Tomatoes from the garden

It seems like a long time ago when we first started planting the veg patch.

Overall, we reckon it’s been a big success – most of the vegetables that we planted did pretty well, with the notable exception of the french beans  succumbed to some kind of insect attack. Either way, they were done for.

The tomatoes were a success – they just grew for fun and during the hotter days of the summer demanded to be kept well watered whilst they grew and dominated the greenhouse. Getting to the back-end of the season now and the tomatoes have all been picked and those that need ripening are sitting happily with a couple of brown bananas, becoming scarlet in a hessian bag.

So we found ourselves with a vibrant bowlful of yellow and red tomatoes – three of four different varieties – all getting close to the point where one needs to do something with them. Inspired by River Cottage chef Gil midweek, I decided to make some home-made ketchup.

First stage is roasting off the tomatoes with plenty of herbs (thyme, oregano, bay), garlic and chilli. Then reduce it down in the pan after adding sugar and sherry vinegar, Pinch of salt and paprika at the end to add some interest.

It should keep for a good few weeks in the fridge, although if the first tastings are anything to go by, it won’t last that long!

Veg patch update

It’s been very sunny over the past few weeks.

It’s rained a lot in the last few days too.

The veg garden is growing for fun at the moment.

The potatoes are turning into mini trees.

The radishes are instantly gratifying.

Courgettes have shrugged off their frost frazzled leaves.

The beans look exciting.

It’s all happening and it’s a joy to see it.

Vegetable garden update

The veg patch is now fully functional with plants and everything. We even have a greenhouse for some of the more tender plants for whom a slight frost would spell certain doom.

So – this is what we’ve planted. Bed 1 – herbs (and later in the month, salad leaves) – for now we have rosemary, thyme, oregano, fennel and parsley (both flat leaf and curly leaf varieties). Bed 2 – broad beans, kale (again, two varieties) with leeks and courgettes  joining them shortly. Bed 3 – this has garden peas and more broad beans and this bed will be added to as the weather warms up a bit.

Elsewhere we have potatoes on the go and rhubarb. Does anyone have any suggestions or thoughts about their veg patch they’d like to share? All tips are gratefully received!

The vegetable garden project

There has been a lot of feverish activity in our garden over the past two weeks. We started planning a veg patch in January and at long last, its starting to take shape. I’m not well known for my DIY skills but I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved here. I’ve had a couple of people ask me what we did and how we did it, so for what it’s worth here’s what we did to get it to the point in the photograph:

After lots of research, we opted for tannelised decking joists for the the raised beds. We looked at sleepers (too toxic, apparently), scaffolding planks (too grotty). I constructed three beds – 2.4m x 1.8m, fact fans – and placed them in situ and used wood fencing spikes to secure them.

Next up was edging the area with wood so the gravel has a border to go up against. Again, this was tannelised and spiked into the ground. So far, we’ve used two tons of plum coloured slate (and I think we’ll need another ton to finish it). All of these materials came from local builders merchant, Maddens and Farmac.

Before laying the gravel, we spread a permeable membrane on the ground to stop the weeds coming through. The beds were filled with a ton of topsoil (only £35) as we didn’t have enough spare topsoil elsewhere in the garden. The beds are now ready to be planted – we’ll probably dig in some manure to get the plants off to a flying start.

We’re starting to plant the vegetables this weekend and I’ll report on the progress as the summer progresses.