Category Archives: Fruit and Veg Gardening

Gooseberry sweet and sour sauce

The redcurrant and gooseberries are ready now, so I have devised a new recipe for storing the glut. Gooseberries are pretty difficult to use. I like stewed gooseberry, but not that much, so I am always looking for other ideas. This week I have made a sweet and sour sauce with our red gooseberries. It is lovely with lamb, and I am pretty sure it will be amazing with duck.

Gooseberries and a few redcurrants stewed with a couple of star anise
Add balsamic vinegar
Add sugar
Remove star anise
balance the favours until your like the taste.

I used this like a plum sauce with pancakes and pulled lamb and chopped spring onions and cucumber. it was amazing!


Early Summer Veg update

The Polytunel is working super hard at the moment. We have had a good salad crop in May and June, a few mange tout and lots of herbs. Strawberries are just starting to ripen and we have had a few bowls of them. I picked a big lunch box full yesterday. The poly is now in its high summer formation with aubergines, tomatoes and bush french beans. There also a few summer herbs and a few more little plug plants of salad.

In the main beds the potatoes are going great guns, and the broad beans are just about to start producing but they have very bad black fly which I am. trying to combat with high pressure water. The squash are now all in, and the Sweetcorn is as well. The surprise this year is that the cabbage is doing OK, plus we are hoping for great things from our cauliflower.

Pictures to follow soon.

How to make amazing compost

I can now answer that question as I am a compost millionaire, with more compost than I know what to do with. It has only taken me five years to master it, but hey ho. The secret recipe is below
1) Chop everything up small with a sharp spade or similar. This helps it to rot down quicker, but more importantly enables you to fork it and turn it over with out finding massive weed ‘spiders’ that get tangled to everything.

2) layer it up so you have carbon stuff and nitrogen stuff…dried and brown stuff mixed with green leafy or grassy stuff.

3) water it

4) turn it

The last one is the most important. If you do this it will rot down super quick (3 months), if not, it can linger around for years.

I have dismantled and rebuilt all of our 5 compost bins. The previous incarnations had been in situ since we moved in 5 years ago so were beginning to rot. I have moved them up and changed the design slightly to accommodate better compost making.

The main difference is the open fronts. This is to make sure that they can easily and regularly turned. Closed fronts encourage over filling and no turning, which means the matter does not break down.

Veg beds

The potatoes are now into the top bed (A) and we have done half a bed of Agria (nearest the house) and half a bed of the other one, which I’ll have to check the name of when I go back out tomorrow. All from our friendly potato farmer, Jamie, in Lincs.

The next bed down (B) which will have the fruit group in I this year, has been dug over along with some compost and we’re putting old straw and hay on it to mulch it and suppress weeds until we plant into it in June.


Spring updates

The date of this post might not be correct. Published from hard drive retrospectively.

Yesterday Becky and I both took an unplanned days leave a) because we can, and b) because we wanted to. So we spent some time in the morning digging over one of the large vegetable beds and planting our onion sets. We have bought a mixture of sets this year. Some red ones, some white ones and some shallots. the whole bundle came to about £6, and should provide us with enough onions and shallots for at least 6 months of the year. We have planted them in rows, and covered them with wire fire guards to stop the birds pulling them up before they get established. Although I love the idea of the local songbirds having really strong onion breath, I am also keen to get a crop.

A few other surprises have occurred in the first days of spring. The goose has started laying, we have collected a couple of really large eggs ready for omelet season.

Secondly the ramsons that we planted last year have established! They have popped up in our herb bed. This is both wonderful and surprising because we forgot about the bulbs and left them under our spare bed until they were less than in their prime, and then planted them on the off chance. Ramson is a type of wild garlic. It is fantastic as it has a garlic flavourless that can be used in salads and also a garlic flavour flower. Once they get going they are very prolific, so we hope to nurture them and end up with a large productive patch.

Photos to follow

Grow lamp update.

We planted some seeds under the grow lamp on the 8th of March, and they seem to be getting on well. 15 days later and this is what we have.



The ones with two large leaves are artichokes. I am really hopeful that by the end of the season they will be big enough to plant up in our per meant area next to the poly tunnel. We won’t be able to harvest them for the first few years while they establish, but after that they should give us artichoke hearts and leaves every year.

Spring cleaning and seed planting

Today was the first day in ages that we have had a good block of time to get things going on the plot. We got up with a very long to do list, but in the end only managed to get the most time sensitive jobs done.

As you may know from previous post. Becky is rather partial to a spreadsheet, so we have worked up our 2015 planting plan. This year were making crucial change to the way we are blocking together our plants. We are doing this to help the bed rotation. So the classifications for a classic 4 bed crop rotation are as follows;

Leaves: for us this means cabbage, kale and cauliflower.

Roots: for us this means onions, leeks and spinach beet.

Fruits: for us this means sweetcorn, tomatoes and lots of squash and cucumbers. This group also includes potatoes believe it or not.

Legumes: for us this means broad beans, as we haven’t been able to get any other beans working outside.

crop rotation

So, by blocking together the veg in this way we will be able to be a bit more scientific with our rotations.

Also, I wanted to say a word about the results of my grafting experiment last year. As you can see by the photo, about 10 trees worked. I also managed to propagate some root stock, so I’ll be having another go next year when they have grown a bit more.




The other jobs we did today were removing brambles, pruning the fruit trees and most excitingly planting up the poly tunnel. Becky has planted salad, spring onions and dwarf french beans. Fingers crossed for a good start to spring.