Tag Archive | Overwintering vegetables

An Onion Trial, Tomato Soup And Freezing Parsley

Hi all, I hope you had a good weekend.

Since the New Year, I have only been blogging twice a week and I am finding it really hard to cover everything I actually do in just two posts a week.  So I try and cover as much as possible, but I do miss out a lot, so I would like to apologise for that.  If there is anything you would like me to write about, or anything that puzzles you, please let me know.

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The weather was good here yesterday, so I managed to dig up two more rows of potatoes and dry them ready for storing.  These potatoes are a variety called ‘Piccasso’ which I have grown a lot over the years.  They are great for roasting, mashing and baking and I find they boil and hold their shape well.  So they are a good all rounder, which are great for storing over the winter.

My potatoes drying in the sun

My potatoes drying in the sun

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A couple of weeks ago, I took up my over-wintering onions.   This is a job I usually do in July, but this is another crop that was behind due to the cold spring we had.

My over-wintering onions last year didn’t do very well at all, due to an attack of the ‘allium leaf miner’.  So in autumn last year, I planted seed sown over-wintering onions (rather than sets), in the hope that they would grow stronger than the sets I usually plant.  I also covered them in environmesh to protect them.

My onions growing under environmesh

My onions growing under environmesh

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The allium leaf miner is a pest that was only detected in Britain in 2002.  It has been spreading rapidly since and spread to many places in the Midlands for the first time two years ago. 

The allium leaf miner isn’t choosy which allium it attacks.  Alliums include onions, leeks, garlic and shallots.

You can read more about the pest here.

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I am really pleased with the results, as none of them suffered from the allium leaf miner and this year I have lovely, large onions, which are now drying in my mini greenhouse ready for use:

My onions drying in my mini-greenhouse

I will use my over-wintering onions first, as they don’t store for as long as summer onions do.  I usually chop them up and freeze them, ready to use when my summer onions have ran out.  However, as it’s been such a good growing year, I am struggling with space in my freezers.

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Yesterday, I also managed to pull up my summer onions.  I planted a variety of onions this year so I could compare them and find out if one variety was more resistant to the allium leaf miner than the others, as my summer onions also suffered badly last year from this new pest.

  I sowed some seeds back in January called Bedfordshire Champion and in March I planted two different varieties of onions sets, one variety called ‘Sturon‘ and another called ‘Turbo‘.  Incidentally, both of these onion sets have been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

My onion patch at the beginning of July

My onion patch at the beginning of July

The results (drumroll please)…..

I didn’t suffer very badly this year at all with the allium leaf miner, even though my summer onions weren’t covered in environmesh.  However, a few onions were affected on all three varieties, so I can safely assume that the allium leaf miner is not fussy about which onion variety it chooses and it didn’t make a difference whether the onion was grown from a seed or sets.

I don’t know yet which onion I prefer, as I need to taste them first and I would like to see how well they all store over the winter.  But on first impressions, it’s definately ‘Sturon‘ that has given me the biggest onion.

I have now set out my onions to dry for a few weeks, ready for storing over the winter:

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Last week I sowed a green manure called ‘Phacelia’ and I am pleased to say that it has germinated and growing well now.  I like using this particular green manure as I don’t need to worry about my rotational beds as it isn’t a brassicca, legume, allium or part of the potato family.  I usually sow it at this time of year in any areas that become available.

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‘Phacelia tanacetifolia’ is good for sowing between March and September and it takes between one and three months to grow depending on growing conditions.

It is a green manure that tolerates most soils, which is why I chose it, as I have a heavy clay soil.

If you leave phacelia to flower, it is a beautiful lavender colour that the bees absolutely love, which is why I grow it in my wildflower area.  The one drawback is that if you leave it to flower it self seeds like mad.

As I am sowing it as a green manure, I will chop it down and fork it in to the soil before it flowers, so it doesn’t grow and become a weed to me next year.

Phacelia in flower

Phacelia in flower

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I just thought I would tell you about the winter salads that I mentioned on Friday’s blog post.  I am amazed to tell you that the winter lettuce (arctic king) and my mizuna have germinated in just four days!  I am amazed by this.  These will go into my polytunnel when I have a space in a few weeks time:

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I’ve been busy in my kitchen this week too, blanching and freezing my crops.  One of the things I have frozen is my parsley.  I don’t bother drying it, as I only really use it in a handful of recipes, including homemade garlic bread (you can find the recipe here).

