Archive | August 2014

Saving Pea Seeds & Moving Raspberries

This week at the allotment it has felt more like autumn, with some wet and breezy days.  One morning this week it was quite foggy too and on this particular morning I noticed lots of spiders webs that looked beautiful with the moisture from the air making then sparkle:

SAM_9937 SAM_9938

.

The allotment is starting to slow down a little bit now and I am harvesting vegetables every three days now instead of daily, however the harvest is still good on those days:

SAM_9896 SAM_9931 SAM_9932

.

At the moment the allotment plot is looking very pretty with the calendular and tegetes that line the paths.  They also attract many beneficial insects as well, which is why I grow them:

SAM_9927 SAM_9928

But I can’t wait for the final finale that the michaelmas daisies give, that edge my rotational beds.

 When they flower I love the contrast between the purple and the orange flowers and when they arrive in September, I know that autumn is here.

Below is a photograph of the michaelmas daisies last year.  I hope they look this good again:

SAM_7482

.

This week at the allotment I have been carefully watching my outdoor tomato plants for ‘ tomato blight’.  After we had a few wet days I became very nervous that I would lose all the lovely green tomatoes if I get ‘blight’,  as I do most years.  I have already had lots of lovely ripe tomatoes from these plants and the tomatoes that are left are all a good size, but just not ripe.

So I took the strange decision to remove the tomatoes from the plants and ripen them at home.  So here they are:

SAM_9924 SAM_9933

 .

I have also been collecting my pea seeds at my allotment ready for next year.  My dwarf peas and my climbing peas gave a wonderful harvest earlier in the year and so I want to make sure this happens again.

IMG_2303

It’s very easy to save pea seeds.  All you need to do is leave a few on the plants and wait until they are dry and brown:

SAM_9907 SAM_9908

I then pick the pods on a dry day and leave them on trays in my house for a couple of weeks.  This ensures that they are completely dry.

SAM_9917

I then take the pea seeds out of the pods and place them into a paper envelope or bag and store them in a dark, dry, cool place until I need them next year.

I find it so satisfying saving seeds and I always get such a buzz when my seeds germinate and produce plants the next year.

 .

Also at my allotment this week I decided to dig up my two summer raspberry beds that I inherited.  I will buy some new raspberries and plant them in a different place in Spring:

SAM_9936

I covered the grass in between the raspberry rows a few weeks ago to kill it off.

Unfortunately, the raspberries never really did very well.  Some of them looked lovely but would disintergrate when you picked them and the other plants just didn’t produce many raspberries.  Over the last three years I have fed them and treated them very well indeed, however this hasn’t improved them and I can only think that the raspberries are old now and past their prime.

So I spent a merry morning removing their supports and digging half of the canes up.  Due to the amount of compost and manure that has gone into the ground over the last three years, I found the raspberries dug up well and the soil underneath is beautiful.

SAM_9941 SAM_9940

I had some spare slabs at my allotment so myself and Mr Thrift laid a path down the side of the new bed, where I will shortly be planting my spring cabbages when I have dug up the rest of the raspberries on the other side:

SAM_9942

.

At home my attention has turned to winter salads for my polytunnel.

I have sown seeds for mizuna, winter lettuce, perpetual spinach, winter hardy spring onions and coriander for my kitchen windowsill.  I have also sown some more beetroot, which really is too late to sow (and i’m not even sure if it will germinate), but if it does I will plant it in my polytunnel in the hope I can use the young leaves in salads during the autumn.

My seeds are sitting snug and warm in my mini-greenhouse.

SAM_9898

.

Finally this week at home I have been juicing all the lovely apples that I picked last week from my early apple tree at my allotment.  I must say there weren’t many apples on the tree this year, but the ones I did have were great.

Below is a photo of my trusty ‘apple picker’ that I wouldn’t be without now, as it reaches all the apples on the tree without using a ladder – a great invention!

SAM_9880 SAM_9878

 I juiced the apples using a ‘press’ I bought a few years ago.  I must say though, I wish I had spent more money on a much bigger apple press as it does take me quite a while to juice all my apples.

