Category: Harvest Monday

Harvest Monday for October 10th 2016

Autumn is in full swing down on Plot #59 and we’ve got the seasonal veggies to prove it.

A few weeks back we harvested our squash and were quietly impressed with a decent showing in our first year of semi-serious squash growing:

September 2016 squashes
Turk’s Turban and Tondo di Piacenza / Gem Squash curing in the greenhouse

We also called time on our single, lonely tromboncino squash. Not worth entering in the Sutton’s Cup, but definitely tasty – we oven-roasted chunks of it to accompany our Saturday sausages and it was pleasantly firm in texture with a lovely, nutty squash flavour.

Also on that plate were the first pulled roots of the year: a few trimmed-back but mostly manky carrots (not a good crop after all, by the looks of things), and some much nicer salsify, scorzonera and mooli (although at the risk of seeming indelicate, one of those last three gave me terrible wind yesterday… just a word to the wise, there).

October 2016 root veg
Carrots, salsify, scorzonera and mooli.

We’ve continued to pick bags and bags of runner and French beans for drying. We I deliberately planted a lot of beans this year and we’ve got the pods to prove it. Here’s a small selection drying in the greenhouse at home, and there’s another batch just like it at the allotment greenhouse, plus the couple of kilos of dried beans already packed away, and a whole lot more still on the plants:

September 2016 drying beans in the greenhouse
A quite small sample of the vast number of beans we’re drying this year. Anyone for cassoulet..?

We’ve started to pick out first kale leaves and cabbages. They went in late and the slugs have had a field-day on the latter, so there’s a fair bit of livestock to remove before the cabbages can be cooked, but they’re very tasty once you get them properly cleaned up.

September 2016 - freshly washed kale
This lot is destined for a date with a hot frying pan and a big knob of butter.

We’ve had a pretty decent chilli harvest from our main greenhouse at home as well. Here are a few ‘cayenne’:

September 2016 Chilli 'cayenne'
A few artistically arranged chilli fruits; many more went into a batch of chilli jam.

Most of them went into a few jars of chilli jam. One of the jars – the last to be filled from the jam pan – had re-crystalised and I was going to ditch it, until my Mum suggested it might make a good chilli glaze for pork chops. Good call, Mum.

Fruit-wise, we’re all about the Autumn rapsberries at the moment, although everything else has finished for the year. We’ve been stewing most of them up with apple and some of our frozen blackcurrants, for use as a breakfast porridge topping or custard-drenched pudding. Delicious either way.

Harvest Monday is a GYO meme hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday for September 5th 2016

September 2016 bumper harvest
September is a time of plenty, and no mistake.

The do say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I’ll briefly walk you through the above. From the top-left: a bag of apples and plums donated by a plot-neighbour; the last of this year’s maincrop ‘pink fir apple’ potatoes, with three giant black radishes on top; (in the box) autumn raspberries and Japanese wineberries; this year’s onion harvest, cleaned and trimmed and ready for storage; the first of this year’s ‘turk’s turban’ squashes (we have another nine or ten at varying stages of size and ripeness); a few more courgettes and a smallish spaghetti squash (at least, I think it is…); another bag of fresh runner and French beans, plus an unruly head of bolted purple cauliflower / broccoli.

Not too shabby, if we do say so ourselves.

Coming soon: sweetcorn, which I’m leaving a little longer to enjoy this week’s forecast sunshine, and perhaps the first of the cabbages.

Harvest Monday is a GYO meme hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday for August 15th 2016

I spent a happy couple of hours this weekend lifting the last of our second early potatoes down on Plot #59 . They’re a variety called ‘Saxon’, which is fast becoming a firm favourite. They have a lovely, creamy texture when boiled or steamed as new potatoes, store really well and make great mash, roasties and even jackets, if they get large enough. A true all-rounder.

This year’s crop was hit by the potato blight that has swept through our site this damp and dreary summer, and I took the haulms off at the beginning of July. Luckily a decent number of tubers had been able to form before I took drastic measures, and although we’re well down on last year’s epic crop, we should have enough to last us through to the end of the year at least.

They’re currently drying in the greenhouse before cleaning up a bit and sorting for either immediate use or storage, depending on the degree of slug damage.

August 2016 spud harvest
A shelf full of Saxons drying out in the seldom-seen sun…
August 2016 spud harvest
…and another shelf full of Saxons.

(There’s a third shelf full as well, but honestly, it just looks an awful lot like the first two…)

Jo and I also picked several kilos worth of assorted beans – runner, French and broad – which I spent my Sunday evening trimming, chopping, blanching and freezing for our winter stores. We picked another few tubs of mixed berries, too: raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and Japanese wineberries (see last week’s post for pics).

