Archive for the ‘Allotments / Community Gardens & Plots’ Category

Wow what a crazy but highly enjoyable day yesterday! Starting at around 5am I woke up, had some decaf and headed straight to the allotment as last time I was there I saw at the last moment (when I was rushing home) that the Italian vine tomato had a decent amount of very red ripe fruits (and that was a good 4-5 days ago!), these plants never let me down (if planted in the ground) and so I didn’t want to lose these beautiful tom’s!

A good few hours there resulted also, in a decent batch of Elderberry heads which I got on the way there (Which were used tonight to make Elderberry elixir), a very nice large harvest (photo further below) and a bit of weeding, watering, compost bin management etc.

After arriving home, all harvested goods including the Elderberries needed urgent washing etc. to be placed in the fridge immediately, thereafter I found an older courgette that was about to go bad and so, decided to make Courgette (Zucchini) Cake! Part of the harvest was a decent batch of Purple French Beans and a few Runner Beans as well, these are intended for pickling so were processed and placed overnight into a brine solution so that tomorrow they will be placed into their final jar along with the Spiced Pickling Vinegar (Which I also made tonight!!)

I decided that I need to get a move-on with the elderberry harvests (some are in the fridge and some in the freezer), my other-half and I sat for a good 40 min’s removing the berries from their stalks and placing in a jar to make the Elderberry Winter Ailment Elixir, I have a very good recipe for this and have proven this to be a very good flu / winter cold remedy which was quite effective last Winter with the whole family!

Organic Vegetable Harvest

Organic Permaculture Allotment Harvest (UK) 2018

In the above photo, I have added lines to divide the veg’s into three rows, from top left:

  1. French Purple and Runner beans, Aztec Broccoli and Hokkaido Pumpkin
  2. Sorrel, Maris Piper Potatoes, Giant Goosefoot, Bush Legend Tomatoes, Dwarf Bush Courgettes (Zucchinis) – these were harvested quite small as I am trying to get at least one more harvest before season end,
  3. Elderberry (foraged), Italian Vine tomatoes (great for sauces), Salad Burnet, Tangerine and Millefleur cherry tomatoes and finally Tomatillos with the Snail Tree-cookie below which represents my favourite of the 12 permaculture principles: ‘Use Small and Slow Solutions’

It is definitely Elderberry season right now (at least in and around London) so get foraging as you will definitely will not have much time after the next week or so if you are lucky! Remember, throw them straight into the freezer in a bag, you can take time out later to do something with them in a recipe when you are more collected and have the time to do so! In the meantime, check out this delicious Elderberry Syrup Recipe which I made last year which also has immune system benefits as a buildup to the Winter months, the Elderberry Elixir is more suited to last well into next years winter because it is made with alcohol and preserves better .. enjoy!

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It is now preserving season and approaching the end of the growing season where many crops and foraged foods can be preserved for the upcoming Winter months, here is a quick and simple recipe if you need to make pickling vinegar on an ASAP basis:

Make your own Spiced Pickling vinegar in 30 minutes

Home Made Spiced Pickling Vinegar

You Will Need:

  • A good glass Jar or Bottle, usually you should use a non-metallic lid as vinegar is corrosive,
  • Cider or Malt Vinegar (Cider being the healthier option),
  • 1 Tsp Peppercorns,
  • 1 Tsp Coriander Seeds,
  • Small Cinnamon Stick piece (2-3cm long),
  • 2 Cloves,
  • 1 Tsp Mustard Seeds,
  • Small Pot / Pan for boiling and simmering.

Method:

  • Measure the vinegar by pouring it into your storage jar / bottle to fill it up, once filled place it in the pot with the spices and bring to the boiling point,
  • Once boiling point is reached, bring the heat down and simmer as slightly as possible for 30 minutes – let it sit to cool down,
  • Pour the liquid through a sieve or similar filter into your storage jar or bottle, your vinegar is now ready to be used when you want to pickle any vegetables from your garden

For other preserves including Jams, Jellies, Chutneys, Compote, Soups, Pickling etc, Click Here

I didn’t have much time today at the allotment, it was basically a quick W.H,R .. (Water, Harvest … Run) session, in order to make sure I take time for myself and cool down a bit – I took  my camera along for some progress pictures.

