Thursday, 29 October 2015

Mushrooms and Poly Tunnel

Mushrooms and Poly Tunnel

Earlier on in the year I tried growing mushrooms.

Previous posts:

I didn't think that the temperature was right and gave up on them but over the last couple of days they have appeared. I say they but more correctly "it" appeared.

One mushroom has grown:
It shows that it worked but hasn't exactly been a great success. I think I'll put the idea of growing mushrooms outdoors to the back of my mind for now :)

The poly tunnel on the other hand is going great. Everything is growing strongly even to the point where a harvest can now be taken from the salad leaves. The Spring Onions have germinated as well as the radish. The garlic, although not showing yet has grown some roots and is about to poke through the soil and the field beans sown in a corner to see if they will fruit earlier than outdoors have started to grow.

(Click to enlarge pictures)

On the left the Oak leaf lettuce and Mizuna are going very well as is the beetroot, on the right the Chard and Pak Choi are also growing very strongly.

In the middle the Spinach, Radish, Garlic, Spring Onion, Strawberry and Chinese Cabbage are doing just as well.

What is immediately noticeable is that none of the leaves have been nibbled so everything is looking perfect. The Cape Gooseberry has even flowered. It's only been a few weeks since we put the Poly Tunnel in (see: Poly Tunnel Post) but the extra warmth and humidity has made a big difference as has the fact that it hasn't needed watering much since the humidity and lack of a drying wind has kept the soil moist. The roof of the Tunnel collects water droplets and automatically waters the beds as well, which is a nice bonus.

Today has been a rather breezy day but the Tunnel's plastic isn't noticing the wind much which bodes well for the much windier days ahead. This week the max temp reached 30 deg C and the minimum went down to 1.2 deg C so no frosty conditions inside the tunnel even though a few people have commented that they have had a ground frost in the area. It is now noticeable that the day time sun is not effective enough to warm the soil to keep the night time temp higher than the outside by the end of the night and I think that after a few hours of darkness any residual heat has dissipated by midnight.

My next job, and probably tonight, will be to put a heater inside set to the anti-frost setting, on for 2 hours from midnight to see if that will keep the inside temp a degree or two above the outside temp. The tunnel is probably too big for the heater to raise the temperature enough so that it can turn off the heat. If it fails to heat up quickly and be able to turn off then it will be a waste of time as the cost of the electricity will be a waste of energy but it's worth a test. A 2 kW heater on for 2 hours is going to cost 26p a night but if it can manage to do it's job and only be on for 45 minutes then at under 10p a night it might just extend the growing season for a few more weeks before the proper cold weather sets in. Once the proper cold spell starts the idea of a heater becomes silly, price and energy wastage wise but if the plants can just be allowed to grow for another 2 weeks then the amount of salad leaves we get and can sell will make it worth while. The same will apply at the end of the winter. If we can get the temperature up by just a degree or 2 during the night late February and the day time sun starts to heat the tunnel then we might get a months head start on some crops for next year. If we can sell the leaves (as we currently do) a couple of weeks later and a few weeks earlier than the other Alford Country Market growers then we'll have one month per year being the only one selling these products and therefore no competition.

One of the problems with selling home grown produce is that when winter starts the customers will be forced back into the super markets to buy their greens for juicing. By postponing that by a few weeks you can keep them loyal for longer and they can keep their habit of buying from us. By starting to sell the greens earlier in the new year using a poly tunnel we will have more time to pull them back in and get them back in the habit of buying locally again before the main season starts.I can see the possibility that once the regular customers go back to the supermarket over winter they may not start to come back to the country market by the time we start selling again but if we have some of what they want before the start of the main season we can start to grab them back one by one slowly so they are already on the look out and thinking about the country market when our main produce starts coming through. Instead of being a slow start to the main season we may be able to get up to full speed selling quicker....anyway, if we don't try we'll never find the thing that works for us :)

Still hoping that the money and time spent on the poly tunnel will pay big dividends.    

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Poly Tunnel!

