Tag Archive | How to grow carrots

Carrots, Carrots And More Carrots

I wanted to start by saying ‘thank you’ for your lovely comments after my post on Monday.  I love receiving your comments as they spur me on to continue writing.

I’m also sorry there was a bit of a delay before I answered your comments this week, but unfortunately my laptop broke and I had to borrow one, which was a bit inconvenient.  Luckily Mr Thrift works in ICT and he and his friend have managed to fix it.

The first daffodil to show at my allotment

The first daffodil to show at my allotment

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One of the comments I received this week was from ‘Mum’, who incidentally writes a beautiful blog called

‘Mum’s Simply Living Blog’.

Following on from my post on Monday about slowing down, ‘Mum’ wrote the words to a poem that I had long forgotten about.  This is a poem that we read at school, but unfortunately it meant nothing to a teenager…but now, I see how powerful these words are so I thought I would share the poem with you:

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Leisure

By William Henry Davies

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What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

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Thank you for sharing this ‘Mum’

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This week at my allotment I weeded around my ‘Woodland’ area.  I noticed that my bluebells are beginning to grow around my plum tree now, you can just see them in the photo below.

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Unfortunately, I bought the bulbs a couple of years ago, paying extra to make sure they were ‘English’ Bluebells and I was very dissapointed to find that they were actually ‘French Bluebells’, which I wasnt very happy about.  I did however contact the suppier and complained!

My primroses are flowering lovely too now and it’s lovely to have a bit of colour, together with the snowdrops:

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I also noticed my Christmas Rose (Hellebore) has a flower on too

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and the daffodils will soon be flowering

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I also noticed that I have the first little flower on my Aubretia.  I moved my pond to the far (sunny) corner of my Woodland area and transplanted the Aubretia around it in the Autumn…it’s nice to know it has survived the move:

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Finally, I also noticed that one of my favourite flowers is beginning to grow, the Aquilegia.

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So you can see that this week, as the poem said, I did make time tostand and stare’.

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This week I also moved my one raised bed that I use to grow carrots in.  I had no luck whatsoever trying to grow carrots until I used a raised bed.  So now, each year I move the wooden frame to another part of my plot and fill it again.

I started by removing the environmesh and pulling up the remaining carrots

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I then moved the wooden frame to another part of my allotment plot, to avoid the build up of pests and diseases e.g.carrot fly.

I refilled the wooden frame with a mix of my own homemade compost (made from all types of perennial and annual weeds) and leaf mould that had been sitting decomposing for the last year.

I then covered it up with black weed suppressant to let the worms do their work and mix it all thoroughly.

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In May I will mix in some sand to help to ‘lighten’ the soil, before sowing my carrots.

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I froze the carrots without blanching them.  I had two large trays altogether, which I open froze so they didn’t stick together in the bags.  After freezing all of my left over carrots, I had orange hands!

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I also pulled some carrots up that were growing in my polytunnel this week and froze them.  The carrots were smaller in my polytunnel as I had sowed them later than the ones outside:

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I gave my polytunnel a good weed ready to spread some of my homemade compost over the empty soil next week.  I also removed the old Cape Gooseberry plants and removed the last few berries to keep for seed.

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  All I did was cut the berries in half and spread the seed on a piece of paper towel to dry.  When it is dry I will put the seeds in an envelope to keep.  When I am ready to sow them, I will just plant the seed with the paper towel still attached (incidentally, this method also works exactly the same for tomato seeds).

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In my polytunnel I still have beetroot, perpetual spinach, mizuna, corn salad and winter hardy spring onions.  I also found another two rows of carrots that I had forgotten that I had planted, but I will leave these in the ground for the moment.  Unfortunately we have eaten all my winter lettuces now, so I will have to make sure I plant more next time.

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I found that the mizuna had started to flower, probably because it has been such a mild winter.  So I removed the flowers in the hope that I can keep it going a bit longer.

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One last thing I did this week was to plant the garlic that I sowed in January.  I’m hoping it is wasn’t too late to plant it as it needs a period of cold to enable the bulbs to split into cloves.

I planted the garlic into ridges to help with the drainage incase the wet weather we have been having so much of continues.  This area had been covered in a plastic sheet for the last few weeks, so the soil wasn’t as waterlogged as the rest of my plot.

