Posts Tagged ‘October’

GETTING A GOOD RETURN ON A PUMPKIN – FOURTH WEEK IN OCTOBER 2010

My hope of growing a Halloween  pumpkin in the same grow bag from which I harvested the early potatoes unfortunately did not work out. Some pumpkins did form but they never swelled to the size required. I now realise the extensive root system really needs the expanse of open soil to develop and support the kind of crop which a healthy plant is capable of producing. That is the lesson for next year although I may have to ask is the garden just too crowded for the pumpkin growing? Meanwhile the fine organically grown pumpkins at Balbriggan Fish and Farmers’ Market last Friday morning were fine specimens and I was glad to get there in time to buy one. The variety, going by the look of it, was ‘Ghostrider’. I must ask Paddy Byrne, who farms in Barnageeragh out the road next time I see him.

The scooping out the flesh and carving the ghoulish face all went fine. The picture below paints a thousand words, so to speak! Now what to do with the flesh? No time to make or eat  pie dishes so perhaps soup, most of which could be portioned into containers, labelled and frozen. Thanks to the biodynamic organic Farmer John Peterson and Angelic Organics of Illinois, USA, I had  bought Farmer John’s Cookbook when I met the man himself at a World Organic Congress in Modena, Italy in 2008. Page 315 has a good recipe for Pumpkin Sage Soup.

Not quite a pretty face, pumpkin has many uses

The garden failed to give me a large pumpkin but  the other main ingredient, sage, is dominating the herb patch this year. Apart from that, the ingredients include onion, garlic, parsley, thyme and vegetable stock which could all be provided from the garden.

The way John Peterson makes it his recipe  serves 5 or 6 persons.

2 medium pie pumpkins ( 4 to 5 pounds)

1/3 cup olive oil.

1/3 cup whole sage leaves.

1 large onion, minced.

2 cloves garlic minced.

5 pints veg stock or water.

1/4 cup fresh minced parsley.

1 teaspoon fresh thyme.

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

2 teaspoons salt and ground pepper.

If you’ve made soup before you’ll know the normal soup making procedure starting with sauté of onions, adding garlic when onions start to soften. John suggests baking the pumpkin bits first in an oven at 375 F so they are soft and hot when you add them to the onions and garlic along with the other ingredients. Pumpkin can be a little bland by itself so the addition of herbs does make the soup more flavoursome. Once it is simmered for a half hour or so, it looks better if liquidised. A very welcome addition to the darker damp weather at the start of November.

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DIGGING OUT THE COMPOST BEGINS THE CLEAR UP OF SPENT VEG GROWTH – THIRD WEEK IN OCTOBER 2010

Last Sunday 17th October was a perfect dry crisp sunny day to work in the garden. Out came the compost and grass got cut and green roof on shed got trimmed back too. This growing pile of  cut greenery will in due course become layers in the multi decker ‘sandwich’ along with kitchen organic material currently stored  and breaking down in the compost tumbler. The pile of compost does contain some woody remnants which need more time to break down into a useable form. So I’ll extract these by garden fork and mix them back into the new batch of compost.

LAST APPLE JUICED AND HONEY POTTED, TIME TO CLEAR GARDEN FOR AUTUMN PLANTING – SECOND WEEK IN OCTOBER 2010.

Made a start on clearing the spent pea and bean stalks and haulms. I did not dig them out, just chopped them at ground level so their roots remained in the soil. These legume roots have nodules of nitrogen fixed from the air during their growing season. I’m told this is valuable for the cabbage plants I hope to plant in this patch shortly as all the brassica family are hungry for nitrogen.

Still have beetroot to dig up and bottle for storage over the winter. Before long I will need to spread the mature compost from the composter around the garden and make a new batch by layering the compost tumbler contents with the greenery from spent veg and hedge clipping. However I’ll need to set aside a Sunday sometime soon to get a good run at that job which comes around every 6 months, autumn and spring.

BALBRIGGAN FOOD FESTIVAL STRESSES LOCAL FOOD CULTURE GOOD FOR JOBS AND BIODIVERSITY – FIRST WEEK IN OCTOBER 2010

Ar an chéad lá de Dheireadh Fómhair, d’fhreastail a lán daoine ar Fhéile Bia Bhaile Brigín a bhí urraithe as Bridgestone. Deireadh Fómhair or October literally means ‘end of Harvest’ so the first of October was a good day for the first ever Balbriggan Food Festival. The sponsorship of Bridgestone was a big help and linked the Bridgestone Food Guide with the town where Bridgestone in Ireland is based and employs many local people.