Poly Tunnel

After years of wanting one but not liking the eye sore that they can be nor the expense we finally bit the bullet and got a very cheap one. So cheap we wouldn't be losing much if it didn't last or ended up not being what we wanted.

We've looked at ones costing over £1000 but this one is £200 reduced down to £139. Surely too cheap to last or be any good? As it turns out it is remarkably good for the money structure wise but did need some extra support to stiffen it up. It is 6m long by 3m wide by 6m high (19.6ft by 9.8ft by 6.5ft). Would have been nice to have a taller one but then again you always want bigger.

Plastic cover wise only time will tell but it is supposed to be UV protected and new covers are £60.

We didn't have a good place to put it so it went where it was assembled and we'll move the path instead.

I had to dig a trench to sit the metal frame into and then peg down the frame. The turf that came out of the trench was then placed on the outside over the plastic skirt to hold it down and stop the wind from blowing it away.

Three beds were dug, 0.5 wide on the sides (they look smaller in the picture) and 1m wide bed in the middle. At the end there is space for a couple of chairs and I intend on having a grape vine at the end in the centre so it can travel the length on the tunnel. The hay actually covers the edges of the beds deliberately to help stop the grass.

A thick layer of hay to kill the grass, a load of manure and we're done. About a day to do.

Finally a load of salad plants go in, which have been waiting for a home, a few posts to stabilise the structure and the centre ones (a couple missing in the picture) have string attached from them to the roof for tomato plants to grow up and they also anchor the structure more. I'll add wooden edges to the beds during the next week to make them into raised beds. 

With the door closed, today, which was over cast for 90% of it, the temp rose at one point to over 40 deg C, opening the door reduced it to 23 deg C while the temp outside hit 18 deg C. I dread to think how hot it could get in the height of the summer!. Last night the outside temp went down to 9.8 C and the minimum temp in the poly tunnel went down to 10.7 C which was the result of 4 or so hours of heating from the sun in the evening when the tunnel was first up so tunnel made 1 deg of difference. 

So the tunnel made 5 C difference during the day and 1 C during the night to the minimum temps. A small heater during the coldest winter nights (or water butt inside) and we might be able to avoid all but the worst frosts.

Planted so far are:

Wild Rocket
Ruby Chard
Pak Choi
Chinese Cabbage
Beetroot to see if they grow.

Hopefully we can have salad and leafy greens during the winter and the green house can be freed up for seedlings but these are just planted now in the hope they will grow. Really the tunnel is for next spring but we couldn't resist planting it now.

Just need to cross fingers with the wind and hope the plastic doesn't go brittle with severe frosts and cold spells but if we hadn't of got it we'd never know if a cheap one would work!


Raised bed borders added plus filled up beds with manure, soil and compost.

Added some field beans to see if they fruit earlier than outdoors plus a load of garlic.

Added a small section of staging and strengthened the structure at the back and front against wind problems.

Also sown or planted
Radish "French Breakfast"
Ramrod Spring Onion
Cape Gooseberry that was grown last year and survived the winter, then this summer and is still going, small and pot bound and neglected, but now planted in the soil as it has a few fruits on. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A Goal Reached!

A Goal Reached!

Back in the Spring I was hoping to harvest 250 to 300kg of produce. I thought that was possibly going to be to upper limit for this year but today I totalled up the last few days harvesting and found that the 300 kg has been reached!

We have done barely any shopping for the last month, literally emptying the cupboards and fridge of food and only popping out to buy milk and peanut butter for sandwiches etc which has forced us to have far more vegetable dinners and the odd bit of meat from the freezer. I've even been getting more adventurous with the cooking and roast vegetables are becoming common place.

We bought half a pig from a friend earlier in the year and these chops were the last of the pig. It's been the best pork we have eaten for years. 4 of our own apples chopped with 3 of our onions and cooked in apple juice.

Part roasted small potatoes and whole onions, then carrots, courgette, chopped red and white onion with a few cloves of our garlic, a few tomatoes and then finish roasting. Very nice. All our own grown.
Today I picked 2 sweetcorn, simply boiled and ate corn on the cob. The picture doesn't do the corn much justice but it was very nice. Also a surprise because we didn't think they would ripen and become ready with the lack of sun but the last few days of sunshine have brought them on.

