Archive, Blogtober 19, Gardening

September Vegetable Patch: Harvest season

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Where do I even start! I totally missed uploading the last garden update post, despite having it sat in my drafts folder as I am ridiculously unorganised and quite frankly shit with deadlines. Oops. So quite a bit of content in this post today (sorry).

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We started September off removing a lot of the vegetables from the vegetable patch such as the potatoes, shallots as well as harvesting ridiculous amounts of courgettes, beans and rhubarb. Once quite a big portion of the vegetable patch was removed my dad dug a huge hole in the middle and we emptied the entire contents of two compost bins into the ground before replacing the top soil. My dad told me that this will feed the garden / soil over the next few months and will help us when it comes to growing more vegetables next year, yey!

Once that was done we transplanted over the unknown vegetables from the tiny little ‘nursery’ I made months ago. I say unknown vegetables as we are unsure if they are cauliflowers, cabbages or maybe sprouts? There was about 17 of them on top of one another in that tiny nursery space so I think some might just be leggy cabbages but we will have to wait and see what grows now they have enough space in the vegetable patch.

We also planted some spring cabbage and some leeks! They are so tiny compared to the other vegetables in the patch, especially the leeks so I am hoping they survive the winter and do well! I am already planning leek and potato soup!

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So, as a run down this is what we currently have left in our vegetable patch:

  • Beans
  • Courgette
  • Beetroot
  • Savoy cabbages
  • Leeks
  • Spring cabbages
  • Unknown vegetables
  • Turnips

 

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I think the courgettes are definitely coming to the end of their season now, you can tell by how slow it is taking the plant to produce fruit and the courgettes are a much darker shade of green now. The beans are also almost at their end, we have enough par-boiled and frozen to last us through winter so we are thinking of just leaving them to go to seed so we can harvest some bean seeds to keep for planting next year.

The savoy cabbages (first image) are also ready to take, their huge! I’ve honestly never seen them so big! I can’t wait to have them with my Sunday dinner on a rainy day smothered in hot beef gravy! It’s making me drool just thinking of it!

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I’m also a little scared to pull the beetroot, as you know I planted them under all of the large leafy greens due to lack of space and I was not 100% sure they would survive, and although they did they still have taken a long time to grow and look a little sad for themselves with some leaves being brown. I think I am going to leave them in for as long as I possibly can before pulling them all to be boiled and picked to go with the Christmas turkey and ham on boxing day!

So that’s that! And although it is now Autumn and you would think garden season has come to and end I still have loads to do in the next two weeks! I’m just hoping it stops raining long enough so I can get it all done!

Jobs to do:

  • Order onions and garlic
  • Plant them when they arrive
  • Plant spring bulbs in borders and in the pots
  • Cut the flowers in the boarders back
  • Look into how to store my olive tree during the colder months
  • Sort the herbs out and see if I can dry any to be used during colder months
  • Cut lavender back
  • Transplant lavender cuttings into the front garden

Let me know how your garden is going now we are transitioning into the colder half of the year, or maybe your entering spring / summer! If so let me know what your planting flower and vegetable wise for the upcoming months.

 

 

 

Archive, Gardening, September 2019

Belated Garden Update: August – September

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I’m a little late posting this weeks garden update as back to school chaos and a not so wonderful 24 hour bug hit our home this week, but please know I love writing these posts and documenting what is happening in the garden and how the plants and wildlife are behaving so I will try to keep on top of posting on time.

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Since my last update two weeks ago we have been over took by beans! So all I seem to be doing is picking the runner beans, par-boiling them and then freezing them for the upcoming winter sunday dinners. They are beautiful tasting though, wonderfully sweet and Blue (our dog) absolutely loves munching any leftovers.

I also finally found out what has been chomping away on the vegetables in our makeshift nursery patch. Caterpillars in their dozens of various sizes (including newly hatched) seemed to be enjoying the all you can eat buffet in our little nursery garden. Because my dad doesn’t believe in chemicals (and rightly so) we just sprayed the leaves with warm soapy water to deter the caterpillars and I also moved as many as I could to the top of our compost heap (lid off) so they could munch on something useful instead.

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My parents took me for a trip to the local independent garden centres on bank holiday Monday just gone as well and I bought some new plants! I managed to pick up some leeks and spring cabbages for our winter vegetable patch, an oregano herb to add into my little herb garden which will come in very useful, a beautiful tall white flower which I have planted in the front garden in with our cottage flower patch we have going on and I even found some black tulips to keep my inner goth happy come spring, though I’m not sure how my parents feel about the addition of black flowers to their garden.

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Other then all of this I have mainly spent the past two weeks tidying the flower borders, deadheading and cutting back plants that have come to an end and let me tell you that that is not an easy task! I spent most of one day doing the front garden and back boarders and I felt like I had done a 6 hour session in the gym the next day!

