The Greenhouse Effect

Happy Easter! I hope you had an enjoyable and restful bank holiday despite the miserable weather.

Oh dear. I think I spoke a bit too soon before I had my week off in boasting about how wonderfully our garden is doing. Well, to be fair, generally the veg plot is still going strong, but while we were away some of the new plants in the greenhouse and inside the house took a bit of a battering. DJ was worried that it might get too cold at night in the greenhouse for some of the tomatoes, so he brought them into the house for the week. Everything else we gave a good watering and then we kept our fingers crossed that all would be well. Our very kind neighbour already had his hands full taking care of the chickens etc., so asking him to water our plants was a bit much, really.

OK, so it wasn’t a total greenhouse apocalypse, but by the time we got back some of the tomato plants we’d brought into the house were wilting and withering away, while the others that survived are tall and leggy. In the greenhouse a small crop of tiny delphinium plants succumbed completely to the high temperatures in the green house and a lack of water, which was a bit of a shame, and some pak choi plants and sunflowers are looking worst for wear with damaged leaves. The difficulty is keeping them moist when they are so young and in small containers which don’t hold moisture for long. We have moist matting under some of the plants in the greenhouse, but we were quite surprised by how hot it had obviously got during the week.

On the bright side, my potatoes and onions are thriving and we ate our first crop of asparagus over the weekend – the first ever since DJ planted them four years ago which was very exciting. Every year since then it’s come up but we’ve had to control ourselves and not eat it because you have to leave asparagus until it’s properly established. Last year the spears looked particularly tempting, which made leaving it be especially difficult. Asparagus begins to degrade as soon as it’s cut so DJ made sure he had the water boiling before he harvested it, just to ensure we did it justice. It didn’t disappoint – it was delicious. But now he’s now kicking himself that he didn’t plant twice as much of the stuff four years ago as we could do with more, really!

Besides rehabilitating some of our ailing baby plants and planting squash, cauliflower and courgettes, we’ve also been thinking about how to store our veg this year. It’s all very well growing the stuff but a major problem can be storing it effectively so little goes to waste. I’m trying a little experiment this week with some of last year’s parsley which DJ no longer wants in one of his plots. I’m going to freeze half of it and dry the other half and see how the two approaches compare.

How do you store your fruit and veg harvest? Got any good tips? Leave a message and let me know.

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3 Responses to The Greenhouse Effect

  1. Christine says:

    Sigh – at least one of you should know that you can\’t go away during the growing season which starts when you put seeds in trays! It sounds as if your time away wrecked the frugality of the garden in that you lost stuff. Do you have a freezer that will take up a lot of your excess produce? Freezing stuff down is not hard at all – bit time consuming but at least you aren\’t paying to do something else whilst you are doing it. Some things are easy to pickle and pickles cost a fortune in the shops. If you start collecting jam jars now (try freecycle, ask friends, look in charity shops, put up wanted notices in the church, keep your own) you will be able to save some of your produce as pickles which make good presents if there are too many for you to eat. Storing is only a problem if you don\’t have enough cupboards and don\’t do the freezing/pickling/drying when the produce is in full flow. She says having spent many a weekend last year doing the storage thing.

  2. Judith says:

    What bad weather over Easter. We had wonderful (and hot) sunshine all over the weekend in the North West!Judi

  3. Christine says:

    Leeks and onions can be chopped, cleaned and frozen without blanching. So can runner beans. Frankly though if you have a cool place then it\’s probably better not to freeze onions but to use them. It seems you can either freeze swede straight off or you can blanch it before freezing which seems to work better. Beetroot can be boiled, peeled, chopped, put in jam jars when cool and covered with pickling vinegar then the lid screwed on – job done. Red cabbage can be easily picked to – http://www.allotment.org.uk/recipe/354/pickled-red-cabbage/ is how I did it. When you leave it in salt overnight you find that things go an interesting shade of sort of blue but that is normal. Good list and information on blanching on this site – http://www.gardenzone.info/articles/indexnew.php?article=60There are lots of recipes for marrow chutney as this is a watery veg that doesn\’t freeze. You can freeze courgettes without blanching if the glut gets to you. There are recipes for pickled cucumber around too if you grow them and get a glut. It\’s just finding a recipe that you like so you may well need to try two or three and see which one suits you.

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