Sunday, 3 September 2017

June 2017 harvest summary

Garden harvest total 7.534kg

Garden harvest shop/market price £37.10


Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Swiss chard496£3.75
White currants280£3.00
Cabbage/brassica leaves124£1.20
Purple sprouting broccoli28£0.30

Herbs - estimate £4.00
Salad leaves /lettuces estimate £5.00
Garlic scapes ? - not exactly commonplace in the shops!

May 2017 in pictures

Really pleased to see that the pear blossom and fertilised flowers survived/missed the frosts. It looks as though we shall have at least a dozen pears this year, up from last year's single fruit that survived.

A typical Sunday Lunch for this time of the year. Starting at the top and working around the plate clockwise: steak and ale pie from Reading Farmers' Market; pea shoots (kitchen window sill); stuffed purple sprouting broccoli leaf (garden) stuffed with risotto; purple sprouting broccoli (garden); carrots (Reading Farmers' Market); potatoes (supermarket); various brassica leaves (garden).

Typical daily veg collection for May and on this occasion the veg was for a shared meal at a meeting and AGM of Transition Town Reading (TTR). Includes swiss chard, purple sprouting broccoli, onions, cavolo nero, various kales and oregano.

And this is what I made for the TTR AGM: winter/spring vegetable quiche, spicy vegetable and chickpea flour muffins, and sprouting broccoli leaves stuffed with vegetable risotto.

At the front of the house, the new(ish) rosemary bush is now well established and liking the hot dry environment. The surplus garlic cloves that I planted as an experiment are also doing well. 

Some of the runner bean seedlings that were started off under cover. Having been caught out with late frosts in previous years these will not be planted out until late May or the beginning of June.

I bought some interesting varieties of tomatoes and chillies from Homecrafts in Caversham, and was forced to use the bath as a "waiting room" for them a while. Tomatoes were Brandywine (pink beefsteak variety), Principe Borghese (red egg/plum shaped fruit)  and Costoluto Fiorentino (red beefsteak).

Although there is a lot just beginning to grow some of the crops are finishing. Last year's planting of swiss chard is now going to seed but there are still several meals worth left before they need to be pulled out. 

Friday, 1 September 2017

May 2017 Harvest Summary

Garden harvest total 2.448 kg

Garden harvest shop/market price £19.19


Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Cabbage/brassica leaves474£1.60
Swiss chard442£4.20
Babington's leeks318£1.92
Purple sprouting broccoli258£4.65
Cavolo nero144£1.20
Curly kale56£0.56
Pea shoots48£1.00
Spring onions38£2.00

Herbs - estimate £3
Salad leaves/lettuces estimate £5

Thursday, 31 August 2017

April 2017 in pictures

Viewed from east to west with the garden shed at the bottom. Looks very messy and scrappy but there is a lot going on. Fruit trees and bushes in blossom, brassicas flowering, swiss chard still growing, onions and garlic filling out, Babington's leeks ready for cutting, strawberries spreading, grape vine against the shed budding.....

Time to assess what we have in the preserves cupboard. Damson chutney in there from 2014!

Cowslips in the lawn.

Early morning - brassicas in flower. 

The early morning light really makes the yellow brassica flowers standout in the garden.

Ramsons doing well in the garden and spreading!

"Bright Lights" swiss chard cropping really well.

Garden veg for lunch: swiss chard, cavolo nero, spring onions, Babington's leeks, ramsons, lovage.....

And this was the result!

The main herb patch is doing well apart from the chives not re-appearing this year. The spanish bluebell has been there ever since we moved in over 30 years ago. I have tried to remove it on several occasions and plant it somewhere else but it keeps coming back. Ramsons are coming towards the end now and the flowers are going to seed. Oregano going bonkers as usual, as is the lemon balm. Mint, lovage, rosemary, sage and thyme in pots.

Looks as though we might have more than one pear this year (last year's harvest). The blossom escaped the frosts we had a few weeks ago.

Friday, 5 May 2017

April 2017 harvest summary

Garden harvest total 1.914 kg

Garden harvest shop/market price £14.50


Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Swiss chard
Purple sprouting broccoli342£3.42
Curly kale (red ursa)218£1.74
Cavolo nero166£1.12
Spring onions140£1.12
Babington's leeks120£0.96
Cabbage/brassica leaves38£0.15
Pea shoots22£0.17
Herbs - estimated £2
Nettles ?!

March 2017 - blossom time

March is blossom time for our cherry plum, damson and pear trees. Sharp overnight frosts are still common and we carefully monitor the weather forecasts for signs of overnight drops of temperature so that we can try and protect at least some of the blossom with horticultural fleece. The pear is easy enough to cover as it is on growing on dwarf root stock, but we can only protect some of the lower damson branches and the cherry plum has to look after itself. At the moment it looks as though all three have fruits that survived this first of the weather challenges.

At the front of the house the crocuses have finished flowering but the grape hyacinths have taken their place and the daffodils are now open.

The rosemary bush loves it in the full sun but could do with a bit of pruning. We have plenty of recipes that have rosemary as an ingredient and now is also a good time to take some heel cuttings for propagation.

In the main back garden we have plenty of winter and spring greens: swiss chard, cavolo nero, curly kale (mostly red ursa), leaves from cabbages and brussel sprouts, a few brassica florets, and the ramsons (wild garlic) are flourishing.
The nettle patch at the back of the garden next to the fence and compost heap is rampant, but rather than pull them up we shall be eating the tender, young leaves over the next few weeks. I'm thinking nettle tea, nettle and squash soup; nettle, ramson and Babington's leek risotto; nettle, ramson and cheese tarts.... mmmm.

Having made several bids for freedom through the bottom of its growing bag, which had been on ground next to the strawberry patch, the horseradish has now been banished to the concrete path. Ha Ha! Try and get out of that. Horseradish leaves are still popping up amongst the strawberries and I am regularly pulling out roots. These have been taken up by members of various local veg growing and allotment groups, although one person subsequently decided not to plant them after learning how invasive they can be.

And finally, the birds are now in full song and a true delight to have around the garden.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

March 2017 harvest summary

March is when the herbs start to grow so mint, ramsons, oregano, lemon balm are now being picked. I estimate how much I might have bought if I were not growing the herbs myself but, of course, some such as ramsons (or wild garlic) are not sold in the shops. Nettles are another "vegetable" that I gather from a corner in our garden but to which I cannot allocate a price. I was luckier with pea shoots as Waitrose sell them, although not in my local branch (

Garden harvest total 0.992 kg

Garden harvest shop/market price £5.10

Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Brussel sprouts
Swiss chard196£1.47
Cavolo nero 154£1.04
Cabbage/brassica leaves154£0.28
Curly kale (red ursa)114£0.91
Babington's leeks68£0.54
Pea shoots18£0.11
Herbs - estimated £2
Nettles ?!