Sunday, 1 November 2009

Transplanting leeks

Well the veg patch has finally been flattened. Work is slowly progressing on the garden and most of the plants have been moved to their new home. The final project will be to create a new set of raised beds in the end third of the garden. The dimensions of the new area will be about 20ft x 30ft, in what is currently the lawn. Although today was rainy and very windy, it was my only opportunity to save what veg I could, so I braved the wind and mud to keep my 14 biggest leeks.

I prepared the new area by removing all weeds, and digging in some compost. Although I wanted to keep all the leeks, I have finally started to get my head around the idea that plants don't do well when they're overcrowded. So I got the biggest plants, spaced them about 6in apart and watered them thoroughly. I'm really pleased that I've managed to save so many leeks. My absolute favourite winter meal is leek and potato soup and it'll be great for it to be home grown as well as home made.

What to do with butternut squash?

Loosely connected to Halloween, I am stuck for ideas on what to do with the only butternut squash growing in the veg patch. On Saturday Kitchen yesterday I watched a clip where they recommended seasoning the squash and sticking it in the microwave for 5 minutes. This is an appealing idea as it's so convenient and is probably the healthiest ready meal you could get. However, I just can't bring myself to nuke it when there are so many delicious recipes out there.

The clip also inspired me to explore more of the many varieties of pumpkin and squash there are out there. In particular I'm looking forward to trying the red onion and blue hubbard varieties. is a really useful site that gives details on some of the most popular winter squash varieties.

The aftermath of Halloween

Yesterday I got into the spirit of Halloween at the very last minute. I bought the last pumpkin in the market and did a very bad job of carving. I'm now left with all the pulp and seeds from the inside and I can't bring myself to just throw them in the compost bin. Instead I've decided to keep a few of the seeds and have a go at growing my own pumpkins next year.

For me, the carving was a resounding success as I managed to get away without any accidents with the knife. However, it was quite embarrassing when I saw the fantastic creations of my neighbours. So, determined not to be outdone two years in a row, I have already started researching templates for next year's effort. I have been particularly inspired by the Pumpkin Lady's fantastic designs. My favourite is the bewitching witch, but perhaps that might be a bit ambitious. Still, I do have 12 months to practice...

Some very late tomatoes

A few months ago I managed to get hold of some free packets of seeds from the BBC's Dig In campaign. I got them a couple of months too late to plant the tomatoes, but I gave them a go anyway and have been amazed at how well they've turned out. We're into November now, and they're still going strong.

Although I don't eat tomatoes myself, I gave a couple to my mum and she assures me that they are delicious and very sweet. I had hoped to preserve them and make ketchup, but since work is taking me away from home for a month I have had to concentrate on preparing the garden for screen number 2 and my tomatoes are sadly going to pay the price. Much as it pains me to pull up all that fruit before it's ripe, I am looking forward to next year's crop. This year's success has been really encouraging and I will definitely make space in the veg patch for next summer.