Wednesday, 5 September 2007

How Does Your Garden Grow ...

Everything has been leaping into life during the wet then dry spell of late. The pumpkin seeds that I saved and dried from last years Halloween pumpkin have really taken off in the patch. I saved some similar gourd seeds and they too have proved themselves and are getting bigger by the day.

This flowerhead picture was the start of the pumpkin and now is the size of a tennis ball. There is another one, slightly smaller, but growing away quite happily beneath the huge furry leaves. there was also a third but I had a bit of an accident with the lawnmower and managed to launch chunks of baby pumpkin all over the veggie patch in a moment of madness! I am hoping that the two I have left will be of a reasonable size come October 31st as they will be expertly carved and put in pride of place at the front and the back of the house to ward of the spooky things!

The onions are doing really well and are really tasty. We had one the other day and they have a really mild taste and go very well with cheese in a warm squashy baguette! These onions are the size of a honeydew melon they really are monsters. Thanks to Brian next door for the set that he gave me. It won't be long now before I can take the stakes out and hang them up to dry to let the skins brown a little.

The courgettes just keep coming and coming, I have never known any plant let alone vegetable to grow with such ferocity. You have to keep cutting them to keep them flowering so they produce more but you have to keep your eye on these little tikes as within 3 days a baby courgette can turn into a something the size of a marrow! You can eat the flowers as well, very colourfull in salads and pasta. Jamie Oliver did a wonderful 'real' Carbonara dish and finished it with the flowers thrown in at the last minute, it really did look great. I think you can find that little beaut in his new book 'Jamie at Home'.

The dwarf beans are going nuts as well. I have also managed to house a small snail colony in between the leaves but they aren't eating the beans so I'm not that bothered. A few have been launched over the fence though! Again, they grow really fast so you need to get out there every other day and check on them otherwise it's bean burgers, bean fritters, bean curry ...

People always say it and it really is true, there is nothing like eating stuff that you've grown yourself, it really does taste different. I think human kind needs to take a step back and go back to how things used to be done. I find it unbelievable that some children don't actually know where this stuff comes from with a belief that it just comes from the shelves in the supermarket. We are going wrong somewhere in educating (or not as the case may be) children. they need to know, they need to grow!

The broccoli is coming along a treat although I am having to fight the chickens off whenever I let them out to go for a wonder. I found little holes pecked in the crown when I came back from making a cup of tea the other day, little buggers. I originally had 4 plants but it looks like cabbage root fly may have had two of them.

The sweetcorn is progressing and concentrating on reaching for the sky rather than producing any ears of corn at the moment. They do look very impressive but I really must get around to tackling the weeds beneath them! I don't know where I got it from but I had some mad belief that you only got one cob per plant. I am pleased to have been proved wrong and to learn that there are probably 2-3 per plant instead. We love the stuff in our house and can't get enough of it. This will be one of my really big achievements this year, growing my own corn! I'll do a bigger block of corn next year in a slightly sunnier spot as I think the current plants could have benefitted in being in a less shady area, they look good though so I'm not complaining!

I've created a garden vegetable soup to help use up some of the veggies that are in excess at the moment. It's a goody so give it a go, you won't be disapointed!

Veggie Patch Winter Warmer
1 Large Onion finely chopped
Splash of Olive Oil (to sweat the onions)
2 Large Corguettes courseley chopped
2 Large potatoes courseley chopped
4 Large Carrots courseley chopped
1 Litre Vegetable Bouillon (stock)
150g red spilt lentils
Salt & Pepps
1 Large stock pot

Fry off the onions in the olive oil until nice and sweaty, don't let them brown though. Add the vegetable stock, potatoes, carrots, corguettes and lentils and let them cook away quite happily on a medium heat for about 20 minutes. Check it now and again with a little stir. Once the vegetable have softened and the lentills have pretty much disintegrated, take the pot of the heat and divide the mixture into 2. If tyou have a liquidiser, this is one of the occasions you can drag it out from the back of the cupboard, blow the dust off and let it have it's chance to shine!
Whizz one half of the mixture or maybe just over that, and transfer to a clean bowl/saucepan. Add the chunky half to the smooth half and give it a stir. This is a really yummy wholesome soup that gets right where it needs to be on a chilly day! A good one for freezing too, enjoy!

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