Clicking on any of the pictures will open them at full size in the browser window, which means you will have to use the 'back' button to return to the main pages, whereas clicking to the left or right of any picture will open them in a new window, if you fancy a closer look at any of the piccies we've posted! We've included a Google Earth satelite picture of our plots and this years planting plan at the bottom of the page, next to each other. If you choose the Earth view on the satelite image you can rotate the image until it is lined up with the planting plan, then use the arrows in the plan to scroll from Plot 2 to Plot 1.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Catch up and Tomatoes, tomatoes everywhere + Balance Sheet Update!!

As the harvests start to come in I find myself pushed for time, and unfortunately, its the Blog that suffers! Please accept my apologies for the lack of updates, but with harvesting the bountiful crops, processing them to store and using the autumn fruits to make homebrew wine, the last week or so has been exceptionally busy!

The Elderflower (from dried), just before the yeast is added to start fermentation!
We've now got 4 batches of homebrew wine on the go, the first kit batch of Elderflower is going well, the second gallon of Elderflower (from dried flowers) is now in a demijohn and bubbling away furiously! We've also got a gallon of Elderberry wine on the go, I picked the berries from down on the side of the ship canal on Saturday, and it got racked into a demijohn today, where it too is bubbling furiously, and finally we've got a 2 gallon batch of summer fruits on the go, this was to use the extra lb of Elderberries, so I added blackberries and raspberries to make it up to a sufficient quantity of fruit, plus the extra Elderberry from the first batch that wouldnt fit into the demijohn went into the bucket! The Elderflower wines should be drinkable in only a few weeks (for the kit wine and a few months for the second batch from dried elderflower), but the 2 batches of berry wine that we've got going will probably take a lot longer, at least 6 months or so! We're also planning a 5 gallon batch of Mead, using some of the granulated honey from the honey harvest! I'll update you on that once we get it started (definitely a long term project, its not normally consumed until at least 12 months old!)

The local birds on the plot have now found the feeders we put up on the grapevine arbour, its quiet amazing to watch them at work! The foliage each side of the feeders is a dual plum tree we got last week from Parkers, its been 'tied' to the upright until the crops that are in the bed its heading for are removed!

As you can see, once again the war against the weeds has been lost, but as the crops are (in the main) ready for harvesting, at this time of year its not too much of a problem! There are some winter crops that we are endeavouring to keep weed free, and any weeds that are going to seed are assiduously removed!

The courgettes are still producing in quantity, and the greenhouse and polytunnel tomatoes are the best I've ever seen! Peppers and chillies are fab, the brassicas once again are good, and please, dont mention the beans!!

Our tallest sunflower seems to have now decided to flower, at about 11' tall! The sweetcorn and squashes below it are really good, and we've still got 2 1/2 beds of spuds to dig up yet, so plenty of potential to see us through the winter!

The first of the pumpkins and squashes are just about ripe, though we'll leave them a few weeks yet before harvesting.........

...... and those beans I asked you not to mention? Runners are running away, the borlottis are bulking up nicely, and the french and broad beans just keep on coming! If nothing else, we'll have plenty of beans to see us through the winter!

And as I said, the greenhouse and polytunnel toms are the best Ive ever seen whilst we've been growing! This was just 1 days harvest, and we've probably got about the same again to come every 3 or 4 days for the next few weeks! 70lb of ripe beefsteak and standard tomatoes was the harvest I took off the plot here!

Tomato Recipies!

So, with harvesting 70lb of ripe tomatoes from the plot a few days ago (and with many more still to come), we've been able to get lots of pasta sauces made (tomatoes, cabbge and courgette with some herbs and garlic, reduced and then bagged for the freezer), but we are fast running out of room in all 3 of our freezers, so I've been processing our harvests into sauces that can be kept in the cupboard (once they have been sterilized in a boiling water batch for 30 mins).

After being asked for a few of them on the Grapevine (GYO forum), I thought I'd share them with you here, in the hopes they may allow you to make use of the tomato glut!

Tomato Ketchup

Roasted at least 4lb of toms in hot oven for 30 mins (brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper)

Let them cool, meanwhile lightly fry 2 large onions and a whole bulb of garlic in a large pan (until translucent)

Remove the toms from the juice and add whole to onion pan. Heat to boiling.

Add 200ml vinegar, 450grams sugar, allspice (teaspoon), coriander (1/2 tsp), basil (1/4 teaspoon), cayenne pepper (teaspoon), a dash of worcestershire sauce, a dash of balsamic vinegar, more black pepper and salt to tast and boil for 30 mins.

Once cooked to a consistency you like, put into a food blender and blitz it all todether!

Prep your jars, put ketchup into jars and place in water bath to sterilize for 30 mins before sealing!
Tomato Soup

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Sweet Chilli Sauce (borrowed from Galloping Gourmets)

1 kg of peeled chopped de-seeded tomatoes - brilliant if you have a glut, as we have!
A head of garlic - from the garden of course
8 large red chillies - ours were 'hot cayenne'
About two table spoons of grated fresh ginger
4 Tbs of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce - available in most supermarkets)
600g sugar
200ml or vinegar (I used red wine vinegar for this but apparently any works)

First put your tomatoes in a blender (after peeling, deseeding and rough chopping)

Then take a sharp knife and peel your ginger. It should be juicy and moist not hard and woody.

