Hidden Bean Gems!

imageThis time of year, most of us allotment growers have an abundance of runner beans that are now passed their best to be eaten as whole beans, but are we missing a trick when it comes to the swollen beans inside?

Now I know some of you may leave the pods on the plant to dry for saving seed for next years growing season, but then throw the rest of the pods out with the compost!  I realised this error last year and have since made a note to collect all of the unwanted, unloved remaining pods that remain on the bean plants.  (In the case of allotment neighbours’ unwanted beans, permission is always acquired before I harvest the beans in question)!

The idea is to harvest and store the beans inside, but they must be dry.  This can either be done by leaving the pods on the plant to dry naturally, or removing the ripe beans and drying them for a couple of weeks until the shells are hardened.  Once completely dried, they can be frozen for a couple of hours to kill any bacteria or bugs that may be lurking on there, then stored in airtight containers.  If the beans are quite fresh, you can simply pod them, wash them and then place in the freezer until needed.  They store brilliantly this way.  I spent a fantastic afternoon with my young neighbours who were more than willing to help me shell the abundance of beans that I had.

The beans can then be added to casseroles, soups and stews, or in my case used with the West Indian Rice and Peas recipe!  They also look fabulous added to clear storage jars within your kitchen.  Any type of beans such as French, Runner, Borlotti can be treated in the same way.

Lets see how much hidden treasure you can acquire!

Happy harvestin’

Debb

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Ripe Autumn Raspberries

imageMy allotment, and garden at home for that matter, is looking a little bit sad where things are beginning to come to an end. However I am pleasantly surprised with my autumn cropping raspberries. I have never really been one to concentrate on fruit, apart from my giant strawberry patch, but these raspberries definitely made me sit up and take notice. The variety is called ‘Joan J’ and gives the deepest red, largest raspberries that I have ever seen.

Now I know some of you may say that size is not everything, but I can assure you that the taste of these are definitely not impeded due to their large size. It seems as if I am picking cupful every day just off at about four plants, that were given to me as transplants last year. Even the birds seem to leave the Autumn fruit alone, after having their fill of the summer cropping fruits!

Any new canes that have appeared as small new plants, will be dug up and moved to a new location. I do not want to overcrowd the raspberries which will make it easier for air to circulate between them and much easier to crop. (They have spiny stems which can cause discomfort when harvesting the fruit if there is no room). As soon as this variety has finished cropping for the year I shall cut the canes back down to the ground where they will then sit dormantly during the Winter months. I will apply a mulch of well rotted manure to the base and leave them to have a well earned rest, ready for producing their fruit again next Autumn. Next year though, I must remember to support them more against my fence as the weight of the fruit sometimes causes the plants to bend and sometimes snap.

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What to do in October – 2

Autumn is here already, but it only seems like yesterday that we were in the middle of Summer. Maybe due to the fact that in my region we hit temperatures in the region of 20°, considerably warmer weather in comparison for September last year. Here’s hoping that October turns out to be relatively mild.

Reading back on my post about October gardening jobs last year, I’m still feeling as sad as I was then knowing that the growing season is coming to an end yet again.  This time however, I am excited about the plans that I can now put into place for my new smaller plot.  Autumn is the perfect time for planning and preparing the ground, and indeed the structures on your plot, ready for the growing year ahead.  However you spend your gardening time this Autumn, below is a list of some of the jobs that you can do to give yourself the best start to the season ahead.

Jobs to do………in October

  • Continue to check all crops that you have stored.  One bad vegetable could ruin the whole crop.
  • Clear away yellowing leaves from winter brassica plants.  This helps to reduce white fly.
  • Collect leaves this Autumn to make into leaf mould for next year.
  • Start to dig over vacant areas of soil ready for the winter.  You can add layers of manure, leaf mould or compost over the soil and leave it until the winter has passed, turning the soil over in Spring.
  • Continue to add compostable waste to your compost heap.  Keep it covered to keep the heat in and help the decomposing process
  • Clean and store tools, pots and containers as these are not generally needed as much during the winter months.
  • Place squashes and pumpkins in a warm place to toughen the skins ready for storing in a cool place.
  • Ripen the last few remaining outdoor tomatoes by placing in a brown paper bag or hanging in the greenhouse alongside a ripe banana.
  • Give the greenhouse a through clean and make any necessary repairs
  • Take hardwood cuttings of currant and gooseberry bushes
  • Harvest herbs and dry or freeze for winter use

What to sow………in October

  • Cress
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Winter lettuce
  • Broad Beans
  • Radish
  • Hardy peas (under cover)

What to plant………in October

  • Rhubarb crowns
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Spring cabbages sown last month
  • Asparagus

Crops in season now

  • Apples
  • Aubergines
  • Beetroot
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Early Brussel Sprouts
  • Beetroot
  • Cabbage Summer/Autumn
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Calabrese
  • Cauliflower (Autumn)
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Chillies
  • Fennel
  • French Beans
  • Garlic
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Marrow
  • Onions
  • Parsnip
  • Peas (late)
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin and Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnip
  • Sweetcorn

Happy harvestin’

Debb

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What to do in September – 2

Ok, so my mental note of not sowing and growing too many seeds due to an over abundance of produce went completely out of the window! I harvested loads and loads yet again!  Not that I am complaining,  in a time when the cost of food tends to sky rocket through the roof, I am thankful for the ability to provide food for my family.

