Monday, 30 April 2012

Z is for Zucchini

z is for zucchini 

Zucchini is part of the squash and pumpkin family and you probably know it as the courgette . Zucchini is a very abundant producer and you will probably need no more than two or three plants in your garden. Zucchini does not keep well, so it is best enjoyed during the summer months.

The two most common mistakes zucchini growers make are:
  1. Planting too many
  2. Waiting too long to harvest
When planting zucchini, 2 plants will produce plenty of zucchini for a family of 4. It’s probably better to plant a mixture of zucchini and other summer squash, like patty pan or crookneck, so you have a mixture of colors, textures, and flavors.

Thats the A - Z challenge over !!! Thanks for following me hope you continue to do so !! 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

X is for Xigua. Y is for Yams

X is for Xigua 

OK I was really struggling with the letter X, Ive already Used my favourite cartoon on my other blog .. The X Men . So couldn't use it again !! Why did I join 2 blogs to the challenge ???

So X is for Xigua. 
Whats that ???

An edible fruit that looks similar to a watermelon, only shorter in size. 
The word xigua is Chinese.

Y is for Yams

Not that I know anything about them ! but they were the first veg that sprang to mind !


Yams are often confused with sweet potatoes, but are only similar in that they are both flowering plants. Yams are actually related to lilies and grasses and native to both Africa and Asia, the Everyday Mysteries website, a publication of the Library of Congress, reports. Yams come in various sizes and there are well over 600 varieties throughout the world. In comparison to sweet potatoes, yams are actually drier and more starchier.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

W is for wimberrys

W is for wimberry s

My favourite pie as a child and still is now is Wimberry Pie. I can remember the whole family going wimberry picking when I was a child . Up on our Shropshire hills in a secret location in the wood  singing away while we picked to frighten the adders away !!!

Bilberry is a name used for several species of Vaccinium (genus) that bear fruit on low-growing shrubs. The species usually referred to as bilberry is Vaccinium myrtillus, also called the European blueberry. The bilberry has many other names, including blaeberry, whortleberry, whinberry (or winberry), whimberry, wimberry, myrtle blueberry, fraughan and black-hearts.

The whimberry is very similar to the American blueberry and has all the same ‘super food’ credentials. However, unlike the blueberry, you will not find it in the supermarkets so every year people in Shropshire head for the hills in search of whimberries. Whimberry pickers are a secretive bunch and don’t say too much about where the fruit can be found but it is widely acknowledged that Shropshire is a hot-spot. 

Whimberry Pie
By Shirley Jones, Head Chef
Ludlow Food Centre

400g whimberries
250g shortcrust pastry
125g caster sugar
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 large cooking apples
Sugar for sprinkling
4 tablespoons of double cream


1 Core the apples and bake in a medium oven until soft. Allow to cool and scrape out the apple pulp. Mix it with the whimberries and sugar 
2 Roll out the pastry and line a pie plate or tart dish 
Fill with fruit and sugar and cover with pastry. Do not seal 
3 Brush the top with beaten egg white, sprinkle with sugar and bake in a hot oven until golden brown 
4 Before serving, gently lift the lid and pour in the thick double cream 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

U is for Ulmus hollandica vegetata V is for VINCA and VALERIAN

U is for 

Ulmus hollandica vegetata

Definition - 

erect vigorous hybrid ornamental

Lol ok i was completely stuck on U !!!  Found it in a scrabble help guide ! 

V is for  

VINCA (Periwinkle)
 For High blood pressure, hair loss, to make pair bonding stronger In a marriage
Periwinkles are evergreen plants with purplish-blue flowers in spring, which spread by rooting stems. 

 for a Natural tranquilizer, pain, muscle spasms, nerves, promote sleep, poison antidote, poison bites of all kinds, heart and circulation become stronger and fuller, cold hands and feet

I have both these growing in my garden ! I hate the periwinkle it goes everywhere !

Monday, 23 April 2012

R is for radish. S is for sweetcorn . t is for thyme.

R is for radish

Most great gardeners take their first steps on the path to horticultural success by nurturing a row of radishes. They're an ideal vegetable for the beginner to grow. They have few demands, they tolerate most soil types and you don't have to wait too long to sample the results of your new hobby! Many varieties can be picked around a month or so after sowing - sooner in midsummer. This makes radishes a great choice for introducing children to the joys of growing your own.

s is for sweetcorn

The best time is to start sowing the sweetcorn is middle of April.  Sow the seeds inside in small, about 7cm pots or in those larger seed cells 2cm deep, 1 or 2 seeds per pot. Using ordinary compost is fine. Sweetcorn seeds ideally need a temperature of 15 Celsius and above to germinate successfully.
The seeds can be sown directly outside from middle of May, but be prepared to loose some plants this way as mice and birds can find the seeds easily in the soil. Raising the sweetcorn inside is much recommended and it’s really worth the extra work.

t is for thyme

My favourite herb to use in the kitchen and to grow. I dont grow it on my allotment but just outside my door in containers so i can get it as i need it in the kitchen.