Grate or finely chop the ginger

Take the garlic and peel all the cloves. Put the garlic and ginger in the blender

Chop up the chillies, seeds and all, leaving the stalks - make sure you wear gloves for this!

Add all this to the tomatoes and blitz to a puree in a processor -
Add the 4 tablespoons of fish sauce

Then add all this mixture into a big pan

Then add 600g of sugar and 200ml red wine vinegar

Stir well and bring to a boil

Lower to a simmer. A small froth or scum will form - skim this off and discard

Maintain the simmer stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes put 6 half pint jars in the oven to warm for another 15 minutes - keep stirring and skimming the sauce

When the sauce has thickened and reduced, pour into the jars; seal and label.
This sauce is hotter than the commercial stuff so adjust to your taste. Leave for a month to mature - be ready for Christmas in plenty of time and will keep for at least six months.
I hope you found the recipes of interest, and perhaps of use to deal with (what I hope is for all) the tomato glut!

Anyhows, onto the latest balance sheet update!

Balance Sheet Update - 14th September 2010

Total Veg Plot Costs 2010

Rent + Subs for 2 full plots £100
Seeds £20
Seed Spuds £20
Onion Sets £6
Growbags £15
Chicken Manure Pellets £8
Plastic 'wannabe' Polytunnel £61
Bamboo Canes £8
Flower Plants £28
Scaffolding Boards £100
Watering Cans £8
Soft Fruits £16
Clematis £10
Arbour materials £ 40
Cold Frames (2) £30 (1/2 price at Argos)
Redcurrant £7.50
Birdhouse £7
Birdfeeders (for arbour) £10

Total Costs £ 504

Next years costs have already started, £59.50 for seeds (Wyevales sale), £7 for onion sets (3 varieties, 200+ sets in total), £12 for dual plum tree, so a total spend for 2011 of £88.50 so far, with only rent and subs + seed spuds to come (should be a total of £120 ish to add), so unless we decide to undertake any large projects on the plot, next year should be a relatively inexpensive one!

Total Veg Plot Harvests 2010

Rhubarb £ 35
Fartichokes £ 4
Volunteer Spuds £15
First Early Spuds £15
Second Early spuds £20
Lettuce £14
Radish £15
Garlic £85
Strawberries £65
Raspberries £35
Blackberries £35
Peas £40
Broad Beans £60
Courgettes £120
French Beans £100
Red Onions £20
White Onions £50
Cabbages £20
Peppers £21
Chillies £14
Tomatoes £125
Turnip £13
Runner Beans £70
Broccolli £45
Apples £12
Plums £5
Sweetcorn £20
Chard / Spinach £2
Aubergines £5
Cucumbers £10

Total Veg Plot Harvests £ 1083

So, a total nett profit of £ 579 so far this year, with a large amount of harvests still to come!

Hope your crops are proving bountiful, and your harvests are big ones! Thanks for reading, more updates at the weekend (hopefully)!


Janet/Plantaliscious said...

I've just found your blog - what an inspiration! I'm on the waiting list for an allotment, and in the mean time grow what I can in pots on a small patio, but at least I can read your posts and dream... I see no weeds, just a wonderful abundance of produce. Love your running balance thing too, great idea.

Mrs Dobby said...

Hi Janet, thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoy the blog and balance sheet!

Good luck on getting your own plot, they can be time consuming and hard work, but the taste and abundance of oyur own organically grown fruit and veg more than makes up for the time and effort spent!

Bill S. said...

What a beautiful garden. You certainly have a green thumb. The frost has already nipped our plants, but we saved the tomatoes and the peppers.

Great pictures.

Mrs Dobby said...

Hi Bill, thanks for the kind words, glad you liked the piccies! We've been fortunate not to have had a frost... yet, but looking at the way the weather is going I dont think its going to be long before we do! Gratz on saving the toms n peppers, thats one of my jobs this weekend, to finish harvesting chillies and peppers and to dig up some of the smaller plants to overwinter in the house (for an early crop next year!)

Thanks for the green thumb comment, we only started growing our own 3 years ago now, so we still feel like novices, but I gotta admit this years crops have been fantastic! Mind you, thats down to the plants, not us! Lol!

Caro @ YRG said...

Hi Mrs D, lovely photos! I especially like the pic of your greenhouse and abundant veg. (Love a good nosey around other lotties!) Loads of veg all at once is a mixed blessing isn't it? I've been freezing and eating beans for weeks now - almost grateful that the beans (french) have finished; they got very windblown throughout August. Your onion sets seem good value, where are you buying from? Are you planting soon? I thought perhaps next month …

Mrs Dobby said...

Hi Caro, the onion sets were from Parkers, £2 for 100+, we got them last years and they are fab! We also got 2 packs of 50 from Wilkinsons for £2.50 each, diff varieties! We'll be planting them in the next few weeks, once the maincrop spuds are up, along with the overwintering garlic! HTH!

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