18 October 2015

Pre-frost harvest

Yesterday evening I was running round the greenhouse in a variation on Supermarket Sweep, gathering up vegetables that I thought might be damaged beyond edibility by the coming frost.

The frost certainly arrived: touching my marigolds

and my outside vegetables. Not that this kale will mind: there's a fair bit of broccoli, cabbage, sprouts and cabbage still to harvest outside and this level of cold won't do them any harm.

And having done all that harvesting, the plants in the greenhouse survived the frost undamaged, so with any luck there will still be more tomatoes and peppers to gather in the next week or two.

10 October 2015

Thanksgiving harvest

There was a slight frost this morning: not enough to kill anything, or spoil the tomatoes, but enough to turn the roof white and create a crispy feeling underfoot.

The Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, and Child1 has come home from university to share it with us. We've been talking on Skype most days, probably for longer than when we were under the same roof, but it's nice to have everyone under the same roof for a while (even if it is covered with frost).

I did a sweep of the garden and greenhouse to gather up food for the weekend. Pulled a huge cabbage, three pie pumpkins, some tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and peppers. Bottom left are what I at first thought should be purple cauliflower, but then gradually worked out are in fact purple sprouting broccoli. This is the first year I've successfully grown these. There are some mini purple cauliflower coming too, but the leaves, now I look at them, are different from the broccoli ones.

Plenty to give thanks for, anyway!

27 September 2015

Sun-drying tomatoes

One of the tomato varieties I regularly grow is Principe Borghese (I seem to recall that these were a gift from another garden blogger, some years ago). In one of the descriptions online was a note that it used as a sun-dried tomato in Italy. Ever since I read that I've been thinking I should try this, but haven't got around to it until this year.

My oven has a dehydration setting, which is what I used for my first batch, but it was not very successful: even after 24 hours the tomatoes weren't dry and I wasn't impressed at having to leave the oven on for so long. (I did learn that my oven automatically turns itself off after being on for 12 hours, so that was vaguely interesting.)

So, Plan B. Which involves the sun. Much more satisfactory.

My set-up is about as low-tech as it gets. Small tomatoes, cut in half and arranged on a baking tray in the greenhouse. I've put the tray on top of some small plant pots - thinking this might deter crawling insects - and I have loosely wrapped horticultural fleece over the tray. The fleece allows the sun through, while letting moisture evaporate off. It also stops flying insects landing on the tomatoes.

They've only been out there for eight hours and are already looking drier than the first batch did after 12 hours in the oven.

If this works, it really is ridiculously easy!

06 September 2015

All shapes and sizes

I've got three different eggplant varieties growing this year, and so far I've had one fruit from each, with quite a few more to come if it stays warm for a while.

This one, applegreen, is new to me:

Korean early long:

And my favourite, as far as looks go, rosa bianca:

05 September 2015

Peppers (again!)

The hot weather in the last couple of weeks has really been ripening the peppers. I spent a happy ten minutes this morning, picking them.

I roasted the sweet peppers and then pulled the skins off them, once they'd cooled down a bit.

Then I packed them into a jar and pressure canned them for half an hour. This should preserve them over the winter.

I also tried a new trick with the pressure cooker - using it to cook eggs. Fresh eggs are always a pain to peel, but if you cook them in the pressure cooker, they turn out to be extremely easy. I cooked them at the lower presser setting for six minutes. I think next time I'll do it for four or five, as the yolks were a bit dry for my taste, but this was definitely an experiment that was worth repeating.

15 August 2015

Pepper pots

The peppers remained green for a long time, but are just starting to ripen. I picked two large flower-pots' worth this morning. The bright red ones in the middle are Cayennes and the ones to the bottom are Hungarian Hot Wax. The dark red peppers were supposed to be California Wonder,  but they look more like the Chocolate pepper I've grown in other years. The pretty yellow ones are Antohi peppers - they have an orange blush to them as they ripen. And the green ones are Tam JalapeƱo peppers, which I have sliced and pickled for winter use, together with the Hot Wax ones. They're nice on pizzas or in salads or sandwiches, to add a bit of extra flavour.

27 July 2015

Lentil harvest (part 2)

The pillowcase-and-baseball-bat threshing technique worked well to release the lentils from their pods. Then I removed the stems of the plants and tipped the remaining material from one plastic container to another, in a light breeze, to winnow out the last bits of straw and seed-pods.

From about 20 lentil plants, I recovered about half a cup of lentils (80g). Enough for one meal, perhaps, which perhaps doesn't sound too impressive. There are around 160 lentils in 5g, which gives a total yield of around 2,650 lentils in my batch.  I probably only sowed about 20 lentils to begin with, so that's a return of 13,150% on my initial investment, which is nothing to sniff at.

I'll keep a lot of these seeds for next year and grow a bigger patch outside, if I can devise a way of protecting the seedlings from rabbits!