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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Gorgeous Gooseberry Juice

Whilst browsing some old YouTube videos, I came across an old version of Gardeners World in which Monty Don visited some allotment sites in Birmingham, that isn’t too far from where I live. It was comforting to hear the familiar accent that the plot holders spoke in. I particularly loved a West Indian lady called Cynthia who has given me a new purpose for my gooseberries, rather than the traditional jam making.

Cynthia blitzed up a batch of freshly picked gooseberries, added a tin of condensed milk, a pinch of nutmeg, a can of stout or in her case Guinness and for added measure, (as is the West Indian tradition), a splash of white rum. Mix this thoroughly and serve ice-cold. I have made the same drink but with pineapple juice instead and it is really filling but delicious too. I can’t wait to make the same with my gooseberries.  It was fantastic seeing her make this actually on her plot too!

You can see the video here.  to see Cynthia’s recipe being created fast forward to around 26 mins into the video.

Happy diggin’

Debb

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What to do in June – 2

Reading back on last years’ post about what to do in June, you would have thought that I would have learned from my mistakes of not planting too many seeds due to running out of space.  No such luck!  If anything, I have even more trouble with space now as I have transplants for my sister’s new plot too!  

Any way, now that the weather is warming up, most plants can be placed outside but keep the fleece handy for a few more weeks yet just incase.  Us UK gardeners know only too well that frost can rear its’ head in late June!

Jobs to do………in June

  • Keep the hoe busy to get on top of the weeds.  Hoeing on a sunny day makes it easy as the weeds will die in the heat of the sun.
  • Continue to save water where you can.  The warmer weather will mean that plants will require more water.
  • Continue to earth up potatoes.
  • Peg down the runners of strawberries and add a layer of straw underneath so that the soft fruit is not in direct contact with the soil.
  • Keep soft fruit covered to prevent them being eaten by the birds.
  • Pinch out side shoots on indeterminate tomatoes.
  • Tomatoes, peppers and cucumber will benefit from regular feeding now.  Choose a liquid feed that is high in potassium or harvest comfrey leaves to make into a liquid fertiliser.
  • Check the plant supports for taller plants such as peas and beans.  Encourage the plants around to grow around the supports.
  • Continue to thin seedlings to allow room for crops to grow successfully.
  • Keep a close eye on brassica plants for the first sign of caterpillars and aphids. Check the underside of the leaves for the butterfly eggs and deal with them at the first sign.
  • Water tomatoes regularly to prevent blossom end rot but avoid splashing water onto the leaves.  This will encourage blight spores.
  • Sow catch crops such as radish or gem lettuce between slow-growing brassicas.
  • Add shading to greenhouse to prevent plants scorching.
  • Continue to pick salad crops to encourage more leaves.

What to sow………Indoors

  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Celery
  • Onions and shallot seeds
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Kale
  • Cucumbers
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Winter salads
  • Summer, Autumn and Winter Cabbages
  • Summer and Autumn Cauliflowers
  • Calabrese
  • Maincrop peas
  • French beans
  • Runner beans
  • Sweetcorn
  • Leeks
  • Spinach
  • Radish
  • Courgettes
  • Summer squash
  • Marrows
  • Pumpkins
  • Winter squash

What to sow………Outdoors (Under Protection)

  • Beetroot
  • Broad Beans
  • Calabrese
  • Carrots
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Courgettes
  • Cucumbers
  • French Beans
  • Kale
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Lettuce
  • Marrows
  • Pak Choi
  • Peas
  • Pumpkins
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Runner Beans
  • Spring Onion
  • Squashes
  • Sweet corn
  • Swede
  • Turnips

What to plant………in June

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflowers
  • Celery
  • Courgettes
  • Summer squashes
  • Cucumbers (Outdoor)
  • French Beans
  • Kohl rabi
  • Leeks
  • Lettuces
  • Marrows
  • Peas
  • Pumpkins and Winter squashes
  • Runner Beans
  • Sprouting broccoli
  • Sweetcorn
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes

Crops in season now

  • Asparagus
  • Spring onions
  • Lettuces
  • Chard
  • Radish
  • Kale
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach

Happy sowin’

Debb

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Save me Sunday!

Today seemed to be a day at the allotment where I had to save some beneficial insects from drowning. The first instance was when I noticed a bumblebee swimming frantically on top of the pond water which I managed to rescue before my hungry fish decided to devour it.