We have never had a lot of luck with sweetcorn and this year was looking the same, planted too late and then had not enough sun but it now looks like we'll get a full harvest of about 30 cobs. Not good enough quality to sell as there are patches of corn that haven't puffed out but perfectly good enough to eat! These 2 were growing 20 minutes before I had eaten them - it doesn't get fresher than that.

With squashes, leeks, a load more tomatoes (fingers crossed they ripen), kale, spinach and some parsnip still to come I think it highly likely that we'll surpass 350 kg. There are even a couple of dozen apples still on the trees, raspberries still being harvested and courgettes in full flow and I think the caterpillars have left us some sprouts, it could even be 400 kg. Next years target is going to need to be 550 kg plus.

A fair few failures this year. A mole went through the carrots, swede and French beans as they germinated. The runner beans were gotten by slugs as where the cauliflowers not to mention a whole bed of onions just not growing at all. We forgot to sow beetroot and radish which was daft!

As a friend once said....

"we may be poor, but we eat like kings"

Saturday, 19 September 2015

New seeds and planning early

New seeds and planning early

We've been planning for the spring because most years we leave it late and when the time comes we forget to do or buy all the things we wanted to. Now, as soon as I thing of something to try, I'm buying it! Just have to remember to be organised enough not to lose them.

Lemon grass seeds. Something different to try. 
Lettuce Saladin seeds.
Broccoli green sprouting - this and the lettuce came free with other seeds.
Bolt hardy Beetroot - lots of seeds because we never have enough seed.
Fennel Florence - we already have the other type of fennel.

Strawberry Spinach. Spinach sells well and we eat a fair amount. This type not only has edible leaves but also edible berries. The berries are said to be a bit bland but as a different variety it may open up other possibilities and may prove interesting.

Climbing Strawberries - the idea being they will extend the season and produce a lot more fruit for the space. Could also be an interesting garden feature.

Another plan is to get a Poly-tunnel in the next few weeks to extend the season and try other plants. Lemon grass won't survive outside but it might just work in a Poly-tunnel, although may still require protecting, and may be able to stay in situ. The problem with the greenhouse, apart from being a bit small for us, is that everything goes into pots and requires watering or feeding. The Poly-tunnel will allow us to still grow in the soil where watering isn't so much of an issue but also free up the greenhouse for seedlings which may allow us to achieve successive sowing, something we always fail to do partly because the greenhouse is full of tomatoes and there isn't enough room to work in there potting up etc.

This year we weren't geared up for selling enough produce and as the Autumn and Winter approach it is clear that we will be missing out selling produce. Next year we need to scale up more and extend the season at both ends. Better planning and more under cover space will be needed.

The Alford Country Market is proving to be a good place to sell things people can't easily buy elsewhere and speciality produce like Bulb Fennel, Spinach, Lemon Grass, Kale and produce grown without any chemicals is likely to do well.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Autumn Sowing

Autumn Sowing

Normally I'm a little late with sowing in the Autumn but this year I'm ready!

Some field beans are now sown from seed saved from this years crop and I will do more in another week or two.

Two bulbs of Germidour Garlic (red garlic) have gone in. These are large and can be colourful but since each clove is also large I only got about 20 cloves. These are the far side of the leeks.

The other side of the leeks are the field beans, then I've sown a mixture of red, white and golden onions - no names - just a cheap "Wilo" 50 set. I've always been impressed with Wilko Onions but have never known what they are :) probably different every year!

Next to them are 2 beds of Wilko Japanese Onions (100 sets) and last of all, and closest to the camera are another 3 garlic bulbs split into about 50 (didn't count) of Allium Sativum Casablanca. A pinkish garlic.

Hopefully next week I'll get some large white garlic to go in as well as some of this years crop that was saved.