August 2016 broad beans
A selection of tasty broad beans – ‘Red Epicure’ and ‘The Sutton’
August 2016 redcurrant sprig
No-one does jewellery quite like nature does jewellery…

And we’ve picked the last of the peas, most of which are too dry for eating fresh, but we’ll try storing them for soaking and adding to winter stews, see what happens. Oh, and more courgettes (which rather goes without saying) and a bit more purple calabrese.

Still to come: sweetcorn (forming up nicely, let’s hope they get enough warmth to ripen), winter squashes, chillis, cabbages (not long gone in, let’s hope they establish before winter), kale (likewise) and hopefully more turnips. Hardly any carrots though. The carrot-fly have ripped through them and destroyed around 95% of the crop. More on that set-back in another post.

Harvest Monday is a GYO meme hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday for August 8th 2016

So much produce harvested since our last Harvest Monday post. Let the parade of deliciousness begin!

July 2017 - bean bags
Bags and bags of beans for cooking, freezing and pickling.

We planted a lot of beans this year – broad, French and runner – and all but one variety are in full productive flood. We’ve been eating them, freezing them, and I made a batch of runner bean, tomato and courgette chutney as well.

July 2016 beans
Broad and runner beans make a great addition to a ratatouille.

The courgettes are still producing like crazy (no surprises there) and there’s a good selection of other veggies to accompany them:

July 2016 vegetable assortment
A selection of lovely fresh veg – courgette, turnip, spuds, Swiss chard and (yup!) more beans.

The purple cauliflower we sowed turned out not to be cauliflower after all; it’s definitely calabrese broccoli. It loses its colour on cooking, even when gently steamed. Which is a bit of a shame, but par for the course for most purple veg. (The anthocyanin pigments are water soluble, y’see, and probably break down even faster under heat.)

July 2016 purple cape "cauliflower"
Says cauliflower on the packet, but turned out to be calabrese – still very tasty.

We also picked the last of the mangetout-turned-podded peas yesterday, so we’ll be shelling those and finishing them off before too long.

Last week we lifted the last of the onions, before the white rot set in. I was pleasantly surprised to find that only a dozen or so had taken rot, leaving us with this many for drying and storing:

July 2016 main onion harvest
We’re very pleased with our onions this year – they should keep us going a fair while.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same about the potatoes, which took blight a bit too early this year. This is all the tubers we got from an entire three metre row of first earlies:

July 2016 - first earlies
I believe the technical term for this sort of yield rhymes with “diss door”.

Not good. The second earlies are a bit more promising, but yields are definitely way down on last year. We might not have as many to store as we hoped, but so it goes.

So far this year – a load of grey mould infected strawberries aside – the soft fruit and berry harvests have been very good indeed:

July 2016 - berry harvest
How’s this for a berry selection? By no means the entire crop, either.

Clockwise from the top, we have: blackcurrants, redcurrants, Japanese wineberries, blackberries and raspberries.

The Japanse wineberries are definitely winners in our book. The plant is a spiky old so-and-so, but the berries are incredibly easy to pick; they just slide right off their stems once they’re ripe and they taste delicious, sweeter than raspberries but still nicely sharp.

July 2016 - Japanese wineberries
These wineberries are something of a taste revelation – sweet yet sharp.

And we’re glad to see that our twin blueberry bushes in the back garden have produced a decent crop this year, despite being re-potted back in the Spring.

August 2016 - blueberries
A nice haul from our two back garden bushes.

And this is one of the dishes I’ve been cooking up recently. Allotment bubble and squeak, with goat’s cheese and homemade courgette and tomato chutney. Simple, incredibly tasty and highly recommended!

August 2016 allotment bubble & squeak
Leftover veg, re-fried, served up with goat’s cheese and homemade chutney – delicious!

Harvest Monday is a GYO meme hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday for July 25th 2016

Summertime (down on Plot #59) and the harvests are mighty! Here’s what we’ve been picking for the last couple of weeks:

July 2016 - courgettes #1
A selection of lovely courgettes…
2016 - courgettes #2
…and a few days later, another selection of lovely courgettes.

Our four varieties of courgette are all producing like crazy, as you can see from the above. Not a few of those ended up in this year’s batch of courgette and tomato chutney, now maturing nicely in the cupboard.

And all three ‘Tondo di Piacenza’ plants have decided to throw off their mere ‘courgette’ appellation and make a bid for full ‘squash’ status:

July 2016 - Tondo di Piacenza
Not a bad week’s worth of growth on this courgette…

I’ll leave those to mature and toughen up, before bringing them inside for curing into gem squash (at least, that’s what someone from South Africa told me the larger versions are called and who am I to argue?)

