Virginia Veggie Blog

Just a quickie now. Having a fun holiday in Washington DC and the surrounding Virginia countryside. Yesterday I went to Mount Vernon which was the home of George Washington himself. I was thrilled to learn that he was a keen gardener, farmer and veggie grower and that even back then in the 18th century he was a pioneer in organic gardening and was very much interested in soil fertility. So much so that he wrote long letters from the battlefield back to his staff on what to sow and demanding updates on his farm. George Washington had a "dung depository" built on his farm to stack manure as he found this improved the soil - clever guy!

Photographs to follow.

PS. I liberated some seeds from his garden! ssshhhhhh!


Ah! the wonders of food hanging from plants and trees, just ready to eat! I went to a local orchard this week and bought some apples. Freshly picked in season, these apples were not just apples, they were APPLES!

To those of you who have never grown your own anything - please please, give it a try! Posted by Picasa

Last pickings

The last few weeks have been very mild here in West London. Today it was about 66F. I still have some sweet potato plants yet to be dug, they have been excellent! I have about a dozen Sungold cherry tomatoes left to eat and 3 or 4 "crystal lemon" cucumbers from the greenhouse, along with a small cucumber.

I picked the rest of my aubergines, indoor and out - there were about a dozen in all and they were made into a moussaka today. There are still a few beetroot yet to be picked, and some golden ball turnips.

I planted out some winter lettuce seedlings both indoors and out, let's see which ones the slugs prefer eh? Leeks are going great guns - have eaten a couple of them, taste divine. Swiss chard is a lifesaver - still going strong.

I await the harvest of my scorzonera in a few weeks' time. Hard to describe, they are related to salsify and taste somewhat like a parsnip or a Jerusalem artichoke. Real gourmet food.

Blueberry Bush

Not only does my blueberry bush provide a good crop of delicious fruit through the Summer, but the foliage puts on a stunning display in the Autumn too! Posted by Picasa

Swiss Chard

What a wonderful sight to cheer up an Autumn garden. The rain in the last week has cheered up my Winter veggies. So much to look forward to.

Today I started to clear out my greenhouse. The automatic watering system was taken apart and scrubbed, and I moved in some growbags and planted some of my Winter lettuce seedlings. I don't seem to have remembered the successional planting rule... so there are about 30 lettuces all ripening at the same time... suppose I will have to get a rabbit! Posted by Picasa

Jerusalem Artichokes

I cannot get rid of these! Not a big problem seeing as how I love Jerusalem Artichokes. Only downside is that they give you wind - not just the average 'blow a candle out' wind - I'm talking megawats of alternative energy - type wind. Nevertheless, huge fun with a group of close friends on a rainy day..

Jerusalem artichokes are named from the Italian word for sunflower - gira soleille - meaning turn towards the sun. This time of year there are attractive yellow flowers at the top of the plant which is about 12ft tall at the moment. Should be ready to dig up in December. Posted by Picasa

Pumpkin Pie

My Mother used to cut recepies out of Womens magazines and stick them into a scrap book. Anyone remember Womans Weekly, Womans realm, Womans world, Woman at home...? Ahh such homely pursuits... Anyway this is a well used, well tried and well trusted recepie for Pumpkin Pie.

Pie crust, or line a 10" flan dish with pastry.
2lbs pumpkin (should yield 3/4 cup puree)
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup cream
4 oz dark sugar
2 whipped eggs
Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger
2 tabs brandy.

Preheat the oven at gas #8
Really whip together the sugar and eggs, gradually add the cream and milk, and then gently fold in the pumpkin puree. Season with spices to taste and add the brandy.

Do not be alarmed at the pouring consitency of the mixture, think of it as an egg custard.

Pour into the pastry case, and place in preheated oven at gas #8 just for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to #3 and cook for 30 mins or until cooked.


Green Peppers

These green peppers survived better outdoors than the ones in my greenhouse. These were from some free seed given in the "Kitchen Garden Magazine" , a variety called "Yolo Wonder". Like my chillis they have not ripened yet.

Apparently you can keep a chilli plant in a greenhouse over winter and they will survive - I think they might be perennial or biennial... or something like that. My beloved Bob Flowerdew was talking about them. I will have to go and find out - unless, of course you know different? Posted by Picasa

Sungold tomato

This Sungold tomato was a volunteer. Let me explain - I had mulched my tomato hedge with a thick layer of compost, when a few weeks later (back in May) a little bunch of tomato seedlings were poking their way out of the soil. A sungold tomato in the compost from last year had germinated about 30 seedlings in close proximity. I admired their will to live.

Potted up a few, and here is one. So glad I will have some seed for next year, they are fantastic and very very sweet. Posted by Picasa

Globe Artichokes

The main growth for this year has been cut right back. Here are the new shoots for next year. These can be left in situ, or taken as cuttings and potted up for a new plant.

Does anyone know how to prevent a severe infestation of blackfly??? Please help! Fantastic artichokes this year completely infested. Posted by Picasa

My Broccoli

I spaced out my broccoli a little more this year. In previous years I have planted them about 12" apart in order to acheive a "broccoli hedge" (I like hedges don't I?). This year I had more space and fewer plants.

EVERY day I have to search the inner and outer leaves for caterpillars, and every day I find more than one. The colder nights in the last week might help keep the numbers down. Carry on squishing! Posted by Picasa

Norwegian Lettuce

I thought that these were going to seed! It looks as if this is just the way they grow. These large elongated leaves grow up a tall stalk. The biggest is about 18" tall. I have some small seedlings growing, and they have developed a "stalk" as well. This might be a good way to prevent slugs? Delicious tender leaves. Posted by Picasa

Golden Ball Turnip

I had never grown turnips before this year. A free packet in the "Kitchen Garden" magazine encouraged me to do so. Apparently they are fast growing, and winter hardy. These little turnips are sweet and tender - I doubt there will be any left to see if they are hardy or not! The only problem is that the slugs and snails love them! Posted by Picasa

Chilli - Joes Long

These are a variety I grew from free seeds from the Gardener's World chilli trial this year. The variety is "Joe's Long". The plant is about 5ft tall, I grew 3 in a growbag in the corner of the greenhouse. They haven't ripened yet, I have cleared most of the other plants to give them as much light as possible - most of them are between 8" and 10" long. Hope they ripen, they look extremely attractive. Posted by Picasa

A perfect pumpkin

This pumpkin has been hardening off in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks. It is in danger of being eaten in the next couple of days. I have a wonderful recipe for pumpkin pie. Posted by Picasa

My first sweet potatoes

I dug up my first sweet potatoes today. To be honest it was just a gamble and I wasn't expecting much to happen. A fair size and number of tubers, although it was apparent that there is a further large number of swollen roots which, given a few more months of sunshine would give a larger crop. The book said that they need at least 4 months of sun and heat - could do with a bit more. Some of the smaller ones had slug damage, but the larger ones were perfect and tasted divine. Posted by Picasa

Russett Apples

Whilst walking through the orchard at Brogdale, our guide just picked apples and pears and cut them up for us to try. The Russett apple has the most wonderful flavour and texture.

Looking through the gardening magazines this month, there are many apple festivals around in the next few weeks. 800 varieties of apples will be on display at Brogdale. That's some fruit bowl ! Posted by Picasa