Friday, 19 December 2014

A Year in Review - Preserving the Harvest

As this was our first full season, it also meant we had the opportunity to preserve more of our harvest. We've made jams before and made one chutney but apart from that, not much else. 

Our strawberry jams have usually been successful, although last year's raspberry jam was a bit too seedy. This year we planned to make more of a jelly with the raspberries by straining out the seeds and I have to say this as been our best jam to date with a perfect set

The other jam we made this year was apple and rhubarb which had a nice tangy fizz to it

These have been a bit hit and miss. We had so many runner beans this year that we made a runner bean chutney. Possibly tried eating it a bit early as it tastes a bit vinegary 

Next up were a beetroot chutney, which I think is ok and a courgette and tomato chutney that we're yet to try but it looks promising!

As for the rest, the main crop potatoes are stored in hessian sacks and should last us well into next year. The excess runner beans are in the freezer. Onions have been strung up and the shallots pickled which was our biggest success; really crunchy!

And the main failure was the tomato ketchup but mainly because I put too much ground cloves in it!

And we are yet to sample the tomato sauce that's in the freezer....

So all in all I think we've done ok growing and keeping enough to keep us going!

Can't wait for next year!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Year in Review - the allotment

So as 2014 draws to a close, it's time to take a look back at the highs and lows of our first full year on the plot. Overall I think the year has been a success with a few lessons learned and a plentiful harvest.

Starting from the top, Bed 1 which this year was the root crop bed. We had initial problems with everything that germinated being nibbled. It was really frustrating until another plotholder advised us to cover them with fleece, which we did. Thereafter everything was fine. So not as many carrots or beetroot as we would have liked but still a good harvest, especially the Autumn King. 

Really pleased with the sweet potatoes which were an experiment 

They taste so sweet and mellow though so well worth it even if they aren't that big. 

Talking of big though, here's a parsnip. It weighs 875g!

Bed 2. This had our sweetcorn and tomatoes in together with a couple of courgettes plants and some cabbages. The sweetcorn were delicious and we had about a dozen good sized ones like these

The tomato harvest was enormous. We couldn't keep up, although we did get tomato blight late on. The San Marzano were great for sauces etc

We managed to keep on top of the courgettes luckily, mainly as we went down to one plant. 

We had trouble with the cabbages getting eaten before we covered them but finally getting some now 

Bed 3, this year's potato bed. Really good harvest. The first early Rocket potatoes were delicious and worth growing again. We had a total of 30kg of main crop spuds which should last us until next year easily!

Bed 4 the legumes. The onions were good, both the spring sown and over wintered ones and will last us until next year. They make a mighty fine French onion soup. The shallots made three jars of pickled onions which are lovely and crunchy 

We lost count of how many runner beans we harvested. They were lovely and long and not stringy. Froze loads. We kept some of the seeds for next year. 

The French beans were not quite so successful but tasty all the same as are the leeks which are still going strong 

And finally TK's pumpkins....let's just say the biggest was a whopper which he carved for Halloween 

So all in all a good year. We'll remember to cover things a bit more next year and maybe look forward to a few spears of asparagus!