Tag Archive | harvesting strawberries

Fruit, Fruit And More Fruit

The weather has been wonderful this week, which has made it quite difficult to work down at the allotment as most days it has been too hot to do anything….but I’m certainly not complaining.

One of my two lavender hedges that line my two paths

One of my two lavender hedges that line my two paths

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I have hoed a little bit this week and tied my outdoor cucumbers up.   I also tied my tomato plants up and continued to ‘nip’ off their side shoots.  I gave them a good water with my homemade comfrey feed too, as the first little tomatoes are forming on each plant.  If the weather stays like this for a while, it will keep the dreaded ‘blight’ away and just maybe we will get a good crop.

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I noticed the outdoor grapes vines that I planted last year are beginning to take shape.  I am training them on a post and wire support:

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I also noticed my first little patty pans are growing and my first courgette.  I always get excited when I spot my first courgette of the year, even though I know I will be fed up with them when so many follow afterwards.

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The flowers on my plot are doing well now and I have noticed that my calendulas are beginning to flower in ‘calendula alley’ next to my polytunnel (I call it this as it is the path I use to get to my fruit trees and it was also covered in beautiful calendula’s last year).

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My sweet peas are growing well too, but my dad’s are looking even nicer in his patch at the front of my allotment:

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My wild flowers are doing well and are a hive of activity with all the bees and insects buzzing around.

My neighbour has kindly let me take a photograph of his wildflowers, to show you all.  It is the first time he has grown a wildflower patch and I think they are looking really beautiful….if you are reading this Julian, you should be proud of it.  It’s great to know we are helping the bee population at our allotment site.  I hope more people follow suit:

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Most of this week has been spent picking the fruit and vegetables I have grown.  In fact, my thumbs now hurt from shelling all the peas and broad beans.    It really seems to be is a bumper year so far, even though things are a little late coming.

I am finding that after a long wait, the fruit all seems to be coming at once!

I’m still picking strawberries and we have all eaten so many over the last two weeks that my whole family must have a ‘strawberry glow’.  I have given lots away and also made my first lot of strawberry jam of the summer this week, which i have been sharing with my allotment friends.

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I picked my last lot of rhubarb for this year.  It’s best to stop picking rhubarb at the beginning of July so it can build up its energy stores after this, ready for winter.

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This week I found my white currants and red currants were also ready to pick.  I also found a few black currants ready to pick too.

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I’ve got to say, I really hate picking and preparing currants, as they are so fiddly and I hate pulling the little green stalks out, but my daughters love them so it is all worthwhile.

I froze most of the currants by ‘open freezing’ on a tray before putting them into a bag when they were frozen.  I’ve got to say that when they were frozen, they looked like little jewels glistening on my tray.  They looked too good to eat.

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I’m starting to harvest my raspberries this week, but I think I ate more than I actually picked as I really love them:

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Also this week I found my gooseberries were ready, so I picked all of these too.  You can see them in the smaller basket at the bottom of the photo:

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We have been eating so many of the fruit and vegetables that I picked this week, but I am also freezing the surplus ready for the long, cold winter.  During these bleak and dreary days I use the fruit to make pies, crumbles, jams, jellies cordials etc. and it’s lovely to be reminded of summer again when it’s cold outside.

I didn’t quite realise how many bags of fruit and vegetables that I had frozen this week, until I looked yesterday.  I have three bags of broad beans, 1½ bags of peas, a small bag of mangetout, one bag of rhubarb, one bag of gooseberries, one bag of mixed currants and an astounding eight bags of strawberries!…but I am confident it will all get used before next summer, it’s a good job we have three freezers.

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Gooseberries are a fruit that I used to eat like cherries when I was a child (just like my daughters still do), but now I can’t eat them unless they are cooked as my taste must have changed over the years.

A lovely way to use gooseberries is to make a gooseberry fool.  It is a very easy recipe (I only post easy / simple recipes on my blog) and it tastes absolutely delicious.

If you need to look back at this recipe, or any other recipe, just click the word ‘recipe’ at the top of my blog and all my recipes will appear listed on a page, ready for you to ‘click’ on for easy access.

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A Gooseberry Fool Recipe

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2 large handfuls of gooseberries (washed, topped and tailed)

5 or 6 digestive biscuits

150g low fat Greek yoghurt

90 ml double cream

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon of caster sugar

A little bit of grated chocolate to serve.

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Put the gooseberries and granulated sugar into a saucepan.

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Cook over a low heat for approximately five minutes, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens.

