Sunday, September 09, 2007

Harvest reflection...

One of my great passions is gardening. I have dabbled with growing herbs and veg for just over 10 years now. Pre children, i spent all my spare cash on plants for the garden in our rented flat. I even managed to bring some favourites with me when we finally moved out of London in the late 90's.
This year my husband has taken an interest in the garden too, which has been great as keeping on top of it with the children still young and with running a business has been pretty difficult.
As we were flooded in freak weather in 2006, we decided to raise the old veg beds and built some very tall beds from oak sleepers. My man built another raised bed for salads nearer the house. The greenhouse was tidied, staging built and we happily sowed away.

It has been a trial and error year and I would like to share with you our attempts ...

Our first harvests were from Lollo Rosso lettuce, rocket ( really easy and really tasty), spring onions, basil and spinach (good for a bit and then bolted).
We then enjoyed some fruit; raspberries, gooseberries and alpine strawberries.. only a few of each but still great.

The potatoes came next and we were lucky that as the beds were raised so high, the damp weather didn't spoil them.

This was our alien potato.

The dwarf french beans were our favourite crop of all.. so fresh and enjoyed by the whole family (good yeild over a long period for only six plants).

The carrots actually grew (a first for me!). They were of variable sizes but the earlier ones could have been sweeter. The spot we grew them in was not in direct sun so we wondered wether they needed more light? We had some this weekend and they were better.

The veg which did really well were the courgettes.. almost too many to eat and many turned into marrows whilst we were on our holiday. I did find a good recipe this book..

' Courgettes Parmigiana'.

About 3lb courgettes cut diagonally and blanched for 3-4mins, drained, then arranged in layers (as in a lasagna) with fresh tomato sauce and then sliced mozzarello (each layer seasoned well) and then topped with grated parmesan and drizzled with olive oil. All baked at gas 4/ 180c for 40-45 mins. It was so easy to do and tasted really good.

We also have a large clump of rhubarb in the garden and have made fruit crumble a few times too. Crumble is my all time favourite pudding and in times of low moods (i get a few of these from time to time), my mum will always find an excuse to make me a blackberry and apple crumble (my most favourite). A small morello cherry tree gave us and the birds a few fruits too.

The crop which failed dismally for us were the tomatoes. I had sown gardener's delight and my man sowed Super Marmande beef tomatoes. Firstly we grew too many, and found it hard to care for them all, and secondly the they hated the wet and most got brown patches on their stems and got blighted so we had to dig them up. We were pleased to hear we wern't the only ones and even Monty said the tomatoes at Berryfield were a disaster.

A few salvaged tomatoes.

Our final crop to harvest is sweetcorn. We barbequed our first cobs today and they really were the best we'd ever tasted. They do say that sweetcorn is best picked and eaten straight away and it seems to be true.

We still have ridge cucmbers going strong, some blackberries (thornless ones planted by me for the girls), more courgettes, a few salads, garlic and these bannana peppers.

All in all a good year .. i think next year we should plan for leeks and parsnips .. two of my favourites and romanesco.. but one thing at a time ...
It still amazes us that all this comes from tiny planted seeds ..So i want to say thanks for the harvest from our garden this year and how enjoyable it has been to share this new adventure with my husband. Our girls have really enjoyed helping too, especially picking the goodies.
If you have any veg/harvest stories or advice to share please do leave a comment.. i'd love to hear how this year is going for you..
Have a good week.


willow said...

Hello Ginny.
Your garden looks great, very productive. I was also disappointed by my tomatoes but felt much better about them when I learned that even TV tomatoes failed this year!!

the flour loft said...

Us too. Don't you just love Monty! such a gentle soul.

carolyn said...

Not very good at veg and haven't grown any ourselves this year. Our neighbour gave us a couple of courgette plants and even they have failed dismally, flowering but the baby courgettes have started to rot on the vine. We are having a wonderful year for tomatoes though, not our own our lovely 82 year old friend has a glut this year, he grew under glass.

Victoria May Plum said...

I love Monty. I was was so relieved when he said his tomatoes had failed too!

