face last week and made me feel like a fool!), the most common to find are a) goosegrass, and b) mustard.

This year it has been even harder to keep the weeds under control after being absent for only a couple of months and it is harder to pull up the mustard when it starts flowering and your mum wants to keep it because the bees like it…

But we tried frying the mustard seeds in the curry, and I tried a fried one on its own, and it was really good! So I’ve started putting the unwanted weeds to good use and I am harvesting mustard seeds to store. I felt like a bit of an idiot for buying them for so long when they have been flourishing in my garden for years!

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It is really easy to harvest them. When the seed pods have formed and are dried out so that they are brown and crispy, like paper bags, get a pair of scissors and snip off the pods (or stems with the pods on, the pods are very delicate and will break easily and spill the seeds everywhere) into a container. Open each pod and empty the little mustard seeds into a container for storing, it is that simple!

We bought brown coloured mustard seeds from the shops, but our homegrown ones are black which are the variety my mum has tried to buy for so long to make curries. Apparently, they come from one of three different plants: black mustard (Brassica nigra), brown Indian mustard (Brassica junga), or white mustard (Brassica hirta/Sinapis alba).

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Grinding and mixing the seeds with water and vinegar creates the yellow condiment of prepared mustard.

An archaic name for the seed is¬†eye of newt. Often misunderstood for an actual eye of a newt¬†this name has been popularly associated with witchcraft¬†ever since it was mentioned as an ingredient to a witch’s brew in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

These mustard seeds are known in Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi as sarson. They are also planted to grow saag (greens) which are stir-fried and eaten as a vegetable preparation, called sarson ka saag in Urdu and Hindi. Sarson ka tel (mustard oil) is used for body massage during extreme winters, as it is assumed to keep the body warm.

Mustard seeds generally take eight to ten days to germinate. They can handle a cold atmosphere and relatively moist soil. Mature mustard plants grow into shrubs.

Mustard grows well in temperate regions. Major producers of mustard seeds include India, Pakistan, Canada, Nepal, Hungary, Great Britain and the United States. Brown and black mustard seeds return higher yields than their yellow counterparts.

In Pakistan, rapeseed-mustard is the second most important source of oil, after cotton. It is cultivated over an area of 307,000 hectares with annual production of 233,000 tonnes and contributes about 17% to the domestic production of edible oil. Mustard seeds are a rich source of oil and protein. The seed has oil as high as 46-48%, and whole seed meal has 43.6% protein.

Use mustard seeds in these Indian curries:

Courgettes РRed Lentil Dahl

Okra РCurried Okra

Curried Potatoes and Bread maker Naan Bread

Cucumbers РPaneer Curry

Weekly Update: Saturday 13th August 2016

Been a little busy so I have not done everything I needed/wanted to do in the garden this week but I still saw it every day.

  • Did some weeding and hoeing for a path.
  • Picked runner beans, courgettes, green gages, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes.
  • Currently weeding a parsley bed at the moment.
  • Weeded and fed and mulched the tree cabbage.
  • Completed mulching the celery and celeriac, building up the earth around them.
  • Started tackling the beetroot patch.
  • Almost done with weeding the space near the beehives – but one has to pick the right moments to attempt that task.

Weather looks lovely if slightly hot. Lots of watering needed!

I turned 21 yesterday and ¬†was given 4 lovely David Austin roses – white, yellow, pink and red and they smell divine. My favourite red rose already in the garden also opened for my birthday, specially! I was also given a scythe and bill-hook. This will be fun, my brother has asked me to warn everyone in ¬†advance when I am practicing with it in the garden so that they can beware…

Happy gardening.

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Birthday cake my lovely mum made me. It may not have a lot to do with gardening but it has pretty flowers on it…¬†
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Flowers picked from the garden
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Green and Black’s Sachertorte

Weekly Update: Saturday 30th July 2016

Nearly the end of July – where did this month go?

Straight back to work this week:

  • Weeding quinoa and amaranth patches.
  • Weeding old trenches and feeding them before sowing seeds: radishes, coriander, parsley, spring onions, lettuce, rocket, spinach and ‘Alderman’ peas.
  • Weeding and feeding sweetcorn.
  • Netting an apple tree that the birds are partial to. They knicked every single one last year. It was time for some netting.
  • Picking redcurrants, jostaberries, last of the blackcurrants and raspberries for now, last couple of strawberries, blueberries, last morello cherries.
  • Clearing up bolted lettuce for chickens and ducks.
  • Digging up two blight potato plants worth of harvest for boiled and mashed potatoes.
  • Harvesting lots of very big courgettes, last broad beans, baby¬†runner beans, carrots, cabbage, kale, cucumbers, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, giant and beautiful onions, garlic and tomatoes.

 

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.

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 Рsee 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: 29th May 2016

We’ve had surprisingly good weather this week – other than the freezing night-time temperature that came out of nowhere one night and I had to quickly fleece everything up in layers and layers of protection. Thankfully, the courgettes, squashes and sweetcorn lived!

This week I have:

  • Planted out all of the sweetcorn.
  • Planted out hamburg parsley I grew indoors (outdoors did poorly this year), sorrel, pak choi, cosmos flowers, some lupin flowers, some orach
  • I weeded and fed a cabbage, brussels sprouts and brukale bed.
  • Weeded and fed the courgettes and squashes and set up umbrellas to protect them from the irrigation sprinklers (the sprinklers last year worsened powdery mildew).
  • Planted out more aubergines, cucumbers and peppers in the greenhouse.
  • Weeded and mulched the quinoa and amaranth beds.
  • Sowed more turnips and swede because some bird has been pecking them out of the ground.
  • I found a toad hiding under one of my cabbages! I moved him to the compost heaps out-of-the-way.
  • Planted out all of our runner beans.

Mum, while stuck in the throes of awful hay fever and more bee work has done:

  • Completed weeding and mulching the big carrot patch.
  • Did the poles for the runner beans.
  • Fed all of the potatoes with liquid fertiliser.
  • Sprayed the cucurbits and plants that can harbour blight or powdery mildew with our milk spray (more on that another time).
  • Potted on more tomatoes.
  • Weeded the broad beans.
  • Weeded and netter my broccoli and cauliflowers.
  • Weeded and cleared an old celery patch she is leaving to flower and create seeds this year.
  • Weeded the immense amount of mustard and goosegrass wrapping itself around our Japanese wine berry and boysenberry.
  • Created a support for the collapsing bed of the tree cabbages.

We also finally harvested our first batch of rhubarb for the year after putting it off for so long. More on that another time…