Friday, September 15, 2017

The Fruit 2017

I´ve commented on the apples and blackberries for the galette, now for some of the rest.

No mirabelle plums this year, despite pruning the tree and generally tending to it.  I think the birds got them all.

The 3 rhubarb plants that miraculously survived are doing well in their bed. No harvest until next

White currants got eaten by birds.  Black currants are frozen with the rest of the ¨hedge¨ mix.  Planting in the ground this fall so they can be netted next year.

Blueberries - Netted, very few berries, ripened over months 4 or 5 berries at a time.  In the frozen hedge mix.

Strawberries - Tasty.  Planted under the blueberries this year.  Kept producing a little fruit over the summer, but were buried in the abundant marigolds, so got forgotten about.

Raspberries - suffered with the drought.  Birds got the few berries.  Will try planting in the ground this fall, but I think they may be goners.

Pears - more production this year after severe pruning.  But even with hand picking and carefully placing them in a cool dark space, they turned from hard to brown and squishy in a matter of 48 hours. Don´t know what I´ll do with those.

Melons - 2 already eaten!!  Fragrant and delicious.  Saved the seeds from the first to ripen.  There are several melons still on the vine.  My understanding is that they won´t ripen once picked, so I´m waiting, even though the first couple had some bad spots.  The ones I have in the kitchen broke free from the vine on their own, so we´ll see.

We have a first ever lemon on the lemon tree!  At least I´m pretty sure it´s a lemon, could be a lime at this stage.  Both trees look happier out of their pots.

One small jar of walnuts pickling.  Both walnut trees had nuts this year, which is a 200% improvement from before.

Other trees:

The two oaks survived the drought, but barely.
One of the two sour cherries survived.
One of the two almonds survived.
Both hazels survived.
Looks to be a mast year, despite the drought.  Acorns are early and abundant and the chestnut trees look loaded.  I hope that doesn´t mean a long cold winter.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Summer Veg 2017

With fall well and truly starting, a look back at how the veg garden did this summer.  This year was very, very warm starting quite early.  There were only a couple of notable rains between April and September, so another very dry growing season. 

Garlic - did much better in a raised bed.  Very weedy, though.  I have to find something to mulch them with.  Despite the raised bed, wet in the spring.  By the time I finally pulled them, some of the bulbs were opening and not very attractive to look at.  But I got a good yield and flavor, and they make my eyes water like onions when sliced for cooking.

Peas - burnt out by June.  Not much production.  Planted a different variety in August to try for fall.

Onions Red, Spanish and Chato - Bought starts in May.  So hot in June, they skipped the spring onion stage and went straight to forming bulbs.  Ate all the local chatos by mid-August.  Now eating the round Spanish and reds in salads.  Would need to plant 3 times as many for winter use.

Carrots - first sowing was good, second half were eaten by critters, third had terrible germination.  Sowed again for fall.  Good flavor and size on the ones I managed to harvest.  Garden carrots are so fragrant!

Potatoes Red and white - Red fingerling were bought bagged from Lidl last fall.  Took a long time to sprout, even after planting in March.  Finally planted some white seed potatos kindly donated by the neighbor in April.  First blight appeared and then a plague of potato beetles/grubs. I estimate that between 20 and 25% were eaten by voles.  The reds that weren´t eaten produced pretty well and were delicious.  The whites were not abundant, but good sized.  Unfortunately, as I´m using them, many have gaps in the center of the potato, and brown spots.  Must order online or get certified seed potatoes next year.

Green beans French and broad - The calima bush beans grew and produced really well.  They´re short, and kind of a pain to harvest, but tasty and productive.  Did better directly sown than transplanted.  Planted some more for fall in August.  I planted some purchased broad bean starts to replace the peas, and to my surprise, they´ve got purplish pods.  I suspect the market people sold poor V beans for drying.

Lettuce Loose leaf and head - Loose leaf did spectacularly well, providing salads all June and into July, cut and come again.  Head lettuce struggled.  Had a bed of red, curly and bib that did nothing for over a month, despite regular watering and some shade from the other beds.  The curly lettuce in the herb garden did better even while completely overshadowed by the indigo and cilantro.

Spinach - complete disaster second year running.  Barely makes it out of the ground and then just lies there looking forlorn until I dig it out in disgust.

Parsnips - not seen a seedling yet.  Planted in February, re-sowed in May, again in August, and the last bed was seeded last week.

Cucumbers - tags got switched with the melons.  And 7 or 8 cucumber plants is lots more than we need.  I composted a lot of yellow cucumbers.  They did get mildew by mid-August.

Peppers - the smallish, light green Orense did well.  The padron, not quite so productive.  The bells are staying very small and none are turning red.

Tomatoes - got blight, which I now think drifted from the neighbors´ potato patch.  I did some pruning and ultimately sprayed copper twice.  Those planted earliest produced pretty well and actually turned red.  The last few have produced fruit, but I´m not sure they´ll ever mature, now that nights are down to 9C/50F.

Courgette/zucchini - Four plants is a lot to keep up with.  Finally got mildew at the end of August.

Pumpkins - exuberant growth.  Small New England Sugar Pie and white Long Island Cheeses did surprisingly well.  The butternut was very disappointing, except for a volunteer that started up by the compost area where we planted the citrus trees.  That thing formed double the number of squash in the proper bed.  All squash finally came down with mildew mid-August.

For the fall:

Leeks - starts planted in August.

Brussels sprouts - Planted starts in August.  Seem pretty sturdy, but may be too late to see sprouts.

Rutabaga/swede - started and transplated in August.

Peas - started and transplated in August.