Container Growing ThymeThyme is an excellent plant for growing in containers and requires no particular attention. Water to keep the compost moist, and feed with liquid plant food every two weeks from April to August

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Q is for Quince

Quince belongs to the same family as apples and pears; its shape is similar to a pear, but larger. It has lumpy yellow skin and hard flesh that is quite bitter so shouldn’t be eaten raw. When fully ripe, the quince has a wonderful perfume. Quince paste or ‘membrillo’ is a popular accompaniment to cheese in Spain.

Recipe for Quince Jam


  • 2 kg quince
  • water
  • 1.6 kg sugar


1. Peel, core and quarter some of the poorer, less ripe quinces and place in a large pan.

2. Just cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook until the quinces are soft.

3. Strain off the juice and reserve.

4. Rub the cooked quinces through a sieve.

5. Peel, core and quarter the remaining quinces and place in the pan with the sieved pulp.

6. Add the reserved juice and cook until soft. Stir to make sure the pulp doesn't burn.

7. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved then bring to a fast boil.

8. Cook until setting point is reached. It should be very firm and a dark red colour.

9. To tell when setting point has been reached, remove the pan from the heat and put a little marmalade on a chilled saucer. As it cools, the marmalade should begin to set, will wrinkle slightly and will remain in two separate parts when you draw your finger through it. If using a sugar thermometer it will read 104-106C.

10. Decant into sterilised jars, cover and seal tightly. Label and store in a cool, dry place. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

O is for Onions, P is for peas

How to grow onions from seed 

Starting in early March or even late February sow a couple of seeds per module into a multi-purpose compost and thin to one seedling as soon as possible if both germinate. They don't need to be too warm, between 10 and 15 degrees is fine.
Once germinated, do not let the temperature rise above 15 degrees or the onions will get confused about what time of year it is and bolt later after they're planted out. Move out of the greenhouse into a cold frame and harden off before planting out, spaced as for the sets. The beauty of this method is that the onions can be held if the weather is bad until you are ready to plant.

Apart from some weeding, there is little to do. Do be careful not to damage the forming bulbs when hoeing. Better to have a few weeds or get on your knees and weed by hand than hoe out the crop before you start!


 How to grow peas 

Sow pea seed 1 to 1½” deep, 1-2 inches apart in double rows spaced 3-6” apart, 24” between the next double row. Pea plants will tolerate crowding so may be spaced 2” apart. All peas, including dwarf types, are natural climbers, will be more productive, and not as susceptible to rot, if given some support or planted along a fence or trellis. Pea seed is available in both treated and untreated; if using untreated pea seeds, avoid planting in cold, wet, poorly aerated soils, as you risk loosing the seed to rot. 
Peas prefer full sun to partial shade with a soil pH of 6.0-7.0. and require a well-drained, rich and sandy soil. Work organic matter, including rotted manure or compost into the soil for best results.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

N is for nettles

NettlesLove or hate them they have their uses and are good for butterflies ! You can make great fertiliser tea for the allotment or simply add them to your compost heap to give it a boost !
But I think the best thing to do with nettles is to eat them !

Lady Ridley's Nettle Soup

Why not try Lady Ridley's nettle soup recipe? 
1 lb potatoes
½ lb young nettles
2 oz butter
1½ pts chicken or vegetable stock
sea salt & black pepper
4 tablespoons sour cream

Cook the peeled, chopped potatoes for 10 mins in salted water. Drain.
Wash & chop coarsely the nettles (Only pick the new, young tops,using gloves!)
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the nettles and stew gently for a few minutes. Add the potatoes and heated stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.
When all is soft, cool slightly & purée in a blender, adding seasoning and the sour cream.
I hope you enjoy the nettle soup. The hardest work is picking the nettles. Half a pound is a lot of small leaves, but it is fun to do, in season, once a year.

Monday, 16 April 2012

L is for Leeks , M is for melon

L is for  Leeks

Being in wales L had to be for leeks !! What else !The leek is a member of the onion family, but is far easier to grow than the onion. The are able to grow in varied soil conditions, so long as it is not waterlogged.
Most varieties are hardy and can remain in the ground throughout winter weather until needed. You can sow early under glass and have leeks ready for harvesting in the autumn, but it is really during the winter and early spring that they are most appreciated. 

