Thursday, 29 September 2011

It's Seren's fault...

I've not been gardening much lately because of this lovely girl. 

We've been having so much fun with Seren! We're about to show her the outside world (she's not been outside yet), maybe tomorrow. 

Even though I've not done much gardening, stuff still grows! Here are some pics I took this morning.

The Sungold tomatoes are ripening fast, we've had a couple of amazing sunny and warm days

The runners are flowering and producing beans

This amazing fellow has spun his web by the beans

The nasturtiums are growing well (and we've been eating the flowers and spicy seeds in salads), this one is growing up towards the sun, by the runner beans
The jalapenos in the greenhouse are growing well

Most of my carrots were eaten by the slugs, but 2 survived, we ate them today, and they tasted so good!

The leaves on the Japanese Maple tree are turning from green to amazing oranges and reds

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Merthyr Mawr, and a walk to the sea

My friend Rachel came to visit this weekend. We had a lovely time, it was really warm, and we had planned to go into Cardiff to a knitting shop, but because the weather was so good we dropped those plans and headed to the beach. 

We found this little piece of art on the beach, someone had collected some colourful shells and arranged them on the sand, so pretty!

I'm so lucky to live so close to some really beautiful beaches. Recommended by Derek, we decided to take a walk only 20 minutes drive away, to Merthyr Mawr. It is a picture perfect village, little cottages with thatched roofs, chicken and Shetland ponies running about in the gardens. We walked through the sand dunes, starting off with one giant dune (the dipper, the second biggest dune in Europe. Hard to walk up, we took two steps forward, one step back!):

...all the way to Ogmore Beach. It took us ages, but we'd planned ahead, and ate a picnic we'd prepared sitting by the sea. This was our view:

And here's Rachel enjoying the sea breeze and amazing view:

the dunes

This fellow had been washed up by the sea

Lots of these berries growing in the dunes, not sure what they are, they looked like a cross between blackberries and sloes.

Lovely wildflowers (violas)

Look at this tree, it was growing in the sand dune, and the sand had shifted, so it's roots had become exposed:

A beautiful day, and we completed the weekend by foraging for sloes in Miskin! Lovely.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The last of the blackberries

I picked a handful of blackberries on my way home this evening. The last of this season I think, the rest have already been eaten by the birds, or they've begun to dry up on the plants. 

I'll pop them in the freezer, they're great to use in American style pancakes (use instead of blueberries), there's a good recipe in Rachel Allen's Home Cooking - great for using up sour milk too! 

Surprisingly the alpine strawberries I planted from seed earlier this year are now producing strawberries! Well, there's a couple of them on the plants.

Here are some fushias that are growing in the greenhouse, that my Dad gave me, I've planted out one of them, but the others are waiting for me to plant out too. 

Oh and look at this fellow who has made a nice home for himself on the tomatoes:

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Nigel Slater's Blackberry and Apple Pie

This afternoon I made an apple and blackberry pie, from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries (pretty similar to this recipe he published in the Guardian). 

I made them with the apples that I was given from a friend at work who had too many to know what to do with: 

And Miskin blackberries I picked on my way home a few weeks ago, and put in the freezer (put them in the freezer before washing them, they're much easier to wash when they're frozen):

It was very tasty and satisfying to make. My first ever attempt at making pastry too!

Miskin Scarecrow Festival

Miskin had it's first scarecrow festival today.

In the grounds of St David's Church, the local people of Miskin brought along their wonderful creations...including us. We entered a very scary Rebecca Brooks scarecrow which we had great fun making with Richard and Leanne on Thursday night. Here's Steve putting the finishing touches to her  lovely red hair:

Thank goodness she's out of our house, she was terrifying us every time we went into the spare room!

Here are some other entries:

I eat birds!

Black Pearl pirate made from driftwood (other driftwood art work available to buy in the fabulous Giles Gallery in Pontyclun) 
Wales Rugby scarecrow

traditional scarecrow

Scare + crow - an amazing entry!

Mr S Crow (plastic surgeon)

eco-recycled scarecrow

Miskin Scarecrow Festival in the St David's Church grounds

the Miskin Arms scarecrow (love his cauliflower ears!)
a gardener scarecrow

Voting has just closed, so we'll find out soon who won!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Riverside Food Market

One of my favourite places to go on a Sunday is the Riverside Farmers Market in Cardiff, by the river, next to the Wales Millennium Stadium. Today the veg stalls were overflowing with lovely produce. 

Blaencamel Farm's organic veg stall
Ty Mawr Organic Veg stall
Pencoed Growers
This is what I bought, four totally different shaped courgettes (4 for £1, bet you can't get them like this in Tescos!), two squashes (I think they're acorn squash), some tomatoes that I couldn't resist eating a few of there and then at the market, and some curly kale. 

The market's there every Sunday, do visit it if you haven't already, it's brilliant. 

Later this afternoon I harvested the rest of the shallots, and hung some more up to dry in the greenhouse.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

St Fagans Food Festival - storing the harvest

Today we went to St Fagans Food Festival. We had a lovely afternoon, eating tasters from the stalls, watching a food demonstration from Taste of Persia (who are going to open a Persian restaurant in Cardiff soon), and just soaking in the atmosphere. 

I went along to a demonstration from one of the gardeners in how to store food for the winter after harvesting it. She showed us how to plait garlic together for hanging:

How to store pears and apples in newspaper (so they don't touch and contaminate each other): 

How to tie up shallots for hanging:

And how to store potatoes:

Here's one of the big fat pigs at the museum farm!

One of the farmhouses, with the fire going

My favourite part, the row of Victorian terraced houses, and their vege patchs

Runner beans in the Victorian houses garden

Tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse

When I got home I hung up some of my own shallots in the greenhouse, very pretty they look too!

The festival's also on tomorrow, well worth visiting if you can!