Glut Instinct

“Growing your own produce is great if you want no food, then 400 tomatoes, then nothing, then 120 cucumbers, then nothing, then 3 carrots that weren’t eaten by the local wildlife, then 40 weird looking courgettes, of which only 3 are edible.”

This quote pretty accurately describes where we are right now with our allotment. We are most definitely in the midst of a glut, particularly of tomatoes. We have grown A LOT. In the last month I have turned 10kg of ‘Tigerella’ and ‘San Marzano Plum’ into pasta sauce. We’ve even considered buying a third freezer to preserve it all. On top of that, we have also been cropping ‘Golden Crown’ and ‘Black Opal’. Who’s idea was it to plant almost 50 tomato plants? …. Errr, that would be me! I’m not hugely impressed with ‘Black Opal’. The fruits are fine but not outstanding. They take a little longer to ripen, the flesh is nice but the skins split very easily. ‘Golden Crown’, however, is a joy of a tomato, small, sweet and delicious to snack on whilst dead-heading the dahlias or watering the allotment – even Millie enjoys a tomato or two.

TFG and a batch of tomatoes

In July’s post I mentioned the courgette glut. Well, that continued for a while and then, all of a sudden, the plants were covered in mildew. This is a common occurrence in the squash family. I decided to cut off all the affected leaves and fruit and wait for them to flush up again, which they did. We have gone the other way now and instead of picking young courgettes we have been missing them and picking some monster marrows! I stuff them with a mince and vegetable mix, wrap them in foil and bake for an hour before serving on a bed of steamed, home-grown Cavolo Nero – delicious).

Courgette ‘Sunstripe’

I have pickled more beetroot. This time I cropped all the white and golden ones together. In a jar of clear vinegar, they look rather appetising. I confess that I made a small error with the original jar of ruby beetroot. Instead of a teaspoon of pickling spice I used a tablespoon. If anyone would like the roof of their mouth blown off by some rather fiery beetroot, please do let me know as I don’t think we will be eating them. However, I cannot bring myself to waste them. I just need to work out how to ‘soften the blow’ – any ideas, readers?

White & golden beetroot, pickled

The Tromboncino squash continue to cause a stir with passers-by, particularly ladies of a certain age and pretty much all the male folk. We have eaten a few and really enjoyed their dense, nutty flesh. But, as the days get shorter, I have taken the decision to leave some on the vine and let them turn into autumn squash. What I did not consider is that they would become monsters: they are huge! One of them must almost four feet long. I am particularly looking forward to roasting them or making soup. I am hoping the extra time on the vine will increase their flavour. I will definitely be growing Tromboncini again next year. They have quickly become a favourite of mine on the allotment for their easiness, their rampant growth, their size, their taste and, of course, the humorous comments and gasps they elicit.

Big & beautiful (the Tromboncino, that is ;-))

The gladioli have almost finished now. We are still enjoying the blooms of G. ‘Sancerre’; a beautiful, big, white variety. All the others are over and gradually dying back.

Our zinnias have been a joy and a pleasure: I forgot how long the flowers last. We’ll definitely grow more of these beauties next year. (I’d personally like a bed devoted to zinnias, but I think that would be a waste in terms of production). For me, zinnias are second only to dahlias.

Zinnia heaven

Apart from the crimson-red flowers, the broad beans were utterly disappointing. As soon as the pods appeared it seemed as though every black fly in the country descended upon them in plague proportions. They were never the same after this onslaught, although we tried in vain to rescue them. I think it’s fair to say that we won’t be growing broad beans again – who eats them anyway? (I’d like to but I don’t think my life would be less so for not eating them and, from a positive point of view, not having them means we can grow something else.) We did have success with runner beans and dwarf french beans, which we are still cropping, and they taste delicious too.

