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 ?!

February 2017 - garden ticking over

February is generally a quiet month in the garden with most things ticking over quite nicely on their own. Adding to and turning the compost heap is just about the only regular job at this time of year and we are usually joined by some of the birds hoping to get an easy meal from the disturbed pile. This cheeky little robin was one of several regular visitors.

The winter greens are still producing but some of the cavolo nero was starting to sprout. We picked some to steam along with the leaves but we generally leave a few to flower so that we can collect seed from them in later months. As we start most crops in seed trays indoors we don't need need to free up the ground straightaway for the new seasons plants.

Indoors, one of my tasks is to test the viability of the older pea seeds in the Reading Food Growing Network's seed swap boxes. Once they have germinated I plant them in seed pans and put them on the kitchen windowsill for pea shoots. I usually get about three cuts from them before the stems start to toughen up. By that stage, the weather is often about right for planting them out into the garden to grow as normal pea plants.

I went on a willow weaving workshop run by Five a Day Market Garden in Englefield. I attended a similar event last year. The willow wigwam I made last year has lost its colours (see the photo below on the left) but is still good for another year at least. I was more adventurous with the design for this year's effort (wigwam on the right). I'm still not sure where I am going to put it but I'll have to make my mind up soon so that I can plan the plantings around it.

And meanwhile, at the the front of the house, the daffodils are about to burst into life and the crocuses are adding a welcome bit of colour as well as providing food for the insects.

February 2017 harvest summary

Garden harvest total 1.042 kg

Garden harvest shop/market price £7.36

Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Cavolo nero
Brussel sprouts318£1.13
Curly kale106£0.85
Swiss chard88£0.70

Monday, 1 May 2017

Winter food

I'm finally catching up with postings, harvest summaries and photos from the last few months. Many of the photos I've posted on Flickr and Facebook but have not yet got around to uploading them here.

I love winter food and this meal is an example of how wonderful veg can be at this time of year: vegetarian haggis with veg from the garden and Reading Farmers' Market. Cavolo nero and mashed squash from the garden; red cabbage, potatoes, leeks and celeriac (mixed in with the squash) from the market.

At this point in the year we were down to our last three home grown squashes. I called them traffic light squashes because of the colours and I am always reluctant to cut into the last of our autumn harvest. Pretty though they are they are grown to be eaten so it was the orange one that went into the haggis meal.

January 2017 harvest summary

Garden harvest total 2.026 kg

Garden harvest shop/market price £8.42


Garden crops

Weight g

Shop price

Brussel sprouts
Cavolo nero322£1.95
Swiss chard318£2.35
Curly kale100£0.80

Summary of 2016 harvest

Total weight of harvest Jan - December 2016  73.627kg

Prices in shops of harvest June - December 2016 £332.08

Possible value of foraged food £168.98

Herbs - £37.50

Salads  £35.00

Total possible value of harvest June - December 2016 £573.56

Harvest sorted by weight

Weight (g)
Shop price
Tomatoes 13624 £105.31
Squash 8528 £16.91
Potatoes 5424 £10.84
Parsnips 5163 £2.55
Green courgette 4308 £20.89
Cabbage 4219 £7.68
Cucumber 4122 £22.00
Onions 4120 £3.20
Runner beans 3618 £21.62
Swiss chard 2685 £12.21
Yellow courgette 2210 £14.85
Beetroot 2000 £9.69
Peas 1924 £18.48
Carrots 1428 £5.00
Cavolo nero 1358 £6.20
Grapes 920 £4.65
Spring onions 806 £4.50
Cauliflower 710 £2.10
Brussel sprouts 654 £3.05
Lettuce 646 £5.00
Jerusalem artichokeskes 627 £0.95
Damsons 576 £2.80
Curly kale  550 £2.05
Horseradish 466 £1.90
Garlic 466 £12.35
French beans 400 £5.66
Pea shoots 294 £0.50
Raspberries 290 £3.62
Sweet bell peppersrs 280 £1.01
Shallots 202
Babbington's leeks 200
Sprouting broccoli 184
Strawberries 156 £1.50
Pear 130 £0.70
Gooseberries 92 £0.65
White currants 85 £0.50
Fig 84 £0.76
Aubergine 78 £0.50

Harvest sorted by possible value

Shop price Weight (g)
Tomatoes £105.31 13624
Cucumber £22.00 4122
Runner beans £21.62 3618
Green courgette £20.89 4308
Peas £18.48 1924
Squash £16.91 8528
Yellow courgette £14.85 2210
Garlic £12.35 466
Swiss chard £12.21 2685
Potatoes £10.84 5424
Beetroot £9.69 2000
Cabbage £7.68 4219
Cavolo nero £6.20 1358
French beans £5.66 400
Carrots £5.00 1428
Lettuce £5.00 646
Grapes £4.65 920
Spring onions £4.50 806
Raspberries £3.62 290
Onions £3.20 4120
Brussel sprouts £3.05 654
Damsons £2.80 576
Parsnips £2.55 5163
Cauliflower £2.10 710
Curly kale  £2.05 550
Horseradish £1.90 466
Strawberries £1.50 156
Sweet bell peppers £1.01 280
Jerusalem artichokes £0.95 627
Fig £0.76 84
Pear £0.70 130
Gooseberries £0.65 92
Pea shoots £0.50 294
White currants £0.50 85
Aubergine £0.50 78
Shallots 202
Babbington's leeks 200
Sprouting broccoli 184