Sunday, November 30, 2014

On the Fickleness of the Weather

When we lived in Cromwell I could not grow a strawberry.  We had lots of plants, none every made proper berries.  They would flower, then the fruit would be all stunted.  I tried several years in a row, and eventually decided that "I cannot not grow strawberries"

Now I think, perhaps it is more weather dependent....this week alone I have picked 3 large colanders full.  We have a strawberry glut!

I have made strawberry jam (on 24th November, my birthday, at 6am!), and today I have both frozen and canned strawberries.

Canning them using the waterbath method does result in a pale sloppier strawberry, but should be pretty good for pies/milkshakes/icecream.   Freezing them gives a fresher result.

I hope that by using a variety of methods to keep them I will have covered all eventualities.  I used the method in the Youtube video link below.

In general the garden is starting to look better.  We have had a bit of rain, and this has helped things along.  I have also had some help in the garden, with a lady coming on a Monday to help weed and plant, given that this is the crazy time in the garden, trying to get plants in, protect them from wind, and imminent hail etc!  along with watering and picking what is ready to be harvested.

The onions with our decimated, windblown glasshouse beyond.  (if you look at previous blog posts you can read all about our glasshouse heartbreak).  The other photo is my small Medlar tree which I have been nuturing.  It is now growing some Medlars, which is a wonder in itself as all the other fruit trees flowered just before a huge storm, and all their flowers were blown off.  I think I can find ONE apple on all my apple trees.  The rest have just disappeared.

You can see how dry we have been, by looking at my so-called "lawn"'s burnt off already and today is the last day of spring.  God help us when summer arrives with full force.

This is a Medlar fruit forming.  Eventually when it is ripe I will have to "blet" it (leave it to rot!) before eating.
 I purchased a new apple tree, a Pacific Rose, (hubby's favourite) and I have tied its arms down so that it will grow in a manner which we can pick off.

This is my Garden Share Collective post for December.  You can check out all the other bloggers and what they are doing once the link is working.  I will update this post when that happens.

Planting now: Corn, Carrots, Potatoes, Corgettes, Pumpkins, Lettuces

Harvesting now: Lettuces, Strawberries, Asparagus, Spring Onions

Jobs to do this month: take away all 15 bags of glasshouse glass to the dump, Cover the berry fruits with bird netting, continue to harvest and freeze strawberries

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A bit of propogating

I've never been much good at growing things from cuttings .  For example, my sister Karen on Rosemary, "just pull bits off and stick them in the ground". I do that? They all die. She does that? They all grow into robust plants.

This is my attempt at lavender. We have a beautiful pink one here and four of a row of them just "FLEW" away in our latest gales.  Disappeared. Nada,  nothing left. Ripped out by the roots.

I'm feeling pretty hopeful about 5 of these. I have been careful with them. Woody parts selected. Stripped stalks.  Tops trimmed. They look the part and, boy, I'll be stoked if they grow.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Canning Broad Beans

I have canned broad beans several different ways.  Some in an oil/lemon/vinegar/thyme mixture, a bit like artichokes and these ones in salt and mint.  Very yummy!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Devastation - The Glasshouse is Goneburger

Big gale force winds overnight, which woke us at 4am and we didn't get any more sleep.  At 1:37pm at the time of writing this, it's still gusting, though no where near as bad.

The glasshouse is anihilated, with the frame bent, all the glass gone and not recoverable.

I am even more devastated by the damage done to the plants the glass landed on, it's tragic really.

I don't know how we will replace it, or with what.  For the moment it's a large cleanup job, then waiting for the wind to go so I can water and give the broken plants some hope.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Early morning Elderflower Cordial making

It's mins past 7am and I am zimmering a 6 litre batch of cordial from fragrant elderflowers. They steeped overnight and now its time to bottle them up.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Late Spring - The Garden Share Collective

It has been a difficult spring here in North Canterbury.  Late visits by Jack Frost, and hard ones!, not much rain, and the predictable roaring Nor'wester have combined to make things very late in the garden.

A few pumpkins and corgettes were blackened off by two hard frosts three weeks ago.  The cold has conspired to make flowering late, and then any flowers which did form on apple trees and pears were frosted off, meaning we will get very little fruit in our orchard.

Thank goodness for the glasshouse
We have had so many broken panes that I have black taped the panes together in an effort to stop so much breakage.  Someone I met recently who lives nearby suggested that sealing all the joins with sealant to strengthen it.  We may yet go down that road.

However, inside things have started to grow.  These beautiful lettuces were a gift from a great-uncle as little seedlings.  I don't know what variety they are, but they are sweet and crunchy.  I made lunch for 6 of us last weekend using them, and a more divine lunch I cannot imagine.
Our own lettuce, eggs, bread and bacon all combined to make a beautiful, tasty salad.

Anna's Caesar Salad
1 Lettuce from the Glasshouse, ripped into large pieces
8 eggs soft boiled and left to cool, yolks should still be slightly un-firm
4 large slices homemade white bread, cut into 1 inch squares and fried in oil till brown on all sides
4 large rashers homekill bacon, cut into large pieces and fried till crunchy
Mix all that in a huge bowl, and pour over the following dressing:
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/3c Olive Oil
4 anchovies, chopped finely
salt and pepper

 In other news, our Blueberries are totally covered in fruit, in some cases meaning there is not a leaf to be seen, just ripening berries!  It's not easy to see that in this picture, as my phone is not very good at closeup photos.  

 I tackled the water problem for them by attaching a soaker hose to the fence.  This, and the chicken netting up to knee height, seem to have finally got this bed sorted.  Now they have water, and no sheep can eat them through the fence.  A good job, and one that has been on my list for several months.

I have covered the strawberries, and we have had our first berries off them.

Harvesting this Month: Asparagus (yum), Leeks, Broad Beans (Fava Beans), Artichokes and Lettuces.

Jobs to do: Water every day!  think about how to restrain our Raspberries, plant maincrop Potatoes, and cover the Cherry Trees to protect the fruit from the birds.
Our "Mixed Berries", which are rather like Boysenberries, are spread around all the fencing of the garden, and are all coming into flower.  

All in all its been a good month.

This is my November post for the Garden Share Collective.  To read other members postings on their gardening efforts, check them out by clicking the link below.