Monday 31 July 2023

Lemon Verbena

 Lemon verbena leaves have the most fantastic lemon smell and make a wonderful tea:

My two plants are taking an age to get going and don't think they will grow much past 2’ rather than the 11' predicted!

However, as and when I can get enough leaves to harvest and dry, I will do so, ready for winter.

Thursday 27 July 2023

Tomatoes and leeks

 Tomatoes in Bed 1 are coming along nicely although the wet weather is worrying me a tad:

There is another bed behind them but they aren't so happy:(

Bed 4 has leeks, 3 carrots and the one surviving tomatillo:

The leeks are progressing nicely after the 'no growth' disaster last year. Only 3 carrots grew from 2 rows of my Mothers Day seeds, not so good. There were 2 tomatillo plants but one has died. It wasn't happy from day 1.

We have had 3 servings so far from our French beans, the runner beans are just starting to produce. A lot of things in the salads bed are going to seed so will resow some more soon.

We have also havested the second proper potato container, another 6lbs to add to the tally. Some so big just one would make enough chips for us both.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Its a cool cool summer so far

 Most nights recently, I have had to close the door to my greenhouse to try and keep the chilli plants happy. Night time temperatures are averaging just 10C, not nearly warm enough for them especially as the day time temperatures are hovering around 19C.

There are quite a few varities growing in there and those in pots are quite happily setting fruit. Top picture Sweet Hungarian Hotwax:

Here are some Red Hot Cherry:
We are also growing Jalapeno and Anaheim.

The ones in the soil are only just beginning to flower and are a bit leggy, probably due to the greenhouse staging above them?

Saturday 22 July 2023

Borage - a super self seeding friend or foe!

 We have many, many borage plants not only flowering, but new ones popping up all the time. They really self seed everywhere but the seedings are easy to pull up to limit their numbers.

Just wish they weren't so uncomforatble to brush past or pick from. Despite using washing up rubber gloves to crumble the dried leaves, they still pricked me.

I have just discovered on my herbal tea making journey, that the smaller younger leaves and flowers can be used, with some caution as they contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Read up on them if you are worried.

However, as I only steep mine for 10 minutes and intend to only use once or twice a week, I think I should be okay. The flowers are gorgeous and useful in salads. Some countries eat them cooked in meals:

I was thoroughly amazed by the taste, very fresh and cucumber like. I have only used them fresh so far so will try some dried to see if the flavour is different.

UPDATE; Nowhere near so nice dried, more grassy than cucumber so will only use fresh as a treat!


Monday 17 July 2023

Tomato Tigerella

I last grew this variety of tomato more than 35 years ago. They are part of the large pack of seeds given to me on Mothers Day this year. I do remember them being slightly larger than a regular tomato such as Shirley, but not this big:

They are all as large as, or larger than, a tennis ball! Another odd thing about them, don't know if this is normal or the weather, is that after 2 trusses have set fruit, the tomato has 'blinded' itself. There is no more growth above the last truss, how weird.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

Hibiscus lemon drizzle cake

 Didn't have enough of any ingredients to make a full size cake so did the best with what I had.

Whilst the cake was baking, the lemon juice, sugar and a few hibiscus flowers were cooked to melt the sugar, then left to go cold. It was then strained to remove the flowers:

Poured over the cake, it resulted in a nice pink touch on the top of the cake:

Not sure if we could taste it as the nature of the cake is sour anyway but it looked pretty. I think it would make a nice pink icing if used that way.

Sunday 9 July 2023

Garlic honey and potatoes

I started off a fresh batch of fermented garlic honey:

 Didn't have enough of either so will buy more ingredients in a few days time. The blue top is a burping cap used in fermenting. It allows the gases to escape without letting the air in. 

After a few hours, the garlic starts to float. You can use a fermenting glass weight to hold it down but I don't bother, choosing instead to give the jar a good shake whenever I am passing.

After a few days, the garlic sinks and the appearance of bubbles show it is fermenting. It is usually left alone for several weeks apart from a gentle shake every now and then.

I suffer occasional morning nausea and one teaspoonful of this takes it away almost immediately.

This morning, we emptied out our final and smallest compost bag of potatoes - 3 1/2lbs,  so not too bad at all. We now have the 4 large containers to use over the next few weeks.

Monday 3 July 2023

A beautiful colour

My hibiscus flowers finally arrived and I set to, brewing myself some. I was a bit heavy handed but this is such a gorgeous colour:

 It got far deeper. The taste was supposed to be tart, similar to fresh cranberry. Yeah I thought. Wow! This was the first herbal tea I actually needed a full teaspoon of honey added, instead of just dipping a spoon in, leaving it to run off, then stirring into my chosen tea.

It did indeed taste of fresh cranberry, was very tart but very tasty. After I had disposed of the used flowers, I realised I could probably have stored them in the fridge for a day, then re-used them for a milder flavour and colour. I shall try that soon.

Sunday 2 July 2023

Second bag of potatoes

 The second compost bag of potatoes produced even more than the first. First bag 2lb 12oz, this bag, 4lbs 8oz:

I have no idea why I washed them all, I don't normally do that until just before use, hey ho!

One more bag to go, then onto the 4 proper tubs. Onwards and upwards.

Saturday 1 July 2023

My herbal tea 'shop'

 Mostly foraged or grown in my garden before drying, my collection is coming along nicely. Linden and camomile are the only bought ones here, but I have just got some hibiscus. Yes, I know I have missed the H from the latter:

All the above home grown!