Archive for the ‘Growing’ Category

I forgot I’d planted beans. I like purple vegetables, especially when they’re as productive as the “King of the Blues” runner beans. Think the other ones are Blue Lake Runners. I maybe got ten beans, on the two plants that appeared of the eight beans I sowed. The purple ones? All fifteen seeds grew into huge plants. I’ve had at least this many beans a week for three weeks. Maybe more. Like I said, I keep forgetting about them.

The purple cauliflower were a nice surprise this afternoon. I’d forgotten I’d planted them too…


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Oh hello late-summer, suddenly you are upon us. Last week I visited my old house to find 5lbs of tomatoes waiting for me. The week before I’d picked only 15oz (I’m using imperial because that’s my bench-top scales) The tomatoes in my own garden are still mostly green, but that’s good really – not too many all at once.

Now, from memory I’ve planted Moneymaker, Sweet 100, Black Cherry and Gold Cherry. The Black Cherry don’t look much but they are my favourite (though not everyone’s favourite, Kath said they were bland). They’re a little bit smoky perhaps. There’s something going on in there. I think they’d be nice in chipotle sauce, if my chillies ever ripen. I am tempted to bring them inside again, now that the bees have had their fun.

For now I am cooking up the last of the tomatoes from last week’s pick-a-thon to freeze or bottle for later. Summer in a jar! It’s so delicious it doesn’t need anything in it other than a bit of salt and pepper. Depending on what’s in the old and new gardens this week, I might look into making some ratatouille to bottle. Those zucchini are really going for it. But lest you think it’s all healthy harvests around here, let me enlighten you:

Dusting the cake.

My first jam-making endeavour!

And damson gin! Three bottles this time because one was not enough last year. And some jam too.

Dammit, now I’m hungry again…

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scatty harvest

My brain is a little absent at present. I feel a bit ‘out to lunch’. My brother is getting married next week and there are quite a few things I need to do to my dress before I wear it, but instead I am fiddling about in the garden doing things wrong.

Like, pulling up all my garlic in the rain. When I got home from doing this I read that you should pull your garlic up on a dry day after a dry week… we had that dry week (a glorious, glorious week) but I managed to do this on Friday after a night of rain. So then my garlic (all forty decent-sized bulbs!) was subjected to a complicated, made up as I went along process of drying out. First I laid out a lot of newspaper on the garage floor and arranged the garlics so they didn’t touch each other. Then I pulled out a clotheshorse the next day and laid them over the top of that (the leaves were allowed to overlap).

Then when the sun came out today I got Rata to help me cut the roots off each bulb (she turned out to be VERY good at giving the garlic a haircut) and we pulled the clotheshorse out into the sunshine. At about 5pm I started to braid the garlic. It turns out I am not very good at this.

That is not the kind of garlic braid I remember from my childhood.

Then I made an effort to rescue the tomato plants in my new garden from their wild neighbours – this involved pulling out a lot of coriander and wild rocket I would have liked to let set seeds and digging up a few potatoes I am very much looking forward to eating.

There are some red skinned potato ‘volunteers’ as my landlord calls them (self-seeded, and in the ground for goodness knows how long) and two other varieties, one of which is probably Agria. I’m trying to sprout seven of the smaller of my ‘Tutae Kuri” purple potatoes on the windowsill in the hope that I can squeeze out another crop of them before winter. I am finding this potato growing business really quite exciting.

This is what Tutae Kuri potatoes look like as a Christmas potato salad. I had left staking my tomatoes so late that each plant had four or so stems in need of a prop – so things look very interesting with so many stakes and comparatively few plants. Oh well.

I planted a row of crinkly kale seedlings today, sowed some Mexican coriander and land cress, eyed up a courgette on the plant and watched the blackbirds dive bomb the cat like they thought they were magpies. Quite an exciting day, I must say.

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Broadly Speaking

I have to get rid of the picture of the Nanaimo Bars from the top of the page. I’m not eating sugar at present, and every time I have thought about putting some project up I am confronted with the memory of their deliciousness. It is unbearable.

(But not eating sugar has, on the whole, been perfectly fine.)

