Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Everlasting Courgette.

This weeks flowers.
How long does a fresh Courgette last? In my experience by the end of seven days Courgettes will be soft and flaccid.
Now fourteen weeks old.
Last weekend we were given this courgette by a friend who asked me to include it in one of my posts. So, the story. This Courgette was purchased  by my friend in the middle of April, it was left on the sideboard in a warm kitchen and rather forgotten about, which is why it wasn't eaten. A couple of weeks ago my friend was having a good clear out, discovered said Courgette and was amazed to find it looked the same as the day she had bought it. The following weekend she passed it on to me to include in the blog. I guess the question is, what the hell has this vegetable been treated with for it to still appear fresh after fourteen weeks? I have weighed it, 5.2 oz which is about the right weight for it's size. I know I would not want to eat it either now or when it was first bought, for something like a courgette to remain looking fresh for so long has to mean it's been treated with something nasty or even irradiated.  I think I will stick to our veg, fresh, straight from the garden and in season.
At last most of the soft fruit has now been picked and processed,
The most boring job in the world, topping and tailing Gooseberries.
most of the Gooseberries were bottled,
there's still a couple of pounds of gooseberries to come, but there will only be the odd picking of raspberries and the same with the strawberries, and a few more Loganberries,
Final picking of redcurrants, around 17lb from three bushes.
but  we are not talking about Blackcurrants.
I have made a few pots of jam and nine bottles of Ribina the rest will have to stay on the bushes.( yes, I know that's not how you spell Ribena) Next week the  peaches should ready and then all that remains are the Victoria plums, provided that the wasps or birds don't get them first.
A handful is all the birds left.
We should have had a reasonable crop of cherries, unfortunately we didn't get round to netting the trees and the wild birds had most of them, leaving us just a handful. Never mind, it has been a bumper harvest on the soft fruit.
I made redcurrant jelly to go with lamb , pork, and poultry, to half of the redcurrant jelly I added finely chopped mint for the rare occasions that we have lamb, it tasted lovely, giving it a whole new dimension.
And then there was one.
The baby swallows all fledged and once again the cats are allowed out.
Final farewell.
It was so nice to be able to follow the chick's progress and to see them all fly safely away.

The cottage outside painting is almost finished, just the two end to do which have very high gables, Simon will have to have clamber up a ladder to do the those.

We are both very pleased with it, we knew it needed doing we just didn't realise how much.
Kiftsgate mingling with the Albertine.
Our thug rose 'Kiftsgate'  is now flowering,  it has grown so much that the arch that it was clambering over has partially collapsed, next job on the agenda is making a solid arch out of 3X3 timber, not even Kiftsgate will collapse that.
A miniature arrangement, just three inches tall.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

And then there was four.

This weeks flowers.
Over the past few weeks we have been keeping a careful eye on our Swallows nest in the wood barn, we were so happy to see the birds return from their migration.
We were sure that there were chicks in the nest and a week ago they popped their heads out, all five of them, within a couple of days they were too big to fit in the nest and balanced on the rim waiting for mum and dad to return with more food.
We have noticed that there is a mud ledge along side the nest,
I don't know if this is always done or not, however the chicks have treated it a perching platform.
And then there were four.
Two days ago the first one made it's maiden flight, returning a short while later, mum and dad are still feeding them. Today two have taken flight, soon they will all have gone. During this vulnerable time the cats have been confined to barracks, we would hate to see any of our fledglings met an untimely end. Hopefully in another couple of days the chicks will have flown the nest and will be safe, we are also hoping that mum and dad might have time for a second brood. There are plenty of midges for them to feed on with this mild and slightly damp weather.
The weather has been very mild but not much sign of the sun,
Some of the Delphiniums  became casualties of the wind.
we have also had strong winds and the garden flowers have taken a real battering.  Things have also put on a tremendous amount of growth, the grass can no longer be cut with a mower, it will all have to be strimmed  which takes  far longer than mowing. Garden shrubs have taken on the look of triffids,  they will all have to be severely cut back when I get time. Flowers seem to be blooming rather earlier than normal,
we already have the first Dahlias out
and also the Lucifer is well ahead of time.
The fruit just keeps on coming, but I have made my last pot of raspberry jam, the same goes for the gooseberries and the strawberries. A lot of the blackcurrants will not get picked,
10lb all ready for a customer.
we have sold quite a few pounds, also of raspberries and gooseberries, and I have an order for  redcurrants. We didn't set out to have fruit for sale, we thought those days were long gone since we'd sold the farm, however soft fruit has always grown very well in this part of Ireland. I will make a few bottles of Blackcurrant cordial, but the rest of the berries will be left for the birds.
Sale of the fruit has paid for this pan.
With all this fruit to process I treated myself to a new pan, it's nice and deep, just the job for bottling fruit.
The onions from the tunnel have now been harvested and they are big, not that we wanted big ones,
Nearly a pound over what we need.
an onion that weighs four ounces is fine, however the tunnel ones have each weighed in at over a pound, rather too  big,
there are about thirty of the giants, and we still have a bed of onions in the garden, we wont be short of them this year.
From the onion bed there was also an added bonus of yet more potatoes, around ten pounds, clearly we didn't do a good job of clearing that bed last year.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Bumper Harvests.

