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Thursday  08 August 2013

The Weed Control Fabric Experiment Continues

Thursday produced another nice summer’s day with the temperature into the mid twenties. It clouded over late afternoon threatening heavy rain that surprisingly stayed away apart from a short but heavy shower early in the evening.

Our weed control fabric experiment is continuing on the plot. Certainly it’s cut down on the amount of weeding dramatically and I don’t think we have had any crops that have suffered as a result of being planted through the fabric.

Now cleared of it’s summer crop of potatoes this bed has been dug over. Helped by the recent rainfall the ground dug over easily and after some chicken manure pellets had been incorporated the bed has been covered with weed control fabric. Part of the bed will be planted up with sweet Williams and wallflowers for next spring. Any space left in the bed could be used for a successional planting of lettuce.

Some of our alpine strawberries grown from seed this year were planted up around the edges of one of out apple tree beds. These too were planted through fabric. The partially rotted horse manure has only been used to hold the fabric in place but will eventually be incorporated into the soil once it has completely broken down.

Next on the list is to prepare the bed for our winter onions using the same piece of fabric as used for winter onions last year.




Friday 09 August 2013

A Ripe Tomato Would Be Good

Friday was a dry windy day with a reasonable amount of sunshine.

Whilst our crops have fared well under our weed control fabric a few other crops haven’t done so well or are very late producing. We are still waiting to pick a runner bean. I did plant them late due to the exceptionally cold spring but for some reason they have been very slow to grow even through the warm weather of July. Perhaps I didn’t keep them supplied with enough water when it was very dry for the first three weeks of the month.

We’re still waiting for a ripe tomato, well that’s not quite correct, a ripe tomato that doesn’t have blossom end rot.

This is a variety called Sioux which seems to have been particularly susceptible to blossom end rot in our home greenhouse. Looking more closely the rather flattened shape of the tomato is a clue to something not being right and viewed from beneath it’s not a pretty sight.  

In the greenhouse on the plot Sioux appears to be free from any problems and has an excellent crop of green tomatoes. The jury’s out on this variety.

Our plums too are very late. It’s not that we’ve a shortage of fruit as our three plum trees are loaded. By this time plum picking is normally well under way but not this year.

To finish on a more successful crop although we haven’t harvested any aubergines yet we actually do have fruits on our mini aubergine Jackpot F1.

Most years we try a few aubergine plants without any success. The plants normally grow well and produce flowers but that’s it, never any fruits but this variety is setting fruit. We’re not sure how big the aubergines should be when picked. This one’s the size of a hen’s egg.

As it makes a good looking pot plant for the greenhouse maybe we should treat fruits as a bonus.

Saturday & Sunday 10/11 August 2013

Sioux Looking Good on the Plot

The weekend weather wasn’t anything special for August. We had a few brief sunny intervals but it was mostly cloudy with just some light rain early on Sunday morning.

In our plot greenhouse our tomatoes have so far remained free of the blossom end rot that has afflicted our home grown plants. On the plot Sioux, the worst affected variety in our home greenhouse, looks to be one of the best croppers.

As far as I can make out we don’t have any tomatoes with the dreaded blossom end rot in the plot greenhouse. There’s nothing wrong with the bottoms of these Sioux.

I’d also been complaining about the lateness of our runner beans too. I was a bit surprised to find some French climbing beans Cobra ready for picking on Saturday. I was going around our angry three sisters bed rearranging the runners from the Crown Prince winter squashes which were heading for freedom over the grass paths when I spotted the beans at the very bottom of their wigwam.

Almost a kilogram in weight by the time I’d picked all the beans I could find. Not bad considering I only really found out they were ready by accident.

Monday 12 August 2013

Blackcurrant Cordial

After such a good start to the month August has been going downhill ever since and Monday was no exception. Although we had some sunshine it was cool and windy. Not really a very August like day.

Our blackcurrants, Ben Connan and Ben Lommond, planted in 2010 have produced an excellent crop of fruit this year. One great benefit is that the fruit remains on the bushes in good condition over a long period of time. As blackcurrants are time consuming to pick this is a big advantage.

By the 08 July we had berries starting to turn black and we’ve been picked blackcurrants on a regular basis since and we still have a few berries left to pick.

With lots of berries to use, encouraged by the success of our elderflower cordial made a few weeks earlier, I decided to have a try at making some blackcurrant cordial. The recipe I chose to use can be found here. It seemed a good choice as it’s easy to adjust the quantities based on how much juice is extracted from the fruit.

A word of caution. If you’re worried about a little staining stay clear of blackcurrants as everything takes on the black colour of the fruit. I thought my faithful muslin bag was a gonna but after several sessions of being boiled in a pan of water it’s restored to a useable state.

The process is straightforward but I think it’s a matter of luck whether or not your cordial sets like a jelly or remains liquid. Having tried ours out it does make a delicious drink diluted with ice cold sparkling water.  

It does need a bit of a stir to mix up the thick undiluted cordial. The cordial that settles out towards the bottom of the glass is especially tasty a sort of sweet blackcurrant goo that takes its time to slide down the glass and into your mouth.

Jostaberries on the left and blackcurrants to the right