I first wash the apples and cut off any bruised or bad bits and then chop them in quarters and ‘pulp’ them in batches in my food processor (again, bigger ‘presses’ have ‘pulpers’ attached).  Then I put the pulp in the apple press…..

SAM_9909 SAM_9910 SAM_9912SAM_9914

….and out comes the sweetest, most delicious apple juice I have ever, ever tasted.  It’s also free from any nasty chemicals and preservatives that some shop bought apple juices have in them.

Unfortunately I don’t have a pasturiser so I freeze the apple juice in little plastic bottles that I have collected, so that my family can have the juice in months to come.

The bottles are ideal to pack in lunch boxes straight from the freezer, as they defrost by lunchtime and while it’s still frozen it keeps the sandwiches cool too.

.

Just to finish off with, I thought I would show you the strawberries that I talked about a couple of weeks ago.  If you remember I cut the foliage down to approximately 8cm from the crown a couple of weeks ago and it always looks so harsh:

SAM_9807 SAM_9805

Cutting the strawberries back in this way helps the plant produce more fruit the following year, as the plant then puts all it’s energy into producing a strong root system.

Below is a photo of how they look today.  You can see that new foliage has already begun to grow back and I will hopefully have lovely strawberries next year:

SAM_9939

.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back at my usual time next Friday.

Advertisements

Courgette Sponge Cakes With Mascapone Cheese & Lemon Curd

Just wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ to ‘Argiolus‘ who identified the caterpillar I mentioned on my blog last Friday.  It is in fact an Elephant Hawk Moth and he has kindly given a link to some more interesting information about the moth here.

SAM_9804

I love receiving comments on my blog, so please keep them coming with your views, questions and answers, etc. which are great for everyone who reads them.

Thank you

.

At the weekend Rowley fields allotment society in Leicester had an open day, so we went along.  We saw a wonderful plot (or should I say garden), so I took a photo to show you:

SAM_9856

How beautiful it was!

.

This week at home I have once again been thinking about storing my crops, by putting my onions away.  They have been drying nicely for the last three or four weeks in one of my mini-greenhouses.

SAM_9692

I put them in a large netted bag in my storage boxes with my potatoes and they will store nicely over winter, provided I check them every so often for any that have begun to rot.

SAM_9889 SAM_9891

.

At my allotment, my cucumelons are taking over my tomato plants and my poor tomatoes are struggling to ripen!…but dispite this, my polytunnel is heaving with produce:

SAM_9873 SAM_9876

.

This week at my allotment I have been pruning my golden gage tree.  I don’t think it has been pruned for a long time and as a result I found there were a lot of dead, diseased and crossing branches to prune away.

SAM_9882 SAM_9886

.

Also, I have been pruning my lavender bushes that looked so beautiful at the beginning of summer and attracted lots of beneficial insects.

When I attended horticultural college I was told that the council parks department use strimmers to prune their Lavender and after planting my hedge a few years ago, I also use a strimmer to prune my lavender and it works a treat.  Provided I make sure that I leave approximately one inch of the current years growth on the plant, then it grows back lovely the next year:

SAM_9885 SAM_9887

.

I have also been picking lots of tomatoes from my allotment.  I am still expecting ‘blight’ as they succumb to it each and every year unfortunately… but as yet they are still blight free for the moment.  You can read about ‘tomato blight here.

SAM_9843

As well as making tomato and basil soup (the recipe is here), I have been making passata.

Passata doesn’t usually have any seeds in it, however I think life is too short to sieve the seeds out of the sauce, so I don’t.

All I do is wash and chop them in half and then cook them in a large pan with a cup of water.  When they are soft I use my stick blender to liquidise them until there are no lumps.

SAM_9842 SAM_9844

I then poor 500 grams worth of sauce into bags in plastic pots and when it is cool I freeze the portions.  When it is frozen I remove the bags from the pots and put the nice rectangular shaped sauces in my freezer ready to defrost and use when it is needed.

