Thursday, 20 September 2018

July 2018 harvest summary

Weight 15.797kg

Garden produce price: £67.23
Foraged: £36.00

Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Runner beans448£3.14
Swiss chard291£2.19
Broad beans182£0.90
White currants148£2.50
Spring onions59£1.00

Lettuces, salad leaves, mustard
greens, garlic scapes 


Hazelnuts       5967    £36.00

June 2018 in pictures

The weather started to heat up significantly this month and we started harvesting significant amouts of fruit and veg.

The peas in particular are doing well this month: Golden Sweet, Blauwschokker, Shiraz and Giant Bijou. 

We have plenty of potatoes and onions this year...

... and garlic scapes, and the best harvest of garlic we have ever had.

On the wildlife front we again have frogs hopping around the shadier and damper areas of the garden and two separate bumple bee nests under the shed.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

June 2018 harvest summary

Weight 7.202 kg

Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Broad beans620£2.67
Garlic (6 bulbs)154£1.80
White currants68£1.13
Cavolo nero66£0.50
Swiss chard46£0.35
Curly kale36£0.35

Lettuces, salad leaves, mustard
greens, garlic scapes 


Monday, 10 September 2018

May 2018 in pictures

The bluebells were starting to take over the herb patch and were probably responsible for killing off the chives, which had been there for years. They might be pretty but they were in the wrong place so out they came. In any case, they were the Spanish bluebells and not the native English variety.

After a late start, because of the consistently cold weather, the lettuces and peas are catching up in the gro-beds and I've risked planting out the first few tomato seedlings. The overwintering onions are also starting to fill out. 

In the main part of the garden the broad beans (Eleonora) are doing well. This is the first time I've tried to grow them. Underneath the beans I've scattered some mixed salad leaves seeds together with some carrots.

By the end of the month the beans had really taken off, the potatoes in the grow sacks are surging ahead and the overwintered garlic looks as though it will soon be ready for harvesting.

The rhubarb now seems well established and there was enough for me to experiment and make some rhubarb and citrus marmalade.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

May 2018 harvest summary

Weight   1.306 kg

Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Curly kale100£1.00
Cavolo nero72£0.55
Swiss chard56£0.45
Spring onions36£2.00

Red veined sorrel, ramsons
Lettuces, salad leaves

Friday, 29 June 2018

April 2018 in pictures

After a horrendous March in terms of weather, April brought better conditions but everything is way behind. The over-wintered crops are finally starting to grow again but we are holding off planting out most of the seedlings until we are certain we have decent temperatures and no more snow storms. We decided to chance it, though, with some of the lettuces and that gamble does seem to have paid off.

The strawberries seemed to have been unaffected and have been putting out runners. We had so many of them that we donated the spares to Southcote GrowAllot.

The rhubarb (Timperley Early) has also started in earnest and we have had our first stalks since we planted it about 18 months ago. We've also had our first home grown asparagus.

The damson plum and pear have blossomed and fingers crossed we don't have have too many heavy frosts before the fruit has set.

Pear blossom

Monday, 25 June 2018

101 ways to eat parsnips when a friend gives you bags of them

Our 2017/2018 parsnip harvest was a disaster. They were planted close to a dividing fence between us and our neighbour and when that fence came down during the storms in autumn 2017 it flattened half the plants. Most of the rest where later squashed when we had to trample over them to remove the old fence and put in the new one.

In April 2018 a fellow member of the Reading Food Growing Network gave us a couple of bags of parsnips. He wanted to clear his parsnip patch and prepare the ground for the summer and autumn crops and didn't have enough room in his freezer for them. There were a lot, and they were very large!

That is how the 101 challenge started. Rather than just roast or mash them what else could we do with them? We came up with 10 ways of using parsnips before we ran out of the vegetable and here they are. Please note: there are no NO detailed recipes. This is not a recipe blog; if you are interested in any of the dishes mentioned below then Google them!

Numbers 1 and 2 Parsnip chips and mash

A traditional start to the challenge with parsnip chips (pan fried) and parsnip, swede and potato mash. Also in this veggie extravaganza are carrot chips, cauliflower and various greens from the garden.

Number 3 Spicy parsnip soup

Spicy (very) parsnip soup and garlic sourdough toast. Parsnips and a couple of potatoes mashed up with coriander, cumin and chillis, and a slice of toasted home made sourdough bread with plenty of garlic on it.

Number 4 Parsnip and onion bhajis

Standard onion bhaji recipe using half thinly sliced onions and half coarsely grated parsnips.

Numbers 5, 6 and 7 Rosti, scones and sauerkraut

The rosti was made with grated parsnip, sweet potato and swede. The parsnip and cheese scones were a bit crumbly but delicious. The red cabbage and parsnip sauerkraut was was made several weeks before we were given the parsnip glut. The parsnips for that were bought at the local farmers' market. I always include them in a sauerkraut mix during the winter months.

