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Friday, 21 July 2017

Keeping Up With Demand

Thank you for all your lovely comments on the last couple of posts. This post was automatically set to publish  while I was sitting on a beach but it didn't. Ho hum!

It was probably very naĆÆve of me to think that I could increase  the amount of produce I am growing without  it having an impact on my time. But its saves money and when you are time rich and cash poor you have to go with the flow. When I do my early morning round of the garden harvesting ripe produce I have to think how its gong to be used. The warm wet weather over the last couple of days has increased the harvest of runner beans twofold! So each day I spend at least 40 minutes preparing beans for the freezer.  

Courgettes, cucumber, carrots and beans
Today I have  transplanted some of the beetroot seedlings that were ready which meant making space in the existing beetroot bed So 15  beetroot of assorted sizes were picked and processed. After cooking some were pickled and some left plain to serve with a salad.  
A little put by for those leaner months
The 'bush' tomatoes are ripening quickly and I sorted the ripest ones from those collected over the last few days to make a batch of tomato chilli jam.  I used some of our home grown red onions and frozen chillies from 2015.  

Tomatoes, chillies and onions ready for the Chilli jam
I have harvested more potatoes which should last for  a while.  And I've been thinning the larger carrot containers out by picking baby carrots.  I may have a carrot 'experiment' plant pot reveal soon as I think most of the carrots are a decent size considering they've grown in a 10 inch pot. 

This one is just under a foot long

This one is 4 inches and growing fast

The butternut squash in the greenhouse are growing steadily and I've had to apply a  sling to the largest one already.  Old tights come in very handy.  The squash outside aren't even flowering yet. 

According to the internet I have a record breaking sweetcorn plant because it has 5 ears of corn on one plant, another has 4. The little beards had turned brown so I decided to have a look  and picked 3 of them.  Two were good and one under developed but I can still use it in a tor fry. So out of the five plants I have I could potentially have 20 ears of corn! WOW. Bye for now. Tx

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Being Extra Frugal

I need to put some money back into my savings account, as we've had a list of things we needed to buy for our tenant and the account has taken a real battering. So my first job yesterday morning was to familiarise myself with my cupboards, fridge and freezer.  While the garden is producing well, a lot of meals can be subsidised with produce from the garden.  Almost everyday I'm  getting beetroot, tomatoes, beans, potatoes and salad produce. It won't be long before I can harvest carrots, kale and sweetcorn. 

In the fridge I found some out of date Emmental cheese that was going a little dry, as I won't be baking until the end of the week so I put the slices of cheese in the Nutri bullet and pressed the button.  Less than 20 seconds later there was a lovely fine crumb, that I've put into a tub in the freezer. 
In the bottom of the fridge were 2 cucumbers, 2 courgettes, mushrooms and some cooked beetroot.  I peeled the cucumber, deseeded and chopped it up. The beetroot was chopped and the two ingredients mixed together with a little mayo, balsamic vinegar and seasoned. This will be served with the chicken & mushroom, spaghetti, courgetti dish I've made.  

Today we had curry and rice, the curry is out of the freezer. I really need to utilise what I have in the freezer as much as possible. There is plenty of meat in there to serve with produce from the garden.  

Spending needs to be an absolute minimum for the foreseeable so I decided to take advantage of the Iceland promotion that I received in the post yesterday. The deal is spend £10 in-store 3 times between 17th July & 20th August making sure to present your bonus card,  £5 will be loaded onto your card automatically on the 26th August. You must spend the £5  between the 26th August and 10th September.  I spent £11.11 yesterday but really need to stick to the £10 as much as possible, I'm keeping the receipts and promotional paperwork together just in case. We have a hired a beach hut with friends for a week starting Friday so there are a few bits on there that we can take with us. Iceland have also started doing Warburtons 50-50 bread for 59p which is a good price and the grandchildren will eat this.  We had the tail end of a storm early hours of the morning, lots of lightening then one huge clap of thunder and a bit of rain but not as much as I expected.  Poor Cornwall they always seem to get the flash floods. At least no one was hurt and work is already underway to make sure the forthcoming  holiday season goes ahead as planned. Bye for now Tx

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Birthday Celebrations and a trip to the seaside

The weekend
English jam tarts.  Baked them when I was ten using leftover pastry.