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Chill the sugar and gooseberry mix in the fridge for about an hour.

Whip the cream and caster sugar until it just holds the ‘peaks’ when you take your whisk out.

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Fold in the Greek yoghurt and gooseberry sugar mix.

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Crush the digestive biscuits in a bag, by bashing with a rolling pin.

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Put the biscuit crumbs into the bottom of four small dishes.

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Top the biscuit crumbs with the gooseberry mix.

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Leave the dishes in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill.

Just before serving, grate a little chocolate over the top for show.

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at 4pm.  Have a good weekend and enjoy the good weather!

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Completing Planting And A Bumper Harvest

I have so much to write about today, as I have been working so hard at my allotment this week.  I wanted to finish planting all my crops before the long school holidays begin, in exactly one weeks time.  The schools here in Leicestershire break up earlier than the rest of the country.

I started by planted some more perpetual spinach:

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….And some more spring onions.  I sow my spring onions in modules as I always had a very bad germination rate when I sowed them straight into the ground (though I don’t know why as they are supposed to be an easy plant to grow).  By sowing a few seeds in each module, I find it almost guarantees a high germination rate.  I don’t thin the spring onions either, I just plant them as they are when they are ready:

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In the right hand photograph above, you can just see the newly planted spring onions and you can see the ones I planted out three or four weeks ago growing nicely behind.

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I also planted out my spring broccoli, curly kale and some more khol rabi.  All of the brassicas were planted in firm soil which I had dug and manured last autumn.  I also walked over the area before planting.

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As the ground was dry when I planted the brassicas out, I dug a hole for each plant and filled it with water.  When the water had drained away, I then planted them.  This allows the water to go deep into the ground to encourage the roots to also grow deep to find the water.  It also helps to stop the water from evaporating quickly after planting.

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I also planted some quick growing turnips too, but you may have to enlarge the photograph below to see them:

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All my brassicas have nets over, to stop the dreaded pigeons eating them.

While I was working in my brassica patch, I removed any yellowing leaves from my remaining spring cabbages. This will help to stop the build up of any pests or diseases lurking in them.  These cabbages were planted a month after my first spring cabbages and they are now starting to heart up nicely, so I will start to use these now.

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I have now officially ran out of room in my brassica beds and so I can finally say I have finished my summer brassica planting:

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This week I cut my comfrey down.  I prefer to cut my comfrey down before it flowers, but I just wasn’t quick enough this month.  If you have been reading regularly, you will know that I have already made comfrey tea this year (which incidentally is a wonderful high potash fertiliser used for all fruit and flowers e.g. it is a great tomato feed).  You can read how to make comfrey tea here.

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I have also added a vast amount of comfrey to my compost bins already this year.  So when I cut it down at this time of the year, I lay it down between my main crop potatoes instead.  This acts as a mulch to help to stop water evapourating from the ground and also helps to stop annual weeds from germinating.  When the comfrey breaks down, I just dig it into the ground to add nutrients to the soil.

I think comfrey is a wonderful plant!

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This week  I also cleared my old perpetual spinach that had ran to seed and planted my french beans in it’s place:

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I cleared my broad beans in my polytunnel that had finished producing beans:

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And I cleared my poached egg plants that had finally finished flowering either side of my path.  I transplanted some self seeded calendula plants in it’s place, though it looks quite bare at the moment it will soon grow and look pretty and be a bonus for the bees:

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Another thing I have started to do is to ‘nip’ the tops of my runnerbeans off as they reach the top of their supports.  This helps the plants to ‘bush out’ further down and produce more beans:

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This week’s harvest:

Plants have been growing slowly due to the cold spring we have had.  However, the plants are finally now producing and I seem to be having a bumper harvest.

I’ve started to pick my outdoor broadbeans this week and I have needed to pick them every other day:

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I have found my peas are just great, even though they a month behind.  My back has ached just picking them:

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So too is the mangetout (even though some are a little larger than I would have liked, as I didn’t notice they were ready):

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My potatoes taste delicious (especially with a knob of butter) and we are eating lots of lettuces, watercress and spring onions….I love summer so much.

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And my strawberries…well what can I say other than it really is a bumper crop and I’m picking carrier bags full every two days:

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Of course the down side is that I had to defrost my freezer ready for all the fruit and vegetables that I have been bringing home….

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.,….but it will be worth it when we are still tasting ‘summer’ in the long cold winter months.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday with some Jam making tips.

Hope you have a good weekend.