I honestly can’t believe how quickly the weeks are flying over, I’m hoping that all my work deadheading will mean we enjoy the late flowering season a little longer and I can’t wait to get my winter veg transplanted into the vegetable patch.

Gardening, Lifestyle, September 2019

Homemade Rhubarb gin!!

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This year our rhubarb went WILD in the vegetable patch and took over a ridiculous amount of space, to the point that there was no way anyone could eat that much stewed rhubarb or rhubarb crumble so I was at a loss about what to do with all those beautiful red stalks.

After a little googling I learnt you can quite easily make your own rhubarb flavoured vodka or gin which fascinated me. Coming from a house of gin drinkers I went with the latter and I am currently waiting for one litre to infuse in a dark cupboard before testing it out with a good tonic at some point in October.

I followed the BBC Good Food website recipe which I will link here and I used Gordon’s Dry London gin seeing as this is my first time at making this because quite frankly I didn’t want to experiment with a expensive gin on my first try incase it all goes wrong.

I’m not expecting my gin to go the beautiful pink colour like it is photographed on the website as the majority of my rhubarb stalks were green but I will keep you updated as to how the gin turns out in a months time.

Let me know if you have ever attempted to infuse your own spirits and don’t forget to link the recipes you used so I can give them ago myself.

Archive, August 2019, Gardening

My little Herb Garden: Basil

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I am so very proud of my little herb garden.

Last year I had the grand total of seven plants under my care and this year it has grown to 10 different herbs all potted up and sitting happily on our decking around the kitchen door.

Some of the plants have returned  from last year, such as the mint, parsley and camomile which give me so much joy to see life re-grow in their pots as I assumed all herbs died off after one season. The others I have re-purchased from the supermarket fresh herb section and potted them up i.e the coriander and obviously basil.

Infact, this year we have two different types of basil growing, your more traditional italian genovese basil and greek basil which have smaller more dome like leaves and seems to be growing like a bush in its pot.

Seeing as we have two lots of basil growing this year, I thought I would step up my game from just using a few leaves in my spaghetti bolognese recipes and attempt this year to make fresh homemade pesto and oh my, I am so glad I decided to give this ago!

Firstly it was ridiculously easy to make. I don’t know why but I always assumed making pesto would be difficult and time consuming but it literally took all of 10 minutes tops. In fact stacking the dishwasher took more time then making the pesto!

It is also so so so much nicer than your shop bought pesto especially the jared stuff you find in the condiments aisle, I know that I will never ever buy the jarred stuff again. How you may ask,  considering basil has such a short life span? Well because you can freeze your homemade pesto and keep it in an airtight container for up to 9 months.

You can find the instructions of what I did below.

Basil Pesto

Ingredients:

  • Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic
  • Salt

Method:

  1. I firstly toasted the pine nuts in a pan until they were a golden colour before removing from the heat and crushing into a paste in my pestle and mortar.
  2. I then blended the basil leaves, garlic cloves and olive oil in my food processor however next time I make pesto I think I am going to do this also with my pestle and mortar.
  3. I combined the crushed toasted pine nuts, basil paste and parmesan cheese into a bowl with extra olive oil.
  4. I left the bowl of pesto for a few minutes and went back and tasted the pesto before adjusting it to how I saw fit ( I personally added some more parmesan cheese because cheese is life).
  5. I then spooned the pesto mixture into two separate jars, covered with olive oil so that the basil didn’t brown and then placed one jar in the fridge (after putting a generous spoonful on top of my salad of course) and another in the freezer to use at a later date.

 

Archive, August 2019, Gardening

In the Vegetable patch: Mid August

It’s all go, go, go around here at the moment with the amount of produce the vegetable garden keeps throwing at us!

In the 14 days that have passed since my last published post (found here) we have managed to pick the last of the broccoli, two beautiful cabbages and one cabbage full of caterpillar poo (bork). As well as enough courgettes to sink a battleship, a ridiculous amount of rhubarb which is currently sitting in sugar waiting to be added to a bottle of gin for my first ever attempt at homemade rhubarb gin AND today I’ve noticed some of the beans are ready to be picked at last!

We also seem to have enough potatoes to supply Walkers! I swear to god. I dunno why but my dad went MAD when planting them, but considering the amount of mashed potato for sunday dinner we go through and homemade chips we make (family of 5 here, 7 on a Sunday!!!) they won’t come in wrong over the next few months.

The beetroot seems to be coming back strong now the cauliflowers and first lot of broccoli have finally been removed from the patch and they can actually get some sunlight, however it’s not all going fantastically, my poor little cauliflowers (/ possible sprouts??) are being well and truly munched to death and I’m not entirely sure they are going to survive. I can’t find the culprits but I know the slugs and snails are having a wonderful time with all this wet weather we have been having up north and are enjoying munching most of the flowers (delias, roses etc.) so there is a strong chance it’s them or their friend the very hungry caterpillar.

