Canning and Preserving
It’s August and that always means a busy time for vegetable growers. Harvests are coming in thick and fast and we are juggling our time between garden and kitchen. Here at Sow and So Belgium we have been busy canning and preserving. I collected seedpods from nasturtiums and made the poor mans version of capers and I harvested six different veg for a batch of piccalilli.
Entering the polytunnel is like entering a jungle. I am hacking back excess courgette and nasturtium leaves just to be able to move around. The corn had reached the roof and beyond and the cobs are almost mature and ready to be eaten. The dwarf french beans are producing very long pods and are doing extremely well this year, in and outside of the polytunnel. Mainly because of the slug solution which protected the seedlings and headed them off to a good start.
The two courgette plants I planted inside are massive. The leaves are so big that a large overgrown courgette is easily overlooked. I have the feeling that you can actually watch them grow. Every morning I find another where the day before there was none, I am sure of it…
The first tomatillos have been harvested and used in the piccalilli together with the first sweet pepper. From looking at the plants there are many more of each to come. I had no idea that tomatillo plants spread out so much, both varieties are entangled but seem to be fine. I really don’t want to remove a plant which is loaded with tomatillos (with salsa verde on my mind) so I am keeping a close watch that the sweet peppers are not smothered by them. Note to self, next year sow two tomatillo plants instead of four….
Bitter Cucumbers and Caterpillars
However, not everything is rosy in the polytunnel. Not anticipating the amazing weather we’ve been having this summer and the fact that I am – or maybe was - a novice in growing under cover, I had chosen a variety of cucumbers to grow which are better grown outdoors. The cucumbers turned out bitter …but more about that in a separate blogpost.
Then there are the cabbage white butterflies… I’ve heard from other tweeps that this year has been a very good year for them but I pretty neglected the fact and didn’t inspect my plants indoors or out. They were all looking very lush so all was okay with the world, right? But this couldn’t have been further from the truth – this week to my horror I noticed half eaten leaves on my sprouts. Groan.
On close inspection I saw little green caterpillars and the slightly larger striped cabbage white caterpillars happily munching away. Cursing, mostly to myself, I spent the better part of the afternoon taking the little buggers off wondering to myself why had I not bothered to put up a net…. Note to self again, next year put a net over the brassicas and stop being so stubborn!
I admit it, the outside garden has been a bit neglected. This year the polytunnel has been like that shiny new toy you get as a child, making you forget all your other toys which were relegated to a heap in the corner, collecting dust. To be fair to myself, I do walk round and quickly yank out the odd weed and pick cut flowers for the vases indoors but that’s about it. I took out all the spinach which had bolted almost as soon as it came up and vowed to myself not to grow regular spinach ever again. It’s just not worth all the effort for one meal before they run to seed. Instead I will take Stephen from Victoriana’s advice and for my winter crop I will grow ‘Little Granddads Original‘ spinach seed which is extremely hardy and resistant to bolting, or maybe try something different altogether and grow Malabar spinach seeds, which isn’t even spinach but resembles it in flavour and texture without the nuisance of premature bolting.
So that’s how everything is going in the Sow and So Belgium Garden this week.
How is your garden doing?