I use the sauce in recipes like pasta sauce, pizza sauce or spaghetti bolognaise.

SAM_9892 SAM_9893

.

 This week I have once again been busy making jams and chutneys.  I started with a beetroot chutney to use up the last of my beetroot.  My daughter and sister love this chutney, so I make it every year.

The recipe is here.

SAM_9824 SAM_9833

I continued to use up the plums I picked by making more plum jelly and I also made plum ice cream sauce.  I made the ice cream sauce in the exact way that I made crab apple ice cream sauce here, but I just substituted the crab apples with the plums.

It is delicious drizzled over ice cream (especially the home made vanilla ice cream here).

SAM_9832

.

Unfortunately, I then realised I had nearly ran out of jars and I still have loads of fruit in my freezer to make different jams, etc.  I know if you buy new jam jars they can cost quite a bit of money, so I buy the cheapest jars from the supermarket, use the contents and then re-used the jars.

(Incidentally, I don’t buy pickle jars as the smell is hard to remove).

In the past I found ‘value’ marmalade was the cheapest, but this week the cheapest jars I could find contained ‘lemon’curd’ at just 22p per jar.

SAM_9837

I gave the contents of a couple of jars to a friend and I have been madly using the rest of them myself.

I started by making mini lemon meringues:

SAM_9834 SAM_9836

My eldest daughter made a lovely victoria sandwich with lemon curd in the middle:

SAM_9862

And finally, we went to a friends house at the weekend and I took some little lemon curd cakes and I even managed to hide a courgette in the mixture too.  They did taste good, even though I do say so myself.

You can find the recipe below:

SAM_9871

.

Courgette Sponge cakes with Mascapone Cheese and Lemon Curd:

.

6 oz of Margarine

6 oz Caster sugar

6 oz Self raising flour

3 Eggs

A few drops of Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 medium courgette

½ Jar of lemon curd

250g tub of mascapone cheese

20g icing sugar, plus a small amount for dusting

The juice and zest from one lemon

.

Preheat the oven Gas Mark 5 / 375F / 190C

Peel the courgette, top and tail it and then grate it very finely.

Place the courgette in a sieve just to let any excess water drain away while you are making the cake mix.

SAM_9846 SAM_9848

Sieve the caster sugar, flour and baking powder in a bowl and then add the eggs, margarine and vanilla extract.  Mix until they are combined.

SAM_9849 SAM_9850

Add the courgette and mix until combined.

SAM_9851

If the mixture falls off the spoon easily (dropping consistancy), then half fill muffin cases with the mixture.

(If the mix doesn’t fall off the spoon easily then keep adding a tiny bit of water and mix until it does).

SAM_9853 SAM_9854

Bake for 20 minutes and then leave to cool.

SAM_9855

Remove the cake from the cake case and slice it in half and put a teaspoon of lemon curd in the middle

SAM_9863

Mix the icing sugar, mascopone cheese and lemon juice together and then spread it or pipe it onto each cake.

Top each cake with a small amount of lemon zest.

SAM_9861 SAM_9864

Sprinkle with a dusting of icing sugar to finish off the cakes

SAM_9869

 Enjoy!

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back at my usual time next Friday.

Purple Bullace Jelly And Courgette Chutney

This week in my kitchen I have been busy using all the home grown produce that I have picked.  I always have a lovely sense of satisfaction when I use my organic fruit and vegetables, as I  know one hundred percent that no chemicals have been used to grow them and I think this also makes them taste better.

SAM_9823

.

This week my outdoor tomatoes have started to ripen and I have begun picking them daily.  They are a variety called ‘outdoor girl’ which are usually a little bit earlier than other outdoor varieties, however for some reason they are a little bit later than usual this year.

I am constantly checking for tomato blight as my tomatoes have only escaped once over the years.  You can see photos of tomato blight here, together with lots of information on what to do when you first notice it on your tomatoes, as some of your crop can be saved if you act quickly.