Broad beans! Now there’s something I don’t like to eat. Yuck. But you know, if you build them a wall, they will grow to meet it. Possibly this means that there will be a lot of beans. For now, there are a lot of flowers. And a lot of bees. Good thing the other members of the household like broad beans.

Fun times in the sun. Sick of me playing with the lomo filter on my phone yet? I think I might be.

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Beans! They like to grow!

Beans! I planted them too early!

Beans! They needed some place to go! So I dug a little trench in this warm corner, lined it with newspaper, filled it with compost and separated the egg carton. (I planted the rest of the borlotti out back between the pean (pea-bean) plants around their bean teepee.)

I don’t think it is really time yet to be planting beans but oh well. They look happy. I have also worked out where I will plant my pumpkins – in front of these beans so they can sprawl all over the hot concrete. My accidental pumpkin planting last year in Holloway Road worked pretty well for them, spilling out onto the footpath. So long as Rata doesn’t run them over too often with her bicycle. Meanwhile, I have two tomatoes!

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These have been in the ground for months. Months. I planted them in March, perhaps, and it is only in the last week or so that they’ve really taken off. At Standard Issue Paekakariki Magic Hour, I went to retrieve the washing in the last of the sunshine and thought ‘ooh, those carrot tops are getting quite big, I wonder how big they are now’ and proceeded to pull up both rows of the Paris Market variety. Because they are meant to look like that.

Today I got rid of some bolting broccoli and replaced it with neatly sewn Pearl Drop onions, another row of carrots and some radishes between the red onion seedlings I planted just before it snowed. I know that’s not a terribly interesting report, but how else will I know when I planted something if I don’t write it down somewhere on the internet? A bamboo teepee is eagerly awaiting some pea plants, and Rata’s “Tomato Sauce” garden is coming along nicely with broad beans, coriander, rocket and newly sewn onion seeds. Most of those things have nothing to do with tomato sauce but it’s too early for the star of the show and I need to have something to show the boss. You know how it is…

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Walking plants

Hello, did everything in this part of the garden get up and leave?

Sort of. They have moved to a happier home, free of black plastic, with good drainage and more shelter.

This part of the garden is my favourite – I built it after I made the other four raised beds, and just layered up vege scraps, grass clippings, dead leaves, seaweed and coffee husks on the sand – someone had made a garden in this bit before so the sand looked a bit richer than most other parts of the garden. The pallets protect things from the southerly, and those broad beans are the happiest in the garden. But the black plastic garden is looking a bit dreary and I want to rip out the plastic and start again – hence these Brussels sprouts, cavolo nero and rainbow chard refugees. And the artichoke, who has been asking for a home for several months now.

But one thing went right in that black plastic desert – this cauliflower was pretty happy! She’ll be dinner this week. I left a broccoli plant next to her to hold her up, and a good thing too, given all the wind we’ve been having lately. Lots of power cuts on Friday built up Rata’s vocabulary some more (“Powers off!”) and broke a lot of brassica leaves.

Brussels sprouts for Louis tea this week too! I picked some a week or two ago and Rata snaffled the lot – raw! I can’t stand them myself, but I did eat one raw the other day and they’re much nicer. In that they don’t taste like Brussels sprouts. These are growing in a raised bed that is not lined, so the compost and topsoil is sitting directly on the sand. And the direct comparison between this bed and the lined one is what compelled me to rip the lining out. Things are flourishing, fruiting, doing all the things they should be while their exact twins sat across the path doing little.

Meanwhile, I take it all back about the red Brussels sprouts – they are not secretly cabbages. Something is finally happening. I’m hoping that moving the ones in the other bed will inspire some panicked fruiting.

This bed also has black plastic lining it, but my garlic is there so I don’t really want to disturb it. Every bulb took, which makes for a very tidy little patch. I’m hoping to plant some more elsewhere, you know, so I can compare how it went in different beds but time is running out.

A winter garden doesn’t have much wow factor, which is probably why seed catalogues are sent out to woo bored gardening eyes with all colours of tomato and chilli. I have been well and truly smitten with several varieties of each, while having to remind myself that we may have to move in January and miss eating the lot! I haven’t grown tomatoes for the last three years for that very reason, but this year I have dastardly plans to tempt fate, plant heaps and throw caution to the wind. And it would only be our landlords moving in anyway, I’m sure they’d be happy to share… right?

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