Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer planting

Here's a list of some of things you can plant at this time of the year - good to plant some if you'd like to have food from your garden year-round.

Root veg
Leeks – from existing plants, not from seed
Winter onion
Radish (for Cooking)
German varieties (black/purple)
White – for pre-frost harvest
Yellow – for winter harvest
Asian Leaves – frost hardy
Mizuna, Mibuna. mispoona
Pak Choi
Chard, kale, cabbage
Purple sprouting broc
Corn salad /lambs lettuce ( great in early spring)
Winter salad mix
Beans and Peas
• French beans – climbing and dwarf – till end July
• Peas – till end July, and Sept/oct for next spring

Useful links:
Where to get these seeds:

Also check out the realseeds guide to Summer sowing

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Making Jam

This week my mother and I made some delicious jam. We were going to make a Rhubarb/Strawberry jam - based on this one from David Lebovitz (what a great blog!)

Anyhow, we couldn't leave well enough alone, so we ended up with a variation with Rhubarb, strawberries and red currants. It's delicious, and has a nicely complex flavour.

Rhubarb, Strawberry and Red currant Jam:

1.25kg rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch (2cm) pieces
250g strawberries
200g red currants
250ml apple juice
1.3 kg sugar
juice of one lemon
pinch of salt

1. In a large pot, mix the rhubarb, berries, and the apple juice. Cook, stirring frequently over moderate heat, until the rhubarb is cooked through and thoroughly tender. It should take about 15 minutes.

Put several saucers in the freezer.

2. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and salt, and cook, uncovered. You want to get to a rolling boil, which is beyond simmer, and spitting a bit.

To test when the jam gells, you take one of the cold saucers, put a teaspoon of jam on it, and chill in the freezer of 5 minutes. If the surface wrinkles when you nudge it with your finger, it's done. This may take longer then you expect, but be patient, the redcurrants and lemon juice will help with setting.

If you put it in the jars before it's done, it will be runny. If you cook it for too long, it will be impossible to spread. Either way, you can probably find a good use for it :-)

Once it's gelled, you need to put it in clean hot jamjars - a dishwasher cycle will work for both, or heat them in the oven. Get the lids on fast. The jam will keep for a few months- but it may not last that long....

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting Kids to eat Vegetables

In spite of involving my children in all aspects of growing and preparing their food, they balk at vegetables which are not disguised. Which is a bit embarassing as I'm doing all this work teaching and encouraging people to grow and eat their vegetables.

So, I have to be pretty fiendish to get vegetabls into them. And in fairness, anything with Tomato sauce goes down fine, so the blender is my friend.

But this weekend, I came up with a new way to get them eating vegetables - this time beetroot. I used this recipe and it went down a treat! Chocolate beetroot brownies - how could you resist! They were begging for more! Thanks Hugh!

I also served them at my Saturday gardening class, and had a similarly good reaction - along the lines of "they have vegetables in them - they must be healthy - yes please I'll have one more"

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This might seem like a strange summer recipe, but it's a great match for the onions and shallots which are being harvested at the minute.

Recipe is for 2 meatloaves, you can halve it, but it's as much work to make 2 as one and if your beef is fresh, you can freeze one for later use - or just have it in the fridge for sandwiches.

1.5 kg minced beef (I use my brother's organic beef)
2 onions, finely choppd
2 shallots finely chopped
100 g porrige oats
10g salt
Freshly ground black pepper
100g tomato puree
2 cream crackers, crumbled up
2 large free range eggs
Optional: one of the following
1 clove garlic, rosemary, basil, parsley.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Beat the eggs. Mix everything in a big bowl. Use your hands to mix and squish it together.

Put into 2 loaf tins, and bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes. Stick a knife int the middle to make sure there are no bloody bits. Eat hot or cold. Good with almost anything!

Note: If you don't have shallots, it's no big deal. If you are adding salt, pepper, herbs to taste, mix it on, and then put a teaspoonful into a pan, and cook it for a minute or so - then you can taste to see if you have enough seasoning.

This recipe also works well for meatballs, which I bake on a cookie sheet in the oven.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On the Telly - again :-)

This time just the blog featured, on TV3 am this morning. Here's the link if you'd like to see it.

And welcome to anyone here as a result of the TV3 plug!


Upcoming Gardening Course

The course on Sat 18th July is now full, and I have only 2 places left in the Wed 22nd class. So I'm happy that there is plenty of demand, and I'll be running lots more courses over the coming months.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Upside down tomatoes


Last year the upside down tomatoes were the only ones to grow, so this year I decided to put in a few more (8!) I have used most of the 4 sides of the uprights on our lean-to shed to hold them. (You can see the laundry behind.) You can also see two little red tomatoes in the tub to the left. We have already had two or three from it - it's a tumbler, bought from Kevin Harmon. And possibly put out a bit early - the later ones are thriving better.
In this one, between the plants on top growing down, and the tomatoes growing up, the plastic bucket is almost hidden.

