Month 2

Considering I am a novice gardener, the weather has not been entirely favourable and my garden is small, I feel I have done remarkably well in the last month to use something from it every day that I was at home.

All being well, this month, I will be able to do the same and I have started today (Day 32) by eating some mangetout. And in a while I am going to finish off the rhubarb (own) and ginger cake I made the other day.

Unfortunately, the cake had gone mouldy, so that went in the food recycling bin rather than my tummy. But Day 33 has been better with my first strawberry in a salad (idea from backroadjournal.wordpress.com and realfoodrealdeals.com), as shown in the photo below, and some red chillies from my chilli plant with more satay sauce and noodles. By the way, the lettuce in the salad was my own as well.

Well, my produce from the garden hasn’t been quite as exciting today (Day 34) as it has been just a handful of mangetout with some rocket in yet another stirfry (not that I get bored of noodles with vegetables!). Who knows what tomorrow brings, however, now that we have finally seen some sunshine. Perhaps summer is at last on the way and the temperatures will rise a bit as well.

Better weather or not, I only managed some of my own oregano with my meatballs in tomato sauce this evening (Day 35). However, there are definitely some more salad ingredients for later in the week, and yet more mangetout have been appearing, so I feel as though I am moving forward.

In fact, so many mangetout were ready this evening (Day 36) that I added them to the chard fritatta that I say on the following site: http://thepyjamagardener.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/rainbow-chard/ And I had eaten some more meatballs with my own oregano for lunch, so today was definitely an improvement on yesterday!

There was certainly a feel-good factor from what I made for my evening meal tonight (Day 37). Not only did my first attempt at fishcakes turn out well but the fennel, mangetout and lettuce from the garden that accompanied them was quite a substantial addition (in comparison with other days this month). I will definitely have to have more meals of this natutre in the very near future 🙂

I thought today (Day 38) was going to be another one without using much from the garden, apart from some more fennel with fishcakes for lunch. True enough, except that in using up food that I had made earlier in the week, I remembered that I had used some of my mangetout in the chard fritatta. That tasted even better after ‘resting’ for a couple of days:) Tomorrow, however, looks quite promising as with the rain today (?) lots of thing seem to have shot up quite a bit, including the rhubarb which is onto round two for the season.

Today (Day 39) wasn’t a total washout in spite of the weather. We didn’t have milk for coffee first thing in the morning, so I tried making brown tea with some of the mint leaves from the garden. That did taste very nice, unlike the coriander for tea. I had made satay sauce to go with noodles and vegetables, and decided to see if the coriander would be suited to this dish, but I won’t be trying that again. Unfortunately, the coriander doesn’t actually smell appetising, so I wonder if there are different varieties with different aromas, as I have never felt this way about coriander before. (Note to self, check the varieties next time I go seed shopping.)

Yesterday (Day 40), the only thing I had from the garden was some mint with strawberries, which was really lovely. However, today (Day 41) I’ve had mangetout for my evening meal in a risotto and we fed some of our strawberries to the birds. The slugs had unfortunately taken one too many nibbles out of them. They could have gone in the next batch of jam but it seemed more appropriate to give our little friends some food as they seemed so hungry (they managed to eat half a loaf of stale bread in a matter of minutes).

On Day 41, I have eaten my first homegrown radishes with the rest of the risotto from last night. So, that means that I have also eaten some more mangetout. And now I am going to make some more strawberry jam with some of my mint leaves (hopefully, this experiment will not spoil the jam!).

Now I am onto Day 42 and feel very satisfied with what I’ve used form the garden. For lunch, I ate a salad of my own lettuce leaves and radishes. I had decided to thin the radishes out so that I could make space of the rest to get big, so the ones I had today were diddy but just as nice. It also felt good at last to have a bit of colour in my salad.

Then this evening I have made another batch of strawberry jam which included some of my own strawberries which I saved from the slugs. On top of that, I added some of my mint and I have to say that it is crumptious. Even my little girl likes it, so maybe this is the way in to her accepting herbs on her plate?!

P.S. I didn’t actually get round to making the jam on Sunday so what I made today is what I would have made then. And I know definitively that mint in strawberry jam does not spoil it. (The recipe had said to mash up the strawberries but this time I decided to cut them up slightly but not mash them. The result was much more as I would expect jam to be like rather than the coolie we made at the weekend.)

