Sunday 31 July 2011

Lets talk Onions

So today I planned to lift all the Onions.

Back in April I planted out about 300 various Onions:
Hyred (heat treated) 2nd row.
Fen Early (heat treated) 3rd row.
Hytech (heat treated) 4th row.
We also planted some we bought from local discount store and cant remember its name but it's a Red variety 1st row on the left of pic.

This is the largest, one of the Fen Early (heat treated) Onions, as you can see its 4" across, most of the others were a good size too.

The reason for trying 'heat treated' Onions this year is because they are supposed to not 'go to seed' early and these certainly have not, so that process seems to work.
I think we got them from Thompson & Morgan or maybe Marshalls.

Most did grow well only a few failed, but as you will see later almost 300 did make it!

Due to thefts at the Allotments I didn't want to leave them there to dry, so on arrival home with all the Onions I put them in the garden while the Chickens were around, but they ignored them, I'm sure the smell put them off!

But as you can see they enjoy scratching & pecking around the garden, we've no grass left & all potted plants have been moved away. There are a few things they don't eat Mint for example, but they dont do too badly for food, we collect weeds & greens from the Allotment for them most days, in fact we are growing extra crops, mostly Brassicas just for them!

Anyway back to the Onions, here they are spread out on top of the Chicken Run to dry, actually it's an excellent place to dry them, all 278 of them.
(144 Red and 134 White)

The Chickens don't seem to mind as it gives them more shade on the sunny days still to come I hope.
Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Thursday 28 July 2011

Harvesting & re-planting too

Almost the end of July, but still harvesting like mad, but when a patch is cleared more crops go in.

Here we have added some more Brassicas, Brussel Sprouts this time for late cropping.

Behind you can see the Kale & Broccoli, to the left the Cauliflowers are doing well too.

We have harvested all the Garlic now, here you can see our drying method, using one of those gadgets for drying socks etc. And perfect for the job!

We did well again this year, all the 3 varieties cropped well, 'Aquilia' and 'Albinensian' including just 2 'Elephant' garlic, so named because it grows to be a massive bulb, with multiple cloves.

Here you can see an area that has been made available after Potatoes have been dug up, in this case Hunter, Charlotte & Anya, all have grown well with very little problems.
So as the rows have been dug up we have planted some Leeks for over winter growth, there are 30 planted here & another 28 in the raised bed where the Garlic was growing.

So another busy week of harvesting, most days we take home a mix of: Peas, Mange Tout, Green Beans, Lettuce, Potatoes, Courgettes, Tomatoes, Peppers, Beetroot, Cauliflower & remnants of fruit, Strawberries, Raspberries, Redcurrants & Blueberries too.

All we need now is rain/water, the barrels are empty & the wells dried up!

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 17 July 2011

Wet, Wet, Wet, Chickens too

Haven't featured the Chickens lately, so thought I'd show them enjoying one of their favorite treats, Super Mix Corn from the Smallholder range of Ex-Bat feeds.

So from left to right:
Peggy, Hetty, Betty & Maud (with her back to you).

So back to today and what a wet day it's been, non stop all day, well at least it will top up the rain butts & maybe the well too on the Allotment.

But here is Peggy again, in mid preen after a soaking this morning, shes sheltering up near the house where it's a little dryer.

So I got busy this week and started making the Blackcurrant wine. The recipe I use can be used for lots of fruit, so here it is:

Place 3lb 1,350g of fruit in a large bucket, crush with a potato masher or similar then add a gallon of Boiled water. Leave for 3 days stirring each day with a wooden spoon (sterilised with with boiling water).

Then strain the fruit mixture through a Jelly Bag (as in my picture) or use Muslin and a sieve.

The strained juice is then put in a large preserving pan (one that will hold at least 2
gallons) and warmed up over
a low heat then add 3lbs 1,350g of Sugar and stir until disolved.
When the mixture
has cooled a little add 1.5 to 2 tsps of Wine Yeast & mix in, then transfer into Demijohns & fit an airlock, as you can see I managed to fill almost 3. So make sure you have plenty of sterilised Demijohns ready.

When fermentation has stopped, takes about 2-3 weeks, keep checking bubble rate in air lock daily. You can do 1st racking, by using a syphon tube, transfer the wine into a spare Demijohn, this helps to clear the wine and might have to be done 3 times, but will cover this process when I do mine.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Monday 11 July 2011

Harvest, Harvest, Harvest

Absolutely the best time of the year and well worth all the effort since the start of spring.

A bowlful of Redcurrants (3lb) pi
cked on Sunday and made into Jelly, lovely on any meal.

There are still some Blackcurrants to harvest and I'm looking for an easy Wine recipe, as the Raspberry & Rhubarb i
s near to being bottled.
Here is a typical days harvest:

Broad Beans

and Flowers.

So it's been a lovely couple of days on the plot, had some much needed rain and everything is growing fast.

Our allotment site had an Open Day last week end, it was busy & we had lots of visitors, locals and allotment folk from other sites near & far. There were cakes, plants, bric-a-brac and activities for the kids who seemed to have a fun filled day.
Roll on next year.

But not only harvesting is done, we are also planting more crops as soil is released from other crops like Potatoes, Garlic etc.

So more Lettuce, Kale, Sweetcorn, Spinach, Squashes & Courgettes have been planted.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Thursday 7 July 2011

Lots of rain this week has helped

Since Monday we've had rain every day, which has certainly helped.
Not only is 1 rain barrel 3/4 full, but as you can see here the Courgettes have swollen.

Here you can see a Round & new Yellow variety that we are growing for the 1st time. We have grown the round type for at least 3 years now, and makes a great addition to stir-fry's when sliced up.

Hows this for a whopper Onion, had great success this year, I planted well over 300 Onions, both Red & White varieties, and I would say 98% have taken, not all as big as this one, but still good sizes.

You might think 300 is a lot, but with a son who's a chef, he uses them a lot in his cooking, and its less than 1 a day for a year.

Most of the summer fruit is coming to an end now, but as you can see here the Red Currants are ready for picking, my wife makes a lovely Jelly from these.

But we do still have Blackberries, autumn Raspberries & late Rhubarb still to harvest.

I have started to make Raspberry & Rhubarb wine, so will Blog about that soon, it is currently fermenting away in 2 demijohns, so will make about 10 bottles.

So far, since 8th of June, we have harvested:
27lb of Strawberries, 18lb of Raspberries, 9lb of Blackcurrants & about 1lb of Blackberries/Tayberries, but still more to come.

And finally the Peas have started to fill out, they took a while to get started, but now as you can see they are ready to harvest.

The Mange Tout are coming along nicely too, sorry no photo, we only pick what we need as they don't store too well, unlike Peas which can be frozen successfully.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian