Thursday, 13 December 2012

Seems like such a long time since I've updated.

Well, here I am, better late than never eh :)

Things here have been pretty chaotic since early September, when my Dad finally got home from hospital having spent 3 months in the Spinal Unit.  He broke his neck back in early June and sadly is now Quadriplegic, we care for him full time but now have a fairly good routine going that allows us to be on call and spend a few hours at home.

With everything that has been going on along with all the terrible weather this year, I really didn't expect much from the plot but we actually didn't do too bad at all. 

Successes were potatoes, cabbage, onion, garlic, broccoli, sprouts, turnip, lemongrass, beetroot, spinach, lettuce, all the herbs except parsley and lemonbalm, borlotti beans, broad beans, the strawberries done well but as I didn't get around to netting them, the wildlife feasted on them to their hearts were contented.

Failures were the french beans, celery, courgettes, apples, plums and cauliflowers.

The tomatoes had mixed results, some didn't produce at all and others did, the star of the show was Striped Roman, I loved them.  There arn't many seeds in them, they are really meaty but I did manage to save a couple of seeds for next year.

The celeriac is still in the ground, I don't know what to expect from them.

For my birthday in November, I got a Presto 23 quart Pressure Canner and accessories.  I've wanted one of these for ages so that I can make meals at harvest time with my produce, soups stews etc and can them for eating over the winter.  This will hopefully free up some much needed space in my small chest freezer.

I've been practicing with it, only doing small amounts at a time, which works well as i've made a few mistakes.
Here is what i've made so far
I've got the jars stored out in my dingy old cellar and it looks awful so OH and I have started clearing it out (what was I thinking this close to xmas)

I've also been busy making yogurt, this is some vanilla yogurt I made the other night, one of my best yet, really thick and creamy.
 I also had a go at making some homemade liquid laundry detergent and I love it, it was so easy to make.  I made 22lts (5 gallons) for £1.45.
I seriously need to read up on digital photography, my photos are terrible, if anyone out there knows a good website, please let me know.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Harvest from True Potato Seed

Yesterday we harvested the potatoes that we had grown from TPS tubers I was really pleased with what we got back.

Here is what we planted...
And here is what we harvested...
I have a sample of each cooking right now and if the flavour is good then I'll be saving the rest to plant out next year.  And of course I'll need to name the variety :)

We've just done the taste test and couldn't be happier.  The ones on the left are floury  and will be ideal for mash and chips.  The ones on the  right are waxy and perfect salad potatoes.  Both taste absolutely fantastic but as hubby says it could be a case of "yer ain shilling eiwis shines the brightest".

So, I will definately be storing these for replanting next year and have decided to name them Dozer and Mica.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

It feels like ages since I've updated

I haven't been down to the plot much over the last couple of weeks due to my Dad having a very serious accident.  Last I was there, everything was looking great, I harvested a couple of garlic to see if they were ready but they looked like they could have been doing with another week or two so I've left the rest of them in to bulk up a bit.

We had our first two strawberries of the year and I wish I'd had my camera with me, they were the perfect strawberry shape and colour and tasted heavenly, it was such a treat.  The local wildlife have been helping themselves though as I didn't get around to netting them so I will have to get some mesh tomorrow as I have just read a blog on homemade strawberry ice cream and I want some :)

The first early potatoes are just about ready to come up and the leeks will take their place as I didn't get the leek bed ready either.

The carrots were sown quite late but have popped their heads through the soil and I think I must have gone a bit overboard with the seed sowing, there are hundreds of them and I hate thinning them out, it seems such a waste.

The celeriac are still in pots, their bed will be ready next week but I'm not sure whether it's too late now for them, I'll still bung them into the ground and see what happens, they may surprise me.

I'm really dreading my next visit, with all this rain, heat and humidity we've been having the weeds will have been running amok in my abscence,

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Things are at a frenzy now.

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks.  I love this time of year even although I always feel like I'm chasing the clock.

Got the frame up for the French Beans and the Climbing Courgettes I'm trialing this year.   I filled the gap under the frame with some spare strawberry plants that were looking a bit poorly but seem to be coming back strong as ever.
 The Brassicas are all out now and their cages built.

 I changed the way we normally plant potatoes this year and decided to earth up as they grow rather than mound them when planting.  By doing it this way, I didn't space the rows wide enough apart and we are stuggling to get enough soil from between the rows for earthing up.  The plants themselves are looking great though, I just hope the spuds below ground are the same.
As the beds are slowly being filled, everything else is being pushed back into a corner for tidying later but what a mess we've made of our wee half finished patio.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Allotment Open Day

We had our annual open day and plant sale at the allotment today and I forgot to take my camera (and worse, my purse) :(  


Saturday, 19 May 2012

This week's update.

