Thursday, 17 September 2009

Last Hurrah of the Veg Patch.

*Sigh* it's that time of year again, using up the drips and dregs from the various harvests. Today I picked the last of the Bens as well as the green tomatoes from the mini greenhouse. (As I type the chickens are running amok in there, hoovering up the baby tomatoes I left behind). The last of the carrots finally came up yesterday and the Swiss Chard is looking sorry for itself under it's coat of silvery mildew.

Tonight we're having our annual Last Resort Supper. That's all the raggle taggle veggies stir fried with chicken and the remnants of last year's plum sauce. At the weekend I'm going to persuade Adam to wrestle that giant spider who's been guarding the run-to-seed basil so that we can dig it up and make pesto.

Still going strong are (of course) the Jerusalem artichokes and the borlotti beans. For some bizarre reason one borlotti bean pod came out all on it's own before all the others and that has ripened, also alone. So I am now the proud owner of 3 borlotti beans. Nature's bounty is a wonderful thing.

I'm going to plant a few winter crops, I've already re-planted the Mizuna after it was decimated by caterpillars and for the first time this year I'm going to plant up the mini greenhouse with salad or stir fry leaves. I'm slightly wary of planting winter crops in the main borders for fear of exhausting the soil. Last year I grew green manure (field beans) after Christmas but found it hard to dig in and rogue beans sprang up among legitimate bean crops causing much confusion, so this year I'm going to try the bokashi system. As I understand it I fill a bin with kitchen scraps and bokashi bran then after a few weeks I can dig the resulting fermenting veg into the soil where it should rot down quickly, ready for spring.

Fingers crossed for an allotment sometime soon, I've been told it's immanent since March so I really hope it's not too much longer - otherwise I'm not sure what I'm going to write about from January to May 2010!


  1. This is really interesting for me as someone who has inherited a lovely greenhouse and lots of land, when moving house. I'll now investigate any winter crops that might be viable!

    This summer was our first foray into the basics and we were pleasantly surprised.

    You have given me the nudge I needed to take this further and look into simple, winter crops that I could tend with love! Thank you!

  2. *sob* lovely greenhouse and lots of land? You're just trying to make me jealous now aren't you?! ; D

  3. Hi Tracey - I'm going to sow some winter crops under a homemade cloche in the pre-school garden next week. Any recommendations? And do you reckon I should add a bit of compost first to revitalise the soil?

  4. I'm very much a novice on the winter veg front I'm afraid but our fellow tweeps made some recommendations for me on Twitter: (from @igrowveg) (from @thecraftygeek)

  5. Does this mean no more Bens?? I am going to miss them.

  6. Firstly...what are borlotti beans???

    secondly...Dawn of little green finger....broad beans are a good winter also can put in cauliflowers though you may be a little late with them now but I still think it's worth a try as the weather is quite warm!!

  7. Borlotti beans are a pulse, the kind of bean you can dry out for the winter. I was veggie for a long time so am probably more acquainted with pulses than is natural!

    Have a look here:

  8. Hi Tracey, Having tried out your recipe for Cherry Plum cordial and made my first few batches of jam, (see my earlier comment) my mother-in-law gave me a really useful old book of hers, 'Let's Preserve It', by Beryl Wood. (1970). This volume is well-loved and boasts some very spattered pages, but it's indispensable in my kitchen. Last Friday I tried the recipe for Damson and Apple jelly , a great success. There are 579 recipes, using all kinds of combinations of fruit n veg - eg. damson and marrow jam, gooseberry and cherry jam - well, I wouldn't have thought of those by myself. It also features lots of pineapple recipes,I guess pineapple was very fashionable in the 70's...

    Still following your blog with interest. Although I live in the middle of deepest, darkest Northampton, and my foraging opportunities are limited, it's amazing what crops up - apples from someone's garden at church, damsons from a friend of a friend. I'm hoping and praying that your wish for an allotment will be granted soon, and that perhaps that will encourage me to do more with my own garden. I am 'still learning' when it comes to veg - my greatest gardening success so far is the spontaneous crop of potatoes that grew out of our compost. My 9-yr-old son had a whale of digging them up, and they weighed in at 5kg!

  9. Thanks for your comment Foxy. The book sounds great, I enjoy trawling charity shops looking for similar finds. My favourites are the small booklets of family recipes groups and societies (such as churches, WI etc) sometimes publish for fundraising they tend to be full of really unusual and interesting recipes.

    It's surprising how much free fruit you can get your hands on once word gets out, keep an eye on Freecycle too, windfalls sometimes get advertised on there. Am liking the idea of a spontaneous compost crop! All the rewards and none of the effort!

  10. I just found your book on Amazon, 1972 edition and costing £75! Look after your copy!