Sunday, 21 August 2016

August round-up

Veg ready for brining, before making piccalilli
If July was the month of jam making, August is the month of chutneys and pickles. Unlike with jam where I have firm favourites that I make every year, my chutneys vary from year to year depending on which crop has an excess to use up. Two years ago I made a lot of courgette relish, last year onion marmalade and this year piccalilli and tomato chutney. The only exception is beetroot, apple & ginger chutney, which is an absolute must. Just as well it's a good year for beetroot!

I'm fast becoming a major Piccalilli fan. It's very easy to make and so delicious. Best of all, it's flexible in the vegetables you can use and usually it's vegetables that are in abundance: courgettes/marrows, cauliflowers (often several are ripe at the same time), green tomatoes, carrots, small onions, cucumbers.

The onion bed
August is also the month where weeding becomes a bit easier as squashes and brassicas do their own weed suppression. I still have to weed plenty, mind you!

The one big sowing job this month is the overwintering onions. This year, I've sown six different varieties (Hi Keeper, Senshyu Yellow, Kosma, Musona White Italian, Paris Silverskin and Ailsa Craig) on 15 August - 600 onion seeds in total. Since I sowed them inside large bottomless pots this time (to prevent accidental cat dispersal of seeds and ruin of seedlings) it was quite a time-consuming job. And it used a lot of pots!

Romanesco: pretty, tasty fractal
On 13 August I noticed brown blotches had appeared on about a quarter of the potato plants: the dreaded blight again. We were lucky not to have it last year, but the safe bet is to assume it will happen and be prepared for it. The haulms were removed and burned immediately and now we're waiting until the second week in September to harvest the tubers for winter storage.

Golden Nuggets
On a more positive note, the freezer is filling up with tomatoes. I need to find time to make tomato sauce for the winter. The Romanescos are ready to harvest, and they're lovely. Peas and broccoli are coming to an end, but the beans and squashes are starting up. Beetroot, carrots and cabbages (Savoy and red) are going strong. And the first corn cobs are setting.

Vanilla and Wingco conspiring
In the world of chickens, the two flocks have now been merged, sort of. This was not without difficulty. We waited until the Minis had roosted up for the night and then catapulted them into the main hen house, one by one. That way, the chickens all sleep together peacefully and get used to one another. And the newcomers get used to their new accommodation and should, in theory, go into their new house the next evening.

Well, the chicks tried to go into their new house the next evening, only to be fiercely rebuffed by the resident hens. Only one of the young hens managed to make it inside! The others wandered around and roosted up in different spots, on their old hut, on a fence, on a wall and, the hardest to find, in among some raspberries. So we went around, picked them all up and put them into the new house again. Luckily, the next night they all managed to get in. However, they all tried to roost up on one perch (a tall order to get ten chickens on a perch designed for five), leaving the second one empty. No doubt, they will learn. They've already learnt about corn snacks.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments and questions are welcome.
If you've tried something after reading about it here, or have suggestions, please tell us about it!