Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a Hampshire garden. I've been growing veggies since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Some traditional varieties and old favourites as well as new ideas. I share my garden with my allotment assistant Daisy the Labrador. On Twitter as @MatronsVeggies

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Delighted to Eat You!!

Matron is back! I made a new lobster friend while visiting Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia last week..
Visited some local markets wherever I went, these beautiful cauliflowers were grown on the Island of Orleans just a few miles from Quebec City, Canada.
So were these delicious Mcintosh apples. They were the shiniest apple I have ever seen!
I came across an amazing beefsteak tomato which is grown locally in Quebec. Incredible when you consider that last Winter the locals had more than 30 feet of snow!! I bought one home with me so that I can save seed and grow some next year. I will try to find out what the variety name is. I asked a grower and the name sounded like De-lor.... or something like that. Enquiries continue.

This gravestone speaks for itself. A very moving visit to the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Fresh wild blueberries on sale in St John, New Brunswick.
My favourite view of the QE2 anchored among the 'porcupine islands' at Bar Harbor, Maine.
She is the most beautiful creature afloat, alas she has been sold as a floating hotel in Dubai. Crying shame! I will miss her.
And finally home this afternoon. One of my 'Black Forest' climbing courgettes had grown into a monster marrow! .... cheese sauce being made as we speak. More photos to follow. Glad to be back home!

Monday, September 22, 2008

From the New World...

This is the most amazing trip!.. New England in the fall is stunning, and we have had perfect blue skies and calm seas the whole time. Bar Harbour in Maine is the most beautiful place. Did you know that there are about 4000 islands off the coast of Maine? Just think of all those lobsters!! I have been eating freshly caught lobsters every day. Wild blueberries and cranberries everywhere. Yesterday we were in Halifax, Nova Scotia and tomorrow we are in Quebec City for 2 nights. Lots of lovely pictures to show you when I get back... Oh yes, and I played with a live lobster yesterday..

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Autumn Colours

Matron is going away again. I have always wanted to see 'New England in the Fall' .. so I am! My very last trip on board the Cunard Ocean Liner Queen Elizabeth 2 "QE2" will be bittersweet.
So for the next couple of weeks I will be exploring the fauna and flora of North America. Lobsters in Maine, and maple syrup in Canada. Matron may be posting from afar, but without photos.
New York,USA
Newport, RI
Boston, Mass
Bar Harbor, Maine
St John, New Brunswick
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Quebec City, Quebec
St Johns, Newfoundland
Buddy is going into kennels, lots of new friends to meet and bark at. Back on September 30th.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Unwanted Visitors...

A few weeks ago I collected and dried some purple podded peas and some crimson flowered broad beans. I packaged them all up in re-cycled envelopes. It was only today that I was going through my seeds when I noticed one of the envelopes had a window on it and I could see the beans inside..... but they had company!!!

I spent the time this afternoon emptying out all these envelopes to find that some small round,black beetles had burrowed their way out of some of the beans, there were quite a few holes about 2mm round. When I released them from the envelopes some of them flew off. I know that peas suffer from pea moth weevils, but I have no idea what these are. I sorted through the rest of the beans and discarded any damaged beans and have stored the rest in a glass jar. I will keep these under observation for the next few months.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Pumpkins and Chillis

I've been out on the patch recently clearing up all the debris left behind after this damp Summer. I have cut all my squashes and pumpkins and left them in a sheltered spot to ripen. I am amazed at the wonderful colour of my pumpkin Rouge vif D'Etamps. The colour gets darker every day, it is the most amazing red/orange at the moment. Others here are yellow straightneck squash. Bush Acorn Table Queen and Bush Delicata. I am looking forward to trying one of the Delicata in the next few days, it is supposed to be firm and sweet like sweet potato. Yum!
The Chillis have been struggling through too! I have grown this Jalapeno chilli outdoors on the patio, they are fairly mild but put on a stunning display.
I wasn't really expecting too much when I planted some Scotch Bonnet chilli seeds in the propagator in January. I had bought chillis from a Caribbean shop near me so that I could make some Jerk marinade. Even though we have had a crap Summer, these have produced some small chillis. Just a few days' sunshine would do them all a power of good!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Green Tomato Chutney

Following on from my previous post, today I was out in the garden salvaging all the green tomatoes I could before the blight takes them all. These are some of the larger beefsteak tomatoes, Country Taste but there were lots of others. I made the most wonderful batch of green tomato chutney today. You will have to make a spice bag, I used star anise, cloves, coriander seed, mustard seed, allspice berries, mace. Bundle them up in a little muslin bag and tie with string. (don't forget to take it out when it's cooked!)
4 pounds green tomatoes, chopped, 1pound shallots, 2 pounds cooking apples, 2 pints malt vinegar, 2 jalapeno chillis, grated fresh ginger.
Boil these veggies in 2 pints of vinegar and spice bag for about 40 minutes until slightly thicker and reduced. Then add 1 pound sugar, 8oz raisins and 1teaspoon salt and boil until it reaches the colour and thickness you want. Keep stirring as it may stick to the pan.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mildew and Blight!

It is to be expected this time of year in most veggie gardens that you will experience powdery mildew on many of your plants. I find it most common on the curcurbit family, courgettes, cucumbers and pumpkins. It is not nice to look at but it doesn't usually effect the vegetables which are coming to the end of their season anyway. Early in the season you can inhibit the start of powdery mildew by making your own home made spray from 1tsp baking soda, 1 quart water, few drops of liquid soap.
We've also had such a wretched Summer here in England, the wettest, gloomiest August in living memory. I suppose it is to be expected that my tomatoes have been effected by blight. Nothing you can do about it. Salvage what you can and under no circumstances should you put the green stuff in your compost. Throw it away or send it to the council green waste where their hot heap compost heap will destroy the pathogens. Your own small heap will not get hot enough.
Stand by for a mammoth cooking session for green tomato chutney!!