Sunday, 31 July 2011

The story so far (month 3)

Hello bloggers. I've been away so much this month, it's all a bit quiet from me. Here's a little round-up of what's been going on.

There's been a little harvest! Unfortunately I think that any harvests I will have will be little. My peas have been producing the most output of anything here, but still not that much. One of my bean plants has not produced any beans yet. Loads of flowers but no beans. Boo.

Look at these little beauties! They are so sweet and tasty. I love them!

However, all is not well on the balcony. Look at my peas...they are covered in white fungus the leaves are dying from the bottom up. I'm heartbroken! I love my peas - the flowers were beautiful and the peas were so tasty. I think I am going to have to throw them away.

They have actually gone downhill a lot over the weekend since I took this photo. All but the top leaves are yellow now and the leaves and pods have white mould on them. Sob! I don't think I can save them now but if anyone has any tips as to what I've done wrong here I would really appreciate it. Personally I am going to blame it on the neighbours :)

Here's something nice though. I read Martin's blog at The Good Life where he had a pepper which didn't germinate until he put it in the greenhouse. I have 4 yellow peppers which also wouldn't germinate, so a week or so ago I moved them to the sunniest windowsill we have, and look what's happened...

One out of 4! Thanks for the tip guys. It's a real shame about my peas, but you live and learn. The tomatoes are STILL green, but don't worry - you'll be the first to know when they're edible!

I hope you all had great weekends :)

Sunday, 24 July 2011


I hope you don't mind if I base this post around pictures of some gorgeous things that are happening on my balcony right now.

My wildflower mix (planted to attract the bees and failing miserably) has begun to bloom. I don't know what this plant is but it's beautiful.

A friend who came for dinner recently bought me a gorgeous mini orchid. I find this quite terrifying as I have never usually been able to keep flowers alive, but hopefully my vegetable success will rub off on the orchid.

 This is an open heartsease seed pod.

And lastly, my beans climbing up their pole!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Holiday time & blogging milestones

Uh oh - next week I am away for 3 days of cheese, wine and general tourist fun in Paris. I wouldn't usually be so worried, but then I don't usually have so many plants that require daily watering. What do veg growers, especially container growers, do when they go on holiday?

I could pray for rain, and my outside plants would probably be ok. But the plants inside, especially the chillies which are really thirsty, would probably die.

Plan A - ask a friendly neighbour to water my plants and ply them with macaroons and bottles of wine.

Plan B - soak the plants before I leave and invent some kind of Blue Peter style slow watering device, possibly involving a drinks bottle, duct tape and whatever else is around the house.

Let's hope the neighbours are around!


In other news, I'm really happy as I have just checked my stats and this blog has just reached 1000 views! That's incredible. Thanks to everyone who has come to visit.


I couldn't possibly post an entry without a photo in it. Here is a photo of my tomatoes looking amazing, but still an unapetizing shade of green. How long until they will be red? I'm so impatient! Perhaps when I come back from my holiday they'll be a more edible colour.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Sugared Petals

As you know I was very happy to find a heartsease plant as the petals, as well as being beautiful, are edible. Today I attempted to make some sugared petals for decorations on desserts and cakes. This is how you do it:

Lots of petals (rose or violet petals work too)
1 egg white lightly whisked with a little water
Caster sugar
Pastry brush
Baking parchment

The basic method is to brush both sides of the petal in egg white and then cover it in sugar, then leave the petals for 24 hours to dry out. That makes it sound a lot easier than it was. I like fiddly things - I enjoy sewing, embroidery and make handmade cards, but this was a labour of love! I took an end up with sugar everywhere and petals that stick to everything. 

I do think that the end result looks beautiful, but I would not advise you to attempt this unless you have a while and are feeling particularly patient!

I used them to decorate some raspberry cupcakes that I made today. 

Sunday, 10 July 2011

More infrastructure

My job for today was to add in some more support for my beans. They have grown happily up the netting but they obviously want to grow higher, so I've added a few more poles to keep them happy.

While I was out there I spotted a lot of small beans, but hiding away at the back was one full size bean :) 

It's at the back in a sort of L shape!

I also have lots of peas growing but only about 2 pods which are ready - I don't know whether these can stay out until there's enough for more than a spoonful....but to be honest I am too excited to wait, I will just probably pick them to see what they are like!

Hurry up peas!
I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Berry bonanza

As my strawberries aren't going to be much use this year, we decided to find a nearby PYO farm yesterday. Is there anything better than spending a sunny Sunday morning picking strawberries and raspberries? I made a slight blogger faux pas and forgot to take my camera, but luckily I had the iPhone to take a few snaps.

We were at Crockford Bridge Farm, which is a great PYO farm but also has a lovely farm shop, garden centre and restaurant too.

We didn't even make it to the garden centre or restaurant, so we'll have to save that for another day. It's well worth a visit if you're in the area. Here's our loot - apologies for the mouth watering photos :)

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Chilli testing

Before I get onto the chillies, just look at this picture. What IS this???!!! 

I would love if I could just have a few bees visit my balcony. I am not asking for bluetits and bunny rabbits. And what do I get? Dead pigeons, earwigs and some kind of hornet-beetle hybrid designed purely to scare the living daylights out of me.

On to happier things. Look what's growing!

Tiny baby runner beans! It's so exciting!

We also plucked up the courage to try the chillies tonight. You can eat them at any point - I mainly want to wait until the fruits are red as then they have a slightly sweeter taste. Before this, when they are very dark green they are at their hottest. I had a glass of cold white wine on hand for emergencies!

Would you be scared yet?
You've probably gathered that I'm a complete wimp with spicy things so recruited my other half to try them first, although I have to take his descriptions with a pinch of salt - what he calls "warm" would probably leave me with no taste buds for 3 days. We started with the anaheim and it was actually edible - the skin was hardly hot at all, the seeds were hot but not unbearably so. Then the jalapeno - now that really was hot. Even the b/f thought so and we classed it as too hot for tonight's Thai green curry. The anaheim made the cut though!

Hopefully I can improve my tolerance for chillies this summer!