Monday, 25 May 2015

Phase One of 'Project Greenhouse' complete.

I have been told that I'm impulsive, when I get it in my head to do something I go all out. There is the other side of the coin to this and that is if I don't finish it when I wanted to have it done by or I have another great plan I just have to start, then I'm left with a job half done. Sad but true, I still don't have any 'No Dig Beds' yet. But that's for another blogpost.

Now I've realised that I'm in need of a greenhouse and after bit of research on the web I've seen that's it's doable on my budget. I'd like an 8'x6' greenhouse, so I had made a start just over a week ago. There is a three slab path, a step up then the ground space that will soon house the greenhouse. On one side of the path I will have a more permanent spot for my Garden Connect bed and the other I hope to have a herb patch.

The reason for the step up is that the plot is very uneven and I'd have to shift a lot of soil just to keep it all level. Now the trouble with buying a second hand greenhouse is that there is a good chance the size of it will be in imperial measurements, the slabs I have are in metric. So when I measured the three together in the above photo, it was a bit shy of the six foot required. I don't have a greenhouse yet, but I don't want to do all this work and it doesn't fit right. So after sleeping on it, I made a few adjustments.

The centre slabs are now offset with stones in the gaps just because I have them in buckets all over the plot. The yellow sheet you can see under the slabs has been under the plum trees ever since I've had the plot, so now I've put it to good use and used it as a weed suppressant.

The jobs about done as you can see, but I didn't want the space at the far end to go to waste or to seed (maybe weed is the right choice of words), so  I intended to carry on with potatoes in bags and have them there with a ground sheet to stop the weeds coming through. Here is how it has been left. Rather than leave the space unused, I have courgettes on the left and pumpkins on the right.

And just like the News at Ten, I have an 'And finally' for you. I had noticed a few weeks ago that I had a robin's nest in the shed that was empty. This weekend while getting my tools I looked over at the nest and saw a robin in it. Today I saw it again, but on one of my tool surching trips to the shed, the robin was gone and I saw three eggs. When I finished for the day and put all my kit back, the robin we as back in place on the nest. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Trust me, there are 3 eggs, it's just that to take this
shot, I blocked out all the light. Sorry.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

This is how Rhubarb jam is made.

I was quite lucky that after my jam disaster last week, I was able to try it again so soon. I don't know if it's rhubarb in general or the pan I use for jamming, but I did find it sticking to the bottom of the pan very easily. Well I don't feel so much to blame for burning last weeks jam now. The rhubarb I used was allotment grown, just not my allotment. I was given the same amount as I had before, so I stuck to the previous weeks quantities. So this is what you'll need.

  • 1.5kg/3lb rhubarb (ready prepared)
  • 1.5kg/3lb sugar
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • 25g/1oz root ginger
  1. Wash and trim the rhubarb and cut into small chunks
  2. Place in alternate layers with the sugar in a deep bowl, add the lemon juice and leave for about 8 hours.
  3. Put the contents of the bowl into a pan, with the bruised ginger tied in a muslin bag.
  4. Bring to boiling point and boil rapidly to setting point.
Now I'm no fan of ginger in any form, so it was left out, but for those of you who do like it, I'm giving you the recipe word for word. I prepared everything late in the evening and left it over night. First thing in the morning, I made sure I had everything ready, jars sterilized and labels done from last week, before I put the pan on. I also used a potato masher to break down the fruit towards the end of boiling. Once it was all done and jarred up, I made myself some toast and a cup of tea. You can't beat fresh jam on toast. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Rhubarb jam disaster.

I've had many comments and compliments on my honesty. My failures get as much of a mention as my successes, it's just that I like to shout about the successes, more astonished surprised on my part. I try not to shy away and disguise or cover up my miss haps.

This time it was in the kitchen. I wanted to make some rhubarb jam, simple enough, I've made all sorts of jam before. An easy recipe, equal amounts of sugar to fruit with the juice of one lemon to each pound or half kilo of fruit. You could also infuse some root ginger, but I'm not so keen on ginger, so left it out. All I had to do was clean and chop the rhubarb into small chunks, put them in a pan with the sugar and lemon and leave it for at least eight hours. I left it over night. So far, so good. The next morning I cleaned and sterilized my jars and put the pan on. All was fine, a nice rolling boil. I'll need some labels. Let's go all out and make some nice fancy labels with a picture of a rhubarb stalk and hand written in my best calligraphy. That's when I noticed the smell, like toffee apples but rhubarb instead. Well at least I have some nice labels ready for next time.

The sad thing was, I had tasted a bit that was left on the spoon before it burnt and it actually tasted quite nice. I'll just have to wait for more rhubarb to grow. I'd like to say 'You live and learn' but I don't. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

I'm in desperate need of a greenhouse.

I've said in the past that I chose the flat I live in because of the three windowsills that are south facing and so far they have served me well, but there's only so much they can take. It's not considered ideal to have a plant in your bedroom, I've lost count as to how many I have in mine. Although I realised a long time ago, I really need to get a greenhouse soon. So much of what I have here I know I can't plant outside. This is my situation at the moment.

Basil, cayenne pepper, okra and even more

All lemon cucumber, apart from the sweet peppers
in the middle.

Pimientos de Padrón.

My Tomkin tomato plants and some sorry looking
Kohl rabi and aubergine.

The only windowsill left in the flat. North facing
with plum tomatoes, another sweet pepper and even
more pimientos de Padrón.
Now you see why I'm so desperate for a greenhouse. I have searched the internet and seen a few second hand ones that are within my budget, I just need to make room on the plot for one. That was my task this weekend. I was so keen to get started, that I didn't take the before shot.

It's not the clearest photo, but again I was pulling up excess plum trees with my hands. A Portuguese gentleman from a few plots away from me, who speaks no English, has offered to prune the plum trees I intended to keep. At least that's what I understood with me speaking my best Spanish and him speaking Portuguese. The proposed site for the greenhouse is between the raspberries and the plum trees. The raspberries I was given are now in, below is a clearer photo of them. Most are doing OK and starting to bud.

The parsnips are also starting to come up. I don't want to be counting my chickens just yet, but things aren't looking too bad. Parsnip crisps are back on the menu. After looking at the photo I took below, it seemed like my plot's getting bigger. Its always been the same size, but I'm claiming back a whole lot more now. The plot does look better when the sun is shining. Till next time and thanks for reading.