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.

The Greenhouse Year – April

I thought I’d join Helen at Patient gardener this month with an update on the greenhouse.

The broad beans I planted in late November or early December have gown tall (maybe too tall) and have beans!  In March when the weather was much hotter than now I worried that no pollinators would live long enough in the heat to actually pollinate the flowers.  There must have been enough as the beans are forming quite low down so are presumably the first flowers from March.  My husband love broad beans (I’m not so keen) and he thinks my lack of success in the past is because I have been trying hard enough because I don’t want to eat them!  He likes them raw served pecorino cheese and salami, a classic antipasto in this area.  He also like them cooked in young tender pods and that really needs for them to be home-grown as the farmers want them to be bigger, so with tough pods.

I am pleased with my experiment to grow carrots in a pot.  Again I sowed these in November I think.  I rather stupidly sowed them into my own compost without first letting the weed seed germinate so I am sure I disturbed and even weeded out some of the carrots.  They are certainly the best carrots I’ve ever grown as I’ve always had stony soil and that’s not good for any root vegetables.  I’ll post an image of the carrots when I pull some for the kitchen next week.

Seed production has been erratic.  I sowed various things before I went to England in March, I had the hot tray in the house but then at the last moment was worried it might start a fire so I switched it off.  When I returned, nothing had germinated so I moved the tray out into the greenhouse but this was a big mistake!  It was so hot during the day, the seeds all cooked I think.  Just a couple of Thai basil seedlings and 4 black climbing beans.  When it was cooler in March I persevered in the greenhouse but I am sure the vast difference between day and night-time temperatures was still not what the seeds needed.  So on Monday this week, I started again!  I bought the heat tray back onto a indoors windowsill and already I have climbing beans, sweet corn (lots of sweet corn) and rainbow chard germinated and a little more Thai Basil is slowly pushing up.  So result!  I don’t really want the seed trays inside so I will have to think of some other idea for next year.

Lots of rainbow chard

I bought most of the tomatoes as small plugs from my local supplier and potted them on.  They are now waiting to go outside.  I had planted outside at this time last year but this year is COLD!  We’ve even had a slight frost so they have to wait a little longer – it would be silly to lose them now.

Especially as one has fruit already!

These I grew from saved seed. They are small yellow pear-shaped and look lovely in roasted summer vegetables. They’ll soon catch up with the other plants.

The zucchini are also getting very large; if they get to big they won’t transplant so well.

So I’m hoping for some warmer weather next week so that the greenhouse can be emptied of all the plants that need to be outside.

Don’t forget GBFoliageD on Sunday 22nd!  Share your beautiful spring/autumn foliage.  Is there a plant they you love for its foliage when most people grow it for flowers? Just do the post and leave a comment on mine.

My Breakfast today

Yesterday when I opened the greenhouse door in the morning there was an overwhelming perfume of MELON!  So this morning I ate just fruit for breakfast, all of it from the garden.

All harvested yesterday afternoon

There were many more raspberries and strawberries but I’d eaten them before I thought about writing this post!

The melon weighed in at 1.75 kg, its weight was just beginning to make the stalk come away from the fruit.  Here it is growing in the greenhouse and in all its glorious stages.

In the greenhouse, at the end of last month

Just picked

Cut, it was very juicy

I still can’t quite believe that I can grow melons, which is the reason for the excessive number of images.  Those of you who have this Ikea chopping board will understand the size of the melon.

Figs are really my favourite fruit and this year there are more than ever before but the birds have also decided they rather like them so I don’t know how many they will leave for me.  The strawberries are being very productive and the raspberries are still producing enough to eat some every couple of days; new stems have grown that will produce more fruit next month, I imagine.

We are eating meals that consist many of vegetables as there is so much produce being harvested.  Yesterday evening we barbeque-grilled peppers, sliced aubergine and zucchini (courgettes) and I made a tomato salad with T. Mamande precoce (early) and a yellow pear-shaped tomato that I grew from seed that came from a tomato a friend gave me 18 months ago (I had been worried that they wouldn’t come true from the seed as she had many different varieties.

The green herb on the tomatoes is a thyme-like herb that tasted of pepper, sometimes I use basil as well.

Grilled aubergine and zucchini

 

Refreshing Cucumber and yogurt

For a little appetizer I cooked a cob of sweetcorn.

There is something so very satisfying about harvesting and eating immediately crops from the garden.  I especially love picking strawberries and raspberries and eating them still warm from the sun.

Yesterday’s Harvest

The time is beginning when it takes longer to harvest crops than it does to do other jobs in the garden.  I think this is a fact often over-looked by us gardeners.  It is a joy but it can also become just another chore; you have to do it too otherwise plants won’t carry on flowering and producing more, especially zucchini (courgettes) cucumbers and beans.

330 g raspberries

about 150 g black currants, and that's nearly all of them - not good

There were 3 figs, I ate one direct from the tree!

We need to eat beans every day this week, there are so many to pick

there are some zucchini every day now.

Tomatoes and basil for a salad

All the above took about 35 minutes to pick.

There weren’t any cucumbers yesterday but on Sunday I picked seven!

Happy harvesting
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Christina.
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