Veg Patch

To read the story of my Veg Patch in chronological order use the links in the Blog Archive

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Adios Alicante

According to WIkipedia Alicante (Spanish: [aliˈkante]) or Alacant (Valencian: [alaˈkant]) is a city in Spain, the capital of the province of Alicante and of the comarca of Alacantí, in the south of the Valencian Community. It is also a historic Mediterranean port. The population of the city of Alicante proper was 334,329, estimated as of 2011, ranking as the second-largest Valencian city. Including nearby municipalities, the Alicante conurbation had 462,281 residents.The population of the metropolitan area (including Elche and satellite towns) was 771,061 as of 2011 estimates, ranking as the eighth-largest metropolitan area of Spain.


Or the alternate Wikipedia entry - Alicante is a golfball sized, red tomato with a full-bodied taste. The early/mid ripening, indeterminate, regular-leafed plant is an old variety, ideal for both greenhouse and outdoor use. Historically, it was used as the breakfast tomato, boiled and served with bacon & eggs. Very tasty, full-bodied, a favourite with us because of its high productivity & taste.

Well those of you that know me will realise that I have associations with both versions of Alicante mentioned above. but as this is a gardening blog the title obviously alludes to the tomato.

The summer was not good for tomato's this year. I planted a large number of plants outside and they started off well, but the constant rain early in the season meant that before long, I had a battle to keep them from blight. Sadly  I failed, and had to pull up the plants. Luckily though I had three Alicante, in the greenhouse and since June they have been producing numerous delicious fruits, just as Wikipedia described them. 

I have kept them going as long as possible, but this week noticed that they were getting towards the end of their days. I still had lots of green tomato's but now none were turning red. 



So it was with heavy heart that I decided that it was time to wish them Adios.. 

The good green tomato's were picked to make chutney and the plants consigned to the recycling green waste. 



And in 10 minutes there was just a big space left in the greenhouse. 



They were an extremely successful plant for me and I shall be growing them again next year. I have decided not to bother putting any outside, but put more in the greenhouse. 

Elsewhere in the garden, the chicken run was looking decidedly grubby. I clean the hen house religiously every week, but the run was last cleaned out at the beginning of the summer. The combination of hardwood chips and chicken poo had now reached the stage where it needed to be shovelled out. 

To do this we had to take the top off the run so I could stand inside to get a  good shovel action going. 


You can see how compacted and nasty it looks, and by goodness its was a bit whiffy.. 


It took me quite a few hours and numerous trips with the barrow but eventually it was all out and replaced with pristine woodchip..



The girls seemed pretty happy with their new floor



Thats about it for outside this week. Inside though things have been going on in the Kitchen. 

I decided to try and make bread from scratch. We used to have a bread maker and for a while enjoyed the bread from it, but as we don't eat a lot and the loaves were pretty big, lots got wasted so we got rid of it. Making It myself, I thought I could just make enough for a day or so .. 

It was pretty simple, although I think I cheated by using my Kenwood with a Dough Hook.. The dough grew nicely in the airing cupboard. 



 And after a couple of hours I managed to produce a fairly decent looking loaf of bread. 




Lunch was a nice round of home laid egg mayonnaise sandwiches!! 




They were lovely,in fact I have made another loaf since this, will have to ration it though as I am going to be needing new clothes if I put on any more weight!! 

And my final baking session in the kitchen this week was this years christmas cake. I used Delia Smiths recipe as its easy to follow. 

The fruit got a good soaking in Brandy overnight. 



 And then mixed with everything else to make this. 


4 and a half hours later the smell was wonderful and the cake came out nicely. Cant wait to get stuck in to it.. 


Well thats about it for this week. We haven't been on any adventures with Gibson, as he is still getting over his very recent surgery. After looking like a bit of a sloppy drunk for 24 hours, he soon bounced back to his normal self. Unfortunately we are not allowed to let him off the lead or go very far with him for another few days. He has so much energy, and can't understand why he isn't doing all his normal fun things. Luckily he has healed very well and hasn't been bothered at all about his stitches. Hopefully normal walks will be resumed next Monday. 

Finally we had an amazing sky last week. It was bright pink. I have never seen anything like it, I tried to capture it on my little camera but it did'nt come out too well. Still its not a bad picture.



A local restaurant, The Jetty at Christchurch had better luck and posted this on their facebook page. 



Have a great weekend and don't forget to put the clocks back on Saturday night. Winter has officially arrived.

Friday, 19 October 2012

One year on..

I haven't mentioned it before, but we have recently passed our first anniversary of living in this house. The veg patch and the blog were not inaugurated until January but other members of our little community are also celebrating anniversaries. 

1 Year ago yesterday Margot Babs and Geri Hatched!!  They were 12 weeks old when they came to live with us and a year on they have certainly grown. This was the first day they spent with us



and this was the first egg.



and the first time they met Gibson. 




So yesterday as it was their birthday, they got extra corn and a day out on the lawn in the sunshine. So how did they reward me. In their usual fashion, they spent all day attempting to escape into the veg patch. They know its full of tasty things, as the live in a run on the veg patch, but they are only allowed on the lawn to free range. I am sure they look through the chicken wire plotting ways to get over the fence and enjoy gorging in my raised beds. 

I dont know how long they are going to be living with us, apparently as they lay eggs every day, they will have a shorter life than some chickens that don't, but I know I am destined to spend my days making sure they don't get the better of me!! 

What is it they they are so interested in on the Veg patch. It could be the Sprouts. They have been growing away all summer under some mesh to make sure that butterflies don't get to them. They have though, suffered at the hands of the recent strong winds, and most appeared to be almost laying flat on the soil. Staking was in order. 

