Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Last of this year's garden pictures

The garden has kept some colour right up until now - 23 October!  I know I keep boning on about the perrenial wallflower - Bowles Mauve - but you can see why when I show you what it is still doing in the garden and has been since May.

We still have some roses out - this little bush and best of all my favourite pink noisette are still struggling along.

A friend bought me this little gem and it keeps flowering its socks off come what may.

I planted this jasmine late last year and it has galloped up and over the trellis - another year should see it smothered in lovely perfumed flowers and pretty leaves.

Its cousin - another jasmine has put on its autumn colour and looks really nice though it doesn't exactly thrive in that box.

So we are done for this year - roll on the Spring.

As a real finishing touch we had a fantastic rainbow a couple of days ago - a perfect arch and zingy colours....

Monday, 21 October 2013

Veg through the winter

Because I grow for just two people I ALWAYS have stuff left over - everything left over when I prepare for a recipe I simply chuck in a plastic bag and tie a knot in the top and chuck in the freezer - that way you always have a ready chopped bit of green pepper or onion or whatever to hand to add to a chilli or something.  When I seem to have gathered lots of bits and bobs and they need culling this is what I do with them.

It doesn't look very appealing as they are all sizes and still frozen..... to explain.

This is my Dutch oven (you can just see the lid top right) - big enamel pot with lid - in which I always roast my meat.  So, the chicken breast has been carved for a roast dinner and some put to one side (foil and in fridge) for a sandwich.  The legs and wing joints are picked and put in a box for the fridge or freezer, with or without gravy.  They will get used in a soup or stew or pie.

I then pull the frame apart and put it back in the roasting pot, skin and all.  This is where the 'garden' comes in - I chuck in everything I want to get rid of from the freezer - do not worry about quantities, how it is cut or what the mix is I swear it always turns out great.  This mix was spring onions, red onion, yellow onion, celery,  red pepper, green pepper and broad beans. Just about cover it with water.  Lid back on and back in the oven at anything from 160 - 190 depending if I have anything else going on in there.  Ideally on its own at 160 and leave it for as long as you like.  Generally it gets a good four hours with a couple of checks there is still enough water and a couple of stirs to break up the goodies some more.  I sometimes don't even bother to do that if I am busy.  You can just leave it alone while you get on with your day - what could be simpler.  

When its convenient for you, take it out, strain it through a large sieve and you have a fantastic chicken stock.  In the fridge it will set like jelly.  You can then skim the chicken fat off the top and the stock is now good to use or to freeze.  On this occasion it never made it to the freezer I put it in a saucepan, added King Edward spuds, carrots, parsnips, topped up with water, cooked for about half an hour, added in the chicken pickings for about ten minutes to warm through; I then thickened it a little with cornflour and we had a great chicken stew - enough to feed four!!  Can't seem to be able to cook for two!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Lotty to bed

Ken and I went over to check on the chaps who were tidying up the site today.  They are part of the Community Pay Back system and are doing a grand job for us.  Today they were strimming and clearing up the weeds and the saplings which have grown back in during the summer and shifting a load of rubble for the far end of the lotty.  The site looked much better when they'd finished.

I spoke to the chap in charge who said they will be tackling the end of the plot which is full of old carpets and all sorts of rubble beneath the surface.  They are going to get in a digger and clear the land and level it and plant up the wild life area with bushes and plants and bug houses etc.

Ken measured and drew up a plan of the plot and I am going to fiddle around with it to see what we can get in and then offer it up to the others to see if its OK with them.... onwards and upwards!

Garden jobs for October

This is as bit of a pretend as I don't do most of these things because we are not here through the winter but this is one I do try to do in hopes I see it - plant bulbs in a layer in a pot.

- Buy tulips now while they're fresh in garden centres, but hold off planting till next month
- clear away summer bedding and annuals and compost them
- sow sweet peas in pots and keep in cold frame or unheated greenhouse over the winter
- prune tall roses to reduce wind rock
- pot up strawberry runners
- lift last of main-crop potatoes and store in paper or Hessian bags in the dark
- pot up herbs and bring indoors to keep you going through the winter

You will see tips for sowing broad beans and hardy peas for an early crop next year.  I honestly think we are too far North - I have never had success with it.  You might have a nice warm micro-climate in your garden so it may be worth a try.


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Young Gardeners

A couple of weeks ago I volunteered to help try to get some youngsters interested in gardening. The Community Group have a raised bed on the lotty which they could use.  if we actually end up with any interested in doing it for real next Spring we will need more than one bed.

For now this is it.  Ken and I pulled up all the weeds and covered it in cardboard to keep the weeds down for next year.

It looks a bit coffin like as it measure 3 x 8 feet - not much to go at there.

I am trying to set up a growing challenge with prizes throughout the winter - quite tough trying to find something for them to grow.  The one for September was the ubiquitous bean challenge. They also have to record four stages of its growth on a sheet which I have given them which then goes in their folder.  This is my bean after a week!

October's challenge will be a hyacinth in a hyacinth glass if Summerseat 'helps out'.