The herb garden is still going strong, and I bought some sunflowers a few weeks ago which now they are past their best we have tied them up on the shed to dry out so I am going to see if I am able to collect the seeds for next year and have a sunflower growing competition with little legs, that’s if the birds don’t beat me to them first.

Lastly, I am starting to plan what to plant in the vegetable patch over the next coming weeks for late autumn / early spring next year. Usually my dad always lets the ground rest over winter, but I would like to grow garlic and my mam said I could plant some leeks and possibly turnips and I was reading that you can grow beans! I have NO idea what you plant for the autumn / winter in your vegetable patch (other then the above) so if you have any suggestions please let me know.

Archive, August 2019, Gardening, Uncategorized

Vegetable Patch: July – August 2019

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So our ‘little’ vegetable patch has EXPLODED with produce recently, probably due to the crazy amount of rain we have had over the last few days here in the North East. The first lot of broccoli has been picked along with five heads of cauliflower all of which has been par-boiled and frozen for meals over the coming months.

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The cabbages are still in the ground and doing well, however we have lost two as they have ‘gone to seed’. What the hell does gone to seed mean I hear you ask? Don’t worry I asked my parents the same question, and no I won’t just keep repeating gone to seed at you as an answer until you feel like you’ve gone slightly mad. Basically it’s gardener speak for when a plant enters the flowering stage in preparation for seed production, and means the cabbages are past their best and will taste rank.

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The beans are also going crazy climbing the structure my dad built for them and producing lots of beautiful flowers which will hopefully soon turn into more beans then we will know what to do with, which is currently what the courgette plant is doing! I honestly don’t think I have ever seen one plant produce as many courgettes and I’m slightly glad my dad ignored my protests when I argued that we would need more than one of them in the garden to give us enough produce to cook with, boy was I wrong!

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My little nursery is going well, and now that the cabbages and first lot of broccoli are done I am  going to remove them from the vegetable patch and help my dad transfer the cauliflowers and turnips across  into the spaces left behind. I am a little worried for my beetroot though, even though I saved it and it survived despite being on the brink of dehydration and death, I’m worried that being under the huge broccoli and cauliflower leaves has stunted their growth due to the lack of sunlight. Fingers crossed they will flourish now that those vegetables surrounding them have been removed.

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And lastly, I added basil and greek basil to my herb garden this week and I can’t wait to make my own homemade pesto from scratch. Only one of the mystery plants has survived but has yet to flower, we still feel it is a sunflower plant and hope the slugs keep off it until it has a chance to reveal itself but at the minute (due to the wet weather) the snails and slugs are having a field day in our garden.

Oh and I must add, my dad is baffled that I run around the garden taking photos and ‘blog’ about our little vegetable patch (despite only writing and publishing one post so far) and says he hopes I am telling you that he has done most of the hard work in the vegetable patch this year, but in my defence this is due to him choosing days I am at work when he originally transferred all of the plants into the ground, sooooo.. not my fault really. Right?

 

Archive, Gardening, July 2019, Uncategorized

reconnecting with nature: the start of a 29 year olds obsession with gardening

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I am incredibly lucky to have grown up in a family that are green fingered. Everyone of my older family members have absolutely beautiful gardens, especially my late nanna and my late grandad (the latter who had one of the most fantastic gardens I had ever seen as a child).

My family garden has always been spectacular, even when it was a building site for my many many years, my mam would still have her hanging baskets up around the scaffolding with every plant standing proud. Many of my first memories have always hovered around our garden, I mean I practically lived in the greenhouse eating cucumbers straight from the vine and sieving the sticks out of the compost making it almost as fine as flour. 

But it was last year when I was very unwell with my anxiety that seen me take an actual interest in gardening as an adult with my very own little herb garden. This year I am wanting to step up my game and I am trying to help plant up other things in the garden after getting my herb garden up and running for 2019.

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So this year in the garden we have quite a good sized vegetable patch going on as we haven’t yet got a greenhouse which I’m slightly glad about as it will end up eating into some (most) of the current vegetable patch space. My dad has planted in some broccoli, cauliflower, onions, courgette, potatoes and runner beans. Last Sunday I took over part of the garden where a water feature will eventually live, and I created a little nursery to save the turnips, late cauliflower and sweet peas. I also transferred across the beetroot between the already established vegetables in the patch in hopes to save them as they were beginning to look a little sorry for themselves.

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As well as my little herb garden, I have also planted up some random plants that have been sprouting up in the most unusual places! These two little mystery seedlings were found in with the rose pot and in with the mint! We think they are sunflowers but are not 100% sure so it will be really fun seeing what they will develop into. I have also spotted more springing up all over the garden, including in with the strawberry hanging baskets and in the thyme / sage pot! So if you have any idea what they may be please give me a shout!

Also let me know what you are hoping to grow this year, I’m really looking forward to watching the vegetable patch grow from now until the autumn!