Thursday, 28 July 2011

J'aime l'ail

I love Garlic!!!!!  What more can I say!!??!! 
 Roasted whole or chopped or crushed into anything, It has to be one of my best additions to a nice home cooked meal! I even love to just look at a nice string of it in the kitchen!! :)

 Anyway, this years crop has been pretty good on the whole. Luckily though I planted quite a lot of it, five varieties to be precise... Vayo, Solent wight, Albigensian wight, Tochliavri and Elephant garlic, as some did much better than others.


 Planted last autumn sometime around october, probably an inch or so deep, and about six inches apart. Performed the best out of all of my varieties. Nice white bulbs with a pinkish stripe on them, which are a very respectable size. It is a hardneck variety so it does send out flower stalks (scapes) which I remove so the plant puts all of its energy into producing the bulb.

Solent wight.

 The least impressive of my garlic varieties. This was planted last autumn as was the Vayo, but it has produced only mediocre bulbs at the best with most of them destined for puree Mo & Steve's garlic puree thanks for that Mo. This one is a softneck variety so no flower stalks to worry about here, and apparently softneck varieties keep longer, but I shall have to keep you posted on that.

Albigensian wight.

 This one produced some lovely looking bulbs, and some rather poor ones aswell, probably a result of something I did (or didn't do more likely) but on the whole I am happy with their performance. Again it was autumn planted as were the previous ones, but it didn't seem to establish as well as the Vayo initially, but then went mad come spring.


 This was my only spring planted variety. Again an inch or so deep, and about six inches apart, but planted around march time.  Softneck variety so no flower stalk again. This was the first spring planted variety I have tried, so I was a bit anxious about how well it was going to do in a much shorter space of time than the autumn planted varieties, but to be honest it surprised me how well it performed.

Elephant garlic.

 These were my own cloves from last year that I saved. Planted around october again, they have performed pretty well, although I have dropped a clanger here and not harvested them quick enough so most of the bulbs have split..... pants!!!!  Oh well, I still have some massive cloves to use up, but they just won't look as nice in storage.  These were planted a bit deeper than the other garlics, maybe two inches or so deep and about ten to twelve inches apart.

 I have watered all of them a bit earlier on in the year, kept the weeds down as best as I could, and given them a top dressing of bonemeal in the spring, but other than that they have been left to get on with it.

 I lifted most of it about ten days ago, and the last of it at the weekend, and it has been drying since then, with my first bulbs ready to plait in the next few days. I think I should have probably lifted it a week or two before I actually did, which may have saved the Elephant garlic from splitting, but I shall do better next year.  Out of the five varieties grown this year, I shall substitute the Solent wight for something else next year, maybe Chesnok wight, but the other four will go in again, from my own cloves that I shall save and replant.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Pump up the jam.

  Last year was our first attempt at preserving in any kind of real quantity. On the whole, it was all a great success... apart from one batch of chutney that I overdid the chilli in... (well I loved it anyway, even if others ran away screaming of burning mouths, shortness of breath and even "Hell in a jar") so this year we will have our work cut out for us to equal last years results.

 I must say however, it has already started well!!!  (modest I know)

 Last week saw me out in the strawberry patch for about two hours picking around five kilo's of the little red beauties :)
Most of my picked strawberries.

What on earth does one do with all those strawberries?????

I tried to sit and eat as many as I could while watching Wimbledon..... that got rid of a kilo or so... and I think the accompanying Pimms may have gone to my head somewhat, as I cannot remember much of the matches :)

I gave a few away to family and friends..... another kilo or so...

Another good sized bowl of them went into some of Sarah's Eton mess..... half a kilo ish... and she made a nice strawberry sauce to go with it too... a few hundred grams more!!

Hmmmmm... still a couple of kilo's to go... only one thing for it... where is that jam pan??!!??

1kg strawberries, 500g granulated sugar, 450g jam sugar and 150ml lemon juice... up to set point in the pan..... decant into jars (with quite large brown paper hats) and job done.... 7 jars of finest strawberry jam.

Still have a kilo or so of strawberries left...... right, more jam...

600g strawberries, the last 600g rhubarb from the garden this year, 150ml lemon juice, 1.2kg jam sugar... up to set point again (which I think is 104.5 degrees)..... decant into more sterilised jars and job done... 7 jars of finest strawberry and rhubarb jam.  This one is deeeelicious!!!!! :)

The last few strawberries then got eaten up out of the way..... phew.

Just think..... this weekend I probably have another 2 or 3 kilo's to pick again!!! It's a good job I have just been and purchased a bottle of champagne and a lot more sugar for my strawberry and champagne jam!! :)

Anyone for a Devon cream tea??

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A blooming good july!!

  There seems to have been somewhat of a delay since my last blog post!!  An understatement I do believe.... as it has been approximately four months since my last ramblings.  Apologies for that, but what with a lot of job issues which have ended up in me becoming currently unemployed, and then the general workload at home just increasing tenfold simultaneously, I have had no time whatsoever to pen any new posts until recently. Well, I am aiming to try and get on a bit more frequently now (being unemployed does have it's plus points ;)

 Anyway, to start the ball rolling again, here are a few photo's from around the gardens this morning...

Gaillardia 'Goblin'.
Nasturtium 'Gleam'.
Jasione 'Blue light'.
Allium 'Globemaster'.
Zantedeschia 'Albomaculata'.
Leek 'Jaune de poitou' setting seed.
Busy lizzies adding some colour.
Unknown Rose variety.
Unknown Rose variety.
Yucca gloriosa flower spike.
Close up of Yucca gloriosa flower.
Unknown Rose variety.
Fuchsia 'Mrs popple'.
Kniphofia 'Sunningdale yellow'.