Earlier this year we planted our first blueberry bushes in lovely old bath tubs. I wasn’t expecting much from their first growing year to be honest, but was happily proved wrong.
Two blueberry bushes provided steady pickings throughout summer right through to autumn, enough to keep the blueberry fans of the family satisfied. It’s now November and we’re still picking berries.
I spotted this vintage mini trug recently from one of my favourite online garden shops, with berry picking in mind it’s perfect for the job.
The temperature has really dropped during the day and nights are chilly, the bushes are just starting to display their beautiful autumnal colour in patches. I’m so pleased we introduced blueberries to our kitchen garden, if you’re interested in growing them too take a look at our growing guide post https://thegardensmallholder.wordpress.com/2017/03/12/blueberries-in-tubs/ for helpful information to keep them happy.
There was a real nip to the air this morning. A light blanket of frost arrived overnight as predicted, the veg garden looked so pretty twinkling in the morning sun but I was a bit sad to see the first casualties. Nasturtiums are always the first to go when a frost arrives in our garden, frost is so pretty but so damaging too.
Parsnip and strawberry leaves crumpled and twisted, unlike nasturtium they’ll soon bounce back as the sun melts the frost away.
The Czar runner beans are still looking good, along with Cosmos flowers. The frost wasn’t harsh enough to claim them just yet.
The chickens were reluctant to leave their coops early this morning, it’s been so mild here this cool snap was a shock to them along with all the blasted fireworks going off during the night. I’m a real bah humbug when it comes to fireworks.
The sun is shining again, I’ll be off out in the garden soon to pick the last of the greenhouse tomatoes, Czar runner beans for freezing and lifting more potatoes before the real frosts come calling.
Our tomatoes are still going strong in the greenhouse but there are plenty of fruits that won’t ripen now. Our chutney recipe is perfect for using up a glut of green tomatoes, I made some jars today and it tastes delicious already but should be even better in the months to come. I’ll be storing some away for our Christmas cheese board.
Makes 4 standard jars.
900g green tomatoes, quartered
300ml organic white wine vinegar
2 large onions, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp salt
250g dark brown sugar
Place all ingredients into a large stainless steel pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for approximately 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring occasionally during the last half hour of cooking time to prevent the chutney sticking to the bottom of the pan.
The chutney is ready when it has thickened enough to drag a wooden spoon across the base of the pan to form a channel that does not immediately fill with liquid. Allow to cool slightly then spoon the chutney into warm sterilised jars and seal. Best left for at least 6 weeks but can be used once cool. Use within 12 months. Refrigerate opened jars.
Flash flooding struck our region last week causing chaos to rail and roads, farmland, homes and gardens. Thankfully our home and the area of garden where the chickens are housed were unaffected by the flood, but our kitchen garden sank under water. A week or so of sunshine and no rain to follow allowed the ground to drain away quicker than I thought it would, the soil seems to be more or less how it was before, still damp, but that’s to be expected for the time of year. Looking at the garden now it’s hard to believe it was flooded at all, I did worry about losses in the kitchen garden (particularly the rhubarb crowns rotting) but so far everything seems well.
Since my last blog post I built a raised bed in front of the shed and created a gravel path which leads to the greenhouse. This bed is no-dig, thick layers of cardboard were put down to kill the grass and a thick mulch of compost on top.
I plan on growing courgette, dwarf purple beans and sweet peas for scent and cut flowers in this bed. I also prepared another raspberry bed recently, the original bed I planned for the raspberry canes won’t work due to being waterlogged throughout winter (unforeseen problem) so I really need to improve drainage or change plans altogether.
In the greenhouse I’m planting onion sets into module trays to get them off to a good start, once they root and shoot in a few weeks outside they go. I’m sowing parsley, coriander, radish, peas, spring broad beans, nasturtium and spring onion. Leeks are doing really well and cut and come again salad leaves will be ready for picking soon. Tomato seedlings in the house need potting on now and I’ve just started sowing sweet corn into pots.
On to some chicken news, I’m sad to say we lost our lovely old Leghorn hen recently so I’ve had the joys (groan) of integrating her pal with the pullets so she’s not on her own. All seems to be going to plan though.
I really dislike integrating hens, but all part and parcel of keeping chickens. All the girls are laying well and appear to be in good health.
The wildlife ponds are full of froggy activity at the moment, amongst the clumps of spawn are future slug munchers, welcome to the kitchen garden little ones.