A slight obsession with books

Crafts, cats and books


Productive garden

There’s not much going on in the veg garden at the moment, other than picking the rewards of all our hard work. We’re having to go out most days with the colander and are returning with it full of yummy veggies.

harvest140816The summer squash have exceeded all expectations. We’ve mostly harvested the pale green ones but the yellow and dark green varieties have produced a fair few as well. They’re lovely roasted!

The French beans are still going strong and we’re getting quite a few runner beans now too, with loads more to come.

We haven’t needed to buy tomatoes for a few weeks but haven’t had so many that I’ve needed to make sauce. There are still a lot of green ones though so I’m guessing the glut is waiting until after this week, as I’m on annual leave now.

We’ve worked hard on clearing out all the rubbish around the outskirts of the garden. There’s still a lot to do but we’ve made excellent progress. It’s been accumulating for decades in the various sheds and as we have Grand Plans for next year, we need it gone. Stephen has done most of the heavy lifting while I supervise, of course. (there are spiders in all that junk) I can see we’ll be needing a skip shortly to get rid of it all as there’s so much stuff that we no longer need plus one of the sheds has to go as it’s falling apart.

Right, I’d better go and pick some veggies for dinner tonight ūüôā



Garden update

I realised a few days ago that I hadn’t posted any garden pics for a while, mostly because I’ve just not had time to take any. The garden has been doing¬†quite well though so I made time to take some photos to show off some of my successes.

The courgettes are doing great again so far, but they seem to have suffered from the damp weather we had until recently and have some mildew. I had the same problem last year but much later in the season so I don’t think the courgettes will be producing for much longer.

I’ve had plenty of the Black Forest courgettes so far though and the new varieties have done fairly well too. This one is Romanesco. The flavour isn’t as good as Black Forest when raw, but it’s lovely cooked.

200716Courgette-02The other new one is a round one and the flavour raw is superb. I haven’t had many from the plants yet but there are quite a few almost ready to pick now.

200716Courgette-01I got a bit carried away with the tomatoes again and have a total of 25 plants. I’m getting a bit of blossom end rot in the greenhouse, on the Rainbow Blend but I’m hoping that the rest will be ok. Outside, the Tigerella are looking good and have plenty of fruits coming on.

200716Tomatoes-01The Maskotka is doing very well. I’ve got about six of those and all are covered in tomatoes. I’m guessing they’re all going to ripen at once resulting in a freezer full of nice saucy bolognaise.

200716Tomatoes-02 200716Tomatoes-03The sweetcorn is growing fast and is getting quite tall. It looks as if we should get plenty of corn from it as there are lots of flowers. I’ve been quite fascinated by it as I’ve never seen corn developing before.

The beans are mostly growing well and we’ve already picked a good handful of French beans, which were very nice with dinner last week. I’ve just picked more for lunch today.

200716Garden-01The aubergines are looking quite good. One or two of the plants have flowers forming. I haven’t grown them before so I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop.

200716Garden-02I’ve got one bed with summer squash in, and they’re growing fast now. I’m hoping they do better than last year’s winter squash.

I am struggling to keep on top of maintenance with so much to look after, while working a full-time job. Stephen has doing quite a bit of the watering but I do need to try to do some weeding and tidying soon.

Next year I definitely need to cut back.


New toy

I’ve wanted¬†a soup maker for a while. I do love kitchen gadgets and thought I’d get quite a bit of use out of one. They’re expensive though so I was having trouble justifying it.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, we spotted one in Aldi for a bargain price so made an impulse buy. It doesn’t have as many features as the more expensive models, but it’s perfect for what I need.

I was going to photograph the box it came in to post here, but the cats had other ideas. They wanted me to empty their box asap so they could play in it, so after a quick snap of the kitties, I did just that.

cats031115-05_bLook at their faces. And I’m sure Sammie was trying to help by removing the packaging.

The soup maker works great and has been used a lot already. Favourite soups so far, are asparagus and mushroom. I can see a lot of vegetable soup in our future, once the garden starts producing again.


Final harvest

I thought the garden was just about finished for the year but I’ve got one last harvest from the greenhouse, which has been prepped and shoehorned into the freezer.