The next instance was when I filled my watering can from one of my pre-filled waterbutts around my site and noticed a ladybird fighting for its life.

Although I am aware of the importance of the wildlife on the allotment site, up until today, and these two instances of insects fighting for survival, I never truly realised the importance of how these tiny creatures can make a difference to the food in which I am trying to grow.

Never again will I pass a beneficial struggling insect without thinking how can I help you to help me.

Happy diggin’
Debb

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Rhubarb Recipes – Part 1

With rhubarb being in season and there always being plenty to bring home from the allotment, I decided to invest in a few good recipes in which to use my produce. 

I cannot take credit for any of the recipes listed below.  They were sourced from the Internet and the direct links for each can be found just by clicking the recipe title. 

Some of these I have tried, some I am yet to try.  I hope you find a favourite in amongst them too. 

Rhubarb Chutney

Makes five or six medium (300-400ml) jars, though you can double the quantities (in which case it will take longer to cook).

  • 1kg rhubarb, cut into 3-4cm pieces
  • 500g onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 500g dried apricots, very roughly chopped – quarters or sixths is fine
  • 350g golden granulated sugar
  • 300ml cider vinegar
  • Finely grated zest of 2 large oranges Juice of the oranges (about 200ml)
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp finely ground black pepper

Put all the ingredients in a preserving pan. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half, stirring often, particularly towards the end, when the thickened mixture might otherwise catch and burn.

The chutney is ready when it is rich and thick, exhibiting a geyser-like plopping, rather than a liquid simmering. Pull a wooden spatula through it – if you can see the base of the pan briefly, before the chutney comes together again, it’s ready.

While the chutney is cooking, sterilise some jars and vinegar-proof lids. Put them in the oven towards the end of the chutney cooking time, so they are clean, dry and hot when you come to pot the chutney.

Pot into the hot jars, filling them right to the top and ensuring there are no air pockets. Seal at once and leave to cool before labelling. Leave for at least a month before opening, then keep in the fridge. Store unopened jars in a cool, dark place for up to two years.

 Rhubarb and Ginger bars

The hint of ginger adds an undertone to the tart rhubarb. With a dusting of powdered sugar, these bars make for a lovely snack.

Makes 16 bars
85g butter, at room temperature
50g granulated sugar
60g wholewheat flour
60g flour
¼ tsp salt

For the topping
360g rhubarb, diced into 2cm pieces
75g sugar, divided
½ tsp ground ginger
3 large eggs
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tbsp cornflour

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line a 20x20cm baking tin with baking paper, then lightly grease. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flours and salt, continuing to mix until uniform. Press the crust evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, place the rhubarb, 3 tbsp sugar and ground ginger into a large saucepan. Over a medium-high heat, cook the rhubarb until soft – about 10 minutes – stirring occasionally. Cool the rhubarb until lukewarm. 

Put the softened rhubarb in a blender and process until smooth. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, and remaining 3 tbsp sugar. Gradually add the processed rhubarb and continue whisking until fully mixed in. Whisk in the cornflour. 

Lower the oven temperature to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Pour the filling over the cooked crust and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the filling has set and no longer moves when the pan is jiggled. The bars will be easiest to cut after being chilled (but there’s no shame in sneaking a few bites when they are warm). Serve warm or chilled, with a dusting of icing sugar.

Happy cookin’

Debb

 

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Rhubarb Custard Pie

As usual at this time of year I have a glut of rhubarb from my allotment.  Bored with the traditional rhubarb crumble, worried that the neighbours won’t want me to deliver any more armfuls to them, I thought that it was time to find some new recipes that I could use for this tart fruit (or some would say vegetable).

I am a subscriber to a site called Kitchen Parade and the latest edition to the site was the following recipe.  I haven’t tried it as yet, but I am definitely going to give it a try.  Photo of the baked pie can be found on Kitchen Parade website.  Thanks for sharing with us.

RHUBARB CUSTARD PIE

Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to finish: 90 minutes
Time to table, including chilling: 4 hours
Makes 1 9” shallow or deep-dish pie

  • 1 unbaked pie shell

RHUBARB

  • 4 cups (16oz/453g) fresh rhubarb cut into ¼” pieces
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

CUSTARD

  • 3 large eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup (248g) double cream
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

TOPPING

  • 2 tablespoons sugar, plain or raw

Heat oven to 400F. Line a pie pan with pastry, chill until ready to fill.

