As we head into holiday season the main challenge we have is ensuring that our greenhouse plants are kept well-watered when we go away. The offer of ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies and courgettes to family members in exchange for an hour long round trip for watering duties, has fortunately proved too tempting to resist! We will also set up a “Big Dripper” watering system which gives a slow and steady water flow for our tomatoes, which will hopefully prevent them from splitting.
Tomatoes split because of fluctuations in the amount of water they get. Watering after a dry spell can cause rapid growth and fruit expansion which can split the outer skin. This can sometimes be a problem when the tomatoes are still green, but it happens more often to tomatoes that are starting to ripen, mainly because the outer skin becomes more fragile, the closer a tomato gets to ripening.
After growing for 3 months, our sweetcorn ‘Minipop’ is finally starting to show signs of the corns forming. Timing is now critical and we need to pay close attention, as if we leave baby sweet corn on the plant too long they will just grow into large, tough and rather unpleasant baby sweet corn. In other words, timing is of the essence when picking baby sweet corn and it’s important you get it right if you’re going to enjoy your harvest.
As mentioned in last month’s blog we are continuing to have a glut of courgettes, however we have discovered a fantastic courgette chocolate cake recipe which has gone down a storm with both children and adults alike. It is really easy and fun to make with kids, and can also be made into muffins (just reduce the cooking time to about 20 mins) or as a large cake.
Chocolate Courgette Cake
175g dark chocolate
200g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
110g caster sugar
175ml sunflower oil
2 medium eggs
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180C. Grease and base line a 2lb loaf tin (but see note above about muffins).
- Melt the chocolate (either over simmering water, or carefully in the microwave)
- Beat together the oil and eggs
- Finely grate the courgette into this mixture and mix in to incorporate
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and add the sugar. Stir well to mix.
- Add the melted chocolate and pour into the loaf tin. Do not overfill.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes until the loaf is well risen and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean
- Leave to cool in the tin for a little while as the freshly baked loaf is very fragile
- Turn onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before adding butter icing to the top
- Serve either hot or cold, with cream or ice cream, allow children to eat it that helped make it! (Thanks Frances and William)
Our calabrese, cauliflowers and summer cabbages have been harvested in the past couple of weeks and our freezer is now full of these vegetables which will be really easy to use in the next few months in stir fries, veggie curries or as an accompaniment with roast dinners.
We’ve also made a really simple calabrese soup (what most people know as broccoli) with just an onion, calabrese and a vegetable stock cube with which was really flavoursome and was great to eat on a soggy July day.
If we are really lucky the calabrese will produce some side shoots and we will have an extended harvest of this ‘broccoli’ in the autumn, before the early and late purple sprouting broccoli is ready in the new year.
Never mind the greens, bring on the chocolate cake!