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9 different ”things” were harvested today, (my dried Lemon Balm is not in the picture):

  1. Tomato ‘Purple Ukraine’ – the big redish split tomatoes in the left of the pic,
  2. Aztec Broccoli – the bunch of flower tips in the top left,
  3. Czar Runner Beans – the green beans,
  4. Purple French Beans,
  5. Belleville Sorrel (perennial)- the large leaves on the right,
  6. Salad Burnet (Perennial) – the jagged-edged leaves below the Sorrel (Is also a wild flower),
  7. Fennel – next to the Salad Burnet,
  8. Over-ripe tomatoes (Purple Ukraine and Bush Legend) – these are to save seed from
  9. A batch of shed-dried Lemon Balm for tea

The tomatoes must have been a little bit dry so when we had that rain the other day the fruits then split, nevertheless I cut out the manky bits and chopped the rest up to be used either in a soup or pasta dish. I’m contemplating using the beans to make a jar of pickled beans for winter storage as I should still get loads off of the upcoming bean plants – the Sorrel, Fennel and Salad Burnet were pretty much devoured today in a very nice Salad everyone enjoyed.

Thinking back, I could have probably kicked over one or two of the Potato planters to get a harvest, that’s the good thing about Potatoes, they stay in until you need them – this year I have made pretty decent effort in potato production, there are two planters at home (one only went in recently), 3 planters on the allotment and one group in the ground that is the most recent of the Allotment potatoes – I placed these in a companion planting / support guild with the Purple French Beans

Food foraging wise, I found a nice fig tree local to my workplace and managed perhaps half a kilo of fruit from it, as much as I’d like to make a fig only jam, this really isn’t enough so I may experiment with Fig, Blackberry and Elderberry mix or perhaps just head over to a veg shop and buy another half-kilo to make the jam? ….

Decisions .. decisions

Over the weekend I was blessed with quite a few Butterflies (I installed a Buddleia early this year) and saw a Lacewing which so far, I don’t recall seeing one in the last few years in either my garden or allotment …

I also got out and secured a second batch of Nettle Seeds (I started using these and foraging for them last year), they are great added in practically anything from smoothies to porridge, salads, soups etc etc! This year has been a little weird with the weather and so, they are ripening far too quickly and soon won’t be available so get out soon and get snipping! I’ve now got 3 seed tray bottoms full of Nettle seed stalks drying out on windowsills, I estimate that if you find good decent nettle seed, that a half shopping carrier bag to a full one will supply a small family with enough till next season.

Elderberries are already ripening everywhere I go, again, since it has been such a dry summer, I’ve observed that many of them have already rejected much of their fruit as a survival tactic, so only take what you need and don’t overdo it. I have a couple recipes for Elderberry so as usual, I would recommend you immediately freeze them when you get home as you may not have gotten enough on your first session to make something – also, they are far easier to remove from their flower stalks when frozen.

Elderberries do wonders for our immune systems, hence why nature gives them to us just at the end of summer towards the cold / hibernation / dormancy months …

One great way to control Aphid in your garden or vegetable patch is to encourage Ladybirds, there are a couple methods and probably the best guaranteed one is to find trees / plants which aphid go for in serious numbers, Linden ‘Tilia cordata’ or Lime tree as it is wrongly known as is a great example, they get covered in Aphid every yea and subsequently attract ladybirds, you can collect ladybirds and their pupae into small bottles to spread around your garden or you could order them online! Another method is to research which umbellifer wild flowers are native locally and plant a mixture of them, umbellifers are plants which have flat clusters of small flowers which are often umbrella shaped, these usually attract aphid and result in Ladybird and hoverflies coming in to look for food! Often ants fight off the ladybirds, one method to distract the ants is to have a sugar water source nearby …

ladies.jpg

Organic Pest Control by Encouraging Nature – Permaculture Allotment

Keep in mind, only release ladybirds in the evening and it helps to spray your plants with water as this will dissuade them from leaving right away however, if you place them in the day by hand directly onto a plant covered in Aphid, they usually start chomping immediately.