We had been invited to a friends 50th Birthday afternoon tea.  There was lots of Pimms, tea, cake, savoury buffet and everything was delicious.  One 'sweet'  I fell in love with was a jam tart but not your average jam tart,  it was a jam tart with a hidden secret.  The secret was marzipan there was a piece of marzipan under the jam that had obviously melted into the pastry and it was gorgeous, something I will be trying in the future. Simple yet so yummy. 

We said goodbye to my brother in-law on Sunday morning. He left at 10 and was making a stop off to visit other family before completing his journey back to Wales arriving safe and sound at 6 that evening. Our friends arrived just as we were waving him goodbye and we jumped in their car and headed for Leigh on Sea. It took just under an hour to get there and we parked at the station and took a stroll down onto the shoreline where the fishmongers and cockle sheds can be found. Leigh is very muddy when the  tide is out and it was low tide. We walked up into the town and had a look in a couple of shops. The properties near the seafront are beautiful huge 'mock Tudor' semi's and detached properties. I had a quick look at Rightmove and a house like this would cost approx £1 million

After a couple of hours we went along to coast a short distance to Southend on Sea. We had some food in the town and had a mooch around before heading home. We managed to cram in one garden centre on the way back to look at their 'Summer Houses' as my friend and daughter are both after one for their gardens. Strangely enough they have both decided they'd like a corner one and I dare say we will be help out when they arrive. 

They are rather lovely and you can upgrade the wall thickness to 48mm, have double glazed windows, shingle roof etc Do you have a summer house? What do you use it for? They are rather lovely. Bye for now Tx

Monday, 17 July 2017

Mango Chutney and Stuff

Hi, thanks for all your comments on my last post.  I had a hectic weekend I'll tell you more about that tomorrow. But for now I better tell you about the mango chutney I made  a week ago but never got round to posting about it!

After managing to get hold of some cheap mangos  on the market I set about making mango chutney. Its something we both love with curry and I had most of the spices etc so it didn't mean having to go out and buy loads of things.  I used this recipe as it gave you options for substituting ingredients. 

Makes: 1 litre (approximately)
  • 2 large apples - peeled, cored and grated
  • 3 mangoes - peeled, stones removed and chopped
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 2 brown onions, chopped
  • 125ml vinegar (  I used white wine vinegar as its sweeter)
  • 3 tablespoons grated root ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 dessertspoon mustard powder (I used ground mustar seed & whole seeds)
  • 1 dessertspoon chilli powder or crushed chilli flakes (I used cayenne & chilli flakes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

  • Prep:15min  ›  Cook:30min  ›  Ready in:45min 
    1. In a large large stainless steel saucepan over high heat, combine the apples, mangoes, sugar, onions, vinegar and ginger. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until the fruit is tender.
    2. Add lemon juice, mustard powder, chilli powder and salt. Continue to simmer for 5 more minutes.
    3. Spoon into hot sterilised jars and seal.


    You can try using curry powder in place of the chilli powder. You can also use Cayenne pepper instead of chilli powder and mustard seeds.

While I was squeezing the lemon a pip dropped out and I had to take a closer look, as it was already split and a green leaf visible. I popped it in some compost and lets hope I have a lemon tree next year!

Its just starting to break the surface of the compost.  As for the leek seed experiment, I gave up and put the wet seeds in some compost and hope they grow.   Have you grown a citrus plant from seed? Did it survive? Back soon. Tx

Friday, 14 July 2017

Goodness its FRIDAY!

Thank you all for your lovely comments I love hearing from you.  I think the general consensus  of opinion is that time seems to be flying and I fear its true as its already Friday!

