Know Your Onions
It's been a very slow start to the growing year but this month we harvested the first of the crops - some lovely fat radishes and an abundance of spring onions ... there are absolutely loads left , what you see here is may be a sixth of what's growing at Bank Square and they're ready to eat, so if you're after a few to add to your salad, head on down with a spade or good trowel, (Leave a few in though, they're perennial, so will split and multiply)
Here's new volunteer Raif, separating them for the volunteers to share. Raif brought a wealth of growing knowledge with him and evern more of a treat, he's one of the chef from the Heddys, so had loads of recipe ideas too. Take a walk down by the library too as there's lots of herbs ready to pick now. Even if you don't need any go and take a look, it's a cacophony of colour and smells.
Chives, coriander, parsley, fennel, oregano Mint surrounding the crab apple (Variegated) lemonbalm, fennel ... and lots of strawberries now in flower
Rainy Day Things to do
Sunny day plan: collect every thing that is ready around town (check out our Green Route & Fruit Map)
courgettes, plums, damsons, onions, shallots, garlic, potatoes, black berries, runner beans, apples ... tomatoes (red & yellow varieties- eat now and green/ unripe- chop to make a chutney or if you only have a few, leave them on your windowsill to ripen, it is unlikely they will ripen outdoors now) ... and much much more
Rainy day plan: spend the day in a warm kitchen chopping, preserving, pickling and baking
Result: a fabulously stocked freezer and cupboards full of tasty jars; reminders of the Summer.
Kale, Courgettes ... and Caterpillars
Our September crew tidied up out side the Library and took home a few seasonal goodies (pak choi, kale, shallots, garlic, courgettes, runner beans) Some things are doing really well now and the beds are looking packed full of all sorts - although we didn't expect to find this monster in the end bed .... no wonder it's so empty, this looks one Very Hungry Caterpillar!!
Make the most of the community plots harvest now, also get yourselves out picking raspberries, blackberries and damsons in the hedgerows around town - now's the time to start drying herbs and making jams, chutney's and preserves with all the food around town .. sorry folks, Winter really is coming!!
Evidence of our Incredible sprouts being nibbled ... and not by caterpillars this time!
St Bartholomews Munching Members
Members of St Bartholomews have been enjoying the pick of the crop around town. Laura & Sam (Raindrops Tots leaders) have been telling us about thier community plots, courgette hunting exploits with their families and here's what Magdalen had to say about her harvest:
I picked some lovely cherry tomatoes from outside Wildings – they were so flavorsome and delicious. We have also been eating the nasturtium leaves and flowers to spice up salads.
Nice to hear of so many people enjoying the harvest in the town centre and in their own gardens - keep the stories coming everyone.
Not long left of the season now so get those tomatoes picked when you see them red ... and if there's a cold snap and the plants wilt, collect the green ones for a chutney.
Picked, Pickled and Potted
Picked Plums Pickling the plums Potted - before and after!!
Victoria plums are sweet and delicious and ready to eat now - get out, look up and take a bag to collect them .... there's no point them ending up on the floor squashed...
(1kg plums, 350g cored cooking apples chopped, 250g chopped onions, 125g raisins, 300g soft brown sugar, 1tsp sea salt, 1tsp each ground spices: allspice, cinnamon, coriander, 1tsp fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes, 600ml white wine vinegar)1. Wash & remove plum stones, chop
2. Add all ingredients to pan
3. Slowly bring to boil
4. Simmer gently for around 2 hours until a wooden spoon leaves a trail on bottom of pan.
TIP: stir frequently for last half hour to ensure it doesn't stick/ burn
5. Add to sterilized jars, cover with waxed paper & lid
Lasts up to 12 months ... leave for 2 months to mature before eating.
If you have little time but don't want to waste your harvest of plums, stew with a little sugar and freeze in batches - you can make cakes, pies, crumbles as and when you need them later in the year.
Damsons ready for harvesting
Damsons have done really well this year so get yourself out there and get picking. It took a while to chop up but it was worth
the wait ... here's some sweet preserve that was easy peasy to make and will last for months.
Recipe: Same weight sugar as fruit, slowly bring fruit to boil, add sugar and boil fast for around 10 minutes, add to sterilized jars and store
Thoughts from the Volunteers
Added 09/08/2011 by Fiona MacCarthy
Ah what a lovely way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon and free food and cuttings to take home too!
We met with The Incredible Edible volunteers at 2pm at The Romany Caravan. I had my 2 children with me, who are aged 3 & 5, so not at the most attentive age there is! But they had a FABULOUS time! They got to dig some holes in the soil and planted some seeds, they learnt how to trim down and replant rosemary and they felt very helpful spreading compost on the beds. They also scooted around with their friends giggling and to top it all off they were out of the house in the fresh air at no expense to myself, in these expensive summer holiday times, £0 is pretty good I'd say!
And we learnt how to rebed strawberry plants, take cuttings and so get free plants and met some lovely people! A good time was had by all.
Thanks Incredible Edible! We'll be back next month!!
Added 09/08/2011 by Will & Alison Hale
We had great fun today with other volunteers by helping to tidy and water the various planters near Sainsbury's and Wildings. During the afternoon Helen provided plenty of gardening which we are going to put into practice at home.
Being part of the Incredible Edible team is a great way of getting to know new people, widening our knowledge of edible plants & especially enjoying harvesting & tasting a wide variety of fruit/veg.
We are now looking forward to the next meeting.
Curly Kale for the King of Swing
Whilst watering the plots outside the library today Helen & Len had a good chat about veges with new grower, Sam. The lovely ladies at the library offered their water tap to us to save us a long walk ... thank you everyone very much appreciated ... also an unknown volunteer had clearly been to water at Wildings so whoever you are - WELL DONE AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, it's been noticed xx
After a flurry of activity as people came to chat about the project, we picked a courgette, plucked a pepper and then had the pleasure of meeting local celebrity too, as King of Swing Alan Burton stopped by for a couple of curly kale leaves and a chat.
This is so good to see people harvesting the crops now ... all the plants are selected so that passers by can take the leaves, edible flowers, fruit or veg they need for that evening meal. All we ask is that if you take the last bit consider replacing it with a new seedling, so that people after you can enjoy the harvest too ... unlike some 'hungry' customer outside of Sainsburys who thought that they would take the whole pot of herbs!!
Thankfully they were spotted first ... the food is for everyone, not every bit of it for one, so if you spot a greedy passer by make sure you educate them politely on how to snip just the bit they need and leave the rest of the plant to continue to grow for others....
Pick of the crop
We've got some regular pickers now ... here's Katie of Katie's Proper Pate helping herself to some thyme from Waitrose plot, for a coq au vin, yum.
Pippa's been picking radish from the plot outside the library ... these are no ordinary radish, take a look at the size of these babies!!! There are loads of these ripe for picking .. get yourselves down there before they're all gone...
and Magdalen has been enjoying the salad crops outside Wildings where Helen and Helena also popped down to try their first ever rat-tailed radish, donated by Quarry Bank Mill - a name to make you worry, they look like a weed but actually taste quite nice and well, a bit radishy (thankfully not ratty!)
They are now ripe for picking so get yourself down there!