This bed has just been dug over and had potatoes in before. Last year I had placed about 2 feet deep of manure over the entire bed and that seems to have made the soil very workable. Still some clay clods in it but another year or so and I think this bed will have the best soil of the entire field.

The rest of this bed, in front of camera and to the left, still has a squash and a couple of sprouts in it so has been left. Half of it is empty and only had a little manure last year so this part has now had another 4 barrow loads heaped on top and left to rot down for the winter.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Our Little Field Time Lapse Video

Our Little Field Time Lapse Video

Every couple of days I take a photo from the upstairs window looking out onto the field. Most of them are taken between 6 am and 9 am, so the light isn't always very good and the mobile phone camera isn't that good when light levels are poor but they do give me a record of how the field is progressing.

The video is best viewed at twice speed and full screen. Each photo is taken from a slightly different position as the camera was hand held.

Unfortunately the view isn't of the whole field and misses about a quarter on the left hand side where the greenhouse and main veg beds are. The time covered is Dec 2012 to Sept 2015.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Main Crop Potatoes - Sarpo Mira

Main Crop Potatoes - Sarpo Mira

The main crop potatoes are 20 to 21 weeks old and can start being harvested. Back in mid April I planted 1.5kg of seed potatoes and today I harvested half of them. I had intended to earth up these potatoes more than I did and one or two potatoes were poking through the surface and I was a little worried about them being green. I needn't have worried as the foliage of the potatoes was so thick that no weeds and therefore not much light had got through to the soil.

The first and second earlies that were dug were inconsistent from plant to plant but the main crop was very consistent. Some of the potatoes are large, plenty large enough for baked potatoes and chips.

Sarpo Mira - Main Crop
The photo shows some of the larger potatoes and although I am very pleased with the larger potatoes there are just as many small ones as there are large. Also lots of good standard size. The crop is probably split into thirds, with a third being small, medium and large. 

I'm hoping the small are good for boiling, mediums are good for roasting and large for jackets and chips. That's the theory anyway :)

26kg (50% of main crop)
This represents 50% of the total harvest with the other half still in the ground and I'll leave the others for another week or 3.

26kg for this half and presumably the half still in the ground will be at least as much and possibly a couple of kg heavier for the extra  time which should make the total harvest 52+ kg from 1.5kg seed potatoes.

Hopefully they will dry over the next couple of days with the strong wind and will be ready for storing and selling some at the Alford Country Market on Tuesday. Apart from a few (6) there is almost no slug damage. The ones that are damaged have wasp damage, as 3 of the 6 still had wasps in the damaged area. Despite being in the ground longer than the Pentland Javelin and Charlotte earlies the Sarpo Mira has a lot less damage.

Next year we'll have to give the Pentland Javelin a miss, it certainly isn't good enough in our conditions to warrant the space because of the variability between plants and the amount of slug and other burrowing creepy crawly damage. Providing the Mira store I think we'll be doing these again, along with another main crop variety. 

The total potato harvest this year looks to be between 90 and 100kg, and depending on how these main crop sell at the country market we may have to double the crop for next year. The earlies have sold reasonably well and I now have another selling outlet for next year.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Corn Cockles - Harvesting Seed

Corn Cockles - Harvesting Seed

Autumn 2014 I sowed some wild flower seed and some bulbs on the old bonfire site. Tulips, Daffodils and Crocus appeared in the spring and around June 2015 Corn Cockle and Poppies were flowering.

I've taken some of the corn cockle and poppy seed and sprinkled around the garden but today I decided to harvest the Corn Cockle seed in order to sell.

Corn Cockles and Poppies, old bonfire site
All the seed heads have dried now and a lot of seed has fallen, almost all of the poppy seed has been dispersed, but a lot of Corn Cockle seed remains. I spent an hour with a pair of scissors cutting the seed heads off and then set about separating the seed from the casing. After 7 hours of work I had 570g of seed which, if I manage to sell the seed at the average Ebay price will be worth about £13.50 per hour for today's work.

Selling Wild Flower seed is going to be a bit of a test, just to see if it is worth while and whether there is enough interest.