Magic beans

Another crop I don’t think I will try again is heritage sweetcorn. As with the broad beans, they were very disappointing. ‘Double Red’ didn’t produce many cobs and the stalks were very weak. We had a fair bit of wind during the summer and you could bet that when you got to the plot one or two of the ‘Double Red’ sweetcorn would have been blown over. I was filled with eager anticipation for ‘Mexican Giant White’. The higher the plants got and the bigger the cobs became, the more giddy with excitement I was. What a let-down they were. The plants look good, healthy and strong, standing about 8 feet tall, but the cobs are not great and they are not sweet at all; quite bitter in fact. I tried them but I won’t be trying again. The modern variety we grew was definitely much sweeter and more successful. However, I will be growing ‘Glass Gem’ corn next year for no other reason than that their multi-coloured cobs are a joy and a pleasure to look at. (Google them, you won’t be disappointed.)

‘Double Red’ sweet corn

As you may remember, we grew several varieties of potato – ‘Anya’, ‘Pink Fir Apple’, ‘Kestrel’ and ‘Cara’. We’ve been slowly eating our way through ‘Anya’, a salad potato, and they are very tasty. I would definitely grow them again. The other varieties are still in the ground and I am hoping they can stay there until such a time as we are ready to consume them. Please don’t ask about early, main or late crops, I’m a bit lazy in that department and just plant the potato I like the look of and that has a nice flower. I know it’s ridiculous, but I firmly believe you should plant what you like, not what you should, if that makes sense?!

‘Anya’ potatoes

Our allotment society has a Facebook page. Just recently, a member started a thread about the theft of her fruit; it was plums, if I remember correctly. This person was adamant that someone was taking all the fruit from the top of her tree, not the bottom where it would be easier to take them from. What a lot of allotmenteers fail to notice is that our site is full to the brim with wildlife. We have foxes, rodents, frogs and a large and varied bird population, including woodpeckers. I have seen foxes take corn cobs from the plants and wood pigeons strip brassicas in a matter of minutes if left unattended. So it is no surprise that a few days ago TFG and I stood watching a flock of ring-necked parakeets (an introduced species) snacking on the fruit trees in the allotment. To my utter joy they started perching on and eating our spent sunflower heads. I am and will always be happy to let these ‘thieves’ eat their fill, especially the birds. Not only are they getting a meal but I am being brought closer to nature. That can only be a good thing …. just don’t strip the crops bare, please!

This is not a ring-necked parakeet!

Knowing how much I love dahlias, TFG bought me a wonderful gift this week – a book showing me how to hybridise and breed my own dahlias. I am already rather excited about choosing my first hybridising project. What colour will I choose, what size, what shape? I have caught myself already thinking of names for any successful hybrids that I might one day produce. The possibilities are endless and infinite. Watch this space!

Talking of which, I haven’t mentioned dahlias much so far. What can I say apart from that they are MAGNIFICENT! We are still enjoying lots of gorgeous blooms. Currently I am very much in love with ruby dinner-plate Dahlia ‘Spartacus’ …. he is a beauty and my favourite on the allotment. Other favourites include ‘Tartan’, ‘Taratahi Ruby’, ‘Ornamental Rays’, ‘Henriette’ and ‘Black Narcissus’. We are currently discussing the introduction of even more dahlias to the allotment in 2021. In my opinion you can never have enough, so this is obviously music to my ears. We are creating a wish list of varieties that we would like to grow and then we shall whittle them down to those we really want. If you’re interested, you can see more of our dahlia pictures on our Instagram pages. My account is ‘jmkna’ and, of course, TFG is ‘thefrustratedgardener’.

In other exciting news, TFG and I are currently finalising plans for our spring 2021 bulb display. That’s where I am off to now – I need to ensure that he’s included all the gaudy tulips I’ve chosen before he checks out.

Me in my happy place.

Happy Gardening One and All!

The Beau.

