Tag Archives: green tomatoes

In a bit of a pickle

23 Oct

Before my tomatoes succumbed to tomato blight I had hundreds of green tomatoes. I was warned by various plot neighbours that blight was doing the rounds so I did pick quite a few before the plants died. Some turned red, some went mouldy as they waited to go red and some stayed stubbornly green.

A few week’s ago in a bid to use all that I’ve harvested I googled ‘green tomato chutney’ and found a simple recipe to follow. The end result is quite sweet but very edible. I stuck to the recipe below but made my own pickling vinegar by using normal malt vinegar and adding mustard and coriander seeds. Be warned though your entire house will stink of boiled vinegar for several days after making this or any chutney, so not one to do immediately before a dinner party.

Step 1: Chop your green tomatoes and onions and leave to soak over night in a big bowl with salt

pickle 1

Step 2: Make your own pickling vinegar by boiling malt vinegar with mustard and coriander seeds, crushed garlic and ginger tied in a muslin sachet.

pickle 2

Step 3: Peel and chop up a load of apples

pickles 3

Step 4: Remove the muslin spice pouch from vinegar and add all ingredients and raisins and cook for several hours. (Your house will start to really smell of eau de vinegar at this stage!)

pickle 4

Step 5: Put your clean jars and whatever else you’ll use in the oven for 10 minutes to sterilise

Pickle 5

Step 6: Once the pickle looks right jar it in your sterilised jars. Stores for a year apparently!




Strip 3 – done!

17 Sep

I’ve got so much to sort out at the moment. Training at work, schemes of work for my new classes and I am trying to launch my new career as a mindfulness teacher on top of the usual mayhem of kids, chores and social stuff. So going to the allotment now feels a bit of a guilty pleasure and as for writing this blog – I really don’t have time but I am slightly addicted!

I arrived bright and early at the plot this morning, straight after drop off and peeled back the last bit of strip 3 to be dug.

Strip 3

The last uncultivated bit of strip 3!

It was weedy and undulating but very easy to dig. More weed roots needed clearing than the other half and I lost count of the broken shards of glass I had to pull out along with metal bolts and tent pegs. With the exception of a conversation with a plot neighbour about tomato blight, I worked solidly on it for more than two hours feeling pleasantly surprised when I realised I was going to finish the job today.

Strip 3 done

Strip 3 done!

It was with a huge sense of achievement that, after hoeing it down and sprinkling more organic poultry manure on it, I covered it back over knowing it is as good as ready for next season.

Sadly during the dig I discovered that having a big sheet of membrane in situ for months means lots of creatures had made their homes beneath it and my digging disrupted their lives. I feel no great shame at the snails and slugs that I threw onto the dump but on Thursday I saw a terrified twitching field mouse fleeing for it’s life. Today I discovered it’s straw filled little nest and hoped it had found a nice new home. When I’d told the kids about this mouse sighting they both looked worried and one asked if I’d put it in the slug trap. Today I also spotted a slow worm and possibly its eggs. Sadly the fork (and me wielding it) had chopped it’s tail off, it slid off bleeding. I hope it survives but I was filled with the feeling that gardening can be a harsh business for wild creatures.

Once the heavy digging was done I picked some tomatoes and then in the interests of science I decided I would try the latest tip I’ve heard for making them go from green to red – putting them in a paper bag with some already ripe tomatoes and leaving them for a week. The key here is not to put them in the fridge but leave them at room temperature.

strip 3 green toms in bag

Let’s see how they look next week!

Back at home I checked out the winter stores – I have a lot of very small potatoes left (I have used all the big ones already) and I have a whole drawer of shallots. OK it will probably only shave off a couple of quid from the weekly shop but I feel more confident I will doggedly get back all the money – £300 at the last approximation – we have so far sunk into this growing your own veg lark. It just might take me into my retirement to do it. I am hoping there will be a lot less heavy digging to do by that stage!

strip 3 winter store

Shallots and small spuds a plenty.

Going on a bug hunt

24 Aug

Another week and more time spent away from the plot. The last time I was there was Monday night. I had gone on a mercy mission to save my tomatoes from up ending, saying to the hubby I would be forty minutes at most. He gave me a wry smile and I realised that my forty minutes down the plot are always nearer an hour and a half at least. Once there I find it difficult to leave. Even if it’s raining it seems so calming and welcome after a busy week with the kids.

The hubby was right to wear that wry smile. My plot forty minutes are a reverse version of the counsellor’s hour. In my defence it takes ten minutes to walk there and back so maybe I do only do forty minutes’ work I just forget about the journey time. An hour and a half later and I am trapped in plot, it has got so dark I cannot see the numbers on the combination lock. Thank goodness for the illuminating mobile phone in my pocket.