Parsnips - sown in September, again

Carrots - sown in August and September

Swiss chard - sown in September

Beet greens (grelos) - sown in September

Spinach - sown in September, again

Garlic - to be planted the end of October, which worked well last year

Our frost date is usually end of October/beginning of November, but we typically don´t get freezes until December/January.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Apple galette with wild blackberries

So we survived the yearly August family visits.  Let´s just say I have thoughts about the whole extended family arrangement predicted for the post collapse future. Now, after a couple of days of rain and a sudden drop in temperatures, it feels like we are well and truly heading into fall. 

And I am pleased to offer this easy galette, made with home grown apples from the tree that´s now producing more, and more accessible apples that we had pruned last winter, along with blackberries from the nearby hedges.  No idea what the variety of apple actually is - blushed golden, not too sweet.  I remain unconvinced by the local ¨cooker¨ Reinetta.

Butter crust from Louis P. De Gouy´s The Pie Book, which I had in the freezer.  Galette recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  She´s my go to dessert source.  I did substitute half brown sugar for white, just because I like it more.  Also made a great zucchini bread (courgette) recipe from her site when we were overwhelmed.

Apple/berry filling couldn´t be simpler.  I did go ahead and use the peels and cores for a sugar syrup and basted the whole thing when it came out of the oven.  Perfect balance between not too dry and crumbly, but not soggy.  It is a bit of a faff turning every 15 minutes, but as our oven heats significantly more at the back than the front, just as well.

Hope everyone had a swell summer!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The July Garden

As I´m sure all of you who have grown potatoes knew, I´ve spent the last few weeks picking potato beetles off the plants every morning.  Oh, and now they have blight too.  So I´ve cut down the foliage on the most obvious cases and crossing my fingers for the rest.  I dug some up, starting with those closest to the tomatoes, so the beetles wouldn´t migrate, and managed to spear 90% with the garden fork.  Very few potatoes, but quite large.

The tomatoes now have actual tomatoes, and blight.  It´s so discouraging.  Today it´s raining, but tomorrow I go in search of copper sulfate, I guess.  Have read some people have success with aspirin in water, but more as a preventative.

The peas were burnt by the heatwave in June, so they came out and broad beans are in their place.  They took forever to grow, didn´t produce very much, and the peas were just OK, so I shall have to find another variety.

The cucumbers all appear to have identical leaves and flowers, so now I have to figure out how to attach them to their trellis.

Courgette/zucchinni have appeared.  Peppers are coming along. 

The squash are happily producing flowers and vines.  Now keeping an eye out for mildew.

Newbie observation - everything seems to need staking or structures.  Peppers, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers.  I spend a lot of time tying things to other things.

We´ve been eating the new potatoes, bush beans, lettuce, onions and carrots.  The blueberries are ripening 6 at a time, so I´m freezing them for future processing.

Good year for flowers, though the usual blackspot.  Molineux and Comtesse.  Great marigolds this year.

I have a jar of walnuts in brine.  Struck out on malt vinegar at the Corte Ingles in Coruña, so will have to order online.

Taa daa - the finished patio - a vast improvement.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

At it Again

V´s been at it again.  This northeast side of the house has always been a damp, weedy patch.  The original house wall collapsed entirely along here, therefore the retaining wall was built and drainage installed along the house foundation.

Unable to stand the eyesore anymore, V decided to get out the gravel.  He dug up the weedy turf, laid down cardboard.  Set aside a few beds.  Built a raised bed for the climbing rose Ghislaine de Feligonde, and then planted the rest.

Still to come are some slate flagstones for a path, a couple more shade loving plants and a few more sacks of mulch.  We left a corner by the downspout to try a rain barrel arrangement of some kind.

He´s a keeper.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The June Garden

Everything is growing apace.  Had a very nice first flush from the roses.

Seed starting was dismal, again.  I got less than 50% germination from the tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos.  So no poblanos or jalapeños this year either.  Herbs were a disaster as well.  Some dill survived, but the purple basil looks very iffy.

These are the only survivors of the tomato seedlings.

These were the peppers and tomatillos.

The three herb/dye plant/flower beds are now finished.  I´m using the third for the indigo and cutting herbs like parsley, cilantro and chives.  Some potted roses will be moved here in the fall.

The winter squash found a home in the hugel raised bed.  The Sweet Meats were no shows. Some look a bit yellow, so I´m not sure they´ll thrive.

Elsewhere, got the purchased courgette/zucchinni starts planted (0 germination from seed) and rather optimistically placed things for them to climb when the time comes.

If the cucumbers all do well, I´ll be swimming in pickles.  Had almost total germination success.  Unfortunately, that was the tray I tipped over and it also had some melons, so there may be some interesting mixes when they start growing.  The front area is now planted with more carrots and red onions and peppers.

I planted more carrots because some critter is eating them from below.  Sneaky varmints.  I assume voles.  But letting Breo in the garden to look would be courting disaster.

The tomato starts I bought are doing well.  I´ve since planted the pitiful solitary tomato and 2 tomatillos.  One tomatillo, could be green or purple, got one of each, didn´t last even 24 hours.  I came out in the morning and it had vanished from it´s planting spot.  A mystery.

Potatoes have been hilled twice and will get a third pass this week.  Haven´t actually found many pests beyond the first potato beetle as I spot check them.  Beyond are the melons.  Everyone shook their heads when I mentioned I was planting melons, but they were actually a huge germination success and I didn´t want to waste them.

We have achieved peas!

And we finally ordered next winter´s firewood, which V managed to stack in 2 days.  He´s a wonder.

Whew!  They´re predicting a heat wave through the weekend, so I need to get on top of some weeding.  Also thinking about having a go at pickled walnuts.