Today (Day 43) I have used up a chickpea stew from the freezer which had some broccoli leaf from the plants I had earlier in the year. That was served with potato salad to which I had added a few of my chili peppers. Then for dessert I had my own rhubarb as well. Hopefully, this is a sign that I will soon be having more meals with more of my own produce, especially now that the sun has come out again 🙂

Day 44 was even better than yesterday. First thing, I made a milkshake for my daughter which included some of our strawberries. For lunch, I finished off the beetroot salad with rocket from last night. For the evening meal, there was a salad with our lettuce and one of the onions which had bolted from the garden. Finally, I gave my daughter some melon with the strawberry jam flavoured with our mint. Hurray, she ate that, so perhaps she will be branching into herbs sometime soon?!

The onion wasn’t very pungent, so I’m wondering if this could be to do with the fact that it had bolted or if it was because the bulb was dug out before it had matured sufficiently. Of course, it could also be the variety, so it will now be interesting to see what the others are like.

Anyway, on the subject of plants, on Day 44 I also donated some of the purple sprouting broccoli seedlings to my daughter’s school. They are going to be sold tomorrow at the school fayre to raise funds for the school.

I’ve been feeling really rough with hayfever today(Day 45) so organised meals have been off the agenda. However, I did finish off the salad with my own lettuce and onion earlier on. And hopefully tomorrow I will feel more normal in terms of eating!

Thankfully, yesterday was a bit of a blip and on Day 46 I have eaten plenty. In the morning I dug up one patch of potatoes which had grown completely out of the blue. At a guess, that makes one and a half kilos of potatoes out of the remnants of those I dug up at Christmas. Not bad. Especially, as unlike the ones I’ve been buying from the local farm, there are no blemishes or green bits.

For my evening meal, I therefore had some of my own potatoes, very fresh from the garden. These were in a salad with my very own lettuce as well. And I garnished the salad with a honey and mustard dressing – homemade but not grown by me!

In all the excitement of getting so many potatoes, I completely forgot to mention that yesterday I also used some of my own strawberries in a homemade milkshake for my daughter.  Today (Day 47) , however, the food grown by me and used in the kitchen has been less spectacular: for our evening meal, I made a vegetable stew which was seasoned with come of my coriander seeds from last year and another of the bolting onions. So, not too bad but considering the garden is now burgeoning with goodies, I have no excuse not to use more.

On Day 48 I have had a somewhat unorthodox breakfast of my own radishes with some leftover coleslaw in a sandwich. This was followed by more of the vegetable stew from last night (own coriander seeds and onion) and for our evening meal we had a stirfry with the biggest crop of mangetout so far this year. (Note to self, perhaps I need to start estimating how much money I would have had to spend in order to have the same from a shop?)

At Day 49 I have also done well with produce from the garden. I didn’t manage to eat anything from it at breakfast time – was in too much of a rush – but for lunch I ate the rest of the stirfry with mangetout and in the evening I used up something from the freezer with my own garlic from last year and the first of the broad beans as a side dish. I think they were a little overcooked but they tasted so much better than I remember them from my childhood. Is it really that long since I have eaten broad beans (knowingly)?

Another successful day (Day 50): lunch was more of the broad beans and garlic which were left over from my evening meal yesterday. Then in the evening today, apart from the fish, everything on my plate was my own. So, I had some lovely homegrown potatoes and lettuce with radishes. That means I have now used up the first batch of lettuce and so can plant something new in its place!

On Day 51 it has been more mangetout in a one-pot rice dish. I also used the stock I made from steaming my potatoes and broad beans earlier in the week and added a couple of the chillies from my windowsill.

As we have been out and about today (Day 52), I made a batch of sandwiches to take with us, which have in fact lasted all day, even since we came home again. So, I didn’t do any cooking, but the sandwiches were filled with, amongst other things, my own lettuce. To be honest, I’ve never eaten so much lettuce in my life as I have over the last few weeks and I am starting to appreciate it more. I think we will be eating something different from the garden tomorrow, though….

And we did. Or rather I did as my daughter wasn’t keen on the idea of cress and radishes for tea. Also, today (Day 53) I ate some more of the risotto dish I had made on Friday. This time I added some tomato soup (bought from the reduced section of our local Co-op) which improved the dish considerably. I think that that had simply been too dry.

Today’s evening meal (Day 54) was definitely more appetising than the rice dish I finished off last night. I had some more of our mangetout, which I added to onion, sweetcorn and the rest of the soup I got at a reduced price yesterday. This accompanied some more of our potatoes with cheese. Then for dessert, we had some of our rhubarb and strawberries. Very good, all round!

