Tag Archive | Freezing strawberries

Two ‘Trials’ & An Easy Vanilla Ice cream Recipe

This week at my allotment I decided to trial two different things:

1) Nemaslug Slug Killer:

The first is ‘Nemaslug Slug Killer’, which apparently controls slugs naturally and is harmless to children, pets and wildlife (inc. birds and hedgehogs), even if they eat the infected slugs.

They seemed pretty easy to use from the instructions that I read before I ordered them, so I thought I would give them a go as they are a natural organic way to fight slugs.

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Apparently this pack can treat upto 40 square meters and it gives six weeks of protection.

I particularly wanted to use the slug killer around my potato patch as I seem to suffer regularly each year from slug holes in them.  After researching the best way to use the nematodes, I found it was best to use them six to seven weeks before I plan to harvest my potatoes, which was this week.

As the product only has a shelf life of four weeks, I ordered them a couple of weeks ago and when I received them they had to be stored in the fridge.

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The instructions said that you needed to apply the nemotodes on a dull day or in the evening….so I waited for a dull day.  It also said the ground must be moist before you apply them, so I had to use my hosepipe to wet 40 square meters!

I split the packet into four and poured each quarter into a watering can (with a course spray as advised) filled with clean water.  I then set about watering the area where my potatoes are growing…..I found I almost had to run along to make sure the watering can didn’t empty before I had covered the desired area!

I then read that you need to keep the area moist for the next two weeks, which means using more water from a hosepipe.

My first impressions are that it’s all a lot of messing around and an awful lot of watering (unless you apply them in a wet period which is no good for me at the moment).  However, I will follow the instructions and see if my potatoes have fewer slug holes this year…..The cheapest price I could find was £9.44 (incl postage), so I will let you know at the end of my trial if it is worth spending this money.

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2) The second trial is ‘Tagetes minuta’

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I go to a wonderful garden forum that used to be held at the ‘Eco House’ in Leicester (which sadly closed down last year), but we managed to keep the forum going.  We decided to trial these plants together as according to Sarah Raven:

“Tagetes minuta is an extraordinary plant that isn’t a looker, but its roots kill perennial weeds such a ground elder and couch grass.

Height: 180cm”

I sowed my seeds on the 30th April and they were ready to plant out this week:

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I planted them right at the back of my plot which is covered in all sorts of perennial weeds such as couch grass, dandelions, brambles, buttercups, nettles and even some Ivy:

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To be honest you have to look really hard to see where the plants are in the photo below.

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I did give them some slug pellets to start them off as I know slugs love to eat tagetes and I wanted to give them a chance to work their magic.

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I will let you know the results of both trials.

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This week at the allotment I cleared the poached egg plants away as they had finished flowering and had shed most of it’s seed.  They gave a wonderful display last month and they brought lots of beneficial insects like ladybirds and bees to my plot:

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I then replaced them with some marigolds that I grew from seed in March and hopefully they will look great in a few weeks:

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I also gave my flower patch a good weed and removed the forget-me-nots that also gave such a good display this year.  I cut back my hardy geraniums to encourage a second flush of flowers too:

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  I then planted some dhalias, petunias and antirrhinums that I had also grown from seed.  Hopefully these will give a good display all summer:

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Elsewhere on the allotment I have sown some more radish and I have been watering my celeriac at least twice a week to encourage bigger roots.

I have also been hoeing to keep the weeds down.

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Harvesting:

This week I have been harvesting lots of wonderful salad leaves, radish, spring onions, coriander and also watercress (which incidentally is grown in a large pot of compost that is watered only once a week):

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And also lots of broad beans that I have been blanching and then freezing on trays before putting them into a freezer bag, to stop the beans from sticking together in large lumps:

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And strawberries…what a wonderful crop this year.  In total I have harvested four baskets full so far:

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So we have eaten loads, I also made some more jam and I froze the rest.

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At home my hanging baskets are looking beautiful so far and I have started to feed them with a high potash liquid feed….the same one I use for my tomatoes at home

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And I have my first flowers on my ‘poundshop’ dhalia’s.  These were a bargain as there were three tubers in a pack for £1.00 and I didn’t really think they would be up to much….but all three have grown.

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I love receiving comments on my blog and this week ‘Angela’ asked me for the recipe that I use to make vanilla ice cream.  I don’t bother messing around with vanilla pods, I just use ‘madagascan vanilla extract’ which seems to be a bit thicker than ordinary vanilla extract and can be bought from your local supermarket, however normal vanilla extract should also work.

