Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Tomato & Chilli Chutney

At this time of year the greenhouse tomatoes are coming fast and furious in the lengthening sunshine and the chilli plants have given their all, so a wonderful way to create a reminder of summer during the winter days is this delicious chutney.


  • 4 lbs tomatoes 
  • 1 lb 6 oz onions 
  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • 5 small fresh chillis 
  • 1lb 6 oz sugar 
  • 5/8 pint vinegar 
  • 6 oz sultanas 
  • 2 ins piece of root ginger  or 2 tsp ground ginger 
  • 2 tsp of dried marjoram or a bunch of fresh 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • Couple of twists of black pepper 
  • 2 tsp black mustard seed (optional)


  • Put clean jars and lids in oven at around 120C for half an hour

  • Chop onions into small pieces 
  • Chop garlic into tiny pieces or use a garlic press 
  • Wash tomatoes, remove stalk and any hard centre
  • Chop the tomatoes inc skin and pips 
  • Chop chillies finely, similarly the root ginger

  • Put all the ingredients into a heavy pan, preferably stainless steel. Cook on medium until the onions and tomato skins are soft then cook gently until it thickens up a bit. This may take an hour. Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn. It makes a fairly soft chutney.
  • Put hot into the warm jars filling them up to the top and put lids on right away. (I use lids with the button that goes down when the chutney cools and stays down so you know the seal hasn’t been broken.)

  • Label and store. Ready to enjoy in 2-3 weeks.

    I made a batch with 3lbs tomatoes – everything else pro-rata - and made 5 and a half 300g jars.

    Download pdf of Tomato & Chilli Chutney recipe >>

    (from my other website!)


Monday, 7 September 2020

Autumn approaching

First week of September gone already. There is definitely a feel of Autumn in the air - cool wind, even when the sun shines, and earlier evenings of course. Lots of trees are showing yellowy or brown tinges and Autumn colour in the garden comes from the lords and ladies, pink autumn-flowering cyclamen, rose-hips and rose flowers. The big pink sedum, which the bees and butterflies love, is beginning to open.

View from the greenhouse across the veg plots & rhubarb
Sedum beginning to flower, rose-hips and a carpet of pink autumn-flowering cyclamen

Lords & ladies glowing proudly

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Missing my Tuesday fix!

It's Tuesday and I'm missing my fix - my usual weekly session at Men and Women in Sheds in Loughborough.

Like most other activities its been put on hold because of the Covid thing, though hopefully opening again soon. See what we get up to at

Pottering around the garden I see some of the things I made:
Garden table and a store for all those awkward bamboos and stakes.
Staging for the strawberries and seed trays in the greenhouse.

A-frame to support climbing rose

Friday, 7 August 2020


Desiree potatoes harvested August 2020
Desiree potatoes harvested August
2020 has been a pretty good year for potatoes. As usual in Jan and Feb I started several pots in large containers in the conservatory and then several more in big pots and compost bags in the greenhouse. They provide a tasty early crop before the outside potatoes are ready. Santes, Desitees, Robintas saved from last year and some shop-bought organics that had started sprouting.

The rather wet spring meant the potatoes went in late March and end of April, not quite as early as I'd have liked. But even then we had a light frost in May which knocked back the early growth a bit.

First plantings were Orla and Pentland Javelin - both white earlies - followed  a couple of weeks later by the Desirees. I bought fresh seed potatoes for the Orlas and Pentland Javelins and some Desirees, but I also used some Desiree tubers saved from last year. 

As well as these deliberate plantings a reasonable number of what we call "feral" potatoes emerge from the vegetable beds where potatoes or bits even have been missed when we harvested last year. These actually provide some useful additions to the crop.

After harvesting I let them dry off for a couple of days, well covered with thick cardboard to prevent them going green. Then I sort into small or damaged ones - which go into the kitchen cupboard to be used right away - and good, medium and large ones which I store in sealed cardboard boxed in the garage (nice and cool). Wine boxes are great because the inside cardboard bottle spacers keep the potatoes apart and prevent any mould or rot spreading.

Very little by way of underground damage, worms ir slugs. There are some decent-sized Desirees that I'm looking forward to baking.

Friday, 31 July 2020


Royal Chantenay carrots
I've never had much success growing carrots. I've tried sowing them direct in the veg plots and I've tried in large pots. This year I sowed some Royal Chantenay carrot seeds in the green plastic troughs that we used to use as window boxes with geraniums in the summer. They are just the right size and the Chantenays don't need a great depth because they are small conical-shaped carrots. I raised the trough up on a double row of bricks to get them above carrot-fly range (so far so good!).

The carrots are delicious! Excellent steamed or gently microwaved. So two days ago I sowed another batch. Jo Hashman (Dirty Nails) suggested a late sowing was worthwhile, especially in a container that could be taken into the greenhouse when the weather gets wintery. I'll let you know how it goes!

On-the Plot - a week-by-week journal wandering through his garden with hints and tips and philosophical musings.

Thursday, 16 July 2020


Went for a gentle saunter "around the block" this evening and walking along the footpath down from the Rec I was delighted to see a couple of bats.

I got back home about 10pm, made a cup of coffee and sat outside the greenhouse for a while. Several bats out hunting. Seemed to be two types, small and slightly larger.

A couple of nights ago I met a couple looking out over the meadow at the bottom of the road by the brook. They had a device that slows down the frequency of the bat calls so humans can hear them. They identified different bat species by their calls.

Good to know the bats are still around after the building up at the old school and at Yew Tree House.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Around the vegetable plots

After the frantic Spring digging, sowing, planting out, the vegetable garden is producing the goods.

Everything seems to be coming along nicely, even the runner beans are catching up after suffering from frost, slugs and rabbits. This year I've been careful to protect the sprouts and cabbages from butterflies and pigeons, using frames made from plastic cable ducting and fine-guage netting. The cable-ducting was an idea picked up from the garden at the Men & Women in Sheds at Loughborough.
Middle bed has peas, broad-beans, celery, cabbages, brussels sprouts
- and poppies

Through the poppies - view of broad beans, coming to the end now,
and across to the walnut trees and up to the old school.
Celery doing really well - and tasty!
First time we've tried growing celery, but the shop-bought stuff is full of chemicals.

RH bed with rhubarb, horseradish, potatoes and runner beans on the frame at the top

Tuesday, 24 March 2020


Beautiful sunny morning - Spring is here!

and a tiny Goldcrest tapping on the window. He (or she) was feeding off the small aphids that are already covering the climbing rose around our front door.

I have never seen a goldcrest here before - only seen the pictures in bird books. Hope he brings his friends.

Regulus regulus japonensis face