M is for Melon

This year im having ago at melon s, ive found some tips to help me.

Gardening Tips:
Many gardeners have good success in growing melon by covering the mounds with black plastic (be sure to stake it securely to the ground). The black plastic helps retain moisture for the plant's roots, keeps weeds out, and also helps to warm the roots. (Just make sure the plastic doesn't shift to cover up your seedlings.)
If you don't use black plastic, be sure to mulch well with straw (leaving uncovered spaces for the seedlings to immerge.)
Plant seeds in the garden after spring's last frost and once the soil temperature is at least 70 degrees. (Melon seeds won't germinate well lower temperatures.)
Plant the seeds in a circle around each mound, setting the seed about 1" deep and covering with soil. After the seedlings immerge, thin to 3 healthy plants per mound.
You can start earlier by growing melon seeds inside 1 month ahead of when you want to transplant them outside. Wait until after the last frost before planting them outside. Harden off your seedlings by gradually introducing them out-of-doors. Introducing them too quickly to the bright sun will damage the seedlings.
When planting the seedlings, cut a slit in the plastic sheet (if using plastic). Dig a hole in the dirt where the plastic was, and plant your seedling (I like to plant them nearly up to their first set of leaves). Water thoroughly.
Gardening Tips: 
Slide a flat stone under each melon, once it's about half grown.
This can help keep it from rotting prematurely.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

J is for Jerusalem Artichokes, K is for Kohl rabi

Jerusalem ArtichokesHelianthus tuberosus, are a tuberous-rooted vegetable and not related in any way to the Globe Artichokes , but are related to the sunflower.
They are not easy to prepare for the table as the tubers of almost all the varieties are very knobbly - but they do make very tasty chips.
Jerusalem artichokes will grow up to 3 meters (7ft) tall and for that reason they can be used as ahedge or wind break.
They need well drained soil. They prefer a warm and dry position and will crop well on ground where other vegetables have failed.jerusalem artichoke flower

K is for 

Kohlrabi (Italian turnip) (Brassica oleracea Gongylodes group) is a low, stout cultivar of the cabbage that will grow almost anywhere.



Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serves 4 (smallish servings since roasted vegetables shrink so much)

1 1/2 pounds fresh kohlrabi, ends trimmed, thick green skin sliced off with a knife, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic (garlic is optional, to my taste)
Good vinegar

Set oven to 450F. Toss the diced kohlrabi with olive oil, garlic and salt in a bowl. (The kohlrabi can be tossed with oil and seasonings right on the pan but uses more oil.) Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and put into oven (it needn't be fully preheated) and roast for 30 - 35 minutes, stirring every five minutes after about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with a good vinegar (probably at the table so the kohlrabi doesn't get squishy).

Monday, 9 April 2012

I is for insects

I found this use full chart for advice on bad insects. we prefer to try and be organic as possible, Remember there are good bugs out there too who we need !!!

