GBHD September Bounty

Just into September and the weather is beginning to change.  So some crops that struggle with the very high temperatures and bright sun of summer will now begin to grow better.  Crops that thrive on heat and sun will slow down.

Perhaps now is a good moment to review the successes are failures in 2012.

Tomatoes have produced a huge crop and this year I have been better at using them and preserving them.  My store cupboard is full of tomato sugo, readyto use throughout the winter months to come.  We’ve eaten fresh raw tomato sauce, gazpacho, and in numerous other recipes.  They are coming to an end now, a little earlier than I would have liked but I can’t complain, every plant has produced more than I could possibly expect.  I have cut back most of the plants, leaving off shoots from near the base in the hope that they might provide a few more trusses.  I also used some off shoots as if they were cuttings, but I fear I have done this too late.  I’ll update information about this in future posts.

I’ve loved preparing delicious tomato salads from all the different varieties I’ve grown, these are all small varieties but their taste packs a real punch.

Some tomatoes are now being eaten by a caterpillar

Zucchini have not been over prolific this year but if I’m honest, we’ve had as many as I’ve needed.  The yellow variety were a disappointment, my favourite variety, Romanesco, were OK.

Climbing beans were not the success I was hoping for; I am pretty sure that there wasn’t enough humidity for good germination, but I will try the purple climbing beans again because they were so delicious.  Dwarf beans were more abundant and I managed a successional planting so that I have lots more to pick now, I have made another sowing outside and will also sow in the greenhouse to hopefully have green beans until December.

Barlotti beans were also very good.  I harvested some fresh and some dried in the pod, and then allowed the plants to continue growing; great as I’m now harvesting again from just one early sowing (March, I think)

Cucumbers were slow, there’s been enough for when I made gazpacho but really they needed more water and not quite such hot temperatures.

Capsicums and aubergines (melanzane in Italian) have been very stunningly prolific this year.  One pepper plant alone had 18 fruits on it yesterday.  I’m impressed because other years I’ve started with some grafted plants which everyone says produce more fruit more quickly but they have never been as good as this year.

I should probably thin the fruits on the peppers as the plants seem hardly big enough to support them

I picked a washing up bowl full on Sunday

…and another earlier last week

I roasted some prior to making into a concentrated sauce which I froze in ice-cube trays

Others made a roasted vegetable ratatouille

Aubergines

Melanzane I use to make baba ghanoush, curry, caponata, and some I prepare as in the image above and then freeze.

Strawberries produced prodigiously early in the summer, then a little rest with just a few bowlfuls now they are producing well again, with lots to eat and some I made into purée then mixed with Prosecco for a rather nice aperitivo.

Prosecco with some ice-cubes of frozen strawberry purèe, a little sugar and ……

……Salute!

Basil, both Genovese and Thai provide all I need and enough to freeze for winter use.  Although I only make pesto in summer with fresh basil, I like to eat seasonally so don’t mind not having some things at certain times of year.

Raspberries need cooler temperatures than we’ve had this year, the early crop was miniscule but the autumn crop is a little bigger so we’re eating and freezing some every few days.

Chard is looking good and will hopefully take us through the winter.  I’ve already planted broccoli, pointy cabbage, red cabbage and fennel.  I have ready to plant some more broccoli and some cavolo nero and another type of cabbage.  I planted leeks last week.  I planted quite a few because I won’t have enough onions to take me through the winter this year.  Last year so many went rotten, but I did have enough to last until the new crop so perhaps I’ll plant a lot again this winter.

I’m pretty happy with the crops this year, I haven’t bought vegetables or fruit except for a couple of melons, the fox ate mine!

What are you harvesting now?

This meme is great to compare what you grow and harvest with other gardeners across the world.  Especially fun to compare the garden crops in the southern hemisphere with those in the north.  Go to: The Garden Blog to read more.

GB Harvest Day – July 5th

So many things have begun to be harvested since last GBHD in June.

I am picking and so eating so many tomatoes I think I’m turning orange.  I’ve made Gazpacho and am about to make tomato soup to freeze and sauce to bottle (this is the first year I’ve decided to bottle tomato sauce so I’ll let you know how I get on and how much work is involved.

San Marzano to the right, everything else to the left

Small golden tomatoes often don’t even make it into the kitchen, they’re so easy just to eat while I’m picking

Yesterday I harvested the first sweetcorn; they were picked and cooked within half an hour and were sooooo sweet.  The crop doesn’t actually look as good as other years so I’m thinking I’ll so some more and plant a second crop.

the first small but oh so sweet corn with a zucchini that hid and so became rather large and a few beans – these I’ve been picking some daily for a few weeks

Melanzane (aubergine, eggplant) are just ready now to harvest, they are different from the ones I’ve grown before, I also grew some from seed and amazingly they have some fruit so that’s encouraging, I may grow more of the vegetables from seed next year, growing more of what we really love to eat and what grows well.

Melanzane are ready now, luckily I’ve just finished using the ones I froze last year.

Peppers were ready before the melanzane this year, not sure why; but they need such a lot of water, many have a dry patch on one side but they are turning red (I only use green peppers in Gazpacho) and I’ve increased the irrigation so hopefully the new fruits will be better.

soaking up the sun and slowly ripening peppers

All the early heat is definitely making some crops suffer; there have only been two cucumbers so far usually I’m desperately trying to think of new ways to use them.