Please note, the pie bakes in three stints: first, just the rhubarb alone for 20 minutes; then with the custard for another 20 minutes; finally with the sugar for 10 minutes or until done.

RHUBARB In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Turn into pie shell and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes on the lowest rack in the oven, directly on a baking stone if possible.

CUSTARD While rhubarb bakes, gently whisk all the ingredients. Gently pour into partially baked pie, leaving about a half-inch of crust exposed – if using a shallow pie plate, there will be leftover custard. Bake for 20 minutes on the center rack.

TOPPING Sprinkle pie with sugar. Bake for another 10 minutes or until center is no longer soft and jiggly.

COOL Cool completely without covering, about 1 hour. Refrigerate pie until ready to serve.

LEFTOVERS Best on the first day but in my family, leftover pie for breakfast is a tradition! Be sure to keep refrigerated.

Happy bakin’

Debb

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What to do in May – 2

Wow! Where did April go in such a hurry. I can’t believe that we are in May already. The months just seem to be flying by. With the warmer weather approaching and the seedlings and plants growing at an alarming rate, it is important to appreciate that these plants will need some extra tlc.  They will require constant watering and in some cases protection from the elements, so it is worthwhile bearing this in mind if you are unable to tend to your plants for a long period of time.This could be an ideal time to get to know your allotment neighbour and ask them to help you out!

Most of the plants that can be planted this month are virtually the same as April.  Many tender crops can now be planted out in the ground but it is still worthwhile remembering that we can still have late frosts up until the end of the month. So keep an eye out on the weather forecasts and take the necessary action to protect your plants if this should happen.

Jobs to do………in May

  • Most vegetables can now be sown outside but they will still require protection
  • Continue to harden off plants that are due for transplanting in the ground this month.
  • Continue to pot on plants that need transplanting, trying to accommodate them best you can under cover until the risk of frost has passed
  • Weeds will grow even more strongly now so keep the hoe busy
  • Continue to pick salad crops to encourage more leaves
  • Repot up tomato seedlings if they have outgrown their pots.
  • Cover newly sown crops and seedlings with cloches to help protect a little more from the elements
  • Thin raspberry canes to aid picking fruit at a later date
  • Root vegetables will need to be thinned now to allow room for the crops to develop properly
  • Sweetcorn can be sown directly outside now but remember to sow them in blocks to aid with pollination
  • Tomato plants that are growing vigorously will need staking and the side shoots will need removing
  • Keep the watering can busy this month
  • Cover strawberry beds with straw around and in between the plants
  • Plant out winter brassicas such as cauliflowers and Brussels Sprouts that have been hardened off
  • Peas will need staking when they reach a couple of inches high.
  • Make sucessional sowings of peas, lettuces, spinach, turnips and radishes

What to sow………Indoors (Heated or Unheated)

  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Celery
  • Onions and shallot seeds
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Kale
  • Cucumbers
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Winter salads
  • Summer, Autumn and Winter Cabbages
  • Summer and Autumn Cauliflowers
  • Calabrese
  • Maincrop peas
  • French beans
  • Runner beans
  • Sweetcorn
  • Leeks
  • Spinach
  • Radish
  • Courgettes
  • Summer squash
  • Marrows
  • Pumpkins
  • Winter squash

What to sow………Outdoors (Under Protection)

  • Spinach
  • Salad leaves
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Rocket
  • French beans
  • Runner beans
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Sprouting broccoli
  • Summer, Autumn and red cabbage
  • Early cauliflower
  • Leeks
  • Calabrese
  • Herbs
  • Radish
  • Mangetout
  • Calabrese
  • Maincrop peas
  • Carrots
  • Beetroot
  • Kohl rabi
  • Broccoli (Summer variety)
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Sweetcorn
  • Swedes
  • Spring onion
  • Turnips

What to plant………in May

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflowers
  • Celery
  • Courgettes
  • Summer squashes
  • Cucumbers
  • Globe artichokes
  • Kohl rabi
  • Leeks
  • Lettuces
  • Marrows
  • Peas
  • Pumpkins and Winter squashes
  • Sprouting broccoli
  • Sweetcorn
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Fruit bushes
  • Strawberries
  • Second early and maincrop potatoes
  • Onion sets and shallots

Crops in season now

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli (Sprouting)
  • Spring onions
  • Hardy lettuces
  • Chard
  • Spring cauliflower
  • Spring cabbage
  • Radish
  • Chicory
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Parsnips
  • Forced rhubarb
  • Spinach

Happy sowin’

Debb

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