Joe English as Chairperson of Balbriggan Chamber of Commerce and Zoe Nelson, a local business woman along with the Organizing Committee deserve huge credit for the effort and intelligent planning they brought to the project. All this resulted in over 40 stands showcasing a huge range of local businesses. The scope covered hobbyist food producers like me, GIY Balbriggan and Fingal North Dublin Beekeepers….to local restaurants….to nearby farmers like Clarkes Fruit Farm and Countrycrest feeding Ireland throught supplying the big supermarkets.

About 8 of the stalls were displaying under the award winning Balbriggan Fish and Farmers’ Market which feeds the town every Friday morning on the Square from 9am – 2pm as well as being a sociable place to start or finish a shopping trip to other town centre shops and businesses.

At my own stall (below) the apples, apple juice and honey from my 2 hives were a popular sampling point at the Festival.

Aisling Kennedy of the Fingal North Dublin Beekepers Association shares a glass of apple juice with Trevor

Michael Griimes, Co-ordinator of Balbriggan Fish & Farmers Market and John McKenna, Bridgestone Food Guide author, sampling some of Trevor's apple juice

SOWING BROAD BEANS – FOURTH WEEK IN OCTOBER 2009

The recently sown Radar onion sets are growing well now in the cleared patch from which beetroot was harvested about a month ago. Nearby, last season’s onion patch has now been cleared, some compost mixed in and the soil levelled. This patch will now become the legume patch between now and next autumn.

Broad beans can be sown now in a quarter of my legume patch. A variety well suited to autumn sowing directly outdoors is Aquadulce and it should crop early before the end of May 2010. Along with seeds I need the support structure for the plants to grow up. I have seen broad beans growing without supports but a stormy night could play havoc and flatten them beyond redemption.

My chosen bean support is a purpose built ‘tent pole’ with eight guy ropes hanging from the top. These are pegged out in a circumference creating a wigwam type structure.  I press two seeds into the soil about a finger deep on each side of each guy rope. Once sowing is complete, I pat down the seedbed  and water the area as the weather has been fairly dry in Fingal in the last week or so.

The seed packet is then sealed in a clean dry jam jar and stored in the fridge. The remaining seeds will then be  fresh enough next spring for another sowing if for some reason the autumn sown seeds do not germinate in full. Broad bean plants sown in autumn have an advantage  being more resistant to blackfly attacks. They generally mature two to three weeks ahead of spring sown seeds.

In the years when we used to get hard frosts, horticultural fleece covering the wigwam support would be a protection. However, I would be surprised to see such hard frosts again given global warming and the mild nature of recent winters.

GOOD WAY TO REMEMBER ROTATION PLAN – THIRD WEEK IN OCTOBER 2009

The growing interest in amenity fruit and vegetable growing has given rise to the mushrooming of initiatives such as www.giyireland.com. In Balbriggan the local Horticultural Society has launched a course of workshops on vegetable growing co-ordinated by committee member, great local gardener [and indeed chef] Judith Chavasse. Her neighbour and veg growing expert Dave gave the first lecture. He emphasised the importance of laying out the growing area, ideally in six patches. One of the patches is for permanent crops like rhubarb (which can be planted now) or asparagus or blackcurrants, raspberries etc.

Five different families of vegetables are rotated annually around the  other five patches. There is now an easy way to remember which crop goes in the first patch, which in the second, third and so on. The aide memoire is ‘People Love Bunches Of Roses‘ which gives P-L-B-O-R. So plant potato family crops in the first patch, legumes in the second, brassicas in third, onion family and leeks etc in fourth and root crop in the fifth. When root crops are harvested, that patch gets enriched with compost and/or manure again to take the seed potatoes the next Spring. The same order is observed with each crop family moving up one patch in the rotation.

Thank you to Dave and the Balbriggan and District Horticultural Society for taking the guesswork out of which comes first in a rotation, legumes or brassicas!

SETTING UP GREENHOUSE FOR WINTER – SECOND WEEK IN OCTOBER 2009

Spare time has been in short supply. Any couple of hours free on a Sunday afternoon has been spent in the garden. With the dry mild weather and the wish to be outdoors, the Trevor’s Kitchen Garden.ie  site has been neglected. You could say I was saving the blog update work for a rainy day.

This week was ideal for clearing out the spent tomato plants from the greenhouse. The grow boxes of soil which had given a good crop of cherry and brandywine tomatoes were emptied onto the bare patch of soil from where the onions had just been harvested.

Having swept the floor and washed down the glass, I then put back the removeable shelving in the greenhouse. These shelves are now stocked with pots of winter lettuce and basil. Another pot is growing shamrock as an experiment. The floor space is now filled with a three tier strawberry planter which will go outdoors in Spring when next years two tomato plants need their space again. The lettuce pots will also give way to next Spring’s seed trays in due course but not until I have had my fair share of salad sandwiches.