19 thoughts on “Glut Instinct

  1. You have had an extraordinarily successful first year at your allotment and, what I consider most important and what your blog posts show so very clearly, you have obviously enjoyed it all very much. Certainly, fresh produce cannot be matched by anything you buy in shop or market and there is special enjoyment in eating what you have grown yourself. I’m afraid I could never join you in eating marrows. There is a place for marrows – the compost bin! As for broad beans, I am going to sow now so as to have them in crop early next year and picked and eaten before the blackfly even appears on the scene! Garlic is already planted here while purple sprouting broccoli has already come and gone so nothing for spring! That’s how it goes but it’s great fun.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We have indeed Paddy. I find it rather extraordinary looking back on photos at just how much we have achieved in 8 months. It has been hard work, however, I think we have both thoroughly enjoyed it and we are certainly enjoying the fruits (and flowers) of our labours.

      We are preparing to plant garlic and onions for over winter – any recommendations for decent, reliable, large garlic bulb varieties?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have grown the same garlic for about 25 years and it was a gift from a friend and came without a name. There is a garlic supplier on the Isle of Wight which has nice varieties. I like their ‘Solent Wight’. I have also grown their ‘Solent Purple’ and ‘Solent Iberian’. I have two varieties from the Ukraine which are my present favourite but they are not available. They came to me from a friend.

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  2. I love you guys, and thank you for satisfying the question I’ve been asking all along: what do they DO with all that food? I’m finding that I can grow just enough for two (and a bit extra for my daughter who wants to take something back home with her every week) in our very small garden. I hope you’re good sauce makers—I have to say I’m quite proficient at producing a damn good vegetable sauce and I orient much of my summer growing toward things that can be turned into some kind of saucy vegetable dish and frozen. Have you tried French beans cooked with tomatoes? The best, especially with some Thai basil thrown in.

    Best, Jane

    >

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jane, thank you for your comments. We did indeed plant a little too many tomatoes, however, the rest of the produce has been enjoyed or frozen ready for winter consumption when the plot is producing very little.

      French beans cooked with tomatoes sounds lovely – recipe?

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      1. It goes something like this: sauté minced garlic in your favorite oil or butter on a low heat till it softens a bit, add in peppers if using them, then throw in tomatoes–either whole or halved cherry tomatoes or the chopped pulp from skinned larger tomatoes. Then some basil or other herbs, salt and pepper to taste, then add the beans (I always cut them up a bit to reduce the cooking time). Cook uncovered till the beans are tender and the liquid reduced down to your satisfaction; great with rice.

        It’s a “haricots provençal” sort of thing, although I have also added tomatillos and/or okra which is also delicious. (I don’t know if you grow tomatillos but they are a great sauce base and pair well with tomatoes.) You could parboil the beans for a minute before adding them. It’s a good recipe for early or late in the year when I have just a little of this, a little of that, but you can also make a batch and freeze them for the winter.

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  3. I laughed aloud at the beginning quite. So true! I’m struggling with a glut of broccoli just now, and it grows surprisingly quickly. I have to admit to a bit of tomato envy as I find it difficult to grow them here. We have fruit fly which completely ruin the fruit unless it’s either sprayed with ghastly poisons or completely netted with special netting.
    Exciting about the dahlias. I look forward to seeing some of the results in the future.

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    1. Jane, if you can get here, you can have as many tomatoes as you can carry!!! 😉

      I am giddy with childish excitement over the dahlias and, sadly, I have just read that the National Dahlia Collection in Cornwall has stopped commercial sales completely…..perhaps the Cosmos is trying to tell me something!!!

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  4. It is all so enviable. Everyone talks about some sort of dissatisfaction with their gardens. Our garden was abandoned three times this summer. I was actually surprised that so much survived without irrigation during the last evacuation. There were no real gluts that were not shared with neighbors who have been out of work for so long, so none got canned or frozen.
    I have not recommendation for the beets, since I prefer them very spicy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tony, there’s spicy and then there’s roof of the mouth searingly hot and spicy! If I could get them to you I would. They are an acquired taste, of that I am sure!