Numbers 8 & 9 Parsnip latkes and horseradish/parsnip sauce

Parsnip latkes (pancakes) and fermented horseradish and parsnip sauce. Served with home grown salad leaves, red veined sorrel and ramsons, and asparagus.

Number 10 Parsnip and cheese soufflé

The last of the parsnips :-( Parsnip soufflé with asparagus and courgette, carrot and sweet potato "noodles".

This was the first meal I had prepared after I had bought a spiralizer, which creates "noodles" from vegetables such as courgettes and carrots. I considered spiralizing a parsnip but the ones we had were far too big to fit the spiralizer!

And that is it until the parsnip season starts again next winter. 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

April 2018 harvest summary

Weight   0.940 kg

Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Cavolo nero184£1.38
Brussels sprouts112£1.12
Brassica leaves68£0.25
Spring onions48£1.20
Curly Kale38£0.40

Ramsons, red veined sorrel
Lettuces, salad leaves

March 2018 in pictures

What a start to the month! Freezing temperatures and on March 1st we had heavy snow. This lasted 3-4 days, disappeared and then reapppeared with a vengeance two weeks later. No way were we going to be sowing or planting anything outdoors this month.

In between snow storms the rhubarb was bold enough to poke its head above ground. It was planted about 18 months ago so we are hoping to be able to harvest some stalks from it this year.

Indoors, we were enjoying some pea shoots growing on the window sill but I suspect we may have started them off far too soon. We have no clue as to when it is going to be warm enough to plant them outside.

We finally took the plunge and sowed our tomatoes in modules indoors toward the end of the month, three weeks later than usual but there was no point in starting them off any earlier. The weather forecast is still not good and it will take a while for the ground to warm up. It looks as though that, like last year, everything will be a month late.

We did, though, have some harvest from our perennials: ramsons (wild garlic), Babington's leeks and red veined sorrel. And we were still pulling up the spring onions that probably grew from a packet I had dropped in the autumn last year. 

Sunday, 3 June 2018

March 2018 harvest summary

Weight   0.694 kg

Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Brussels sprout
Brassica leaves226£0.25
Babington's leeks92£0.70
Pea shoots56£1.20
Spring onions34£0.50

Ramsons, red veined sorrel

February 2018 in pictures

February is always a relatively quiet month in the garden, so it's a good time to do some stock taking. We have enough jam, marmalade, chutneys and pickles in the cupboards to keep us going for most of the year or at least until harvest time when more will be prepared. We're down to two bottles of elderberry syrup but they should see us through the rest of the winter and any coughs and colds we might develop.

It's also a good opportunity to tidy up the bookshelves and take an inventory of what we have and note what is still to be read! 
Meanwhile, outside the celery that I grew from the remains of a bunch I bought in the local supermarket has survived the bad weather and I found an overcrowded clump of spring onions. I suspect a whole packet had dropped out of my pocket some time in the autumn and was then mulched and covered over with compost. Time to thin out and eat!

We are now down to our last home grown squash. It's the second monster squash, which weighed in at 3.2kg. We may be eating it for some time! We are still harvesting some kale, cavolo nero and Babingtons leeks, and we have had the first pea shoots of the season (grown on the window sill). 
One of our lunches this month: squash and leek risotto, accompanied by puy lentils with leek and cavolo nero and pea shoots as a garnish.

And finally, the daffodils are coming out in what we call our "front patch". One could almost believe that spring is around the corner but the forecast for the beginning of March is not good.We could be seeing some heavy snow.

Monday, 30 April 2018

February 2018 Harvest Summary

Weight   1.442 kg

Garden harvest shop/market price £7.85

Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Brussels sprout
Babington's leeks240£1.20
Brassica leaves234£0.25
Cavolo nero204£1.50
Curly kale134£1.34
Spring onions40£0.60
Pea shoots8£0.16

Herbs - estimate £2.00

January 2018 in pictures

January is generally a quiet month spent mostly ordering and sorting seeds, and planning the sowings and plantings for the coming year. Towards the end of the month I started testing some of the older pea seeds in the Reading Food Growing Network's seed swap boxes for viability. Most of the packets had good rates of germination and high enough to be included in the swap boxes for another year. It is, of course, far too early to plant out the seeds once they have germinated so they go into pots on the kitchen window sill and the pea shoots add a welcome variety to our winter salads.

It's also the time of year when I go through the seeds I already have and donate the surplus to the RFGN seed swap.

We had some snow and cold weather in Caversham. The snow was quite impressive while it was coming down but it didn't last long on the ground. SI really hope that we don't have long drawn out cold spell this spring as we have over the last couple of years.