SAM_2649

.

With my first batch of tomatoes I made a big pot of tomato and basil soup, which we had for lunch with a loaf of warm, crusty homemade bread.  It was far nicer than any soup you can buy in a tin and it only cost me a few pennies to make as nearly all the ingredients were from my allotment.

You can find the recipe here.

SAM_9826 SAM_9786

.

I am also still using all of the courgettes that my plants are producing.  This week I made my favourite courgette chutney….

.

Courgette Chutney Recipe:

.

2 onions chopped

500g tomatoes chopped

500g courgettes diced

300ml white wine vinegar

2 cooking apples peeled and diced

250g brown sugar

2 teaspoons mixed spice

1 tablespoon of mustard seeds

Thumb sized piece of root ginger grated

4 garlic cloves crushed

.

Put all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil slowly, stirring continuously.

SAM_9758 SAM_9760

SAM_9761

Simmer for 2 hours uncovered, until it is dark and looks like chutney.

SAM_9762

Pour into hot sterilised jars.

( To sterilise jars, pop them in an oven for five minutes, gas 4 / 180C / 350F )

SAM_9765

Leave for 3 weeks before eating.

.

.

This year at my allotment I had a bumber crop of strawberries.

SAM_9332

At this time of year I usually tidy the plants up a bit…. I remove the straw that I lay around the plants in the spring and put it into my compost heap.  I then cut the strawberries back to approximately 3 inches (8 cms) from the crowns.  It always looks harsh but they grow back really well.

SAM_9807

Cutting the strawberries back in this way helps the plant produce more fruit the following year, as the plant then puts all it’s energy into producing a strong root system.

SAM_9806 SAM_9805

This is the second year my plants have fruited so I am not keeping any runners, so I cut them all off.

  If I wanted to increase my stock I would just peg down the runners with a large stone or wire, so that the new plantlets are in contact with the soil.  When they have good roots on them at the beginning of September, I cut each runner from their parent and replant it where I want it to grow.  This way they are settled before the winter and produce fruit the following year.

.

Incidentally, I found this little fella under the old straw around my strawberries:

SAM_9804

I have been told he is a ‘death head hawk moth’ caterpillar.  He looks quite evil doesn’t he, but I left him alone as moths are hugely important for the food chain and some of them are great plant pollinators.

.

This week I have been picking ‘Cucamelons’.  It’s the first time I have grown them and they seem to have taken ages to become established….and now they are taking over my polytunnel!

SAM_9800 SAM_9801

When I was researching the cucamelon, I found some people loved them and some people hated them, so I thought I would try them for myself…..I’ve got to say I am somewhere in between.

I think they taste like a cucumber, but with a crunchy skin.  The plants have certainly given me a good crop, but after we all tried them, we decided we like normal cucumbers better….so this is one I won’t bother growing again (sorry James Wong).

However this year they will go to good use in salads, with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt:

SAM_9817

.

At this time of year I am thinking about storing my crops ready for the winter.  My potatoes have all been dried and they are now storing in sacks.

S

  My french beans are doing well at my allotment this year and I have been busy blanching and freezing them, together with the runnerbeans that I am still picking:

SAM_9794 SAM_9795 SAM_9796

.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will remember that this time last year I gave the old tree in my woodland area a real good prune as I don’t think it had been pruned for years.  I had been told by a couple of people that I would be better off chopping the tree down as it never has fruit on it….but I decided to give it a chance.

I prunned away approximately a third of all the dead, diseased and crossing branches and I will continue doing this every August until it is back to how it should be.

….And after just one year of pruning it has rewarded me with a bumper crop…..

SAM_8695 SAM_9757

The gentleman that rented the plot before me (my dear friend Eric) told me that the tree was not a damson tree, but he didn’t know what it was.  I think the tree is a ‘purple bullace tree’….I may be wrong, but it doesn’t really matter as the fruit makes a great fruit jelly…which I have been making this week, ready for my Christmas hampers:

.

