Monday, 10 October 2011

Ten on the Tenth: Grow Your Own

Our most unusual Silver Wedding present was a vegetable patch - a gift that goes on giving - or will eventually!!  That was back at the end of May, but it took me so long to prepare the soil and our "summer" was so inhospitable that nothing much got planted until late August.  We have had some edible treats and there is plenty to eat in the pipeline, but the truth is that it's now a race against time for several of the crops.  October started wonderfully and gave everything a big boost, but has now reverted to windy, cold, rainy normality.  So I'd better document the (potential) harvest before the remaining plants curl up and die!!!

So here, in alphabetical order are the 10 crops (and I use that word in its loosest sense) from our vegetable patch:

I can't really take credit for these as the tree came with 10 tiny apples on it.  Four fell off between the garden centre and the tree's second planting (I moved it after a day in the wrong place) but we harvested the remaining fruit, removed the spiders webs, cut off the odd lumpy bits, and really, really enjoyed the crisp sweet apples.

The carrots are, as yet, an unknown quantity as I really have no idea how you know when they are ready to eat.  Someone told me they start pushing up the soil when ready, but I suspect that was a joke!  The lettuces are thriving, but are actually meant to be Little Gems and look nothing like what I buy from Tesco!

The Lollo Rosso lettuces are doing well and I have tried a couple of leaves which were tasty.  So far (touch wood, fingers crossed etc etc) the crushed eggshells have deterred the slugs - or perhaps the slugs haven't yet made their way across from my flower beds?  The peas, however, have a long way to go before they can be harvested - the packet reckons I can sow in late October for an early crop so I'll plant some more soon.

The single red pepper was green when it gave up its weak hold on the mother plant and fell to Earth.  Now it's red but extremely wrinkled.  I shall not be opening a market stall any time soon!  The salad onions are growing reasonably well, but again, I have NO idea when they'll be ready to harvest!  Why oh why is soil so opaquely black?!?!

We love raspberries and grew these very succesfully before we built over the previous veggie plot with our extension.  We now have canes growing inside potato sacks in an effort to contain the runners.  The crop is going to be massive - providing the frosts stay away!!  Tick tock, tick tock!!

Much less successful are the strawberries.  Not one has ripened to something close to a recognisable fruit.  I'm beginning to think that these are just too much trouble for the taste.

And finally there are the tomatoes:  the smaller ones are meant to be that small (from a cherry tomato plant) and are super sweet and delicious but have quite chewy skins; the larger ones are from a survivor from last year's efforts - I salute that plant's dedication to life as it has had no help at all from me and yet it has triumphed over frosts, droughts, draughts and floods!

There you have it - my ten on the tenth - for more of the same (though probably entirely different) please head over to Shimelle's blog here.


Linda said...

wow! great harvest from late planting! Well done:)

scrappyjacky said...

Looks like a great harvest....I'm afraid I've never found strawberries worth the effort either.

Eleanor said...

Hello girl
Carrots - usually 8 - 12 weeks from planting, otherwise, just pull one up here and there, now and again, too small, wipe it on your trousers and eat it then and there, try again in a few days.
Slugs? Can you find any frogs/toads anywhere to bring home? Best ever slug solution.
Have never bothered with growing strawberries - love them, but love picking them at PYO better than growing them. The place we pick at up here has them in polytunnels on raised beds, fantastic, no bending, no dirt, no nettles. Maybe there is somewhere like that near you for next year. Use the space in the veg plot for something like red cabbage (to go with the apples) to serve with your pork. :D
Pork crackling: the more fat under the skin the better, the best we ever had was nearly 2in thick, a free range pig, we still talk about it now. Score it narrowly, but deeply, to just about the meat, less than 1cm apart. I use a craft knife, the cheap slide-up one with snap off segments to the blade, but a stanley knife will do, or a scalpel. If you can, leave the meat out the night before, under a teatowel to dry the skin.
Next day, sprinkle on water (to help the salt stick) lots of salt, and in oven at 200C (and that's fan oven) for at least 30 mins, preferably nearer an hour if it's a big piece, before lowering the heat slightly to continue cooking the meat. That first big heat seems to be what does it.
Phew, this is turning into a book (for the bathroom) sorry!

Beverly said...

I am betting the harvest will be bountiful next season. The lettuce looks amazing. It's been a long time since I grew carrots but I do think they pushed up from the earth a bit and that you didn't want them to be more than 2" in diameter. You can cover them with 2" of mulch and they'll be fine in the cold. Green onions you want to cut when they are about 6" tall :)

Sian said...

What a great present! And a very neat idea for a "ten". Our garden was a car park up until a few years ago and we are still very much at the preparing the soil stage. I think you have achieved a good harvest for your first summer!

Lizzie said...

Hey what a great little harvest you're getting! I'm not sure you'll have much luck with rasps and strawberries now though - it's too cold at night and we're approaching frost season... Still, we may get a few more sunny days, to pink the raspberries up.
Maybe the strawberries are not happy in their spot? You could always try growing them in a dedicated strawberry planter/tub/thingy next year? Or a hanging basket (or two).
The lettuces and rosso look so nice. Our guinea pigs would consider themselves in piggie-heaven if they got loose in your veggie patch!
We also have one solitary little red pepper, but zillions of tomatoes!
Apples - yum!
Enjoy your present for years and years - such a great idea!

Helen said...

The prep is the hardest - you've done really well from a late planting. Next year it'll be fabulous (darling!). I've never had any luck with peppers unless they are in a greenhouse/poly tunnel - and a great idea for 10 on the 10th!

Mary B said...

Love your 'bumper' harvest Jemma :D

Angelfish said...

Lovely to see your home grown veg, something I really miss since moving house.

scrappysue said...

What a lovely and unusual gift! Sadly I can't offer any advice, since its almost 20 years since I had a garden that had anything that remotely resembled a fruit or veg! We did have a go at planting cucumbers and peppers on our balcony, but they didn't survive the 50 degrees C+ temps in the summer; now there's a surprise! Great post!

CoventryAnn said...

Only 2 harvest photos among my 10 today, love your pictures.

Alison said...

What a great idea for a gift..though I must confess to being a 'flower' person, rather than a 'veggie' one! I reckon you've had a fairly good crop and next years will only be better!
Alison xx

Miriam said...

What a great idea for 10 on the 10th and a brilliant harvest! well done.

JulieJ said...

LOL - those strawberries and tomatoes remind me of my efforts. As for the carrots and spring onions, the only way to tell if they are ready os to lift one or two and check. If they are ready harvest some more, if not leave and try again after a few more days.

alexa said...

You've done amazingly well in just one season! I envy you the apple growing - we have too many frosts up here. I bet it all tastes wonderful.

humel said...

You have my every admiration :) I can't seem to grow ANYTHING successfully other than a fine crop of weeds!

(What a great idea for a gift, though!)

happysnapper said...

I am truly inspired I am very impressed with your efforts and will get our seeds in over this weekend hopefully in 3-6months i'll also beable to do a blog post like this!

WendyB said...

Fab list, I too am waiting patiently for my carrots to appear above the soil - should be soon.

Missus Wookie said...

strawberries look like they need more water to me. Tomatoes are amazing at how well the do, love the raspberries - ours are still fruiting.

The carrots & salad onions you can eat the thinnings so pull 'em up and see how big. Don't forget you can keep carrots in sand once pulled from the dirt.

Love the idea of it being a gift - our apple trees are doing well too.