SymptomCause Cure Plants 
Cluster of small, soft-bodied insects on buds and growth tips (gray, black, pink, green, red, or yellow in color); sticky secretions may be evident. Leaves are curled.AphidsSpray with neem oil or insecticidal soap. Use contact poison labeled for aphids on vegetables as recommended by a qualified professional.Every garden vegetable
Irregularly shaped holes in the leaves; hard-shelled beetles of many colors and sizesBeetles of various kindsPick off by hand or spray with a stomach poison insecticide as recommended by a qualified professional.Every vegetable crop can be infested by one or more variety of beetles.
Growth tips wilted or entire plant wilted; small hole in plant stem at point where wilting beginsBorerCut out borer, or destroy entire plant if affected at base of plant. Spray base of plant with suitable stomach poison insecticide in late spring and early summer as recommended by a qualified professional.Cucumber, Melon,Pumpkin, Squash
Irregular holes in foliage; Green caterpillars under and on top of leavesCabbage WormsInspect plants and pick by hand. Spray with Bacillus thuringiensis -- an organic insecticide -- or neem oil. Use a stomach poison insecticide as recommended by a qualified professional.Broccolli,Cabbage,Cauliflower, others
Corn kernels eaten within the musk; insides of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants eaten; yellow-tan worms found insideCorn Earworm, Tomato FruitwormRemove infested plant debris at the end of the season. Apply insecticide recommended for earworms as recommended by a qualified professional. Corn,Eggplant,Pepper,Tomato
Entire plant wilted or cut off at the base of the plantCutwormsUse paper collars, one inch above and one inch below ground level, around stems of transplants.Cabbage,Pepper,Tomato
Slight wilting of the plant; plants growing poorly for no apparent reason; possible root damageGrubsTreat the soil with milky spore to control grubs. Control adult beetles with a stomach poison; apply soil drench of suitable insecticide, both as recommended by a qualified professional.Most vegetables
Foliage turns yellow and begins to curl; small green-patterned, winged insects on undersides of leavesLeaf HoppersSpray off light infestations with garden hose. Apply a stomach poison labeled for use on vegetables as recommended by a qualified professional.Bean, Carrot, Chayote,Cucumber,Endive,Lettuce, Melon, Potato
Whitish trails visible on top sides of leaves; microscopic larvae of tiny flying insectsLeaf MinersRemove infected leaves by hand. Keep garden weed-free. Remove and destroy infested plants in the fall.Beet,Cabbage,Chard,Eggplant,Lettuce,Pepper, Squash,Tomato
Wilting of the plant; root inspection indicates yellowish,1/4- to 11/4-inch wormlike creatures.Root MaggotsDiscourage the fly from laying eggs near the seedlings by putting shields of plastic or paper 4 inches square around the seedlings. For heavy infestations, drench soil with insecticide labeled for control of root maggots as recommended by a qualified professional.Cabbage,Carrot,Radish,Spinach, Squash,Turnip
A slime trail from plants that have irregular holes in leaves and lower stems Snails and SlugsRemove debris where they hide during the day. Shallow pans of beer will attract and drown pests. Commercial baits are availableCabbage,Carrot,Lettuce,Tomato,Turnip
Yellowing leaves with speckled look; fine spider webs on backs of leaves and at point where leaves attach to stem; tiny reddish mites on webs and undersides of leavesSpider MitesSpray plants with miticide labeled for use on vegetables as recommended by a qualified professional.Bean,Cucumber,Eggplant,Tomato
Distorted leaf tips, white irregular marks on leavesThripsHose off infected areas (insects are nearly invisible to the naked eye). Spray with a contact poison labeled for vegetable garden use as recommended by a qualified professional.Bean,Cabbage,CarrotCelery,Cucumber, Melon, Onion, Pea, Squash,Tomato,Turnip
Leaves and fruit of tomatoes and related plants eaten; four-inch green and white caterpillarlike worm found on plants.Tomato HornwormRemove worms by hand as they are discovered. Spray with Bacillus thuringiensis, neem oil, or stomach poison insecticide as recommended by a qualified professional.Eggplant,Pepper,Tomato
Tiny white insects fly from plant when disturbed. Large infestations weaken plant by feeding on undersides of foliage.White FliesLight infestations can be sprayed off with garden hose or neem oil. Spray contact poison labeled for white fly on vegetables as recommended by a qualified professional.Eggplant,Pepper,Sweet Potato,Tomato
Poorly grown, yellow, wilted plants; hard, one-inch, golden worms feed on seeds, roots, and lower stems.WirewormsDrench soil with recommended insecticide as recommended by a qualified professional. Control adults (click beetles) later in the season.Carrot,Lettuce,Potato,Tomato, others
Note: Consult your Cooperative Extension office for approved pesticides for vegetable plants.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

F is for Family , G is for going Green, H is for Harvest .

So F has to be for family !

Our allotment is a family run allotment even though some days our children ask to sit in the car and play on their ds lite . But we usually managed to get them involved !! 

G is for going green 

Allotment holders have probably been doing "green " for years!  We re use alot of stuff on the allotment, I use old mushroom trays from a local shop to carry plants around in, toilet rolls are great for growing seeds in like melon, squash , runner beans, also water buts have been made out of barrels found lying around at different factories ! ( always ask before you take though ! most factories are  more than happy to give you their waste ! and are often bemused ! ).

H is for harvest 

Although a long way off !! Harvest best time of the year !!! Although busy for me in the kitchen ! Every year i have to pick , prepare and freeze veg which keeps us going till the next years veg is ready ! I'm always looking for new recipes for pickles and chutneys too ! .

here's a fave recipe :

Chili  Jam 

  • 8 red peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 5 medium red chillies, roughly chopped
  • Finger-sized piece fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 750g caster sugar
  • 250ml red wine vinegar
  1. Tip the peppers, chillies (with seeds), ginger and garlic into a food processor, then whizz until very finely chopped.
  2. Scrape into a heavy-bottomed pan with the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar.
  3. Then bring everything to the boil.
  4. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 50 mins stirring occasionally.
  5. Once the jam is becoming sticky, continue cooking for 10-15 mins more, stirring frequently so that it doesn't catch and burn. It should now look like thick, bubbling lava.
  6. Cool slightly, transfer to sterilised jars, then leave to cool completely.
Makes 4 8oz Jars and keeps for 3 months in a cool, dark cupboard – refrigerate once opened.