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So that is enough for this week (I do seem to get carried away and write long posts).

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back at my usual time on Monday.

Have a good weekend.

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Winter Vegetables And A Parsnip Cake

This weekend at my allotment I noticed that the snow drops I planted last year have begun to flower.  Where on earth is time going to?…I can’t believe it will be February on Saturday.

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I planted the snowdrops last year after my good friend passed away.  The day she died I noticed that snowdrops were in flower and they looked beautiful, so I decided to plant some in my ‘woodland area’ at my allotment.  This way I will remember her each time I see them in flower.  I will plant some more this year too, as eventually I want to see a mass of snowdrops in this area.

I still miss my old friend very much.

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I also noticed that I have some primroses in my woodland area that are in flower too.

There are also one or two early flowers on the poached egg plants and in the photograph below, you can just see a daffodil bulb poking through too:

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These are all reminders that Spring will soon be on it’s way, (though we do still have some cold winter weather to get through first).

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This weekend I brought some vegetables home from the allotment for dinner.  I have decided that I am very pleased with my winter vegetables this year:

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I put a twelve inch ruler next to the parsnips so you could see the size of them.  I tried various methods of growing parsnips with limited success, until I started to grow them in kitchen roll tubes.  This gives me an almost perfect germination rate and also nearly always gives me straight parsnips that don’t fork.

You can read how I grow my parsnips here.

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I have had a problem in the past with my brussell sprouts ‘blowing’.  I always thought that this was due to the soil not being firm enough around the plants, but I knew my soil was firm as I dug manure into it the autumn before and stomped around on it before I planted into it.

I then read that F1 varieties were less likely to ‘blow’ and I planted these last year….and I’m pleased to say I am very happy with the result.  The photo below shows a variety call ‘Igor‘, which I will definately be growing again this year:

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I am still picking carrots at my allotment.  I grow my carrots in a raised bed each year and then move the raised bed completely, to a different part of my allotment.  I fill the bed with homemade compost, leaf mould and a bag of sharp sand mixed together and this gives me good results.  After sowing I cover the bed with environmesh to keep the carrot fly out:

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You can read about carrot fly here.

I picked a monster carrot at the weekend, it weighed just over half a kilogram.  It was almost a meal on it’s own!

I put a teaspoon in the photograph to demonstrate the size of the carrot:

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The swedes are still good at my allotment too.  I love swede mashed with a little bit of butter and pepper, though I had never tried it until my husband introduced it to me a few years ago.  I think it is one of my favourite vegetables now.

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And I’m still using homegrown onions and potatoes from my storage boxes outside:

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All in all, I feel like we are living like kings on the winter vegetables that I have grown.  I’m sure they would have cost us a fortune in the shops to buy and it’s nice to know they are all grown organically, without any chemicals.

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I finished the above Sunday lunch with ‘Parsnip Cake’.  Parsnip cakes are very, very moist and taste very much like carrot cake.  This is how I made it:

Parsnip Cake

175g margarine

250g soft brown sugar

100ml honey

3 eggs (beaten)

250g self raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

250g parsnips grated finely

1 apple grated

1 orange – use the juice and zest

130g cream cheese

100g icing sugar + extra to sprinkle on top

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Preheat your oven 180C / gas 4 / 350F

Grease and flour two 8 inch sandwich tins

Put the margarine, honey and sugar in a pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has all dissolved.

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Allow to cool for a while.

Add the eggs to the pan and stir thoroughly.

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Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into the sugar and egg mixture and stir.

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Then stir in the apple, parsnip, orange juice and zest.

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Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cakes.

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Leave the cakes to cool.

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Make the icing by mixing the cream cheese with the icing sugar and then spreading it over the bottom layer of the cake.  Put the top layer of the cake on top and dust with icing sugar.

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today, I will be back on Friday.

I hope you have a good week.

Little Savings That All Add Up & A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10

Today at my allotment, I dug up some carrots for our dinner.  I’m quite proud of my carrots as it’s the first year I’ve managed to get a decent crop from the ground, rather than having to grow them in pots of compost.

I managed to get a good crop this year by growing them in a raised bed, with lots of my own allotment compost, leaf mould and a bag of sand thrown in for good measure.