Store them in their bottle (with breathing holes and some leaves / twigs inside) inside the fridge if you cannot get them in place the same day …

The above photo is of two newly ‘hatched’ ladybirds hence why they are only orange at this stage, going back to my allotment the next day I saw the plant already had at least 50% less aphid just within 24 hours!

Today I had a short watering and planting session and can confirm that companion planting potatoes around a french bean tipi delivers good foliage and healthy plant results! If I remember, I will do my best to weigh the resulting potato harvest – Beans are natural Nitrogen Fixers and they help feed nearby plants in a symbiotic relationship (The potatoes will deliver a ground cover and reduce moisture loss).

Further, small frogs are leaving the pond and again I harvested 1 large and 3 smaller Courgettes (Zucchini) from only two dwarf bushes! I am on a mission this year to be sure to keep harvesting them when small to see how much yield I can get from those two plants, I have germinated two others to be able to possibly pickle their yield for winter use. The dry weather is actually a welcome! I have had far less slug and snail damage this year when compared to previous years …

june 18.jpg

I’m not aware of any parts of the UK that have had any reasonable rain over the last four or so weeks, this has not been a major issue for plants in the ground but potted plants and crops have been suffering! I now have to be 100% sure to do a watering session almost everyday at home and at least 2-3 times per week at the Allotment – BE CAREFUL with newly planted seedlings / plants !!

Corn-seedlings1.jpg

During June we are officially in Summer, but this doesn’t mean your seed germination should halt.

This is a great time of the year to work hard on your compost production! The extra warmth is great in getting the beneficial microbes going in order to break down biomass quicker, adding in just enough grass clippings twice a week will ensure your compost will be ready by Autumn or Winter depending on what was / is in there to begin with …

Outdoors:

  • Frenh / runner beans
  • Sweetcorn
  • Root crops: carrots, beetroot, turnips, and also swedes for the winter
  • Swiss chard & leaf beet
  • The last of the summer salads, then after the middle of the month including oriental salads (mizuna, mibuna, mustard greens etc)
  • Herbs including parsley, coriander and others
  • Fennel

On a windowsill or germinator (this is your last chance for these):

  • Courgettes, squashes, cucumbers and melons (start of the month)

In a polytunnel or greenhouse border

  • Basil & coriander
  • Plant out summer crops started indoors

Before I forget, remember to always check out the Companion Planting Guide so that you can eliminate the need for pesticide, Herbicide and Fungicide use – why not let nature just do the work ?

Every month I will be posting the Monthly Sowing Calendar and these will always remain in the archives for future reference.

 

This recipe is actually a non-vegan smoothie which I adapted after having vegan friends around whom I didn’t know yet were vegans!

bbs

Vegan Blackberry Smoothie

  • A cup full of Berries (Preferably from last year’s food foraging?),
  • A cup full of Fresh Apple Juice,
  • 1x Ripe Banana,
  • Not necessary but, honey to add in if you or your expected guest/s have a sweet tooth (usually about 1tsp to 1 tbsp depending how keen you are on your dentist!),
  • For Non-Vegan, add half to one cup natural yogurt,
  • Optional: Pre-soaked Nettle seeds and/or chia seed, you could even throw in some home made Elderflower Cordial!

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth and serve – honestly, honey is not necessary as the apple juice and banana are more than enough for sweetener.

If you find yourself saying that this is not sweet enough, then you should look at gradually reducing your sugar intake. The way I reduced my sugar was to have half a teaspoon less in my tea / coffee and every few months reducing a bit more, I am now down to no sugar at all in tea and only one teaspoon in a coffee. I can now have a little as a teaspoon of honey in my morning porridge – compared to the early / mid nineties where I would have 2-3 Tablespoons in a cereal.