I knew this week was going to be hectic as I had arranged to visit an ex colleague who is in hospital  with a brain tumour on Tuesday. There is still no update as to whether its operable so its a wait and see situation. She was in good spirits and we had a candid conversation and a little bit of a giggle too.

We also planned maintenance on our rental property.  Its in our best interest to keep on top of jobs because if we ever had the need to sell it could be done swiftly.  The house is an end terraced 3 bedroomed new build with cloakroom and drive for 3 cars.  The tenants have been in there for the last 4 years and little jobs have been carried out from time to time. Wednesday saw us moving 2 tons of soil from the back garden as the wood on the raised bed had deteriorated and become dangerous.   We have kept four large bags of soil for our own garden  and  someone we knew wanted the rest as it was good top soil. The job was straight forward, once levelled  grass seed was applied and a tarpaulin to protect it for a few days.  My SiL has some special sheets that we are borrowing. Yesterday I helped hubby put another support behind the bath panel as it keeps moving allowing water to get trapped and end up staining  the kitchen ceiling. A painter is currently painting the front door, porch supports, kitchen, bathroom and fence panels, so it should all be looking tiptop by Monday. 

By the time I got some spare time in my own garden I found myself having to harvest lots of things that were ready. I picked runner beans, green beans, lettuce, cucumber,  tomatoes and beetroot. I'll need more potatoes at the weekend but I'm leaving them in the ground until I need them.  Furthermore, the latest lot of decent rain we had might add a few extra grams in weight. 

My brother in law arrived from Wales  at 7:30 last evening on this.
A BMW something or another! He will  spend a couple of days with us although we have a busy weekend planned.  So hubby is spending time with him today and they've gone off to buy a new pair of biker boots and I'm home alone. bliss.  Hubby always had motorbikes but he started getting really bad neck pain from the force and decided to sell his bike '2000 Bandit' and not buy another.

Have you owned a motor bike? What do you have planned for the weekend? Bye for now Tx

Monday, 10 July 2017

Monday Again!

Where are the weeks going to? I thought time passed quickly when I was at work but now I'm retired I'm finding the weeks are rushing by at break neck speed. We spent the weekend with family and friends. My youngest daughter held a fantastic barbeque on Saturday and I probably ate a little too much. Sunday was spent at Alton water with friends.  It was very hot but we found some shade behind a tree and there was a little bit of a breeze late morning  then grew steadily throughout the afternoon.  Once again we had rain forecast from 9am this morning but nothing has happened so far. We are desperate for it on the gardens  but also to break this muggy atmosphere. 

I've been picking beans both dwarf green beans and runner every day since Thursday. Two lots have gone in the freezer and one used.  I did dig up another lot of potatoes but the ants have been at them however once scrapped they're fine. Everyday I'm getting 10 or so raspberries which we have with yoghurt.  They will be pruned even harder this year. 

Tomatoes are ripening quickly now but I'm not pleased with the plants. They are not my normal variety and have grown very stumpy but are laden with fruit.  Once the toms are ripe they drop off! Not sure that's right but too late now

20 inches high and full of tomatoes

Tomatoes drop off when ripe!

The beetroot seedlings are all looking healthy and the carrots have already broken the surface of the pot.  I have potted up the remaining carrot seed sprouts and they will go into the garden next week when they are strong enough.  The leek seeds are still not sprouting, I'll leave them a little longer and then just put them into compost and see what happens.  
Carrots in the pot 2 trays of beetroot

My shopping bills will start to really decrease now I've got so much ripening. In fact I think apart from dairy produce I could stay away from the shops for a while.  (I do have one more coupon to use, more on that tomorrow)   I can make a complete salad now. I have potatoes and vegetables to accompany most meals. There will be more beetroot to lift at the weekend if I get a chance, I've got a really hectic week ahead of me.  I made a quick chicken curry this morning using up some of the small onions and potatoes I lifted, as well as the courgettes that are coming quickly now. I hope you had a lovely weekend. Back soon. Tx