I will definately grow them this way again.

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 Little savings that all add up:

A little while ago, I realised I do little things to save money automatically, without even thinking of what I’m doing. I promised I would try really hard to make a note of these things so I could share them with you.  So here are a couple more things:

Last week I decided my black jeans were looking faded and old.  I didn’t want to buy a new pair as they were comfortable to wear and there really wasn’t anything wrong with them, except they were faded and looked old.

I spent £4.08 on the fabric dye below:

  Fabric dyes are really easy to use nowadays.  All you do, is put it in your washing machine with your fabric and put it on a 40 degree wash.  Afterwards, you put it on a 40 degree wash again, but this time with washing powder and this removes all the excess dye.

The result is a pair of jeans that look brand new!

The photo above doesn’t quite show them as good as they actually look (due to the flash on my camera, I think), but the jeans do actually look as good as when you first buy them.

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Hand wash is expensive to buy and my family goes through it really quickly.

So, when the hand wash bottle is empty, I refill it with the cheapest ‘bubble foam’ or ‘bubble bath’ that I can find.  Both Tesco and Asda sell Value Bath Foam for just £0.40 per litre, which is far cheaper than their ‘Value Hand wash’, (which works out at approximately £0.76 per litre) and it’s just as good.

Once the bottle is filled up, no one ever knows.

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A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10.00

For those who haven’t been following my blog this week, I thought I would set myself a challenge of cooking seven main meals for my family, for under £10.00. If I can do this, it will show people that we can and do actually live well on less’. So watch this space Jamie Oliver!

To keep the costs down, I have been using my home grown vegetables and in the style of ‘Ready Steady Cook’, I have free use of store cupboard items, which can be found on Monday’s post.

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Tonight we had a homemade lasagne, potatoes, swede and carrots.

I use lots of vegetables in my spaghetti bolognaise mix, to pad it out.  In tonight’s mix I used onions, curly kale, broad beans and courgettes, which were mostly from my freezer.

I also used some frozen pumpkin puree, which I defrosted.  This was left over from Halloween last week and it helps to make the meat go further.

You can find the recipe for the lasagne here.

Tonight’s meal cost me just £1.65 to make using my homegrown vegetables and the ‘free’ store cupboard items that were listed on Monday’s blog here.

£0.73 was for a third of a large pack of value minced beef (that I split into three) and £0.26 was for the value lasagne sheets I used and £0.66 was for the cheese I sprinkled on the top.

(Please note I always drain the fat off the value minced beef after I have first browned it, by putting the meat in to a large sieve, so the fat can drain through, otherwise it is far too fatty to eat).

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So my total spent so far this week is just £ 6.48

Sunday = £ 3.33

Monday = £ 0.87

Tuesday = £0.00

Wednesday = £0.63

Thursday = £1.65

So far, so good

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Yesterday, I talked about ‘Batch baking’ and how it saves time and money.  I mentioned that I regularly make biscuits and freeze them for the week ahead.  My lot eat the biscuits so quickly that this is the only way to ensure they aren’t eaten straight away.  The biscuits defrost within half an hour, but this is enough time to stop them from eating them.

I made some Ginger Biscuits on Saturday, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you:

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Ginger Biscuit Recipe (makes 24)

12 oz. self-raising flour

8 oz. soft brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 oz. margarine

2 heaped teaspoons of golden syrup

2 eggs

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Preheat your oven Gas mark 4 / 180 C / 350F

Place the flour, soft brown sugar and baking powder into a bowl and mix together.

Beat the eggs.

Melt the margarine and syrup over a low heat then add to the dry ingredients with the beaten egg and mix until it is all combined.

Roll small balls in your hand, about the size of a small walnut and place on a greased baking sheet, leaving room for them to spread out while cooking.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.  L

Leave for 1 minute before moving the biscuits to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

 

 

Pasta Sauce, Cheap Seeds and Planting Spring Cabbage

This morning at my allotment I planted some cabbages ready for spring.

The cabbage I picked yesterday

Two weeks ago I prepared the ground, by hoeing the weeds away and put a sprinkling of ‘Blood, fish and bone’ organic fertiliser down.

