The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: produce

Pear Discovery

Yesterday, 13th October, Laura and Glenn harvested the pears. Despite having had a blight of European Pear Rust on the leaves, we had a very good result from the Discovery. The Red Williams and the Beurre Hardy however didn’t give us any fruit worth a mention.

European Pear Rust – On pears Bright orange spots on the upper leaf surface. As summer progresses brown, gall-like outgrowths develop on the corresponding lower leaf surface. Fruit may be affected, but this is much less common. This fungus attacks both pears and junipers. In fact it needs both plants in order to complete its life cycle. Another reason for the removal of the enormous fir tree from the side garden.

image

Pear and Lemon Jam

This was my first attempt at Pear Jam. Its a cobbled together version of the recipe I do for all my jams. I used two pound of pears which had been peeled, cored and cut up into chunks; I large lemon;  one pound of preserving sugar and some water. I put the pears into a pan with a little water and the juice and zest of the lemon. I cooked the pears until they were soft. Then I added the preserving sugar and brought to the boil until the mixture reached setting point. I am now waiting for the verdict from the family. I think that next time I may add a little powdered ginger when cooking the pears.

 

Conference Pears

I have completed harvesting the pears from the garden this morning. This tree had no fruit at all last year but this season has been great with lovely blossom in the spring and loads of fruit. I understand that these pears keep well but I shall be having a look at how I can use them in cooking as there are so many.

Plum Jam

This morning I made three jars of jam from some of the fruit collected from my Victoria Plum Tree bought from Lidl. They are really tasty straight from the tree but lovely made into jam so that we can have the taste right through the winter too.

I usually cook large stoned fruit quite well in a little water and lemon juice then when the stones are floating on the top I put the whole lot through a seive and combine it with a little preserving sugar. There is pectin in the stones so no need to add more. Stir the fruit pulp and the sugar until the sugar is melted in then turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Keep stirring until the setting point is reached, not long with plums, and then pour into your jars using a funnel.

Windy Sunday Morning

We had a good couple of hours at the plot today. All the tomatoes are now in place in the lean to. The courgette plants are in their bed. Rob earthed up the potatoes which had put on a lot of growth following the torrential rain yesterday. We also topped up the potato bags. We came home with a cabbage, some spring onions and a bunch of raddish.

Reaping the Rewards

currant-harvest-300x224.jpgIt has been good growing weather just lately. Warm and wet. The plants have loved it and we had a near miss from the Blight according to Blight watch which is wonderful. We popped to the plots this morning and dug up a good harvest of Kestrel Potatoes. We have already dug up and eaten some Swift and some Vivaldi, both of which were very good. Today we ate one of the cabbage Kilaxy and it too was a success. The soft fruit has been great this year. We have eaten loads, given loads away and the freezer is full too. The strawberries have been producing like mad as have the red currants, red and green gooseberries, black currants and rhubarb. I have found recipes for redcurrant tart and redcurrant jelly and am planning to have a try at them next week.

0509-currant-tart04.jpg

We brought home the first of the courgette, a few more red and white onions, peas, broad beans,  pak choi, spring onions, carrots and red lettuce. The difficult thing is keeping up with the eating.

Surprise Surprise

Although the breeding season should only go from February to May Jemima is once again nest building and has two eggs in there already. I hope for their sake that they have at least one success this time.

We ate our first new potatoes last Sunday. It was the white pot, the first I planted up with three Charlotte seed potatoes on October 28th last year and started them off in the lean to. They were lovely. We also had broad beans from the plot and loads of strawberries too. The onions that we bought from Focus in October last year have all come on very well and we brought a couple home last weekend. I am not sure whether we should harvest them all now or not I shall have to do a bit of research. They went in the 9th October last year and from what I have read should be harvested in 22 weeks so now seems about right. On Monday night we cut the first Cucumber from the Carmen plant. We are hoping for more but who knows.

sean and deb greenhouseSean and Deb have bought a greenhouse for their garden and have done a good job of building a secure base for it. Well done both of you.

 

Happiness – £30

Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have.”

Arrived at the allotment at 8.30am to find the car park full. A bit blustery but dry and warm, perfect. We put the chicken bedding over the new brassica bed and Rob raked it over. First stop was to check in the shed for our delivery of potatoes and shallots from Mick Market. He brought us three bags of white shallots and a large bag of Winston seed potatoes. Next we checked on the seedlings in the lean to and everything was doing well. Even the rhubard was showing some growth so we removed the plastic covering in readiness for planting it out into its permanent bed later this month.

Parsnip GladiatorCarrots

We sowed about twenty parsnip (Gladiator) into a small bed adjacent to the carrot bin and rigged up a wire cage to protect them from the pigeons.

After topping up the carrot bin with some clean compost we sowed a couple of rows of carrots, Early Nantes, and a row of small white salad onions De Barletta which we covered over with a polythene sheet. They should germinate in a couple of weeks.

The Winston seed potatoes were put into the lean to on a tray to chit and we set about preparing the bed for the shallots. Rob dug over a full width bed which we then broke down with the hoe and raked fine. Using a plank we firmed two rows and Rob planted the shallots with just the tip on the neck showing above the soil. I am a bit concerned that the pigeons may pull them up but we shall have to see.

We had a word with Trevor about the rent and he said it had gone up to £15 a plot so we have to give him £30 for our two plots in the next couple of weeks. A bargain. We popped to Keith’s plot to have a look at how he had put in his potatoes and as usual it was immaculate. He has used the trenching method and has fleece on hand in case of the threat of late frost Our second plot is immediately above his so we have a lot to live up to to keep up with our neighbour. We spoke to Joe and he advised us to trench too. He said sprinkle some slug pellets and Bonemeal in the base of a trench 6-8″ deep, place the seed potato on the bottom then cover and earth up leaving valleys between the rows.

Next job was planting up the Bluberry bushes that had been waiting in the lean to. We had prepared a bin with some ericaceous compost and just had to top it up with some decent compost before planting them. When we opened the packaging we found that there were three roots in each pack so we had six instead of two and they were only £1.49 a pack. After planting them we rigged up a wire cage and secured it with string to protect them until they get established.

Finally we checked in the fruit cage to find that there was plenty of new growth on most of the plants but the two gooseberry bushes we bought from Ken Muir still look dead. However, the three roots we were given by Joe and the cheap red gooseberry Rob bought from Dudley, were covered in green shoots.

The broad beans along the trellis down by the shed were pushing through. We may need to replace four of the seeds as there are gaps. Could have been bad seeds or pigeons maybe.

broad beanspeaswhite onionsprout spiral

We sowed a couple of rows of Pea Fortune in the bed alongside the brassica cage and covered them with a cloche. Rob tidied the brassica cage and cut a head of broccoli and some Kale to take home. He also dug up a stem of sprouts. When we got home Glenn commented on how beautifully the sprouts spiralled up the stem. I had never noticed that when I used to buy them in bags from Sainsburys.