Thursday 29 September 2016

Tomato feast

We've had a bumper tomato harvest this year. The 9 tomato plants (Alicantes) in the greenhouse have done really well. During their peak I was picking 2lbs of tomatoes each day. This year we didn't grow any Big Boys in the small conservatory. (They were really my Mum's project.)

Home-grown tomatoes (Alicantes)

It's great to have home-grown tomatoes. The shop-bought ones just don't have any flavour and I'd just as soon do without. I never have any problem getting them to ripen. I pick them when they are ripe or nearly ripe and put them on the window sill. Unripe ones quickly catch up - even green ones turn red in a few days.

What to do with them all?
  • Eat in salads or on their own.
  • Roast them in the oven for an easy veg to accompany - well, anything.  Put a tablespoon of olive oil in an oven-proof dish. Cut the toms in half through the middle and rub the cut side in the oil. Turn them over with cut side up and sprinkle with black pepper, a little salt and some herbs if you have them - marjoram or thyme are great.
  • Make tomato passata. Roast whole toms in the oven wih a little oil. Cook for 1hr or so at medium heat. There will be a lot of water and juice after cooking. Rub the tomatoes through a sieve to get fairly thick puree. Use it as a sauce, soup or in dishes like bolognese. It freezes well. Keep the juice / oil to use in soups or where you need vegetable stock.
  • Tomato soup. Make a tomato passata and add peper and salt to taste, maybe a handful of herbs. You don't need anything else. It's delicious just as it is.
  • Tomato chutney. I made some delicious tomato and chilli chutny, using chilles Paul grew this year.
  • Tomato tart. Make a pastry base, lightly cook. Chop some onions finely and cook gently in some olive oil. Slice tomatoes and discard any hard bits around the stalk. Spread the onions on the pastry base, arrange the tomatoes prettily over the top and sprinkle with black pepper, herbs, a little salt. Pop back in the oven at medium heat for half an hour.
  • Sell at table-top sales (they were very popular)
  • Give away to friends and neighbours.
 The tomato plants are beginning to shut down now, but there's still a few pounds left. I think I'll make more chutney!

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Potato black-heart disease

I'm a bit disappointed with the potatoes this year. Despite being assiduous with the weeding, and thereby depriving ourselves of the lovely poppy show,  the potatoes didn't produce a lot. We ate some straight from the ground that had a bit of visible damage, like worm-holes, and stored the good-looking ones. Now we've come to use those I've discovered nasty, holes in the middle with greyish edges. I think this is "black-heart" disease.

Potato black-heart disease -
our poor specimens
The disease is apparently caused by either poor ventilation in storage or water-logging whilst growing. See this description of potato black heart >>.

It is possible, that I packed them up a bit too tightly for storage. I usually use cardboard wine boxes lightly sealed with parcel tape to keep out the mice. But certainly we had a lot of water-logged soil this year with some potato plants going soggy and rotten.

So far we haven't tried the stored Santes and Kestrels. Need to get into them next week.

It doesn't look like our potato stores are going to take us through to Christmas, so I've planted up some in big pots. When the weather gets cold I'll drag them into the greenhouse to protect from the frost.

Thankfully we have an abundance of squashes to help out with meals.

Thursday 15 September 2016

In the pink

This week we had the hottest September days for 100 years but this morning was misty and cold. The leaves and flowers were bejewelled with dew-drops and the spiders webs bright with fine mist. It felt very Autumnal.

But there's a way to go yet with the Summer. Garden flowers are having a final fiesta before the dark days come along and the trees take the glory with their reds and golds.

I went walk-about with the camera and found the garden was painted pink!

Bright pink roses - irridescent

Tiny cyclamen under the mallus tree

Pinky-red hydrangeas having a final fling

Pink Japanese anenomes are everywhere. They seed prolifically but cheer up the garden
after the sumer bedding has mostly gone over.

These pink roses have been flowering all summer and still have plenty of buds.

Pink sedum is a late-summer feast for the bees and other insects.