The actual process was quite a hard slog.....certainly a multi beer task!

It started off with a box of seed heads....

Then progressed to a pile of empty seed heads...

A bowl of seeds with some shrapnel left behind. Crushing the seed heads with fingers and scraping the insides out with the thumb left a fair bit of casing behind!

But after a lot of shaking and and gentle blowing the bits around I ended up with a fairly clean bowl of seed (this isn't the full amount).

A close up of the seed head and seeds. There appears to be about 30 seeds per head (a rough average) and about 56 seeds per gramme. Just under 32,000 seeds have been obtained from around  1,000 seed heads taken.
It's been quite a satisfying days work and I'll see if I can sell some on the Alford Country Market on Tuesday but I think my best bet is Ebay. Most places seem to suggest sowing this seed in the early to late spring but I've always found Corn Cockles germinate and grow better when Autumn sown, where they can out compete the weeds and get a good head start before spring arrives.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Wild Flowers

Wild Flowers

April's attempt at growing wild flowers was only partly successful so I'm having a more concerted effort for this Autumn. April's attempt can be seen here.

The main area that failed was behind the pond where I just cut the grass very short, sprinkled flower seed and then lightly covered with compost:

Today, I have just finished digging this same area over and sprinkling seed because the grass out competed the flower seed. April's attempt produced about 6 stunted Corn Cockle flowers. This time the grass will have a hard time competing with the flowers because the Corn Cockles and Poppies will have a big head start as they will germinate now and be small established plants by the spring.

The same area from two different angles with the Katy Apple tree at one end. The turf has just been cut into squares and then turned over. The other area that I turned over the turf, back in April, ended up working excellently.

A thin strip of turf was upturned to test. It worked so well that I will now dig over the area to the right and expand this bed by 5 or 6 times the size.

This photo was taken when the flowers were probably not at their very best but still very nice

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Apples and Plums

Apples and Plums

Back from a canoeing holiday and the first job was to pick some produce ready for the Alford Country Market. 

The tomatoes are ripening slowly, a bumper crop but ripening is a bit slow this year. We decided not to sell any tomatoes as they are so tasty and at present there aren't enough to sell as well as to eat but we did manage to find 5 or 6 courgette and some New Zealand Spinach as well as a load of Pentland Javelin potatoes.

Raspberries were a bit thin on the ground, not enough to sell and nor were the plums because the tree is a bit young and the wasps have had half of them but I did manage to get 4 Victoria plums which are very tasty and keep us hoping for the future with these.

The Apples are becoming ready. One of the trees has produced about 30 lovely looking apples, very crisp and medium sweet but until we dig out some paper work we can't remember what the variety is. The kids love them though. The Apple tree "katy" is also about ready with a similar amount of apples but not harvested yet.

Not all of this mornings harvest by a long way but a selective sample. The Apple tree was 2 years old when we planted it in 2013 so I think to get 30 Apples after 4 years is pretty good.

About 15 kg of harvest this morning.

Monday, 10 August 2015


Chokeberry (Black Viking)

I've planted a few different berry bushes to try and see what they are like but the Chokeberry sounded like a good bet. 

One small bush was harvested today, 230g of berries.

They look and are a similar size to Black Currant but the taste wasn't as good, and to be honest not particularly nice. I can see why they haven't taken off but the future may prove them to be good jam making berries.

As far as fresh fruit to eat goes, I've eaten 3 and don't plan on eating another one until next year. Just not worth it.

Black Currants in the yellow container, Chokeberry in the punnets ready to sell at Alford Country Market.

The Black Currants are for Jam.

The Chokeberry is high in antioxidants and according to Wikipedia is made into wine in Lithuania and flavoured tea in Poland. Also used as a fruit in bread and turned into juice. The berries can be used as flavour or a colouring in yoghurt. They are often marketed for their antioxidant properties. They are semi sweet and astringent and the name is derived from the fact that the tannins pucker the mouth like Sloe berries.

They are far better tasting than raw Sloe berries and can easily be eaten raw by people who like things a little sour. They are often used as ornamental bushes.