Seeing your raised beds has inspired me to get on create some of my own - the slugs and snails have loved my vegetables this year. The railway sleepers look great.

Looks like you have had some wonderful crops.

Victoria x

Jane said...

It has been a rubbish year for veg hasn't it - unfortunately this is the year my daughters decided to take over the veg growing - I hope it hasn't put them off for life.
Mind you at the school - with the super-duper new raised beds - we planted peas and carrots and they were all ready to harvest first week back - children were eating whole carrots for lunch and taking them home to show their parents. One mother told me that her son had always refused to eat carrots before he helped to grow these ones.
That made me so happy.
I like your sleeper beds.
Our tomatoes are tiny - dolls house tomatoes rather than cherry ones.

this is my patch said...

Hi Ginny .. Your raised bed looks great and you have had a really productive year in the garden, well done to you, your hubby and your kids. All your vegetables look fantastic, it must be the depth of soil in your beds that has done the trick. As far as the tomatoes go, it is bad luck but don’t worry, as you say not even Gardener’s World could come up with a decent tomato this year and look at how many people they have fussing around at Berryfields at one time. I only grow small cherry tomatoes, for the last few years, Garden Pearl (Gartenperle) have been a huge success, even this year I had a fair few, they are so sweet and juicy and just great to pick off the plants like cherries as you go around the garden and lovely in salads or with bacon and cheese in an omelette. One final thing, can you remember the Cadburys Smash alien, your potato with another antenna that is, could have been a double, apologies if you are too young to remember!

Tracy said...

What a scrummy post! I love gardening never fails to amaze me what comes from but a teeny, tiny seed...However, with all the wet weather this summer, our veg patch was a wash out! Better luck next year :o) Love your alien potato--LOL! Happing Harvest-Happy Eating!

tash said...

There is nothing so wonderfully British as a well-kept and ordered vegetable garden, and yours looks delicious!

We're still harvesting things (courgettes, tomatoes, potatoes, salad leaves, runner beans, borlotti beans) but there are things I've learnt this year, things I will grow again (Painted Lady runner beans are the best - and prettiest - I've ever had) and things I won't, but more than anything it's being close to, and working with the land that is what I love the most. Hurrah for gardeners!

alice c said...

What a lovely harvest - your children will always remember the fun and the delicious taste and will want to recreate it as adults.

Those carrots look fab - just right for Peter Rabbit!

French Knots said...

You have had a great season and some super looking produce. The raised beds look great, really traditional as well as productive.I'm going to buy a blunderbuss for next year to wage war on the slugs and snails, they even ate all my rocket which was growing in a tub in the greenhouse.

Suzie Sews said...

those carrots...I can almost smell how fresh they are and bursting with goodness.
Suzie Sews

Gigibird said...

Love your raised beds....I am currently looking in to having a bit of railway sleeper action in my garden:)

the flour loft said...

Hello thanks for leaving comments..internet been off so really good to find all your messages today.
Hi Carolyn-Your friends' tomatoes sound 'delish' ( to coin a new JO favourite word).
Hi Victoria- we have had a good share of slugs and snails too, they have just loved the weather. My husband's 'favourite' pastime is to pick the slugs off at night!
Hello Jane- how wonderful to have inspired some young gardeners and to give the kids a sense of connection to, and pride in, growing their own food.
Hey Louise.. all i have to say is 'For Mash get Smash'! and yes i do remember although i was obviously quite young!(am going through a sudden realisation that 40 is nearly upon me).
Hi Tracy- always in awe of nature.
Tash- your garden sounds wonderful .. know exactly what you mean.. gardening really is good for the soul.
Suzie and alice c- even though we only had a few am really thrilled with the carrots.. luckily we didn't have to share them with Peter Rabbit.
French knots- we had pesky slugs on our rocket too.. i didn't think they would like the pepperyness but i was wrong.
GiGi- look forward to seeing some railway sleeper action down your way.. remember, most importantly.. they are a bas*ard to lift... foolishly we got the chunkiest ones although you don't need to. My advice.. get lots of helpers.