Monthly Archives: August 2014

Trying to Preserve my Garden Produce, with Mixed Results

I am a ‘learner’ gardener, but one of my successes this summer has been my bumper crop of tomatoes which are all ripening at the same time. This all sounds good until you know that I had fallen for the description of a packet of seeds that said “The sweetest cherry tomato ever”. This is probably correct, but they are also the smallest and most prolific I have ever seen, many trusses have more than 40 tomatoes on one truss!!!!!As I said in my last post I have been trying to preserve them . I’m sorry to report that my first attempt to “Sun Dry” them in the oven following a recipe I’d “Googled”, ended with me in tears looking at a very very large tray of what looked like cremated currants, with my electric meter in “shock”. I did not give up, adjusted the temperature and now have two smallish jars of “Sun Dried” tomatoes” in olive oil, very little reward for so much fruit and so much angst! I also have a lot of normal cherry tomatoes, “Sun “Gold” in particular, they get eaten instead of candies. My normal sized ones, “Ferline”, I use in salads and any surplus will be made into Madhur Jaffrey’s wonderful Tomato and Garlic” chutney, the family just love it.
I have been pleased with my runner beans, but made the mistake of planting all the seeds at the same time , so like the tomatoes they cropped together. Next year I shall grow some “inside” in pots for an early crop and others outside in position to follow. I shall also stop some growing when they get to my height, I did this year, they bushed out from the bottom and produced the heaviest crop which I could pick easily. No more trying to grow them up “sulky sunflowers” far too much trouble. I like the variety, “Firestorm”, a stringless, self pollinating one, it was very good and I gave pounds of beans away. I don’t really like deep frozen beans but I have frozen a few so I will know if it is worth my while next year, God willing! I have enjoyed my French beans eaten when very young, I have a second crop planted under all the ripening tomatoes, they are all strong plants ready to flower and crop when I rip the tomato plants out. I tried hard to grow peas for my grandson to eat straight out of the pod. Well, he enjoyed the crop from the first pot, many with ten peas per pod, they were “Hurst Green Shaft”, the best sweetest variety. The following three pots were attacked by something that ate all the leaves down to skeletons overnight, so the poor plants could not produce any more delicious peas. Exactly the same happened to my lettuce, one moment, I was enjoying them, then overnight,  skeleton leaves.  If any of you out there can tell me which bug or insect is causing me this problem, please let me know so that I can be prepared next year and not disappoint  my grandson.
I think that I have bored you all enough for one day, so I will keep my complete failures until another time. Unfortunately the cat has not come back,  I am still hoping . All is well with the family and I am hoping that I am “on the mend” at last. Keep all fingers crossed until the next time!!!

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“Gardening Update from “The Old Bat”

An old friend happened to be already on the bus on Tuesday as I travelled to work, she asked me if I was still writing, this has encouraged me to boot up my lap top and “get cracking” again. I cannot tell you that all sorts of weird and wonderful thing have happened, on the contrary my life has just plodded on in it’s own unexciting way.

I’m afraid that my little friend, the blackish cat no longer comes to feed every morning. It was looking really well, then stopped coming, perhaps it’s proper owner returned. I really enjoyed feeding it, all my life I had spent feeding animals, it was nice to have one around again, you never know, it might turn up again and eat the store of cat food I have in the cupboard!

I am sorry but I am getting even more of a boor on the subject of my “pot garden”, so now it’s your turn to hear an account of my gardening efforts, the good, and the bad. Last year I tried to grow runner beans, my favourite vegetable. I managed to actually grow one solitary bean. I was determined to succeed this year and planted four pots with the sunflowers as described in my last blog. Result, I am supplying all my friends and relatives with delicious beans. Two strong sunflowers survived to stand tall above their supporting flowering beans. Hooray!!!! Great success. For anyone interested, I planted the variety “Firestorm”, a self pollinating, stringless variety, it tastes very good and only takes 5 minutes to cook. My tomatoes are also doing well. My walls are covered with tomato plants tied to bamboo canes, some of the “cherry type” have as many as 40 tomatoes on each truss. The variety “Sungold” is my favourite. I have been experimenting with ways that I can preserve them for the winter, drying and roasting them, then bottling them in oil seem to be the best option at the moment.
Failures!!! I have completely failed to grow squashes and yellow courgettes (even though I planted expensive plants that did not need pollinating), not one yellow courgette, even though there was an abundance of flowers, both male and female, in desperation, I hand pollinated some. Still no fruit, the green variety are still producing. My peas did well until attacked by an insect which ate all the green parts of the leaves leaving skeletons..My new salad discovery is spinach beet, I use the young leaves, also nasturtium leaves, I only like lettuce when it is young, I find it tastes bitter.
My fuchsias have been wonderful and have given me great pleasure, all my friends demanding cuttings! At the moment I am getting ready for the arrival of the remnants of hurricane “Bertha”, no longer a hurricane but a very severe gail is expected this weekend, this will damage my plants if I do not place them in the most sheltered positions I have. One advantage of a pot garden, I can move them around, some pots will need some one stronger than me, relatives to the rescue!!!!!
We have had a lovely summer here so far with enough rain to keep all the plants looking well with a minimum of watering. I cannot send a photo of my garden but just imagine a forest of plants, very colourful, all higgely piggely, no design, every plant fighting me for the best position. I love it and spend a lot of time moving them all about.
I hope that all my friends are well and happy ,especially those in America. With a bit of luck I’ll be boring you all again soon.