Late burst of warmth turned our redcurrants ripe and sweet
HOW nice it was last week to have some warm and dry weather, just to remind us what it can feel like to be outdoors without adopting a huddled position. That lovely warm spell was a rare wonder, ripening our redcurrants to sticky sweetness and giving us an Olympian 'personal best' of three ripe cucumbers in as many days.
Seeds of spinach, rocket, pak choi and mustard, sown only a week ago, have sprouted well, catching nearly the last moment to get in some good growth, although it's not too late to be getting on with this in the week ahead, if you're planning to make the most of your growing spaces over winter too.
Most pleasing is the pak choi, which makes a tasty leafy green through a mild winter, if it's given good protection.
Sowing these leafy veg into modules indoors, before moving them out once they have germinated and got going, will be more successful, as this morning's chilly air is a definite indicator of the autumnal slowdown.
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Happily, this is having an effect on the weeds, slugs and snails that have properly hampered the 2012 growing season.
Slug attacks have really decreased, and more of them are appearing with that white coating that I assume means they are reaching their natural end, although I haven't been able to verify this. Can anybody help me out here?
Sadly, the sunshine was not enough to ripen many of our outdoor tomatoes, affected by blight.
So, it will be a chutney week. I have saved the closest to ripe, washing them and drying them well before leaving them spread out along a sunny windowsill. They will keep us going for a few weeks, but, really, this year's outdoor tomato performance was pitiful.
Pulling up the plants and disposing of them carefully, and cleanly, so that the blight spores don't find harbour in the soil, is never a nice experience, but this year it seemed a metaphor for the huge effort that goes in to growing vegetables, all laid waste when the weather doesn't work for you.
Still, there is something very satisfying about being able to turn a bad hand into a winning one, and now I have finished the task of clearing away all the bad tomato plants, I have started to feel better again by looking at the salvaged fruit as plentiful ingredients for good chutney.
Now, green tomato chutney can be rather disappointing. You only have to present a jar of it to someone to see how even the name fails to inspire.
Instead I like to make a relish, where the ingredients are much more finely chopped and then spiced up.
This year I will also have enough to make green tomato jam. I have tried making this following a standard jam recipe, but adding cardamom, and it is delicious on a savoury scone.
â Do get in touch with me at Fiona.Sanderson@mac.com, if you'd like these recipes, or, equally have a good one to share.