Dried and used as a tea sounds like a good option.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Worst time of the year

Worst time of the year

It's the time of the year within the garden that I don't like. Rain, warmth, end of many flowers, coming to the end of soft fruit, long grass going to seed and falling over and weeds doing their best. Things have built up to almost unmanageable proportions.

The rain stopped me from spending time outside, we've had a few days going to fĂȘtes and  vegetable shows plus we bought a Minibus which took another day out and I started a new part time job, losing me another day. A wet week with another few wet days to come has stopped me from harvesting seed from the parsnip, chard, spinach and beans and there is a manure heap that was delivered that needs moving. The long grass needs cutting and all this needs to be done this week because we are on holiday the following week, which brings another problem - watering the green house, so I need to get the automatic drip watering system set up and working as well. All this at a time we need get the camping equipment out of the sheds, dusted down and tested.

I don't know where the time is going to be found but it's going to be a very busy week and here I am wasting time writing about it rather than doing it!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Alford Country Market

Alford Country Market

The Local Country Market in Alford, Lincolnshire, is part of the nationwide Country Market Co-op.

The market is setup to allow home producers to sell their goods, from food to crafts. We have only recently started to sell some of our spare produce there but it is an excellent place to buy genuine home produced goods made by micro businesses and individuals. The stalls (tables) are arranged so that similar goods from multiple people are sold on the same table with a generic Country Market branding. There are no individual logos and the people operating each stall / table sell their own and other peoples produce without favour, there is no pushing your own produce over someone else's. A small commission is taken. 

We aren't going to become rich doing this as our own turn over, although increasing each week, is still counted in single or ten's of pound. £20 for the week would be maximum so far but it is only for one morning a week. The Country Market in Alford is just open from 9:30am to 12pm. A very informal and friendly bunch they are too.

The pictures just show the fruit and veg stall. These photos include produce from several home produces.  There is also a craft stall, a flower / plant stall and a cake and jam stall as well as a few tables and chairs for coffee and snacks to be bought and consumed.

Often a small selection of samples is available for people to try before buying.

The Market is located within the Church Hall next to the Church.

The market is an excellent place to obtain items that you can't buy anywhere else or that are hard to obtain, or items that have been produced with absolutely no chemicals. For example, fresh Broad Beans, Globe Artichokes, Dairy Free Cakes, Wooden Chopping Boards, Traditional Strawberry Jam.  

There is also the ability to ask one of the producers to bring in something specific. 

There is also no reason why you can't ask someone to grow a particular vegetable or fruit or even make a wooden item just for you, that you can't find anywhere else.

It is also a great way to support your local community or even to get advice on how  to grow or make something yourself. If you simply want to know exactly where your food comes from and know exactly how it was produced or are worried about what you are eating then the Country Market is the perfect place to source some of your food. Pricing is similar to main stores but the idea is not under cut other local producers.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Drying Strawberries

Drying Strawberries

We have dried strawberries before but this time, because we have so many, I am experimenting by having bigger slices, and trying to dry whole ones. Reading up on the subject it shouldn't be a problem and just takes longer to dry. 

Drying strawberries should be done around 135 and 140 degrees F. Depending on the size will take around 7 to 36 hrs with large whole ones taking the full time and thin slices taking considerably less. Any less temp and mould has time to grow, any more and they will harden too much....apparently.

The thin slices last time were very nice and the taste gets really concentrated. Super sweet, super tasty but a little like eating very tasty chewy cardboard. I'm hoping the larger slices will have a better texture for being thicker.

Obviously it's best to dehydrate fruit when the humidity of the air is quite low, ie, a dry day.

Two trays (so far) of small to medium size strawberries sliced into 3.
1/3 of a tray whole strawberries. I did end up filling this tray I thought I'd just test some but then read whole ones will be fine.
Ideally each tray should have exactly the same size pieces but realistically they start as different size strawberries and it's too much effort for me to select similar size one or change the size of each slice. I may have to pull some out before others and spend more time extracting them.