On Day 55, I’ve eaten the rest of the yesterday’s evening meal, so more of my potatoes and mangetout. Now, this evening I’ve eaten some of my broad beans in a stirfry. In comparison with last week the beans are bigger and there are still plenty more left, which hopefully will be even bigger next time I pick and eat them. Unfortunately, I discovered some lettuce from the garden which was far too wilted to be consumed but at least it will go back in the compost, completing life’s cycle 🙂

Well, predictably, on Day 56 I have had the same lunch as I ate yesterday evening, which means more broad beans. Then this evening I had eaten yet more of my mangetout and some leaves from a purple sprouting broccoli plant I decided to pull up last night, as it was getting too cramped under the net cloche to let it go any longer and I couldn’t think of a suitable place to replant it. And I finished off the last of the first batch of potatoes which I dug up recently.

I’m absolutely stuff, having just eaten a rather large evening meal (Day 57), which included my own garlic and carrots with cauliflower in a tomato sauce. For lunch I’d also eaten vegetables from the garden: the rest of yesterday’s evening, when I’d used some purple sprouting broccoli leaves and mangetout. The way things are going, I guess I’ve got a good month of using my own produce in reasonable quantities and it feels good 🙂

Last night, I made some stock with the leaves off the cauliflower, adding some of my own garlic in addition to spices (shop-bought). So, I used that this evening (Day 58) to make soup from one of the pots out of the freezer. This turned out to be not only carrot and parsnip but there was an omelette, too. Anyway, I added an onion my daughter helped me dig up the a couple of days ago and some of my coriander to the soup, which thankfully it tasted great!

It’s now Day 59 and the last for this chapter. We’ve got a lot of food to use up at the moment, so it was really easy to use something from the garden with every meal. First, for breakfast I had some more of the cauliflower cooked with my own garlic and carrots. For lunch I had some sandwiches (bread from the freezer) with my own lettuce and radishes and our evening meal there was a lovely salsa which included one of my own onions and some mangetout.

To be honest, I think that the mangetout might be doing better than last year, no doubt in part because of the rain. However, I also think it could be because I have left the plants to continue growing after the first flush, so I am getting a second crop. I do hope I can empty the freezer quickly, though, so that I can then stock up with some of my own produce and have something for when the main growing season has finished.

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10 Responses to Month 2

  1. gaiainaction says:

    I enjoyed reading through your experiences with your garden and your garden produce. It somehow kept ringing a bell with me and my own experiences, good writing.

  2. Coriander tea (day 39) sounds good but is it? I do like eating the small seeds fresh from my plants and there is a recipe for coriander seed cookies that someday I will try.

    This month-by-month journal you are keeping is interesting and a valuable way to keep track of what happens over a season. I keep a written journal recording weather, birds and other wildlife, the changes in plants, and when I plant and harvest, and things I do in the garden.

    • Helen says:

      ‘Tea’ in the sense I used it for day 39 was the name of the evening meal. I think the north of England is the only place in the English-speaking world that does this?

      I think it is possible to use any herb to make the drink tea, though?!

      Anyway, thanks very much for looking through the food diary I kept. It got a bit tedious by months 10-12, so now I just note down in a paper diary and will feedback with overall observations.

      Your journal sounds interesting. I would like to start documenting wildlife at different times of the year. It would help me learn the names of birds as well.

      • Ah! That “tea”.

        Just about anything has been made into teas but whether they taste good or are good for you is a different matter. I have a post coming up soon on a “tea” made from red sumac berries that tastes very much like lemonade.

        The journal I’ve been keeping has helped me to learn birds and also made me aware of how many species of birds live where I live.

  3. Wonderful use of your garden. I couldn’t tell if you eat your radish greens (do not try this with grocery store stuff). Especially the little thinnings…. mmmmm.

    I do the same by late winter, starting to see what I can eat each day. If I have a missing day the next year I add something for that spot.

    Gardening is a fun adventure.

    • Helen says:

      I don’t think I’ve tried radish greens but as part of the cabbage family, I guess they must be palatable. I will definitely bear in mind thinnings in future as well.

      I hope you’ve filled the missing spots for this winter!

  4. Helen, how terrific to be eating constantly from your small garden. I like that you kept a journal of each day. What a fun idea.

    • Helen says:

      I’m keeping an off-line record at the moment – not sure if the daily amounts have increased significantly since I write those pages, but I think there is more variety….

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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