The Apache chillies did really well, with plenty of them turning a fiery red. I’ve separated them into hot and milder for the freezer but this is the last picking all mixed up.

mixed chilliesI’d picked about half that the day before too, so we won’t be running out of them any time soon.

The Heatwave chillies were still all green, apart from one that was just starting to turn red. They had got to a decent size though so they’ve joined the Apache in the freezer.

Green chilliesThe sweet peppers didn’t do very well at all. I’m guessing that was down to the cooler summer. I did get a few though, some of which had finally changed colour.

mixed peppersI’m not sure if I’ll try sweet peppers again next year. I had about a dozen plants and got very little from them. There are other crops that I’d like to try in the greenhouse so maybe I’ll go for something different next year.


Birthday brunch

Earlier this week it was my birthday. I have a tradition with my friend Jackie that we meet up for birthdays, and treat each other to something nice to eat. As I had to be in work for 11am, we went to Crepe Affaire in Grand Central and had a late breakfast.

BirthdayBrunch01I had a crêpe Florentine which was quite delicious and nicely filling. Jackie had a simple crêpe with lemon and sugar.

BirthdayBrunchIt was nice to try somewhere different and was a lovely start to my day.


The last courgettes

They’ve done brilliantly well, but the courgettes are finally done. Only two of the plants are still green, and although they do have baby courgettes on them, I doubt they’ll develop any further now. I really can’t complain though as they’ve kept us supplied all summer long, fruiting before any of the other veggies and keeping me busy finding new ways to cook them, and preserving the rest.

I’m planning to grow some more of that variety next year, but fewer plants, and also¬†try a couple of other varieties.

I’ve finally given up on the butternut squash. Twelve plants and not one squash from them. The weather was against us this year, so I’ll give them another go next year, but just two or three plants. I’m going to give more space to things that did well for me, such as courgettes and beans.

I still haven’t harvested a single pepper. There are lots in the greenhouse, but they’re still green and are showing no signs of wanting to ripen to yellow or red, depending on the variety. I may have to cut my losses and pick them green and make them into chutney.

harvest041015The tomatoes are still going strong. The ones in the greenhouse are still providing three or four a week, but the Sungold, outside, are keeping us in almost more than we can eat – and I eat a lot of salad. We’ve still only had a few from the tumbling toms, so they may be going into chutney with the peppers as there are lots of green ones on there.

I don’t think we’ll be buying many preserves for a while as the under-stairs cupboard is getting quite full.

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Chilli peppers!

Woot! I’ve harvested the first of the chillies. The Apache plants have had loads of tiny chillies on for ages but they’ve really taken their time to ripen to a nice red. The bit of sun we had last week¬†has done the trick though and I managed to pick quite a few. All but a couple of those have now been made into chilli jam. Can’t wait to try that. Bet it’ll be smashing on a bacon butty!

I’ve also picked more tomatoes. We’ve picked¬†two or three of the Shirley each week and a lot of Sungold. A fair few of the Sungold never reach the kitchen though as they’re just so sweet and bite-sized ūüėČ

The courgettes are still cropping well. Two of the plants are gone now but the remaining three are still going. You only need to ignore them for a couple of days though and you end up with a marrow instead of a courgette. We’ve already stuffed a couple of the big ones, and I’ve made jars and jars of pickled courgette and also some piccalilli.¬†This one has been turned into chunky¬†dill pickles, with dill from the garden. Yum.

harvest2909It looks like the French beans are finished now but we may get one more handful of runner beans. We’ve done well with the beans this year. I’ll definitely grow more next year, but climbing rather than bush. I found the yield was better for the space they took, and I preferred the taste.


Garden update

I’m a bit lacking in photos this time. I’ve just started a new job and have been coming home too tired to do much more than check the watering in the greenhouse. We’re doing some pretty intensive training, and trying to focus and concentrate all day is harder than I thought. I’m enjoying it though.

I do have a couple of photos of veggies picked last weekend. There have been plenty of beans, both French and runner.

Harvest2808-02The Sungold tomatoes are ripening a few at a time. They’re lovely and sweet.