A Wild Plum, Damson or Bullace Jelly Recipe:

.

First cut your plums in half just to make sure they haven’t been infected by the plum moth (discard any that have).  Don’t bother removing the stones. 

Put the plums into a maslin pan or a large jam making pan.

SAM_9787

Cover the plums half way up with water.

SAM_9788

Slowly bring the plums to the boil and then simmer until they are soft (approx. 15-30 mins).

SAM_9789 SAM_9790

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and place some muslin or a clean tea towel into it and boil for 3 minutes.  Take it out of the water and wring it out and then leave to cool.

Tip the fruit into the muslin and let it drip overnight or for approximately 8 hours.  I find it easier to put the muslin over a colander that is already over a bowl, as it’s easier to pour the fruit into it.

In the picture below, you can see how I suspend my muslin bag over a bowl.  I have read that an upside down stool can be helpful to do this, but I have never tried it.

 SAM_9791

The next day put some side plates or saucers in the freezer to check the setting point of your jelly later on.

Measure the juice.  For every 1 pint of juice, measure 1lb of granulated sugar.   Put the juice and sugar back into a large pan and bring it to the boil slowly, over a low heat, until the sugar has dissolved.

Also, as I don’t use jam sugar I add two tablespoons of lemon juice for every one pint of juice.

SAM_9809

When you can see no sugar crystals on the back of your wooden spoon, turn the heat up and boil hard until the setting point has been reached.  This can take quite some time.

(I always continuously stir my jams and jellies to stop them from burning at the base of the pan, however I have never seen a recipe tell you to do this, so it’s up to you).

SAM_9810 SAM_9811

To check the setting point, put a small amount of jelly on a saucer from the freezer and wait for a few moments, push the jelly with your finger and if it wrinkles then the setting point has been reached, if not just continue boiling for a further five minutes and then check again.

SAM_9812

When the setting point has been reached, take the pan off the heat and leave it for fifteen minutes. If there is scum on your jelly, you can skim it off, but I just stir in a small knob of butter which does the same job.

SAM_9815

Sterilise some jam jars (gas mark 4 for 5 minutes)

Pour the jelly into the jars and seal with lids.

SAM_9816

Enjoy it for months to come!

SAM_9818

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

Cucumber Sorbet and Allotment ‘Catch up’

 Thank you for all your kind words last week, after my father-in-law passed away.  It was lovely to know so many people were thinking of us.

We had the funeral on Monday and the church was full, as he was a very well liked and respected man in our community.

We found the day exhausting and we felt very drained at the end of it.

SAM_9639 SAM_9641

Unfortunately we were away on holiday in Scarborough when we received the call that he had passed away.  This was devastating for us as we couldn’t be with him during his final hours.

We obviously cut our holiday short and drove home that day, so we could be with my husband’s family.

SAM_9611 SAM_9610

We are all missing my father-in-law very much.

.

This last two weeks have been very hard on us all and I must say I have really had to push myself to do anything at the allotment…..but nature doesn’t stand still and things need to be picked (though I haven’t been keeping on top of the weeds as I would normally do).

Amazingly the allotment is looking good even though it hasn’t had much attention for three weeks now:

SAM_9704 - Copy

Things are growing well:

SAM_9721 - Copy SAM_9718 SAM_9717 - Copy SAM_9715 - Copy SAM_9713 - Copy SAM_9711 - Copy SAM_9709 - Copy SAM_9708 - Copy

SAM_9720

I also have melons growing in the polytunnel which I really need to support and I have little cucamelons which are about ready to eat:

SAM_9723 SAM_9722

.

Since coming home I have been picking my produce by the basket load and using it up or freezing it, pickling it or preserving it…

SAM_9700 SAM_9699 SAM_9697 SAM_9696 SAM_9693 SAM_9691 SAM_9665 SAM_9658 SAM_9656 SAM_9648 SAM_9647

.

I have dug up my onions and garlic and they are currently drying in my mini greenhouse and I have begun digging up my potatoes, which I dry for a few hours before putting them in sacks to store for the winter:

SAM_9692 SAM_9662

.

