June in the Garden Smallholding

This month heralds an exciting and busy time for the kitchen gardener. The weather is warmer, days are longer and everything should be growing well, looking and smelling fantastic. Gone is the bare ground that was worked and nourished throughout autumn and early spring, now is the time to look forward to useful crops such as potatoes and garlic being lifted. Broad beans and peas should still be available in abundance, although it can be hard to keep up with the picking. Bean supports are usually put in place at the beginning of the month, ready for the many different varieties of beans that can be sown either in pots or directly into the ground.

If you made an early sowing of beets they should be ready for using now. All members of the squash family can be planted outside in June provided they’ve been fully hardened off. Greenhouse tomatoes might be ready for picking, I’ve done really well with mine this year, lots of large handsome fruits ready for picking now. Salad leaves are readily available for picking all through summer if you’re keen to grow them. I planted out the final block of sweetcorn this month, between here and the allotment I should get a steady and constant supply of sweet cobs. Well, that’s the plan. The onions are swelling nicely as are the first sowing of Kohl Rabi – a first for me.

Summer fruiting raspberries are fruiting now, not as well as I’d hoped but enough for the occasional harvest. They are however, producing plenty of new canes for next season. Currants and gooseberries are doing really well, so much so that I think I should make a jam before I end up with a glut. Actually, I’d forgotten how good gooseberries taste when fully ripe, I tend to pick them when they are more or less mushy to avoid a bitter taste.

I’m cutting lots of beautiful sweet pea for the house, the scent is wonderful. Enjoy your June kitchen garden!

Potato Harvest

The Charlotte potatoes are ready for lifting, oh how I love the smell of fresh potatoes from the soil. You can’t beat it. I adore the taste of Charlotte, they’re a good size salad potato and you can do pretty much anything with them. The seed potatoes had a pretty hot and dry start during the spring heat wave, a lot of watering had to be done which, I shan’t (is that a real word?) lie, was a total boring chore. They also dodged a late frost too thanks to a covering of cardboard, but I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the resulting tubers – even though the plants are much smaller than previous years.

I think I will make a nice minted potato salad today. Yum!

Eggnormous!

Sorry for the silly post title, couldn’t resist.

A few days ago I collected an enormous egg from one of my chicken coops, I literally blinked in amazement upon first seeing it. I could tell simply from looking at the massive egg that Lily hen had laid it – you recognise colour, shape and patterns of each of your hens eggs. Well I do anyway! The first thing I did was check her vent and general well being, everything looked OK so I picked the egg up for a closer look. The shell was firm and the egg was unsurprisingly heavy, but heavier than I had originally expected. I began to suspect a double yolk egg, so I cracked it open. This is what I found….

As you can see from the photo, there’s a normal yolk and what looked to be either a yolk covered in shell or a smaller round egg. I decided to open up the other strange-looking ‘egg’ to see what was inside…..

You can clearly see that there isn’t a fully formed normal yolk, I believe this to be a wind egg? Correct me if I’m wrong. Even though I was amazed at the contents, I know of all sorts of strange stories with eggs (not just from ex batts) from running my ex battery hens forum . Lily is fine and back to laying normal size eggs, her diet and general health is good so it isn’t anything related to that. She is, however, pretty old for an ex battery hen. Egg laying can present problems in older hens, so my wild guess would be that it’s something to do with her age.

I hope she doesn’t lay another one like this in a hurry.

I’ve Gone all Minty

My herb patch is bursting with beautiful foliage and scent at the moment. A while ago I went herb shopping and bought a few new ones (for me anyway), Salad Burnet and Evening Primrose to name a few. I also bought my favourite herb of all, mint. The cold winter almost wiped out my collection of mints, I grow them in large pots due to them being so rampant. I’ve now added quite a few different varieties, most of which I probably won’t get around to using but that doesn’t matter – they’re beneficial to bees and butterflies and of course very pretty to look at and lovely to smell. I love the different aromas and how they all seem to gel together in a herby-jungly way.

Did you know there’s a variety called Chocolate Mint? Chocolate heaven without the calories, how cool is that?!  Use the leaves with ice cream and other chocolate based deserts, they’re also pretty as a garnish. I treated myself to a pineapple mint too, along with a few more classic garden mints. Which herb is your favourite?

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