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A Very Easy Vanilla Ice cream Recipe:

(With or without an ice cream maker)

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165 grams caster sugar

240ml double cream

500ml  milk (I use semi skimmed)

2 teaspoons Madagascan vanilla extract if possible (or normal vanillia extract)

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Put all the above ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined with a hand blender or a spoon:

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Add the mixture to your icecream maker to do the hard work

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(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)

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As there are no chemicals in the ice cream, the ice cream will be quite hard when you take it out of the freezer to use, so it is better to take it out for 10-15 minutes before you eat it.

Then enjoy it!

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Altogether it has been a good week in the ‘Thrift’ household and to top it off, my good allotment neighbour gave me some ‘Sweet william’ flowers to take home and they look beautiful.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.  I hope you have a good week.

Tidying Up My Strawberries and Cleaning the Old Fashioned Way

Today I cut back my strawberry plants.

I’ve had a bumper harvest of strawberries this year, there would have been even more if there wasn’t so many slugs and snails around in the damp weather.

The strawberries are sitting in my freezer, waiting for me to make strawberry jam for my youngest daughter, she absolutely adores it.

I will make jam as soon as I get time.

After my strawberries have finished fruiting, I cut them back and have a general tidy up around them.  Cutting them back helps produce more fruit the following year.  I removed the straw that was under the plants and put it onto my compost heap and weeded around them.  I then cut the strawberries back to approximately 3 inches (8 cm’s) from the crowns.  It always looks harsh but they grow back really well.

Strawberries after cutting them back

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

 Strawberries are best replaced after four years as their yield starts to reduce and viruses and diseases have a tendency to build up.

 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 were 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.

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Patty pans

Today I picked my first patty pans.  They are from two different plants that I have outdoors.

Patty pans are lovely and I use them in the same way I use butternut squash.  We like them fried in a little olive oil, but they can be roasted in the oven, or you can just make soup with them.

If you pick patty pans when they are the size of your palm, they won’t have seeds in and you can eat the whole thing.

Once the plant starts to produce fruit, they are like courgettes, as they keep coming and coming until the end of summer.

 Amazingly, my outdoor plants have produced patty pans before the plant that I have in my polytunnel.  I have learnt from this and will probably not plant them in my polytunnel again.  I wonder if it was either too humid for the plant, as a couple have just rotted after they started to form, or if pollination hasn’t occurred, which can have the same effect.

  I would be interested to hear from anyone who has problems growing them in a greenhouse or polytunnel.

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Before I left the allotment this morning I dead headed my flowers to encourage more flowers to produce.  I am very pleased with the sweet peas that are growing.  They smell beautiful when I walk through the archway each day.

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Cleaning the old fashioned way continued…

 

Today I am looking at using Lemon Juice:

 

Lemon juice – is a mild acid which has a bleaching and deodorising effect. It also dissolves grease. It is an antibacterial and antifungal cleaner.  As it is acidic and is a natural bleach be careful to test on small hidden areas first and again don’t use it on marble.

Below are some ways to use Lemon Juice:

If you don’t have any vinegar then use lemon juice as an alternative, as it cuts through grease.  Lemon juice diluted in hot water is a great gentle cleaner for the kitchen.

Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and can remove lime scale.  You can use lemon juice on bathroom taps to make them shine.

Wipe lemon juice on a chopping board as it is antibacterial and it will remove stains and smells.

Rub lemon juice on your hands if they smell strongly of garlic or onion as it will remove the smell.

Cut a lemon in half and leave it in your fridge to give a fresh smell to your fridge.

Make a cleaning paste with lemon juice and bicarb.

Make up a polish by using 2 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon juice.  It polishes wood well.

Lemon juice is great for cleaning tarnished brass and copper.  Dip half a lemon in salt and this makes an acidic scrub.

Cut half a lemon and dip it in bicarb and use to clean surfaces and stains.

Put a couple of slices of lemon in a bowl of water in your microwave and cook on high for 3 or 4 of minutes.  You will be able to wipe it clean easily afterwards.

Put left over lemons in your dishwasher to give your pots a lovely lemon smell and an extra shine.

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Yesterday I talked about using ‘bicarb’ and I wanted to show you an example of how well it really cleans:

This is my sink before I cleaned it.

I cleaned it with bicarb on a damp cloth and I used an old toothbrush to clean around the plug hole.

Below is the sink after I cleaned it:

This proves that the bicarb really does work and it only took me a few minutes to do.

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This is the end of my ‘old fashioned’ cleaning tips for the week.

I will shortly put all the cleaning tips from the last three days in categories, at the side of my blog.  This way you can refer back to them quickly if you need to.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading about old fashioned cleaning methods.  I would love to hear your comments and any old fashioned cleaning tips that you use.

Well that’s it for today.  Thank you for reading my post.

Sweet William at my allotment