The shallots have now all been pickled, together with my gherkins and my pantry is bulging, even though some have already been passed onto family and friends.  However, the first jars to be opened are already half empty as my family love them, so they won’t last long:

SAM_9732 SAM_9733

.

CUCUMBERS GALORE…

SAM_9717 - Copy SAM_9731

As it has been a very dry summer here, my indoor and outdoor cucumbers have done exceptionally well and I have so many of them.  They will store in a fridge for a few days, but there are only so many cucumbers that you can eat!

I read if you peel them and then puree them, they can be frozen in portions and then added to spag bogs, pasta sauces, etc. so I have given this a try and I’ve found it’s a great way to add a few vitamins without the family knowing:

SAM_9671 SAM_9729

.

Also, I made a very easy Cucumber and Mint Sorbet.  It sounds horrible, but it is quite a surprisingly refreshing taste.  I must admit I couldn’t eat a whole bowl of it, but a scoop served with another pudding, e.g. meringues, is really lovely and it will impress friends at a dinner party.

.

Cucumber amd Mint Sorbet:

.

800 grams of cucumber that has been peeled and the seeds scooped out

5 – 10 grams mint leaves (I used apple mint from the garden)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

130 grams icing sugar

.

Start by putting the cucumber, mint, lemon juice and icing sugar into a food processor:

SAM_9676 SAM_9678 SAM_9679

Blend until the mixture is runny, but still a bit course (see the photo below):

SAM_9681

Chill for a few hours in the fridge.

Then pour the mix into an ice cream maker and let it do the hard work for you.

SAM_9682

When it is ready, transfer the sorbet to an ice cream tub and pop into your freezer until required.

(If you haven’t got an ice cream maker, just put the blended ingredients into a container and freeze.  Remove from the freezer every 1-2 hours and mash vigourously with a fork to break up the ice crystals).

Decorate the sorbet with some fresh borage flowers from your garden if you have them.

.

And Enjoy!

SAM_9687

.

I just wanted to finish by saying a big ‘thank you’ to those of you that voted for my blog in the ‘easyshed.co.uk’ competition.  I am amazed that I received so many votes and even more amazed to have won – thank you so much.

.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

 

What To Do In The Kitchen Garden In August

My blog has been nominated as one of the top ten allotment blogs, which is such a compliment.  If you enjoy my blog, would you please consider voting for me here.

Thank you for your time.

………………………………………………….

When I first started to grow vegetables I needed help to work out what I should be doing each month at my allotment.   I found that there was lots of bits of information scattered between internet sites and books and it used to take me a long time to find the information I actually needed.  I really needed it all to be in one place, so I could look it up easily, to establish what to do each month.

I therefore thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place. So for the benefit of UK gardeners, at the beginning of each month, I write a list of things to be done during the month and any useful information I can think of.

It is worth remembering that different parts of the UK have different weather conditions e.g. the last frost is expected earlier in the south than the north.

SAM_9540

.

August:

August is usually the month of plenty and you can come home with a good harvest at every trip to your plot.

The weather is usually very similar to July and if it has been wet in July then August will usually be wet too.  Though warm spells can be very hot and they often end in severe thunderstorms.

In hot periods plants will need watering and the RHS has written a very good guide to watering vegetables here.

Nights are also beginning to become longer and night temperatures will be lower.

Holidays are a problem in August as plants will usually need watering when you are away, especially in polytunnels and greenhouses, so it’s important you have someone to help you when you are away.

SAM_2380

Vegetables to harvest:  Runner beans, french beans, cabbages, curly kale, courgettes and marrows, patty pans, spinach, swiss chard, cauliflowers, carrots, beetroot, sweetcorn, tomatoes, chillis, peppers, onions, potatoes, salad leaves and lettuces, radish, celery, cucumbers, spring onions, kohl rabi’s, globe artichokes, aubergines, swedes, turnips and the last of your peas, broad beans, garlic and shallots.

