Monday, 21 June 2010

The end of the asparagus season

Summer solstice marks the end of the asparagus cropping. Now you should let the spears grow into lovely wispy leaf stems to feed the crowns ready for next year's crop. The leaves are really pretty but I am sad that there will be no more asparagus for at least 9 months.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Rhubarb Relish

Around this time I year I start to get bored of eating stewed rhubarb which is a shame because the plants are still producing loads of juicy stems. This year's solution is Rhubarb Relish from the River Cottage Handbook No2:

500g granulated sugar
100ml cider vinegar
1kg rhubarb (untrimmed weight)
125g raisins
50g fresh root ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves

First bruise the ginger with a blunt object, I used a rolling pin, and tie into a spice bag with the cloves and the snapped cinnamon sticks.

Put the sugar, vinegar, 100ml water and the spice bag into a preserving pan. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar and then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim the rhubarb and chop into 2-2.5cm chunks.

Add the rhubarb and raisins to the sugar syrup and cook gently for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is thick, but the rhubarb still discernible as soft chunks. Remove from the heat and pour into sterilised jars and seal with vinegar proof lids. Use within 12 months.

This was my first recipe from the River Cottage Handbook and I was very impressed, it has been complementing my mackerel pate all week. Somehow I don't think I'll have any trouble using it within 12 months.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Weeding, Seeding and trying to keep up

Wow things have been rather hectic over the last few weeks; work has turned manic and the hot and wet weather is making everything, including the weeds, grow like mad. I had a week off work and we spent a few days down in Dorset which was lovely but what with all the eating, drinking and of course walking also quite tiring.

Still, this is the wrong time of year to rest so I finally got round to shearing down the long grass and nettles around the front, sides and back of the plot. I also discovered where the bumble bees were nesting this year, this time it is right next to the shed but being more docile than the honey bee I don't usually have any trouble with them. Apparently the colony splits up every winter and then they re-nest the next year which explains why they keep moving around.

I also re-located my raspberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants from within the weeds. All are fruiting up very nicely and with a bit of luck (and sun) the gooseberries will be ready in just a few weeks. At home the strawberries have lots of fruit but none is yet ripe, sadly my attempts to stagger the crop by planting some early plants seem to have failed so I think there will be a short glut and then nothing. Well there will be a glut if I get around to putting out the nets and beer traps...

In amongst all this I managed to sow some swede, carrots, fennel and more radish as well as planting out the remaining cucumbers and several rows of cabbages. There is still lots of potting on and planting out that needs to happen over the next few weeks but finally it seems like things are going. Don't you just love this time of year?

Friday, 4 June 2010

Celeriac is planted out

Yesterday I swapped my daily commute for several hours on the allotment, strangely the allotment visit was much more enjoyable than my commute ever is!

I had a pressing task to get the celeriac planted out as they had started to yellow in the modules. After an hour of digging bindweed roots out of what looked like clear ground I was able to start planting. It quickly became clear that my seed sowing might have been a little enthusiastic and after putting in 3 rows I decided to call it a day. The remaining plants will be passed on to friends and family this weekend.

Next week I'm on holiday which means a long weekend in Dorset followed by a long weekend on the allotment. Just as well really as I urgently need to do some weeding, the shed is almost lost to weeds and I haven't seen my raspberry plants for weeks. Have a great weekend.