The weather has been awful for months and everything is backing up in the greenhouse.  Thankfully next week is looking promising and I will be planting some more stuff into the ground (with fleece on standby).

This week I sowed beetroot, spinach, four rows of various varieties of lettuce, coriander, flat leaf and curly parsley.

I rescued these wee tomato plants from the supermarket, they were in one of those mini cell trays on the right of the photo and looking very sad (one cell had two plants, bonus :).  The nice man in the produce department reduced them to £1 for me, I pinched out the dead leaves and gave them a good drink before potting them on.  They don't look too bad now but only time will tell.
 I potted on the celeriac, some of the seedlings were still very tiny but I think they handled the upheaval well, no broken stems like the brassicas
 I harvested my first crop today, cut a few rocket leaves from the mixed salad box for my sandwiches, it made me realise why I do all this work rather than buy a bag from the supermarket.  The taste was second to none, it's hard to describe.
 I found this wee seed head amongst the pansies and thought I'd have a go at saving them for replanting.
 There were about 30 seeds inside the pod and they are now drying on some paper towel.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Today at the plot.

 Finally, I've managed to germinate some spring onions.  I had to give in and go buy another packet of seed as the two packets I had in my seed tin just refused to come up.
I'm quite pleased with my project potatoes.  I grew these from True Potato Seed last year  and planted the small tubers this year.  I earthed these up today and the plants look really healthy, can't wait to see what's going on below ground.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Homemade Yogurt and Soft Cheese

As we were rained off today again, I thought I'd spend the day in the kitchen and make some yogurt and cheese.  Unfortunately my thermometer has gone AWOL and I just had to wing it.  Fingers crossed I haven't ruined 4lts of milk.

The yogurt is really easy to make, all you need is milk and a small tub of yogurt.

I was making 2lts so I sterilised four 1pt jars and their lids in a pot of water and boiled for 10mins with the pot lid on.

Heat the milk to 90°C and cool to 50°C.  Add a small tub of natural yogurt (it has to be the kind that has live cultures) and whisk it into the milk.

Pour the mixture into the sterilised jars and put the lids on.

The jars now have to be incubated, there are lots of ways to do this but I use a coolbox with a few inches of warm water, about 50°C, in the bottom.  Stand the jars in the water, put the lid on the coolbox and leave in a draught free place for 3hrs.

When the three hours are up, put the jars into the fridge for 24hrs, that's all there is too it.

The yogurt has now been in the fridge for  24hrs
To make a thicker, Greek style yogurt, put this yogurt into a cheesecloth or similar and let it hang in the fridge over a bowl for a few hours.
I can't take credit for this yogurt recipe, I got it from another blog  The Frugal Girl

The homemade cheese is a wee bit more involved but again, it's not difficult to do.  This recipe is for a basic soft cheese, I add salt, garlic and chives at the end but you can keep it plain or dress it up to suit yourself.

For this you will need 2lts of milk and a culture, in this recipe I am using a buttermilk culture.  I buy a 1lt carton of buttermilk from the Eastern European section of the supermarket and freeze it in ice cube trays, this works out much cheaper than buying the small carton usually found by the milk. 

You will also need Rennet, a digestive enzyme which sets the milk.  It comes in both animal and vegetarian varieties, I'm using the animal based one in this recipe.

Mix four drops of the Rennet into cooled, boiled water and set aside, I've used about half a ramekin of water.

Heat the milk to 20/22°C and add two cubes or about 2tbs of buttermilk and the pre-diluted Rennet and whisk.

 Put a lid on the pot and leave in a warm place, around 20°C for 24hrs.

So, here we are 24hrs later.  It's time to test that the milk has set.  Do this by putting your finger into it and lifting it up to see if it has a clean break, like this.
Now it's time to cut the curds by slicing it into 1cm squares with a knife.
Place a cheesecloth or similar into a large bowl and pour the curds onto it.
Tie the corners of the cloth together and hang it over the bowl for a further 24hrs to drain the whey from the curds.  I use a shoelace and tie it to the handle of one of my kitchen cabinets.

After 24hrs, tip the cheese into a bowl, i've added a grated clove of garlic, a teaspoon of salt and a couple of tablespoons of chopped chives, mix it together and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

It's now ready to eat and should keep for 3 or 4 days in the fridge, although I'm not sure, it doesn't usually last that long in our house.

Some allotment photos

It's taking forever to get things done at the plot with all this crazy weather we have going on.  Most of the digging is done, with just the bit at the bottom and top right still to be dug over.