Herbs to harvest:  Parsley, basil, mint, chives, coriander, lavender, borage.

SAM_2625

Fruit to harvest:   Plums, greengage and yellowgage peaches if you have them, tayberries, blueberries, late season cherries, the first blackberries, autumn raspberries, early apples and some pears and the last of your currants.

Blackberries

.

Vegetables and salads to sow:

Turnips, swiss chard, perpetual spinach, winter radish, kohl rabi, Japanese onions, spring cabbage, carrots, chicory, lettuces and salad leaves, rocket, spring onions.

SAM_6996

.

Things to plant:

Transplant your winter/spring cauliflowers into their final positions, plant new strawberry plants as soon as your strawberry runners have rooted (approx. 3 or 4 weeks after pegging them down).

SAM_9633

.

Jobs to do in August:

Harvest crops regularly from your plot, especially runner beans, french beans and courgettes, which are notorious for growing at an amazing speed.

Hoe weekly, as this keeps all the weeds down as it stops weed seeds from becoming established and will weaken perennial weeds too.

Dig up potatoes when they are ready and leave to dry for a couple of hours, ready to store them for the winter.

SAM_9661

Spread homemade compost around plants whilst the soil is moist, this will stop weed seeds germinating and it will also keep the moisture in.

Dry out garlic, onions and any remaining shallots by either lifting them and laying them in the sun or by spreading them out onto wire racks to dry.

My garlic drying

.

Pinch out the top of climbing french beans and runner beans, as this prevents them becoming top heavy and helps the plants bush out below.

Water bean plants regularly in dry weather.

Pinch off the top of outdoor tomatoes once four or five trusses have developed as this will concentrate the plants energy into producing the fruit below.  Continue to nip off the side shoots that keep appearing between the main stem and leaf stems.  Keep feeding weekly and checking for blight.

SAM_2975

Continue tying up tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers as the fruits can become heavy as they develop.

Earth up and support spring broccoli and brussels as they grow to help support them during winter winds.

Sow green manures as beds become empty.

Keep feeding pumpkins and squashes.

SAM_9658

Keep propagating strawberries from runners.

Summer prune gooseberries and currants once all the fruit has been picked.

Prune summer fruiting raspberries by cutting all the canes that had fruit on this year.  Tie in all the new canes.

Continue to tie in non-fruiting blackberries canes.

Prop up branches of fruit trees that are being weighed down by fruit.

Summer prune espaliers, cordons and other fan trained fruit trees.

Continue pruning the side shoots of grapevines and removing some of the foliage so the fruit can ripen in the sun.

SAM_9665

.

August’s Pests And Diseases:

Carrot flies are laying their eggs again this month.  Protect with fleece or environmesh.

Be vigilant and pick off caterpillars on brassica leaves if you find them.

Slugs and snails are still a nuisance so they still need controlling in whatever method you choose.

SAM_2743

Powdery mildews can be a problem in dry, warm summers and can be found on peas, courgettes, squashes and cucumbers.  Make sure you water regularly to avoid this.  A fungicide spray may help but as an organic gardener I choose not to use this.

Check for blackfly on runner beans, french beans, globe artichokes, etc.  I choose to rub them off between my finger and thumb, but if you are a bit squeamish use a soft soap.

Remove fruit infected by brown rot on apples, pears, plums and quinces and destroy it.

Watch out for the first signs of blight on your tomatoes and potatoes (see the photos below):

SAM_9441 SAM_9443

Water tomatoes regularly so they don’t succumb to blossom end rot or splitting.  Ensure you water them at the base of the plant to avoid ‘ghost spot’ (pale rings on their skins that sometimes turn yellow or orange, (though the fruit can still be eaten).

A tomato with ‘Ghost Spot’

.

Above all else, don’t forget to sit back and enjoy the produce you have worked hard to grow and give yourself a pat on the back!

SAM_7304

I hope you will find the above information helpful.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

SAM_2561

Thank you for reading my blog today.