Harvest300815There have been masses of courgettes. At one point there were six in the fridge and Stephen had suggested that the next batch to be pickled might be good with cauliflower in. I had to buy that, but used some green tomatoes from the greenhouse with the courgettes, plus some bought shallots and a few carrots from the fridge that needed using up.

Harvest2808-01I found a nice recipe for piccalilli on the River Cottage website and made this lot.

picalilli01Just need to let it alone to mature now. It looks delicious so I’m looking forward to trying it.

I’ve just had a good clear out in the greenhouse. The cucumbers were finished so I’ve taken those out and rearranged things a bit to give the chillis and peppers a bit more space. Some of the Apache chillis are starting to ripen which I’m quite excited about. I’m hoping to get a massive glut soon so I can make some chilli jam.


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Garden update

The garden is still looking good and we’re getting a steady supply of courgettes, some of which have been turned into pickles and chutney. We’ve had a couple of decent pickings of beans too. I’m growing runner beans, purple bush French beans and mixed climbing French beans. They all taste great picked fresh and cooked the same day.

19Aug-beans_bNot much else has been ready to harvest, but there’s plenty coming on still. There are more runner beans.

18Aug-runners_bAll the French beans are starting to crop really well too.

The Sungold tomatoes have plenty of tomatoes on the plants, but they’re all green still. A couple look like they’re about to turn yellow though.

18Aug-Toms_bThe Shirley tomatoes, in the greenhouse, are also full of fruits. I’ve had to support most of the trusses as the weight of the tomatoes was bending the stems.

And, just look at this. There are a couple that are starting to turn red!

18Aug-toms3_bThe chillis are still looking good. There are lots of fruits on the plants but again, they’re still all green. Hopefully a bit of sunshine will ripen them up.

18Aug-chillis_bThe peppers are all developing nicely so I’m hoping we have enough summer left for them to grow a bit more and ripen.

18Aug-peppers_bI also have a couple of plants of the long pointy peppers and one of them has three peppers on it. One of them is about seven inches long.

18Aug-peppers2_bFinally, there’s the butternut squash. The plants are growing fast so I’ve pinched all the tips out to try to force them to put their energy into growing all the teeny squashes that have appeared. This is the best one at the moment. It’s almost ready¬†to pick.

18Aug-squash_bIf we get a bit of summer, I can see all that being ready to pick all at the same time. Good job I have a big freezer, eh?


More veggies to come

I’ve planted lots of different veg in the garden this year. So far I’ve only harvested some mangetout, several¬†courgettes, assorted salad leaves, and a couple of handfuls of radishes. It looks as if there’s a lot more to come though.

I’ve got three different varieties of tomatoes, (21 plants altogether) and the Shirley, in the greenhouse, is looking very good at the moment. I don’t think it’ll be too long before we have some lovely fresh tomatoes.

180715-05I’ve also got a couple of different varieties of chilli pepper. The ones outside aren’t doing very well, but in the greenhouse they look a lot better. The chilli Apache even has tiny peppers on it.

180715-02Out of the five cucumber plants that came up from seed, only two survived being planted into grow bags. They’re both looking very good. I think the one in the greenhouse is trying to escape. I planted some more seeds, once I could see how the first lot were doing, and got four more good plants, but they’re slow to catch up with the original two. Maybe they’ll get there before the season ends, but in the meantime, it looks like the first two are going to produce something soon.

180715-03I’ve got a few different beans growing, but the dwarf french beans Purple Teepee are doing the best so far. There are some teeny-tiny beans showing now. Not long till I can harvest them, hopefully.

180715-04I’ve got twelve butternut squash plants scattered round the garden. I did plan to grow about five or six, but all the seeds germinated and were growing strongly and I didn’t have the heart to put them in the compost bin, so found homes for them all. Some are growing faster than others and on some there are flowers just starting to appear.

180715-01I really love squash and have plans to make curries and soups with them, so I do hope they do well.

I’m really enjoying the garden now. It’s brilliant being able to pop outside to get a few fresh herbs or a couple of radishes for the salad. I’ve got rocket, spinach beet, mustard and a couple of different lettuce to snip at for salad leaves too.