We often wonder where the time goes, the weeks seem to fly by, what have we done with all this time? Well in the last week, Simon has redecorated the lounge, it's quite a big room, 30'X14' and had not been done since we first moved in, one wall was a burgundy colour, this is now a rather nice antique sage.
The front of the cottage has received it's first coat of Weather Shield and it needed doing although it was only done four years ago, these decoration jobs have been fitted in between rainy and sunny days
and harvesting vast quantities of fruit.
So far this week I have processed around forty pounds of fruit,

I had to make some scones, just to check the jam was OK.
some is now jam, some frozen and the rest has been bottled, plus two more batches of Elderflower cordial has been made, just in time for the gooseberry harvest, elderflower and gooseberries compliment each other . I had just put on the last batch of Strawberry jam and in he comes, bearing gifts,
the first gooseberry bush has been picked, another ten ponds of fruit and we have eight bushes, I am assured that this is the harvest from the biggest bush, I hope so as there is  lots of blackcurrants to be picked as well as the redcurrants. Well that's what we have done in the last week, next week I will again be making jam, Gooseberry, Blackcurrant as well as  Blackcurrant cordial. The strawberries have now given us 'the' big pick, they should now just keep giving us a few for desert but there will be another big pick from the raspberries. I had considered  using jam sugar this year, just for the Strawberry jam but I looked at the label,( yes I'm a label reader.) Now if I see something advertised as jam sugar I expect the contents to be sugar and pectin, not so, jam sugar contains PALM OIL, why? Am I missing something here, since when has palm oil been an ingredient of jam? Palm oil seems to be put into just about everything that is sold in supermarkets even when there are good alternatives. Do none of these faceless corporations care anything for the plight of the indigenous peoples and the habitats of Orangutans? I guess not, just profit.
Calabrese, sprouts and cabbage.
Potatoes now ready to harvest.
Next week the potatoes will be harvested, if the amount of leaf is anything to go by we will have a good crop,
we have already started eating the carrots, just the thinning's, although they are a decent size.
5.7 ozs, not a bad size.
The garlic once again has been very good, it's now all harvested,
and we are getting plenty of courgettes and mange tout peas.

Last winter must have been wet,
although our roses are looking lovely they have all developed blackspot so I will have to come up with a spray for them that wont harm wild life,

You can just see the blackspot on these leafs.
if anyone has a non chemical treatment please leave a comment.
Shame there is no perfume.

The first of the lilies are also in flower but these are not perfumed which is a shame, the white lilies which are only in bud have a lovely perfume.
A cultivated Loosestrife.
We have had to re-sow cauliflower seeds, unfortunately the hot weather came just at the wrong time and all the plants bolted, more French beans have been sown, they will go in the tunnel to give us a late crop. I am sat here listening to the very satisfying sound of jam pot lids popping, this is the last of the strawberry jam, such a good sound to hear.
A few more garden flower pictures.
Purple mallow.
Double flowered Feverfew.