There are still salad leaves, but probably not for much longer as its too hot.

Pak-choi did very well until the flea beetle attacked, now the stems are edible but the leaves are no good, I’ll sow some again for the autumn as they were delicious and very quick from seed to table.

Before the flea beetle, must look into using mesh to stop this pest.

Strawberries are also not enjoying the heat, those planted through black plastic have scorched leaves and the fruit is very small, the ants also disrupt the soil under the plastic but I have been picking enough to eat and lots to freeze ready for jam or gelato so I’m not complaining.  My raspberries are also not as prolific as other years, one reason is the heat, secondly I pruned some of them differently and am hopeful for a better later crop and thirdly while I was a way the birds found them and even though the bushes are now decorated with shiny ribbon the birds aren’t fooled and know the fruit is there!

There are strawberries almost every day

… and a few rapberries

…and best of all there are figs!

The tree is struggling and the ants are eating more than us!

Last week I harvested all the garlic, most had flowers and weren’t as large as other years but expect there will be enough to last the year.

This is about a third of the garlic

there are red onions, lots with thick necks

and lots of white onions again many have thick necks

I don’t know if it is the weather but lots of my onions had thick necks last year too (maybe it’s the wind?)  some always rot during the winter, but ast year’s harvest produced enough to last until this year’s harvest was ready so I’m not complaining.  This year I didn’t grow yellow onions which are supposed to keep the best but mine rotted before the others, last year I also grew shallots but I’ve hardly used them, too fiddly to peel when I’m preparing dinner so I didn’t plant them this year.

I harvested some Barlotti beans, some to use fresh and some have ripened to be suitable to store as dried beans, I may plant some more of these as I love them in soups or puréed to serve with almost anything.

I’ll link to The Gardening Blog when their harvest post is up.

What are you eating from your garden?  Whatever it is I’m sure it tastes better than anything you buy in the shops; so ENJOY!

GBHD – What’s in the vegetable garden

I’m joining in with Barbara and Christine with their What we’re harvesting today meme; it’s interesting because they are now approaching winter and in Italy we’re going slowly into summer.

There are some strawberries almost every day

The strawberries have slowed down considerably since last month (am I really thinking “thank goodness”?)  There are some to eat most days and lots more flowers to give hopes of many more to come soon.

…and lots of promise of more to come with lots of flowers

Broad beans don’t always fulfill their promise

Having our own lemons is a treat

This year I decided not to buy grafted pepper plants and I am sure that this year the peppers will in fact be ready earlier.  If I wanted green peppers there are already a couple that are large enough to use.

Not actually harvesting peppers yet as I don’t usually eat them while they’re still green, except in Gazpacho, but I don’t have the other ingredients yet.

Not actually harvesting peppers yet as I don’t usually eat them while they’re still green, except in Gazpacho

The vegetable garden is already quite productive.  The greenhouse enables me to buy in small plug plants of many things early and grow them on, so that when I plant them out they are already good sized plants.  The tomatoes in the greenhouse have mostly already reached the top of their canes and those outside are well on the way to doing so too; the job of the moment is to keep them tied in and the side shoots pinched out.  When I plant the tomatoes I add an alkaline tablet to each planting hole to help prevent bottom rot.

The soil was, I think, a little acid for some of my herbs and vegetables as I’d used my own compost as top dressing and perhaps it needed a little longer to decompose.  Initially the basil was very yellow and it is only after watering with the heavily alkaline water from the well that it is now looking temptingly green and ready to use with tomatoes and very soon the first pesto sauce of the year.

The outdoor tomatoes are winning the race as to which will have the first ripe tomao to pick, this week, I think

The Basil was really yellow and sick looking but is now looking much better, I love using fresh basil with tomatoes and mozzarela de Buffalo

The Basil is looking beautifully green now

We have had rain all day today and when I went out to take these photographs it seemed that the sweetcorn had grown 10 cm during the day!  They are under-planted with melons, which are growing slowly, and Rainbow chard planted between them that will fill the space when the corn has been harvested (this inter-planting is also a sign that I am running out of space).

I can almost see the sweetcorn growing

I have already harvested quite a few of zucchini and the yellow variety that I grew from seed is just producing its first, rather weak-looking specimen.  I’ve used them in frittata, pasta sauce and in salad to replace cucumber which isn’t ready yet.  I like them cut very thinly into ribbons (like pappardelle) and served with an olive oil dressing.

Onions and garlic are growing well and I have been using any of the onions that have tried to produce flowers and young fresh garlic is perfect for Spaghetti, aglio e olio e pepperoncino (spaghetti dressed with garlic, oil and chilli with a topping of some freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano.

Garlic on the right and red onions on the left

There are various lettuces popped in around the plot, we’ve been eating them all through the winter

On the right misticanza, there is a lot of mustard leaves included, some would have been great but there is too much, on the left Barlotti beans are flowering now the cool weather has delayed their growth

Pak Choi has been a big success; it tastes delicious and grew from seed that I planted in April, I’ve been harvesting the outer leaves and leaving the rest to grow, I don’t know if this is standard practice but seems to work.

There is rocket around the garden that I add to salads and also Syrian thyme which adds a spicy edge.