I thought I would prop them up and then give them a bit of extra sunlight, but as I was walking down to do this yesterday, a rather large cabbage white butterfly floated by, this meant I was going to have to stake them and then cover them again. I don't want to loose them to caterpillars at this late stage. They have been sharing a bed with some Savoy cabbages, that also looked like they could do with some TLC. 



Once uncovered it was easier to see the mess under the plants.


I got to work, staking and clearing and before long it was looking good. 



A quick inspection of the sprouts and then the cover went back on. 



Elsewhere in the plot, my late planted broad beans are covered in flowers but no sign of any pods yet. The flowers are beautiful so if nothing else happens now I am not that bothered. They are so pretty to look at. 


All of my companion planted flowers are still looking beautiful as well 





And finally my Rhubarb has also suffered in the recent high winds. I shall go out later and  cut them down. I am really looking forward to next year, when we will be able to finally eat some of it. 



Out and about this week we decided to walk along the Dorset Coast Path   so we set of for Lulworth Cove on Tuesday, which turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. The walk we picked was about 6 miles long, and involved walking along the coast path towards Weymouth and then turning back inland to Lulworth.  

Off we went, Or should I say Up we went. Reading a walk in a book or online, doesn't prepare you for how steep a path actually is. It was a long climb to the top of the first hill but the view back to the cove was amazing. 



And then it was on towards Durdle Door. What a truly beautiful place. 


Gibson enjoyed it as well 


The rest of the walk was even steeper but it was a real sense of achievement when we got to the top of each headland. I think we went up 5 in total but the views were worth it. 




So thats all for now, as I type Gibson is at the vets, having trustingly walked there this morning to be Neutered. I dont think he will be so keen to go there again. It's very quiet here without him, But he will soon be back causing havoc with his plastic cone!! 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Its all gone very Autumnal..

There's no getting away from it, Summer is over. I think I probably picked the worst year to start a vegetable garden. The weather has been ( And still is) the first thing I think about in the morning, and the last thing I think about at night. The constant worries about what will blow over and what will rot if it gets much wetter, have been bad, but the pleasure of that moment when you finally get to eat something you have grown yourself is quite amazing. 

I planted lots of veg for the Autumn and Winter and now that is all starting to look very inviting. 

With that in mind I decided (having found the packet and read the back) That my parnisps were probably ready for digging. 

My dad inspected them in august and declared that they were not very good, despite all of the lovely greenery, so it was with a heavy heart I went to the parsnip bed yesterday afternoon with my spade and fork. Oh well, I thought, may as well get it over with, then I can dig up the rest and compost them. 

I cleared away the soil around the neck, and where previously there had been nothing, now a nice top of a parsnip was in evidence. 




Maybe Dad was wrong and they are actually going to be alright, So I dug it up. To say I was amazed was an understatement, it was huge, and once again a very unusual shape. What is it about my garden and strange shaped vegetables? 


After a quick wash, It looked like four parsnips growing in a clump


A few minutes and a bit of dissecting later and I had three cleaned and ready for the oven on sunday. They smell wonderful, so here's hoping that they taste wonderful as well. 


Elsewhere, It looks like we will be eating dwarf beans as well this week. I put a picture of the flowers on last week. Well now we have beans. I am really pleased as they were planted very late. 


And finally at the vegetable end of the garden. I have had to dismantle the Leaning Tower of Barton. Its time laying down had not done it any good, and despite me standing it back up again, it was basically dying. So to make use of the space for onions, I got my secateurs out and cut it down. I will try again next year with a much stronger construction. 





So what else to do. There isn't a lot at the moment in the Veg patch, I have lots of leaves to pick up, but it seems pointless when more will fall , so I am waiting a bit longer. In the front garden though, I have my Stream Project. 

I dont think I have mentioned this before. We have a small stream that runs along the entire length of our property. We are responsible for keeping the banks cleared, and so with my neighbour, we decided to try and turn them into wildflower banks.  We have spent all summer clearing brambles and all sorts of other stuff. I threw a couple of packets of wildflower seeds around in the spring and we got a few very pretty things growing, I also planted a load of Penstamon's which have been lovely. The main problem are the large tufts of grass which keep swamping everything. This is a chunk I havent cleared. 


And this is a bit I have. 


Problem is, as I was pulling out all the grass, thousands of seeds were falling onto the soil. I know its going to be a long battle to get rid of it, but I have employed a special weapon. After a cry for help on several gardening websites, It was suggested that I try a plant called Yellow Rattle. This plant actually attacks grass roots to grow itself. But apparently it is quite difficult to get established. Well I have plenty of time, so in for a penny..... 

I contacted the seed recommended seed supplier Emorsgate Seeds who sell an amazing range of Wild Flower seeds, and my Yellow Rattle duly arrived. 


When its grown it should look like this 


Lets hope it likes my stream and kills of the grass quickly. 

Yesterday was a beautiful afternoon, so I decided to get out and sow seeds on the bit I have already cleared. And as I did that, I managed to clear another 10 metres or so of my bank. I was ably assisted by the under-gardener, who was fascinated with the water, but never quite summoned up the courage to climb in and join me for a paddle. 




He did however, decide it would be nice, to sit on my secateurs and a penstamon and supervise my activities 


I still have lots to clear and loads more seeds, so hopefully another couple of days next week and that job will be done. I have bought loads of packets of wildflowers to sow as well, but they have to wait until the spring. 

Here are a couple of plants that have taken, and are still in flower. 




Out and about in the forest this week we have met an array of wild animals. On Monday we met this beautiful foal. 




Gibson was very good, he sat and let the foal walk very close to him.

Then on Tuesday we had our first encounter with Pigs. These are not wild, but are let out to roam in the autumn to eat all the acorns. They were a bit more nervous so he had to stay on his lead. 




And this huge cow watched us for ages. 


Thats it for now, have a great weekend