Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Strange Bedfellows

I found this toad under a plank of wood yesterday, curled up all cosily with a big fat slug! I thought toads were supposed to eat slugs, not go to bed with them.

Another strange thing I noticed (well - perhaps it's not so strange, I don't know) was a head (spear? sprout?) of purple sprouting brocolli - surely that's not supposed to appear until next year? This is an early variety, but even so I would not expect to see it until at least September, which was when it started last year, and most of it did not come until February/March/April.

As we are going away for two weeks from Saturday, I thought it would be a good time to harvest all the onions, leave them spread out on the ground until Friday evening, then spread them all over the kitchen table while we are away! Then when we get back they will be ready to be bagged up and stored for the winter. Either that, or mouldy and rotten.
There is still a row of spring onions, which I keep forgetting about - i have never successfully grown spring onions before - and the empty space left by the onions has been sown with buckwheat, as a green manure.
I am thinking of smuggling a bag of onions into one of the suitcases - I can't bear the idea of having to buy onions while on holiday. Buying any vegetables at the moment seems pretty crazy, but particularly the onions as I am so absolutely inundated with them. The other downside is you can't compost anything while on holiday either. Those are the only downsides though, apart from the packing, the unpacking, and the stress of all those jobs you have to get done before going...... but apart from that.....!! I don't want to be complaining about going on holiday.

I have had a couple of sessions of weeding, tidying the plot up a bit ready for the allotment-sitters, some friends who will be harvesting courgettes, squashes, potatoes, carrots, peas, beans and hopefully spring onions, while we are away.
I am multi-tasking at the moment, while writing this I have been popping in and out of the kitchen making spicy squash and pumpkin soup (last year's pumpkins - still in the freezer - it's almost ready to defrost!)
Tonight we are having chicken pie with a few potatoes, brocolli, carrots, peas, one runner bean each, and quarter of a french bean each! The beans are just starting to come on stream - just as we're going away (another annoying thing about going away - the tomatoes are just starting to ripen as well).
The apple jelly I made the other day was a bit of a failure. The juicing part worked well, with my steam juicer, but the jelly making part failed dismally. I put loads of lemon juice in, but it just didn't set. I should probably have used pectin sugar, but it always seems to give it a funny consistency - kind of gloopy. I tried re-boiling it all, with extra lemon slices, but now it just tastes of lemon marmalade, and it still hasn't set. Anyway, it's alright if you pour it on your toast when it's still hot, as it just sinks in, but if you put it on cold bread or unmelted butter, it slides off and dribbles all over your hand.

Finally, for a bit of colour, my echinaceas are flowering! How pretty.

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