We have harvested over 17 kg of strawberries so far, some sold, many eaten, some frozen and some into jam so this is just another way of preserving.

As mentioned on Simon's blog, fruit leather is another thing to try, which I think I will try later today.


...and that was exactly what I did.

3.7kg of strawberries heated and mashed in a pan to pasteurize, added some brown sugar (most recipes call for it)  and then added some lemon juice. Both lemon and sugar added to taste and not measured. I don't know why you add sugar to such a sweet fruit, nor the lemon, but it did make the taste a little smoother and perhaps it also helps to bulk up the liquid which will dry leaving very little. Perhaps without the sugar too much would evaporate. Anyway, well find out soon enough.

3 baking trays filled with about 5mm depth (ish) with a plastic grease proof paper under the liquid were placed into the dehydrator. The liquid was forced through a sieve directly into the trays for the first 2 trays.

I thought that the liquid and some of the thicker liquid forced through the sieve last may not have mixed very well in the first two trays so I forced all the liquid pulp through into a container and then mixed it thoroughly before finally pouring into the tray. We'll see if the 3rd tray is better after drying.

I have no idea how long it will take and will have to check every few hours as one website says it takes 3 hours at 135 deg F but personally I can't see it drying that quick so will wait and see.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Mushrooms, Seedlings and Harvest

Mushrooms, Seedlings and Harvest

Today 1st July 2015 the mushroom spawn has started to grow. Only a tiny bit though. The temp is 21 deg C inside the box and it has had a mist spray of water most days. It reached 26 deg C outside so the box is cooling things down in the sun. I still need to take a temp reading at night and compare inside and outside box temperatures.

The Swede seedlings in the new bed germinated and started showing on the 27th of June, 7 days after being sown. Yesterday, 30th June the Dwarf French beans started to show along with the carrot, which is 13 days to germinate and show and today, 1st of July, the normal French Beans started to show along with the Leek, and Spring Onions which are 14 days since sown. Unfortunately the slugs have started to thin the Swede already, which is fine if they stop now :)

A mole has decided to pop up in this bed. Not too bad, but a little disappointing. Also I have placed the potato plant leaves around the end of the bed to slow down the slugs.

Harvesting has been frantic but is so much better this year and for once we are getting organised and picking in batches, freezing or processing as soon as the produce is there.

The gooseberry bushes are full and I have picked about a 3rd of them to see if they ripen off of the bush, just in case the birds got hungry but also with the intention of turning these into jam.

We are up to about 14 kg of strawberries. A few kg frozen, many kg eaten or sold and around 3 kg turned into jam.

Both pictures of strawberries are about 1.5 kg each which is roughly the amount we are picking each day at present.

The first batch of jam is more of a preserve, we kept the strawberries in big lumps with the second batch they were much more mushed up. The first batch I think will be something that will be put on ice cream rather than bread as it is rather over the top and luxurious. This batch also didn't set quite as well as the second batch which will suit ice cream.

There were about 12 jars of strawberry jam as well as 7 red currant. Plenty more jam still to be made.

 Slowly melting the sugar.
The Red Currant jelly from the other day. We deliberately left the frothy stuff on the top...waste not want not :)

Big pieces of Strawberries - that's how I like it! Some of the jars aren't up to selling standard - note the old label :)

The second batch of Strawberry jam is more traditional.

About 1kg of Gooseberries. Some red and some green. When fully ripened these are very sweet. Not bad even now when not quite ripe though :)

Destined for jam.
Stella Cherries. About half the crop. Very nice. These were sold on Alford Country Market.

Red Currants.

Pentland Javelin Potatoes - most of these were sold. Some eaten. They represent a tiny fraction of the whole crop.

The Globe Artichokes that we were selling end up as wonderful flowers. I'd never seen one before this one.

I was quite pleased with the garlic crop this year. Not as many as I now realise that I needed but they were a decent size. These fresh Garlic were on sale today at the Alford Country Market with a bigger one which sold for 50p. I have a couple of dozen of these plus a load of smaller ones and some still to harvest.