Saturday 29 July 2017

Picking and preserving

Almost every day now I'm picking something nice to eat from my veg-patch. Today I have harvested the last of my potatoes - a pot of "Nicola" 2nd Earlies:

These ones ought really to have been dug up a bit sooner, because some of the tubers have grown very big and may therefore be a bit coarse for a Second Early. The total yield from this 35-litre pot, starting from one seed-tuber, was 1.01kgs, the heaviest yield from all 16 of my pots, most of which were at about 850 - 950g. The largest tuber of this batch weighed 214g.

I think I'll try baking the big ones. The other day we had some of the "Kestrel" ones baked as Jacket Potatoes and they were very nice.

I very seldom grow any Maincrop potato varieties, so long-term storage is not an issue, but in the short term I like to keep my potatoes in a dark place that has some ventilation. I use some little hessian sacks that came with some coffee beans that my son-in-law brought me from his native Panama. They can each hold about 2kgs of potatoes.

Potato "Red Duke of York" in hessian bag - photo from 2014

They are ideal for the purpose of storing potatoes, because they allow the tubers to breathe. The little bags are in turn stored in an old cardboard shoe-box to keep them as dark as possible.

Of course I have been picking more tomatoes. The "Maskotka" ones are at their best just now, and I have already picked about 3kgs of them.

You'll notice that the fruits in the big round basket are fully ripe, but the ones in the oval basket are not.

Fully ripe "Maskotka"

I have deliberately picked quite a few of these tomatoes under-ripe, because I want to keep them for a while. We are soon going to be holidaying in the UK with our daughters and their families, and I know how much the grandchildren love Grandpa's tomatoes, so I'm going to try to keep some to take with us. For now, they are in green plastic  "Stayfresh" bags, which can keep them in good condition for a long time.

Under-ripe "Maskotka"

I don't normally try to preserve any of the little tomatoes - they are perfect eaten raw - but when the bigger varieties begin to ripen, we will probably make some of them into sauce to freeze for use in the Winter, because we won't be able to keep pace with them if we only eat them raw.

Over the past couple of weeks I have picked a few small batches of Runner Beans (4, to be precise), like this:

Runner Beans "Scarlet Emperor"

So far my Runner Bean plants have not produced many pods. A lot of the flowers just did not set. I'm hoping that now that we have had a few days of rain, they will do better. I think the plants know that it is not sensible to produce a load of pods when they themselves are struggling to survive.

The batch of beans pictured above weighed almost exactly 300g, and this is a nice size for a 2-person serving. As long as we get about two batches a week, I'll be reasonably happy, though it would be good to have a large quantity to freeze. Tomatoes and Runner Beans are about the only things I grow in enough quantity to make it worth preserving.

There's one other thing though.... chillis. Jane made us another jar of pickled chillis today.

That jar contains a mixture of several types of chilli (including some Jalapenos and a couple of the citrussy "Aji Limon"), weighing about 150g.

Still on the "preserving" theme, I have been struggling to dry my onions properly, due to the poor weather we have had. Those poor old onions have been in and out of the shed 100 times in the last week, and have hardly seen the sun! I noticed today that one of them is going soft, so I think I'll probably give up on trying to dry them and just eat them "green".


  1. My Belle de fontenay potatoes, grown 2 to a 35L tub, all harvested around 920 - 950gm just like yours.

  2. We dug some Kestrel potatoes yesterday and the yield was minimal - maybe it doesn't like dryness


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