PS: The pitter-patter I heard on the conservatory roof  a moment ago has just turned into a torrential down pour then back to pitter-patter. According to the media we are in for a roasting hot August but we'll just have to wait and see!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Seed Progress (3) and Pickling

I'm getting used to my new laptop but it has taken forever to set up. I was seething last night as the windows 10 update took 4hours to download.  Then today the free McAfee security wouldn't load and it took a phone call and lots of trying to persuade me to part with some money before I said 'what does Free mean?' because the subscription that came with the laptop is for one year free, so no money will exchange hands until this time next year! If the problems continue with this laptop it will be returned to the shop! It took me another 45 minutes to load the drivers for the wireless printer.

Anyway back to the seeds. The beetroot sprouts that were put into compost yesterday have already broken the surface and looking really healthy.  The carrot seeds were ready to transplant into compost.  I decided to use a 10 inch pot.  There is a guy I watch on YouTube HGV (Home Grown Veg) that grows  a huge selection of things in 10 inch pots.  I already have a pot I did about  6 weeks ago and its brilliant. The rest of the sprouting carrot seeds will be put into a seed tray with compost and when they're large enough they'll go into the garden.
Beetroot leaves after less than 24 hours

Lots of  carrot seeds sprouting

A 10" pot I sowed 6 weeks ago
earlier and the one I did today

Sown circa 6 weeks ago and you can see the carrots

Still not much progress with the leek seeds but I won't abandon hope just yet.  'Sods Law' as it was the leeks that I really wanted to 'bring on' quicker. 

There were 3 large cucumbers ready so the other evening I peeled them, one half was sliced on my mandolin and the other half was cubed. Both lots were sprinkled with salt, covered with cling film and placed in the fridge overnight.  Every time I opened the fridge I agitated them a little so that the salt solution was evenly spread.  The next day I threw away the liquid that the salt had drawn out of the cucumber and rinsed them thoroughly.  I left them to dry a little while I was sterilising the jars.

Cucumber sprinkled with salt
Cubed and sliced cucumber pickle
I made some spiced vinegar with mustard seeds and chilli, once the jars were packed with the cucumber the vinegar was poured over the contents. The jars were tapped gently to get rid of air. They've been stored in a dark cupboard and will be ready to in next month.  I managed to get hold of some lovely large ripe mangos at the market today (3 for £1)so I'm just about to make some Mango Chutney. Its all go here! Have a great weekend.  Bye for now. Tx

PS: We have not had one drop of rain and the heat has been unbearable at times, this afternoon it was 26 and muggy. Rain forecast for Monday......YES PLEASE.  

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Seed Progress (2) and Other Stuff

The weather forecast for today was rain all day from 9am but when I got up at 8 am and looked  out of the window it didn't look like it was going to rain anytime soon, so I checked the forecast again, no rain till 4pm. It's 1pm and the sun is hot but cloud is building and it's getting very muggy.  

I checked the beetroot seeds this morning and they'd put on a lot more growth so I planted up two trays spacing the little sprouts out as much as possible.  They were covered with a layer of well crumbed compost and watered. 

More of the carrot seeds had sprouted but not near enough to plant up. The leeks are showing more little white specks so hopefully we'll have a root soon.

Passing the runner beans this morning I noticed another harvest ready, knowing we weren't going to be able to eat them all I blanched them and put them in the freezer.
I decided to pick the onions before we have rain, they'll go in the shed for a few days, then I'll attempt to plait them up and hang them. Lots of smallish ones but this is  a £1 bag from poundland and the raspberries have proved to be a bit of a thug neighbour.  I sorted them into large and small piles and I've definitely got my money's worth.

I'm going to pick up my new laptop top shortly but first I've got some pickled cucumber to do because I've got so many ready.  There's always something to do! I better press publish before I lose this post. Bye for now. Tx

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Seed Progress (1) Report

It's not easy doing a post on a smart phonešŸ˜². This is second and last attempt as it has just lost everything I it's not that smart!