      I hope you are safe and well and the wild fires haven’t affected you too seriously?!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Searingly hot and spicy can compromise the other flavors. I have not met beets like that yet. I do like them spicy, but too spicy to taste how spicy they are would be a bummer.
        The fire got no closer than a mile and a half. My neighborhood to the east is safe. However, so many to the west lost their homes. Our facility has been inoperable because of the other ‘situation’, so some of the lodges were made available to firefighters. Now, some of the cabins are becoming temporary homes for those who lost their homes. As the firefighters leave the lodges, volunteers who are helping those who lost their homes are arriving. It is weird, and saddening to know that even though there are many here who lost their homes, there are many more elsewhere.

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  5. We usually have a glut of tomatoes but this year our Gardeners Delight and Sweet one hundred were not as prolific. However we did have 4 plants of a new tomato Apero….which we have loved….so tasty. Will definitely be growing this one again next year.

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    1. The Tigerella tomatoes have been a joy to grow. Their flesh is tasty and juicy and sweet. They make excellent pasta sauce too.

      I will look up Apero – thank you for the recommendation.

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  6. Ha Ha ! yes the joys of growing veggies. Made the same mistake with tomatoes last season – I even resorted to filling work’s fridge/freezer with pasta sauce and I still have enough for another 6 months. Next season I going to bottle them instead – then I won’t need the freezer space. And just to show you us gardeners never learn I have 6 varieties already planted in the green house germinating nicely- probably close to 150 plants…. so what am I going to do with all of these ? who knows, but the challenge of getting the more difficult ones to grow is worth the anxiety attacks! The garden has looked glorious this year John – you and Dan have done a spectacular job. Its worth all the effort when the veggies taste soooo good and the flowers are so divine. xx

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    1. Oh Helen, it appears we both suffer from the same incurable habit of growing way more than is sensible but if we did that where would the fun be in that?! I LOVE growing tomatoes, especially alternative shapes, colours, sizes, etc. I want a delicious rainbow on my plate and that’s exactly what I shall grow.

      I’m already planning next year’s tomato plants…I shall try my hardest not to plant so many next year (he says!)

      The allotment has certainly done us both proud in its first year and we are both loving the produce and the blooms. I am excited for the plans we have in 2021……(did I mention MORE DAHLIAS?!?!?!) 😀

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  7. Too bad your sweet corn didn’t turn out good. With all that wind I can imagine. You will have to find a variety that tastes good and will withstand the winds. Glass corn is so pretty to use in fall decorations. As to your spicy beets…I have no idea. Chalk them up to a lesson learned. Potatoes look good. I probably eat way too many of those. I love the squash season. So many different ways to liven up a meal with them. I will be most interested in your hybridization experiment. Speaking of names, I have been watching Le Tour de France and several of the names of riders have caught my ear. I have thought they would make good names for dogs I will probably never have. ha… I am enjoying your gardening year. Cheers

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  8. To be honest Lisa, I’m not too disappointed with the corn, it is what it is and although they didn’t produce good cobs they look good and that’s almost half the battle. However, next year’s corn will be modern, yellow, sweet varieties that we can rely on (apart from the glass gem!).

    Fresh potatoes taste so good don’t they?! I really like our Anya potatoes and I hope the others taste just as good. We need to up our intake as the slugs will get them if we don’t hurry and lift them for storage.

    The dahlia breeding book is very interesting and it has got me day dreaming of all sorts of combinations. Only yesterday I was discussing with Dan which parents I should pick for my first attempt…..

    Thank you for stopping by 😀

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  9. The photo of the Beau with the squash was hilarious. I’m still smiling. And I can totally relate to your heirloom corn issues. My glass gem became weaker and weaker and I have little hope for the awful looking little ears whose insides look nothing like gems. As they say, there’s always next year and next year I won’t waste space on glass gem corn.

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