It is really easy to freeze parsley:

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Start by chopping all the leaves off the stalks and wash them

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Leave the  leaves to drain so the leaves are not too wet when you freeze them.

Pop the leaves in a freezer bag and put the bag in your freezer.

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Use the frozen parsley straight from the bag.  You will find it crumbles easily ready for use when it is frozen.

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My tomatoes are ripening well now, both inside my greenhouse and outdoors at my allotment:

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I decided it was time to make my tomato soup as my daughter loves it.  This is how I make it:

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Tomato and Basil Soup

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1400g ripe tomatoes cut in half

2 medium onions chopped

2 medium potatoes chopped small

2 tablespoons of olive oil

550ml of vegetable stock

2 garlic cloves chopped

3 teaspoons of dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste

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Gently heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion and potato and soften for approximately 15 minutes, without it all browning.

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Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes.

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Add the stock, garlic and basil.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

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Use a hand blender to blend the soup roughly and then pass the whole lot through a sieve to extract the seeds.  Throw away the contents of the sieve.

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Re-heat the soup and serve.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at approximately 4pm.

Have a good week!

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Dairy & Egg Free Flap Jacks and Over Wintering Garlic and Spinach

I am still harvesting crops from my allotment.

Even though things have slowed down considerably, I am still picking French beans, patty pans and courgettes, which I am very pleased with:

Today I planted garlic to overwinter.

I planted the garlic on small ridges to make sure it doesn’t stand in soggy soil over the winter, as it doesn’t like it when it’s too wet.

I had four bulbs of soft neck garlic called Marco, which I split up and I planted the cloves four inches apart and one inch deep.

Also today, I planted the overwintering perpetual spinach, that I grew from seed.  This will be ready to eat in spring time.

Spinach is my husband’s favourite so I like to make sure we have plenty to use.

Perpetual spinach is much easier to grow all year round than normal spinach, as it’s not prone to bolting and is virtually pest and disease free.

I like to give it some protection over winter, so I built a cloche to go round it, out of old panes of glass.  I left some gaps around the glass so there is some ventilation.

I weeded around my overwintering onions as well.

 

I am very pleased with them so far:

 

I also spent some time transplanting the wallflowers I grew from seed over the summer.  I have put them around the edge of my new woodland area.  I also transplanted some hardy geraniums in there too, which had out grown their beds.  I found a couple of plants called ‘Lady’s mantel’ or ‘Alchemilla mollis’, which had self-seeded on my plot, so I replanted them in this area too.

The woodland area is coming on well now.  I am waiting for the council to start dropping leaves at our allotment so I can use them as a weed suppressant around the tree.

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Today, I’m continuing with my dairy free / egg free ‘goodies’ theme.

Yesterday I received a comment from a lady, who said her daughter was lactose intolerant and she had liked the recipe for the biscuits.

Nearly every recipe I have written on my blog, I convert to be either dairy free or lactose free, so my daughter can eat the same as the rest of us.

For example, even toad in the hole and the parsley sauce are made using the lactose free milk. I use the soya yoghurt to make the hummus and anything I make with cheese, e.g. pizza, I use the lactose free cheese. I even make pastry, cakes and bread with these ingredients, and you really can’t tell the difference. I think it’s terrible that people (especially children) are expected to miss out and after experimenting, I’ve found that so many things that can easily be made at home, to taste the same, whether you use lactose free milk or soya milk.

Below I have written the recipe for Dairy Free / Egg free Flapjacks.  I actually doubled the recipe, as I freeze them for snacks over the coming weeks.

Again they taste delicious with normal margarine and just as nice with the dairy free ‘Pure’ margarine:

(I haven’t got shares in ‘Pure’ margarine, I just think it’s good for cooking)

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Dairy Free / Egg free Flapjacks

110 grams Margarine

4 tablespoons golden syrup

75 grams granulated sugar

225 grams porridge oats (I buy the cheapest)

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Preheat your oven Gas Mark 3 / 325 F / 170 C

Put the Margarine and syrup in a pan and heat gently until it has melted.

In a separate bowl mix the sugar and oats together.

Pour the margarine and syrup into the oats and sugar and mix until all the oats are covered.

Pour the mixture into a greased square shallow tin

(I lined my tin with greased ‘grease proof paper’)

Press down gently with the back of a spoon until it is flat on top.

Bake for 30 -40 minutes until it is golden brown.

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then cut into squares.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Dairy Free, Egg Free Flapjacks

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.