In other news, the (predicted to be) truly epic bean harvest has begun:

July 2016 - three beans
The first (of very many) beans have been picked.

From left to right there, we have ‘Blackpod’ (a Heritage Seed Library runner bean variety), ‘Fasold’ French beans and good old ‘Scarlet Emperor’ runners. Still to come: ‘Prizewinner’ runners, ‘Medwyn’s Exhibition’ French and maybe a few ‘Cobra’ French as well. Oh, and we had a few ‘Purple Queen’ French from the plants in the greenhouse (which I tried to blanche to keep their colour, but they turned dark green. I’ll steam the next batch instead.)

Further down the plot, the broad beans and peas have been doing very nicely indeed:

July 2016 - broad beans
Plenty of pods ready for picking.
July 2016 - peas
A bumper crop of golden and purple peas this year.

The ‘Shiraz’ (purple) and ‘Golden Sweet’ (yellow) peas grew like crazy while we were down in Kent and no-one was around to pick them. Luckily the latter variety more than lives up to its name, delicious as a crunchy mangetout and, as it turns out, equally sweet and tasty as a young pea, either raw from the pod or lightly steams. We’ll be growing those again next year.

Just next door, we’ve lifted this year’s elephant garlic crop:

July 2016 elephant garlic
Properly dried and stored, these giant bulbs will last us well into next Spring.

I forgot to add a pound coin for scale so you’ll have to trust me when I say those bulbs are as big as my fist. I brought them home for drying in the shed – the recent heatwave will have helped with that – and as long as they’re stored well we’ll still be eating them in March next year.

We also lifted an initial batch of onions and the ones we left in the ground seem to have swelled nicely while we were away:

July 2016 - onions
The rest of these onions will be ready for lifting soon.

Meanwhile, over in the fruit patch, the strawberries might be over (and in desperate need of reorganising and thinning out) but we’ve enjoyed a good-sized crop of gooseberries:

July 2016 - gooseberries
Sweet enough to eat raw, but delicious in a crumble.

And just this weekend, we picked a big bowlful of redcurrants, the vast majority of which I turned into redcurrant jelly.

July 2016 - redcurrants
A big bowl of juicy fruit destined for the jelly pan.

Still to come: many more courgettes, beans and peas. The blackcurrants need picking; a dozen rows of potatoes need lifting, drying and storing; I need to check the carrots to see if any of them have escaped carrot-fly attack; cabbages and kale are going in at the moment (a little late, I know, but the weather was against us earlier in the year); and we need to re-check the seed packets to see what we can sow now for late Autumn and/or winter harvests.

Damn, I love this time of year!

Harvest Monday is a GYO meme hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday for July 4th 2016

Summer is here! Although you wouldn’t know it to look at the weather records of late. But the crops are starting to come in down on Plot #59 and we’re beginning to enjoy a wider range of the fruits of our labour.

Here’s a quick photo-montage of the foodstuffs that we’ve been able to harvest recently:

June 2016 -strawberry harvest
Strawberries! A much better showing than last year.

Last year adverse weather conditions meant we harvested a total of three ripe strawberries. This year we’ve done much better, although the grey mould has ripped through the patch, so we’ve thrown away three times as many as we’ve picked, but it’s still a good result. A lot of these were a tad mushy, and so they went in to a batch of mixed fruit jam. The rest went into us, with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a handful of early summer raspberries.

June 2016 potatoes and radishes
The very first of this year’s potatoes – second early ‘Saxon’ – and a few radishes.

Having spotted blight patches in the second earlies and lifted a plant to make sure we had tubers to rescue, it would of course have been daft not to enjoy the spuds. Many, many more to come, all being well. Those radishes are called ‘China rose’ and are probably a bit bigger than ideal, but have a good, peppery kick.

June 2016 courgettes, broad beans, peas
Broad beans, golden mangetout peas and a selection of courgettes.
June 2016 swiss chard, courgette, garlic
Bright yellow Swiss chard, a more courgettes and some green garlic.
June 2016 carrot thinnings
White and purple carrots, thinned out and crunchably sweet to eat.

Our summer veg is in full swing now, with broad beans, Swiss chard, peas and the inevitable courgette glut kicking in. I’ve been thinning our < a href="https://allotmentnotes.com/2016/04/24/we-need-to-talk-about-carrots/">carrot patch and we’re eating any thinnings big enough to crunch in a salad or chuck in a stir-fry. And having lifted garlic t’other week and saved a few bulbs from allium white rot, we had some green garlic to cook with as well.

