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 27, 2011

Turmeric and Turnips!

I am just so pleased at how this Turmeric has grown for me. Dim Sum Gardener kindly sent me a few pieces of fresh turmeric root this Spring after a seed swap. I kept it warm and damp in the greenhouse all Summer and it has exceeded my expectations. I will try to keep it warm and cool on a windowsill during Winter and see what happens. A close relative of ginger, the underground tubers are a vibrant yellow colour, used in Asian cooking and in Ayurvedic medicine.
I am giving this a go in the hope that I might have a few Golden Ball Turnips ready for my Christmas veggie blog. I am asking bloggers to send me a photo of something that will be ready to eat at Christmas. Get thinking or planting now and I will be asking for photos in mid December.
I'm giving these Kohl Rabi a try too. I've never grown them before but just a few little golf balls will be lovely.
Just like these Kohl Rabi I saw at RHS Wisley last week. Let's see what happens.
Finally, I lifted a few of these Bedfordshire Champion onions. I sowed the seed on Boxing Day last year, Just leaving them outside to dry in this lovely warm weather. It is set to swelter this week in England. About time!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Scrump!

Matron visited the RHS Garden at Wisley, Surrey today. One of my favourite places to be at this time of year and a place I love dearly is the fruit field. Thousands of well known and many forgotten apple varieties. Matron may or may not have partaken of some serious field research on behalf of my bloggers...
This reminded me of the tomb of the unknown warrior... for apples! But have a look at some of these gems nestling forgotten in a corner of the orchard.

Such a shame that supermarkets just stock tasteless, flawless rubbish when there is so much to choose from.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hillbilly Tomatoes

Earlier in the season I just couldn't resist buying one more packet of tomatoes. These Hillbilly tomatoes caught my eye and I made a late planting in the greenhouse on 24th April this year. Simply stunning to look at, these multi coloured tomatoes are wonderful to look at.
Not only are they wonderful to look at, they taste fantastic too. I grew these both outside and inside and they have done well despite our awful Summer.
Meanwhile, I have been picking and drying my Salford Black runner beans. The pristine shine on these beans as the pod opens is just wonderful
They have a very dark purple colour when fresh and they dry to a stunning jet black when dry.
All of my Queensland Blue pumpkins have been picked now. They would have preferred a hot, dry Summer but all things considered this is a fair harvest. These are being 'cured' in a warm, dry place to ripen and harden the skin for keeping. These are my favourite pumpkin.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Picking Day

These Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes have been a real success. Orignially seed sent to me by Dan in his Urban Veggie Garden as part of my Buddy Morris veggie garden this year.
LinkReally abundant and the plants are laden with tomatoes. So many ripened all at once that I just had to make a batch of tomato sauce yesterday, though there were plenty for eating as well.
Also just drying at the moment are my Croatian Black Beans. A lovely climbing bean which was also sent to me by Kath at Veg Heaven as part of my 'black' veggie garden this year. Really beautiful seeds and a good, vigorous climber too.
And it is that time of the year when I will soon be making my own pumpkin pie. My own pumpkin pie spice mix is easy to make if you have a coffee grinder. The main ingredents are cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. I also add a bit of clove, cardamom and mace too. The nutmegs will have to be grated by hand, but all the rest of the spice ingredients can be ground to a powder and then sieved.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Christmas Veggies

I managed to get some specially prepared potatoes into a bag in the greenhouse this week. These Christmas potatoes have been kept in special conditions to fool them into thinking it is Spring. I am growing these to eat on Christmas Day! These will form part of Matron's Christmas Veggie Blog. I am asking bloggers to plant something now, and send me a photo of something that is ready to eat at Christmas. I will be posting it together on a blog in the days coming up to Christmas. So get planting now! A few Winter lettuce perhaps? or a row of little turnips, or a pot of small carrots? Or even a row of radishes or spring onions? give it a go.

Friday, September 09, 2011


Piccalilli is one of my favourite preserves. The final taste is unique and is for me, the taste of Summer. You will need 6lbs of chopped veggies, you can see what I have here. I always save the overblown marrow/courgettes for this.
Chop veggies then soak in brine overnight. Pour 3 pints of white vinegar into the pan with 6 teaspoons of mustard powder and 4 teaspoons of ginger powder and 9oz sugar. Boil just to melt the sugar then add the drained and rinsed veggies. Simmer for 20 mins.
Over the years I have experimented with different ingredients, adding mustard seed, nasturtium seeds and this year I added some freshly grated horseradish.
After 20 minutes, lift out the veggies with a slotted spoon and pack into jars. Keep the vinegar syrup. In a separate bowl mix 2 tabs of flour and 3 tsps turmeric powder and mix with COLD water to form a loose paste. Add this paste to the boiling vinegar syrup and bring to the boil for 2 mins to thicken.
Pour the thick yellow liquid over the veggies. Be careful because it stains everything! Slide a knife down the side of the jars to make sure the yellow liquid goes right to the bottom and remove air bubbles.
Seal the jars and leave to cool. Then try to wait a few weeks before eating.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Eating Apples

3 years ago I bought a couple of family fruit trees. These are trees that have several different apple varieties grafted on to one root stock. This year has been amazing for my eating apples. A lovely cold Winter put the tree into a proper dormancy and formed nice fruit buds. These are Lord Lambourne apples.
I picked and stored the perfect apples yesterday. These are a gorgeous mix of a crisp texture, and a great mix of sweet and acid. A really lovely eating apple.
Another apple on the same tree is this Egremont Russett apple. A distinctive apple with a nutty taste. Perfect for eating with cheese. I love these.
And I'm not the only one!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Matron's Christmas Veggie Blog

I know it's only September, but I want you all to start preparing for Matron's Christmas Veggie Blog. I want blog readers to send me a photo taken a week or so before Christmas, of a fruit or veggie that will be growing on their plot - or being eaten - on Christmas Day. I will be posting the best of the pictures in the week before Christmas. Go on! give it a go! Why go hungry? Get planting now so that you can send me a photo just before Christmas - and all my Aussie bloggers down under have absolutely no excuse at all !

Saturday, September 03, 2011

A Welcome Visitor!

It has been my pleasure and privilege over the years to meet up with fellow veggie bloggers from time to time. Yesterday I was able to show Paula from Petunia's Garden around my plot in London. She was on a short business trip to London from her home in Seattle. We toured the allotment, ate a fish and chip supper and then sat down to go through my seed tins for swaps. Petunia is one of the founder members of SAGBUTT - Seattle Area Bloggers United To Talk. A group of garden bloggers who get together to have a natter every now and then.
Some of my lovely Salford Black Beans are beginning to dry nicely. I have a few ripe pods on a warm windowsill and there are a few more still on the plant.
These Salford Black beans were given to me by Celia at Purple Podded Peas as part of my Buddy Morris memorial vegetable garden this year. ... and speaking of the old fella..
Do you remember last year when I thought that a plague of slugs had been eating the leaves of my climbing beans? Only to find out that a certain furry black person was the culprit? Well, it has happened again...

I was wondering only a few days ago why my tomatoes were slow to ripen! Lots of green tomatoes on the vines which just were not ripening fast enough!
Well, as it happens they were being eaten!!! Leo was carefully selecting the ripe tomatoes and gently pulling them off the plant! Clever boy! so great to see he has settled down in my veggie garden and is following Buddy's example!