Whilst I am in the process and harvesting, storing and preserving my produce, I still need to keep on top of necessary jobs that need to be undertaken this time of year.  Clearing beds, transplanting new plants, improving the soil condition are just a few jobs that need to be done.  The following information will also outline some other jobs that will help you get more organised this month.

Jobs to do………in September

  • Lift maincrop potatoes and leave to dry in the sun for a few hours to dry the skin. This makes them last longer when being stored.
  • Perform a general tidy up of the plot in preparation for any structural work that needs to be completed during the Autumn and Winter months.
  • Protect squashes and pumpkins that are laying on the ground by placing them on a tile or suchlike. This prevents them from rotting. It may be worthwhile removing some of the leaves around the fruit to gain maximum sun to help with ripening.
  • Keep harvesting your vegetables to encourage production. In some cases, the more you pick the more you get!
  • Remove as many leaves that you can from tomato plants to help maximise the amount of sun that the unripe fruit need.
  • Keep adding contents to the compost bin, ensuring to add an equal amount of brown waste and green. Turn regularly to aid decompostion.
  • If not already done so, make a new strawberry bed with the runners from the existing plants.
  • Prune blackcurrant bushes, removing all the woody growth that has produce the fruit this year.
  • Transplant any spring cabbages that you may have started growing last month.
  • Continue to water all veg – especially in dry weather.
  • Protect delicate crops for colder weather such as lettuces with cloches or mini polythene tunnels.
  • Although you may be over run with beans now, continue to harvest them while they are still tender to prevent the plant from producing tough, stringy beans.
  • After beans and peas have finally finished their production of crops, cut the plant down at root level, leaving the nitrogen rich roots in the soil.
  • Keep an eye out now for blight. At the first sign on potato plant leaves, cut the haulms off and burn immediately. Do not place them on the compost heap as you run the risk of the spores spreading more. The potatoes underneath the earth will still be fine for a few more weeks if the haulms were cut off at the first sign of blight.

What to sow………Indoors and outdoors

  • Autumn and Winter salads
  • Radish
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Pak Choi
  • Kale
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Hardy Lettuce
  • Spring Onion
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Winter radish

What to plant………in September

  • Winter Brassicas
  • Chives
  • Kale
  • Kohl rabi
  • Lettuces
  • Garlic
  • Overwintering Onion sets

Crops in season now

  • Courgettes
  • Cauliflowers
  • Cabbages
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Potatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Lettuces
  • Chard
  • Radish
  • Kale
  • Sweetcorn
  • Tomatoes
  • Chillies
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Spinach
  • Autumn Raspberries
  • Marrows
  • Shallots
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Onions

Happy harvestin’

Debb

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Onion fly attack

A few weeks ago I harvIMG_1177.JPGested and rescued what I could from my onion and garlic crop due to an attack from the onion fly.  I always tend to plant the majority of my onions and garlic in October to allow them to overwinter and develop a good root network, but I also plant a few rows in March too. Luckily, by the time the onion fly was in full swing I was able to save some of the crops that had overwintered before the damage from the grubs was too bad.  As the overwintered crops had been in the ground for a longer period of time and had managed to get established into decent sized plants, they were able to ward off a more serious attack rather than the newly planted crops that hadn’t yet had time to get established and therefore were more susceptible.

One of the telltale signs to look for is that the foliage will suddenly start to curl and fold rather than standing upright.  When you lift a bulb, you should also see damage to the layers of skin where the grub burrows its way into the centre of the bulb.  The grub looks like a tiny brown grain of rice and is very clearly seen by the human eye.  Normally, there are more than one grub in each plant.  Unfortunately, when the onion fly attacks there is very little that can be done to save the plants unless you spot the signs quickly and remove the plants from the ground.

All of my March sown onions were unusable and had to be removed from the  plot and disposed of in the bin.  I had no intentions of adding these to the compost bin as this would have been the ideal place for the grubs to turn into the adult fly and therefore continue the destructive cycle.  Most of my garlic had to be thoroughly inspected and separated into individual cloves to expose and reveal the grubs that had burrowed into the bulbs.

My advice would be to plant alliums in October and to keep them covered with some fine mesh to prevent the fly from landing and laying their eggs.  Don’t plant them in the same place as any alliums have been grown in the previous year.  This includes leeks too. Crop rotation is also very important as the grubs can survive in the soil for a long period of time.

The link below will give more information on how to deal with the onion fly.

How to deal with the onion fly

Here’s hoping that you are never attacked by these and have a great harvest.

appy Diggin’

Debb

 

 

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What to do in August – 2

Firstly, apologies for the post being a little late but I have a valid reason behind it.  I have recently taken on another allotment plot and have been busy turning it around and making it useable for the winter and upcoming months.