The big greenhouse has one of those plastic, zip up greenhouses inside it with the tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, aubergine, sweet peppers and chilis.  The rest are living on the worktop in the small greenhouse, just waiting to get in the ground.

I did plant out the broadbeans and some dwarf borlotto, I'm sure the broadies will be ok but I think it was a mistake to put the borlotto's out while it is still this cold.  May need to sow some backup seed, just in case.  The other two plants in this pic are parsley that I kept in pots over the winter and planted out last week to let it run to seed for saving this year.

I was having a look at my garlic last week and noticed that one of them has three stems.  Someone on the Grapevine forum did mention that they have some that are doing the same thing, I've never seen this before so I'm looking forward to harvesting it to see what is going on below ground.

And here's a wee pic of some pansies, I love how they look like Yosemite Sam :)

Monday, 7 May 2012

Blackberry Wine

Things at the plot are pretty full on right now, getting the ground ready, sowing seeds and potting on seedlings.  So, when we got rained off today I thought i'd use the time to bottle last years blackberry wine which had been sitting out in the cellar awaiting my attention since christmas.

It took forever to clean and sterilise the bottles.

Before bottling, I thought I'd check the alchohol content using an online conversion tool and it worked out at roughly 14%, a wee bit high but it tasted really good.  Stupidly however, I poured the wine from the DJ into the beaker for testing instead of using the syphon, resulting in the sediment at the bottom mixing though the rest of the wine.

So I only managed to bottle two of the DJs and have left the third to settle again.

I held off labeling them as I was tempted to buy nice ones rather than using the ones from the stationary cupboard.  I'll need to check prices and have a think about it.


Friday, 30 March 2012

.....and then everything went to pot.

We went to Ireland at the begining of the month to see our first Grandchild, three week old Sarah.  When we got home, Tommy took ill and ended up in Hospital, looks like he will have to go back in early next week again as things are not getting better. 

Things at the plot are getting there and I have 5 drills of potatoes in and one more left to dig but with Tommy out of action i'm likely to fall behind any time soon.  

I was really humbled by two of my plot neighbours today who have offered to help me rebuild my blown off greenhouse roof, this Sunday, I thought people like these were long gone, it's been so long since i've come across any.  Another plot neighbour invited us along to his today for a BBQ, it was fantastic and certainly beat the turkey sandwiches we took with us :)

Hopefully i'll be back with some pictures soon.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Glasgow Potato Day

The Glasgow potato day was fantastic.  I love the idea of being able to buy just a couple of tubers of lots of different varieties to try them out and see what works best for me.

The only variety they didn't have that I want is Epicure but luckily one of my plot neighbours has kindly offered to pick me some up when he visits his supplier.

Here's what I bought...

First Earlies
Lady Christl
Arran Pilot
Red Duke of York

Second Earlies

Main Crop
Orla (early maincrop)
Sarpo Mira

Pink Fir Apple,

Along with these, I have the two varieties that I grew from true potato seed last year, looking forward to see what I get from those.

On the way home from the Potato day we decided to take a detour and had lunch up on the Campsie Fells, it was bliss.

Oh, and I have to just mention the amazing home baking that was on offer today, what a spread.  Well done to all.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Weather people got it wrong AGAIN

We had planned to spend the full day at the plot today, the forecast was good, dry all day until around 5pm.  

It rained the whole day and dark overcast skies loomed above us as we laid cardboard in the tree bed.   The plan is to cover the cardboard with chipped bark when it next gets delivered, saving some money on weed matting, whether this will work or not, i'm not sure.  Hopefully gives us time to save a bit more to get the right stuff.

By 2pm I was soaked through and frozen to the bone so we abandoned planting the remaining fruit bushes (poor things are sprouting in the packaging)  Wednesday is forecast to be the next dry day so fingers crossed (or sooked and stuck in the air)

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Glasgow Potato Day

Glasgow will be having it's first ever Potato Day this year.

The event will take place at the Pearce Institute, Govan on 26th Feb 2012, 11am - 3pm.

Lemongrass and Sweet Potato Update

One of the lemongrass stalks rooted really well, the other however has done nothing so far but i'll leave it in water and see what happens.

The rooted lemongrass potted up...
 The sweet potato is coming along slowly, it has a few nice roots and the top of the potato is becoming a bit knobbly and rough looking, I hope that means there may be some slips soon.

Drying Parsley

The parsley done really well over the winter and I mostly picked it and used it fresh.  Last time I was at the allotment I cut the rest of it down and will let it come back and go to seed, for saving, this year.  I've never seen parsley in flower so i'm looking forward to that.

I dried the leaves that I'd harvested in a low oven and got two big jars from it.