All of which went into…

June 2016 allotment medley
Courgette, broad bean, radish, swiss chard, mangetout peas, carrot thinnings – yum!

…our first allotment medley stir-fry of the year. That was our Sunday dinner, along with a few sausages, those new potatoes and steamed chard leaves – delicious! And of course there was far too much there for just two of us, which meant allotment bubble-and-squeak for my lunch today – bonus!

Harvest Monday is a GYO meme hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday for June 6th 2016

It’s been a while since I posted a Harvest Monday piece, mainly because about all we were harvesting from Plot #59 from February through until early May was the last of last year’s leeks. But finally, I have something new to report.

Garlic Scapes

June 2016 garlic scapes
Delicious sauteed in butter or lightly fried.

As seasonal delicacies go, you can’t get much more seasonal than garlic scapes. In case you’re unfamiliar, they’re the flower stems and heads of garlic plants. The spell of hot weather recently has encouraged our garlic crop to bolt and set flower. That diverts energy from bulb development though, so it’s generally a good idea to remove the flower stems before the flowers open. Unless, of course, you want the flowers to open and feed the bees for a while, in which case feel free to leave them, but your garlic bulbs will be smaller as a result.

Anyhow, I’ve de-scaped our softneck garlic, chopped it into 5cm or so lengths and we’ve been eating garlic-butter sautéed asparagus with the past couple of evenings’ salads (and we’ve still got the elephant garlic scapes to come, too). They’re absolutely delicious. Once they’re cooked, the scapes’ garlic flavour is noticeable but quite mild. I did try nibbling on a raw piece and I have to say I can’t recommend it as a salad vegetable, unless you’re a fan of very strongly concentrated garlic flavour.

If you’ve got a garlic crop coming along and don’t want it to flower, then do trim off the scapes and give them a try.

Rhubarb

Well, actually, we’ve been picking rhubarb since early May (as I mentioned in my May update). And so much rhubarb, too! The warm, wet spell in mid-May sent our eight crowns into overdrive and we ended up with masses of stems. Here’s the first harvest:

May 2016 rhubarb harvest
It’s been an exceedingly good year for rhubarb so far

The stalks we’ve harvested have only gotten longer and thicker since then. We’ve mostly stewed it and enjoyed it with custard (as you do) or in a crumble, with custard (as you really oughtta). Some has been frozen for later in the year, some has been given away, lots more is still to come.

Harvest Monday is a GYO meme hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday for February 8th 2016

Another wet and windy week gone by, with a short window of opportunity on Sunday to get down to the plot and pick up a few veggies.

This week, I picked a few more smallish leeks, cut down our one half-decent stem of (nevertheless still a bit small and manky) sprouts, and then grabbed a handful of crisp, fresh kale. I was hoping for some PSB as well, but I think the birds have been at it and there was nothing worth cutting. So it goes.

The leeks were sautéed in butter with mushrooms and went very well with yesterday’s sausage and mash. The kale will be added to tonight’s salmon pan fry, along with a few more of the seemingly never-ending mountain of last year’s pink fir apple spuds.

Love fresh kale, green curled
Love fresh kale, green curled
Runner bean chutney, 2015 vintage
Runner bean chutney, 2015 vintage

I also dug a jar of August 2015 runner bean chutney out of the fridge and enjoyed a dollop on my teatime bacon butty yesterday. I think I used this allrecipes.co.uk concoction. It’s very tasty, but a bit too sweet for me. I think next year – I’ll definitely be making it again – I’ll try Valentine Warner’s version from eatseasonably.co.uk, which has a lot less sugar in the mix.

This week’s Harvest Monday is hosted by its regular curator, Dave at Our Happy Acres.

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Harvest Monday for 22nd January 2016

Having spotted the Harvest Monday sharing meme on Mark’s Veg Plot recently, I thought it might be fun to join in. Here’s a quick shot of some root veg – parsnips and salsify – that I lifted on Saturday, along with a few small leeks.

Harvest Monday! Parsnips, leeks and salsify.

I honey-baked the roots yesterday afternoon, along with a few (shop-bought) carrots to accompany a chicken. I can now definitely vouch for the phenomenon mentioned in my earlier post on the benefits of a good, hard frost: the parsnips were definitely sweeter (although some of that would have been the honey, etc.) and the turpene-flavours much less pronounced. The salsify was fuller-flavoured as well, quite delicious. I’ll definitely be growing them both again this year. Oh, and the leeks will be going into a chicken risotto tonight, to make best use of the leftover meat from yesterday’s dinner.

This week’s Harvest Monday is hosted by Michelle at From Seed to Table and next week reverts to its usual home with Dave at Our Happy Acres.

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