August seems to be a great time for acquiring a new plot as the days are longer and hopefully drier meaning that there are more productive hours that can be spent clearing the plot.  I will go into  more detail about my new plot in a future post but for now, here are a few jobs that we can all be getting on with this month.

Jobs to do………in August

  • Check sweetcorn kernels to see if they are ripe. Press a thumbnail into the kernels to see if a milky liquid oozes out.
  • Pinch out runner bean tops to prevent having to over reach for the beans.
  • Lift and store second early potatoes.
  • Take cuttings for woody herbs such as rosemary, thyme marjoram and sage.
  • Keep on top of pest control. A soft soap liquid solution works well.
  • Thin seedlings to prevent overcrowding and water well if the soil is dry after thinning.  The transplants may be situated elsewhere to get another crop.
  • Keep the greenhouse well ventilated and damp down the floors to help the humidity.
  • Harvest and dry a wide variety of fresh herbs to use later in the season.
  • Lift and store early beetroot.  They taste more tender when harvested before they reach the size of a tennis ball.
  • Keep harvesting your vegetables to encourage production. In some cases, the more you pick the more you get!
  • Continue to feed tomatoes and peppers but reduce the watering towards the end of the months to help the chillies to ripen.
  • Completely remove and turn the contents of the compost bin.  There will be plenty of green waste added this month so it pays to turn before it gets overfull.
  • Make a new strawberry bed with the runners from the existing plants.
  • Keep an eye on courgettes and pick them while they are still young.  They seem to grow in the blink of an eye!
  • Lift and dry onions, shallots and garlic for use in the coming months.

What to sow………Indoors and outdoors

  • Autumn and Winter salads
  • Radish
  • Beetroot
  • Early Carrots
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Pak Choi
  • Kale
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Hardy Lettuce
  • Spring Onion
  • Japanese Onion
  • Spinach
  • Spring Cabbage
  • Turnips
  • Winter radish

What to plant………in August

  • Winter Brassicas
  • Chives
  • Kale
  • Kohl rabi
  • Lettuces
  • Sprouting broccoli

Crops in season now

  • Courgettes
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Potatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Lettuces
  • Chard
  • Radish
  • Kale
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cherries
  • Shallots
  • Courgettes
  • Broad Beans
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Onions

Happy harvestin’

Debb

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What to do in July – 2

This month for me so far on the allotment has been a little disappointing.  I had a severe attack of onion fly that wiped out all of my March sown onions, (post to follow about that soon), theft of items from my plot that included potted plants and garden materials, as well as plants not progressing as well as expected.  Still,  I refuse to let the thieves or pests get the better of me.  I will persevere and plod on regardless. So here are some of the jobs that I can be getting on with on my plot this month.

Jobs to do………in July

  • Ventilate the greenhouse, dampening down the floors to help control the heat.
  • If you haven’t done so already, transplant winter brassicas.
  • Water crops regularly now.  This is the time when crops rely on their water supply to swell most vegetables.
  • Keep on top of pest control.  The warmer humid weather encourages a vast amount of pests.
  • Don’t let the hoe sit idle.  Weeds are best dealt with on a sunny day so that they die in the sun.
  • Continue to encourage beans and peas to climb around their supports, pinching out the tops when they have reached the top of their supports.  This encourages flower and fruit production rather than leafy growth.
  • Thin herb seedlings and transplant the thinnings elsewhere.
  • Harvest and dry a wide variety of fresh herbs to use later in the season.
  • Stop tomatoes from producing more growth when at least 4 trusses of tomatoes have appeared.
  • Keep harvesting your vegetables to encourage production. In some cases, the more you pick the more you get!
  • Avoid thinning carrots during the day to prevent carrot root fly.
  • Cover the curds of cauliflowers to prevent from sun scorch.
  • Continue planting both plants and seeds to fill in any gaps.
  • Keep adding both green and brown waste to the compost heap, turning regularly.
  • Peg down the runners of strawberries to produce new plants for next year
  • Continue to feed all plants, especially tomatoes and peppers.
  • Make your own liquid fertilisers using nettles or comfrey leaves.
  • Continue to thin seedlings to allow room for crops to grow successfully.
  • Continue to sow catch crops such as radish or gem lettuce.

What to sow………Indoors

  • Spring Onion
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Kale
  • Autumn and Winter salads
  • Spring Cabbages
  • Calabrese
  • French beans
  • Runner beans
  • Spinach
  • Radish

What to sow………Outdoors

  • Beetroot
  • Calabrese
  • Early Carrots
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • French Beans
  • Kale
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Lettuce
  • Pak Choi
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Runner Beans
  • Spring Onion
  • Turnips

What to plant………in July

  • Winter Brassicas
  • Leeks
  • Chives
  • Courgettes
  • Kale
  • Marrow
  • Oregano
  • Pak Choi
  • Kohl rabi
  • Lettuces
  • Peas
  • Runner Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Sprouting broccoli
  • Sweetcorn

Crops in season now

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Potatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Lettuces
  • Chard
  • Radish
  • Kale
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cherries
  • Shallots
  • Courgettes
  • Broad Beans
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Onions

Happy sowin’

Debb

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