This area had my broad beans in previously.  When I removed the old bean plants, I left the roots in the ground.  The root nodules of the broad beans fix nitrogen into the ground, which is good for green leafy growth, which I knew would benefit my cabbages.

I gave it another hoe this morning and then planted the spring cabbages fairly deeply, 30cm apart.  As brassica’s like very firm ground, I always tread firmly around my cabbages with my boot.

I then gave them a quick water just to settle the soil around the roots.

The pigeons love brassica’s at my allotment (they actually seem to like anything at the moment), so I needed to net the cabbages.

You can buy those round balls with holes in, that support your canes, but I think they are expensive.  I choose to make mine out of old drinks bottles or hand wash bottles, as they are free and can be used several times before the plastic goes brittle.  You can see below how the canes fit into the bottles:

The netting I bought ages ago and I have reused it loads. The holes in the netting are small enough to keep cabbage white butterflies out and the netting is thick enough to stop the netting from ripping or becoming so tangled you can’t use it.  It was a good investment.

This is my finished cage:

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This morning I also pulled up some carrots from one of my two raised beds.

I have never been able to grow carrots outside in my soil before, so this year I was even more determined to do this.  I used a mixture in my two raised beds of homemade compost, leaf mould and horticultural sand and have grown them under environmesh, to stop the carrot root fly.

Finally, I am glad to say…. I HAVE CARROTS!  I am very pleased.

I know that I went to a great big effort to grow these carrots, especially as carrots are so cheap to buy, but home-grown carrots do taste wonderful compared to shop brought carrots.

We will be having them for tea tonight.

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I had a tip off today, that Wyevale Garden Centres were selling their seeds cheaply, if you are a gardening club member.  I joined Wyevale Garden Club as it was free to join and they have good offers every so often.

Today I found all the seed packets had been reduced to 50p, so I stocked up ready for next year, as every one of the packets were ok to be used in 2013.

50p Seed Packets

I bought the 21 packets of seeds, that you can see in the picture above.  They would normally cost £50.75 to buy, but I paid just £10.50 .  That’s an incredible saving of £40.25!

I love a good bargain.

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Following on from my post on Friday regarding child poverty, (which you can read here), I have another cheap and easy family recipe.

I think a lot of people will make this simple meal anyway, so apologies to you, but if I help just one person who doesn’t usually cook, to feed their family more cheaply, then I will have achieved my aim.

Today I am writing about a basic Pasta Sauce.  A good quality jar can cost you anything up to £2.45 to buy and yet it is such an easy thing to make.

I cooked this sauce on Radio Leicester back in March, to demonstrate how you can make a simple cheap meal.  Back then I worked out that this sauce cost me just 80p to make when I bought all the ingredients, but as I grow most of the ingredients myself,  it only cost me 20p to make!

The recipe also doubles up as a Pizza sauce too and my pizza’s taste very similar to the pizza’s you eat at the large chain of pizza restaurants that you see on the high street (with far less salt though).  It certainly does NOT taste like the cheap pizza’s that you buy from the supermarkets.

My Olympic Pizza

When I cook this recipe I usually make a great big batch of it.  We have some of it for tea and I freeze a portion for another day.  After it has defrosted, it only takes ten minutes to heat up in the microwave, so it’s a really quick meal.

I also freeze some of it in little pots, to use on pizza’s another day.

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Pasta Sauce

A drop of olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 garlic clove

500 grams Passata

(or a 400g can of tinned tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of tomato puree instead of passata)

190mls of vegetable stock

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon oregano

Fry the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes.

Add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes more.

Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes

I toss some spaghetti into the sauce and I serve it with a nice homegrown salad and some homemade garlic bread.

A sprinkling of cheese on the pasta makes it even more delicious.

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The recipe above is the basic pasta sauce,  but I always add vegetables to my sauce, e.g. broad beans, runner beans, courgettes etc.  My daughter doesn’t like vegetables in her sauce, so I puree the sauce before I serve it and she doesn’t know she is eating them and it’s full of vitamins.

If you like a sweet and sour sauce, you can add some pineapple pieces and leave out the herbs.  Also add a drop of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

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It’s such a cheap and easy meal to cook.

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Calendula grown to attact bees

Thank you for reading my blog today.