Posted by: sweetpea | September 21, 2006

Tomato blight, Elderberries, amongst other things…….

At the weekend I noticed that my tomato plants had started to succumb to blight but thought I’d leave them a while longer before harvesting the crop.  Last night I went down to the plot with the intention of harvesting my ‘Marina di Chioggia’ squash, but when I saw the sorry state my tomatoes were in I decided that she could wait and that the tomatoes were more in need of attention.  So I set about filling 2 carrier bags full of mostly ‘Gardeners delight’ with a few ‘Marmande’, trying to separate out any that looked like they had already been damaged by blight.  I’m hoping that I won’t have lost too many, but I’ll have to wait and see.  They are all currently lying on some newspaper in my room under some tea towels; this method seemed to work well last year in getting them to ripen.

I actually had a really tasty dinner last night.  I’d roasted a whole load of courgettes the previous night with some olive oil, salt and thyme.  So I cooked some pasta, added some skinned and chopped ripe tomatoes, some of the roasted courgettes, pine nuts, torn basil leaves, and feta cheese, and heated it through.  It was so tasty, and mainly because the toms and courgettes were home grown, so much more flavour than shop bought ones.  I’m hoping lunch today will be just as good as I’ve made a kind of tabouleh with some red peppers, green and yellow courgettes from the lottie, and feta cheese.

I shall back track a little now to the weekend….

On Sunday I was on duty at the lottie shop for the usual 2hrs, and other than a couple of customers it was pretty quite despite the good weather, so I was able to catch up with reading ‘Kitchen Garden’.  I’m still on September’s issue!  At one point I waved with a huge grin on my face at this guy cycling past who I thought was Maria’s partner, but later when he came to the shop realised he was someone else entirely different. Rather cute really, can’t remember his name though; maybe I’ll bump into him again at some point.  One of the other customers was a lovely couple who had just inherited a plot.  They were so enthusiastic, and desperate to get something growing so I sold them some broad bean seeds 🙂

When I had arrived at the shop I was a bit surprised to find 2 skips sitting outside half full of waste.  I was surprised because for some reason I had thought they were coming next weekend, and I had it all planned out.  I was going to ask if any of my friends were free to give me a hand moving stuff from my plot to the skips.  So this discovery kind of messed up my plans, although I did shift a few barrow loads, but it was too hot for such hard work so I gave up in the end.  Unfortunately they were the last skips of the year so I will either have to hire a vehicle to shift the remains of the old greenhouse, or leave it until the spring. 

Other than shifting stuff to the skips, I spent the rest of the afternoon doing odd jobs.  I finally got around to planting out the seedlings I’ve had in the cold frame.  I have to confess that I am terrible for leaving it too long before planting out seedlings, it’s not because I forget about them, it’s just lack of time and other things like harvesting seem to take priority.  I hope I haven’t left it too long this time!  There was beetroot, fennel, pak choi, tatsoi, lettuce, giant winter spinach, perennial broccoli, purple sprouting broccoli (I know I’m way too late with this but I thought it worth a try!), and I planted the herb seedlings in between.  They have been waiting patiently to be transplanted for months so I’m sure they are jumping for joy now they can spread their roots, I just hope they don’t die of shock!

I dug up the last of my potatoes, ‘Golden Wonder’, and the crop looked far better then the King Edwards had, hardly any slug damage or scab. 
Inevitably I also harvested yet more courgettes and beans, I think I’m going to stop picking the climbing beans now and just wait for some of the pods to dry out for seeds next year.  Ernie’s wife had offered me some crab apples while I was on shop duty, so I popped along to her plot to help myself, not sure what I’ll use them for but probably jelly I expect.  Then I had a wonder around the site picking elderberries, the idea being I’d make some cordial despite not actually having a recipe of any kind.  They look so juicy hanging from the trees so it’s hard not to be tempted to pick them.  I made the cordial that evening although I’m still not sure if it’s worked, I’m hoping it will make a nice warming drink for the winter.  Which reminds me I’m hoping to harvest rosehips too this year to make rosehip syrup if I can find a recipe.

My final jobs were to water the peppers and melons in the greenhouse; I seem to forget about them now that we are having rain from time to time!  And then I cut back most of the squash leaves that had powdery mildew on them so that the sun could speed up the ripening process.  I’ve come to realise that the rat only seems to attach where there is sufficient cover; it seems more reluctant to nibble at things that are on the edges.  I wonder if I can use this info to come up with some solutions for next year, especially since he seems to be showing no interest whatsoever in the poison.  I’m hoping that if I put poison down in the winter he will be more interested as there will be less other food around.

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