You may recall on Sunday I started some seeds off inside damp tissue. The beetroot, carrot and leek seeds were then placed in a plastic container with the lid on and put in a dark warm cupboard.  Why did I do this?

  1. It speeds up germination.
  2. It allows me to filter dud seeds.
  3. Planting is more uniform, less need to thin out
  4. Speeds up harvesting time because I haven't wasted time on germination.
  5. I love experimenting! 
I checked the seeds yesterday (Tuesday) just over 48 hours after sowing and only the beetroot had sprouted.
Beetroot 72 hours
Beetroot 48 hours

I checked them again this morning (Wednesday) and the beetroot have sprouted more, the carrots are starting but nothing on the leeks, although if you look closely there is a little white pip on the seeds which could mean the germination process is starting.

They've all gone back in the cupboard for another 24 hours.  I can't caption the photos. So it's carrot, leek and beetroot after 72 hours.  I miss my laptop. Bye for now. Tx

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

My Laptop is Dead

I bought my red Acer Aspire 5742 laptop back in 2010 and it cost £349 with a two year security package. It had Windows 7 installed which I loved. Early last year I was persuaded to change to Windows 10 and that's when it all started to go horribly wrong. I had to have the laptop rebuilt at one stage costing £60.

Earlier today I started up my trusty friend to find the screen displaying the Windows defender screen, which then went on to say it was rebuilding the necessary files followed by a blank screen, then nothing, not a noise, nothing. I'm annoyed because there are some files I should have saved to a portable hard  drive. I'm hoping some bits are in my Microsoft Cloud.

So now the hunt is on for a new one. Hubby has said he'll buy it for me. His company have a discount with Argos of 7.5% so I'll be checking out their products, but it's a minefield. 500gb, 1TB, RAM, Celetron, Intel core, graphics cards and it goes on. This post has been written on my phone which hadn't been easy, I'll be back soon. Bye for now. Tx

Monday, 3 July 2017

What a whopper!

Sunday morning was time to start harvesting some of the produce from the garden.  We started with the beetroot. I  wanted to weed the beetroot and thin them out as well as pick any that looked big enough. I must have made a mistake when I was sowing them  because I'd sown cylinder beetroot but didn't label it correctly so you can imagine surprise  my surprise when I found this whopper.  There was also normal ones in the bed so I'm confused but it's all edible so what the heck. 
Hubby dug up the treasure from one potato plant. Not a massive amount of spuds but it will do us a few meals.  I picked the first lot of runner beans,  fingers crossed there  will be many more harvests and another lot of green/black beans.

Three and a bit jars of beetroot pickled, the bit is what we had with our dinner. I'd got the blend of sweetness and spices in the vinegar just right and it was lovely.  

We popped to the market Friday before heading to Ipswich for our granddaughters sports day.  The fruit and veg stall holder that I visit every week was concerned about the black cloud hovering over head. He is the last stall in the row and gets the water run off for the street if it rains so he was selling things off.  I got some apples for £1 and then he offered me an overflowing bowl of apricots for £1, he actually added more after transferring them to a brown paper bag. Over 800g wow. I kept a lot of the firmest ones for a fresh fruit salad and added frozen berries , the rest were turned into more jam.
Dinner last night was: lettuce, cucumber, potatoes, peas/beans, beetroot and onions from the garden served with a quarter pounder topped with cheese. Followed by fruit salad (raspberries/strawberries from the garden)  Eton Mess!
Dinner was delicious
I never tire of watching what a seed or a bulb can do with a little TLC.  I'm trying another experiment, I've sown some leeks seeds in damp paper tissue to see if they sprout.  I'm wondering if I can get a late batch in when the onions come out. I've also sown  some more carrots and beetroot.  They are in a plastic tub inside a cupboard. I'll update you on their progress in a couple of days.
Beetroot, carrots and leek seeds on wet tissue
How's your garden growing? What's your favourite  thing to grow? Do you have any unusual sowing techniques? Bye for now. Tx