While I was planting them, I decided to put some companion plants in the tops, so I planted nasturtium, calendula, basil, french marigold, night-scented stock, chamomile. And for the same reason that the tomatoes do well, they did well too. There's a volunteer tomato in one of the tops too!

Slugs just can't make it up that far. If it wasn't so damp, I'd worry that there wouldn't be enough compost to hold water for all these plants, but this hasn't been a problem yet. And if it is, I'll thin out the top plants. I put a lot of compost, manure, worm castings, and fish bones & guts into the tubs, and I have been watering with Comfrey tea, and worm tea, so they are all thriving.

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Purple podded peas - a picture


These are the flowers...
...and these are the pods .The flowers are beautiful - all pinks and purples, and smell wonderful. I had never noticed peas being scented before, but I guess they are related to sweet peas.
As I've mentioned the pods are good as mange tout, or you can let them fill out and eat the peas. They are easier to harvest, because the purple stands out against the green.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Purple podded peas

Big harvest today of Purple podded peas. They are really beautiful - I'll have to upload a photo - and delicious, of course. But the peas are not themselves purple, which is a little disappointing in a purple loving household.

However, I made a vegetable stock from the pods, added some garlic tops a bit of thyme and an onion - all fresh from the garden, and little detour for some before the compost bin. Now I have purple vegetable stock!

If you'd like to grow some yourself the Brown Envelope Seeds.

I will be entering my purple podded peas, and some other interesting looking veg in this weekends Mullingar Agricultural show (July 12th, Cullion)- I don't expect to win or even place, but my mother thinks it's important to participate to keep such institutions alive, and I am starting to see her point of view. The fact that her jams, breads, and cakes clear the board, and are fought over at the end is beside the point :-)

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

July Gardening course

As requested by my Spring students, I'm runnning a mid -summer course to get people thinking about how to continue the garden abundance through the year. There are 2 times of the year for planting seed - March to May is the first (here in Ireland), and we are in the throes of the second.

If you're interested in learning about this second phase, course details are below - email me at "annambrowne at gmail dot com " if you'd like to attend.

Grow Your Own Food – get ready for Winter!
This one-day course will include:

'Succession' planting – keeping the garden going.

What to plant now – the best crops to see you through the colder months.

How to make space – ensure a smooth transition between summer and winter crops.

Review of successes and challenges so far this year.

Some suitable seedlings and seeds may be available to participants.


July 22nd 7:30 pm to 10:30pm


July 18th 10:00am to 1:00pm

Cost: €30

Locally-sourced refreshments will be provided.

Location - Mullingar Educate Together National School (Opposite the 'Rathgowan' housing development on the 'C-Link' road - 3rd roundabout after the hospital from the Castlepollard side, 2nd roundabout from the Ballymahon side).

Numbers are STRICTLY limited, so book your place, stating your preferred date, by email as soon as possible, or call Anna on (087) 2222562 or (044) 9390430.

Payment in cash on the day please – or in advance if by cheque.

Garlic scape pesto

We are just back from visiting a friend in London, and I wanted to bring her something unique as a hostess gift. So right before we left, I headed out to the garden, and harvested all the garlic scapes that were there. They are funny spiral things, so I had to cut them up a bit to fit in the plastic bag, with a damp kitchen towel. I also packed a little pot of gooseberry jam, that had been flavoured with elderflower, made by my mother, which I was really looking forward to trying. Both items went in my carry on bag.

Surprisingly (or maybe not) the security scanner detected both, and they confiscated the jam! I was almost in tears. So let that be a lesson to all - put any jams in your checked bags - they qualify as a liquid. The scapes however, could in no way be construed as a danger to passengers, so they made it through.

On arrival we made up a pesto with the scapes, some parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, salt and pepper. It was green and fragrant, and wonderful on bread, in a yoghurt salad dressing, with Tuna salad - definitely a success, and pretty unique. We didn't try it with pasta, but I'll bet it would be good with that too. Or on new potatoes. I didn't measure - worked to taste - there are lots of recipes online. Maybe I'll make a recipe next year...

The stalk works better than the flower part - the flower is inclined to be stringy - and when harvesting, you should cut as close to the ground as possible. I have made some more of the pesto now that I'm home, and am freezing it in an ice cube tray so as to have small portions. Not sure how long it will last, though :-)

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Broad beans finished

This year I planted 2 kinds of broad beads - The Sutton and Aquadulce Caludia. Planted them in January (1st) - inside - and then at the end of January the Aquadulce went into a tent greenhouse. The Sutton were planted out without cover a bit later. Both did well- the ones in the greenhouse produced a bit earlier.

The Sutton have short fat pods, with the beans close together, so a surprisingly good yield per pod. The Aquadulce have bigger pods, but about the same amount of beans. So they are both good choices in my opinion. Not sure if growing them inside or the greenhouse is necessary - will try just planting them out directly next year.

I'm taking the last harvest from them today, and I'll plant leeks in one of the beds. The other I'll re-cover with the tent greenhouse, and use it for winter greens.

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