This is the month when everything is ready to pick and harvest. There’s a busy month of watering ahead if the weather remains dry and also the task of finding help with this job if, like me, you are going on holiday this summer!
I put in a couple of blackcurrant bushes last year and I’m pretty happy with the crop already this year which I have just picked. They’re always a bit tricky to harvest as you need to remove those fiddly stalks on the end when you have picked the currants from the bush. I’m going to make blackcurrant jam with them, read on later to find my ‘In the Kitchen’ section for my easy recipe.
Beans, beans and more beans!
Runner bean harvesting time is in full swing now and a constant stream of them keeps the fridge pretty full. So a top tip is to prepare them like normal for cooking by slicing them up, then just put them in a freezer bag and pop into the freezer (no need to even blanch them). Just cook from frozen in boiling water or steam them.
I’ve grown ‘Purple Queen’ dwarf French beans this year and, wow, what a crop and again just steam or boil them for a tasty treat.
Remember bean plants need a good water if the weather starts to get really dry, which it has been recently.
I’ve had some nice tomatoes already with plenty more on the way, just keep the watering up and pinch out the unwanted shoots, plus tie up with twine once the plant starts to sag with the weight of the crop.
Flowers on the allotment and in the house
Mrs G’s flower bed has been amazing with super sunflowers, cosmos and cornflowers which are being picked regularly and decorating the house in various locations.
In the Kitchen and on the BBQ
As previously mentioned, I’ve been busy making blackcurrant jam with this easy recipe that makes enough jam for around four x 350g jars. Because blackcurrants have a high level of pectin, it means you can use sugar you may already have in the kitchen.
- 600g blackcurrants (stalks removed)
- 600g sugar (caster or granulated)
- Juice from a small lemon
Place blackcurrants in a saucepan, cover with about 250ml of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15/20 minutes allowing the skin of the blackcurrants to become tender and the water has almost evaporated. Add the sugar and lemon juice, bring to the boil until the mixture reaches the magic 105C or, as I like to do, the ‘crease’ test. This is to get a drop of the mixture and place on to a cold saucer and leave to cool for a minute. If you then push the mixture with your finger and it creases/wrinkles then it’s ready!
There have been plenty of opportunities to have a BBQ this month with the current heatwave and I like to chuck all sorts of vegetables onto the grill (courgettes, artichoke and tomatoes pictured).
Things to do
You can just about put in a last row of lettuces for a late summer harvest and plant leeks, I’m planting some I picked up from the garden centre. Remember with the leeks to punch a hole in the soil with the upturned end of a hand fork or trowel so that the leeks are then dropped into the hole. Just water them in and don’t be tempted to backfill the soil into the hole, allow nature to do the work.
If you are going away, try and get a friend or family member to do a quick bit of watering for you on the very dry days, perhaps in return for some produce. However, knowing the English summer it will probably be raining whilst the kids are on their school holidays!