The tomatoes were now, I felt, securely tethered. I had used 3 bits of bamboo, creating a tripod like structure and watered the poles in so they would set and not wobble. I then got sucked into the whole pruning all the useless bits on the tomato plants and that took me up to dusk. Finally I remembered I needed to add ericaceous compost to my ailing blueberry bush which was why I ended up leaving the plot in darkness. It was calm there at night but also a little spooky.

Today, five days, a trip to Brighton and a fourth birthday party later, what would I find? Firstly as the name of this post suggests, I found a  whole lot of bugs. The plot was wet and muddy and entirely different from when I had left it. It smelt different and seemed a little gloomy, giving me a feel that autumn is only round the corner. And the bugs! Oh my they were out in force today.

My first job was to remove the caterpillars from the brassicas. This, it has to be said, was not my finest hour spent on the plot. Wet, grubby, up close and personal with a whole lot of caterpillar juice – I can think of better ways of spending a Saturday afternoon.

Going on bug hunt caterpillars

One of the many caterpillar colonies I found today.

I peeled them off each leaf, sometimes three or four at a time. Being as gentle as I could. Reminding myself that today’s caterpillar is tomorrow’s butterfly but to my horror I witnessed the smaller ones literally bursting on impact, green ooze coming out of their wee heads. I tried removing whole leaves rather than killing them but the small ones did not fair well. I found puddles of caterpillar wee or droppings, I don’t know what it was but wherever they were found, nearby was a pool of slimy green liquid with lumps. I had to get right in amongst the brassicas, searching for more caterpillars and then the stench of wet cabbage reminded me I do not even like cabbage, sprouts or cauliflower that much.

Going on bug hunt slug in brassicas

My brassicas have turned into the best bug hotel going.

During my accidental slaughter of the caterpillars I also chanced upon countless fat slugs. Much more robust creatures they also got thrown in the weed bucket alongside their more delicate cousins, ready for delivery to the allotment dump. I found one that looked almost the size of a small vole as it nestled in my gloved hand.

Going on bug hunt mega slug

No wonder my sprouting broccoli is looking a bit lame!

In the interests of being fair to that slug I have to say I do have quite small hands but still, I picked off half a dozen over fed beasts of a similar size. My gloves were now soaked with caterpillar juice and slug slime so I was grateful the next thing on the to do list was weed the pumpkin patch. My bug hunt wasn’t over though as I soon discovered whilst pulling up the weeds that two small pumpkins have now also fallen to the voracious appetite of these slimy blighters.

Going on bug hunt slug pumpkin

It didn’t just eat my pumpkin, it fell asleep there too!

But my return after almost a week was not all bugs and ravaged plants. The grass seed in fruit corner is growing at last, if very patchily.

Going on bug hunt fruit corenr

Looking less like a grave!

I scattered more grass seed on the bare patches and went to check out the tomatoes. The home made bamboo tripods have held them in place over the windy week. I cut off more excess leaves, being as brutal as I could muster. And then I noticed the best thing of all. After weeks I finally have two reddish tomatoes. I left them on the vine, having heard the red ones give off chemicals that help the others turn red. I just hope none of the countless remaining bugs I may have missed on my bug hunt get to eat them before I do.

Going on bug hunt red toms

Hurrah – I have two red tomatoes!

Green tomatoes

18 Aug

I have survived a short break in a bell tent with children and hubby only to come back to the plot and find not much has changed. The weather has cooled and so the growing of all but the weeds seems to be stunted by this abrupt end-of-summer feel.

The grass seed I sprinkled on fruit corner is still just that a week and a half later, still seed. Slowly being eaten by birds.

green toms fruit corner

A week ago I picked some green tomatoes and left them on my window sill hoping when I got home they would have turned red only to be greeted by now shrivelled, withered green tomatoes.

green tomatoes

Never mind, I thought as I remembered my uncle’s words about it only being a matter of days before the tomatoes still on the plant turn red. I optimistically walked to the plot and was greeted by the sight of an unruly, precarious looking jungle of still green tomatoes.

green toms 2

Oh well at least the thistles are thriving. I only uprooted about twenty last weekend and already there were twenty more in their place. And the pumpkins are still growing at an alarming rate.

green toms pumpkin

But even this has a downside – it appears to be choking off my blueberry bush. I did a little internet research and realised it probably never stood a chance. Blueberry bushes love acidic soil apparently and our soil is many things – cloddy, clay like, water sodden in wet weather – but it certainly isn’t acidic. Not quite sure why I didn’t research this before buying and planting it.

green toms blueberry

My ailing blueberry bush being inched out by a pumpkin plant.

But all this is mere details. I was back at the plot, the sun was shining and I really didn’t care what was flourishing and what was was dying and how many chuffing thistles I had to dig up. Again. For this space is my precious escape. Spending four nights in a bell tent with a three and five year old determined to get high by drinking honey  tends to have that affect on me.