Episode 79. Storing and preserving crops.

Hello and welcome to episode 79 of the veg grower podcast titled storing and preserving crops. Today is 30 of August 2016 and it's a Tuesday as yesterday was a bank holiday. I hope everyone had a good bank holiday weekend and made the most of the nice weather we had.
Coming up today I have a few update and then I'm going to talk a little about storing and preserving the rest of the crops that I haven't covered in previous episodes and I will be wrapping this series up.
So firstly down the allotment I went down there yesterday as Sunday I was busy. When I arrived I done what I always do and just had a quick walk around and just checked everything was OK
I noticed that the Autumn raspberries are starting to fruit and a few where ready so that will mean that soon I shall be tucking into the second round of raspberries and I think these may perform better then the summer ones.
I also noticed that some of the tomatoes where showing signs of some mild blight infection so I cut of the infected leaves and shall be keeping an eye on these over the next few days as it can spread very very quickly. Thankfully these tomatoes are just extra plants but all the same I'll like to get some tomatoes from them.
I also noticed that the brassicas in the brassica bed have had a massive growth spurt, the recent rain has really helped them to grow and hopefully will soon mean that broccoli will be harvested.
I've then proceeded to weed the beds and get those clear. The empty beds I just hoed but the other bed I was picking the weeds out by hand which is a very long and boring task.
After this I hammered a wooden stake in the ground around the small apple tree and tied the tree to it in order to get it more upright. It's tied in using strong twine at the moment but I will tie in in with some rubber strips I have somewhere. In fact the featured image on this post is from that tree as it is also producing a lot of apples on it.
I've then started sieving the compost from the compost bin and spreading this around the gooseberry bushes in order to use it up and to mulch the base of the bushes and get the nutrients there for them. This process will continue and the compost will be around every bed and bush that I have. However the compost that's been produced is quiet sandy as it contained a large amount of soil as it's the first load that's been made in this allotment. This compost will improve in time but I've been on this plot just over a year now and starting to get a feel for it.
I then harvested some runner and French beans a leak that had sent up a flower spike and a few raspberries.
So now at home well the tomatoes in the greenhouse are still growing mad in fact one branch has found its way outside however I am harvesting plenty of tomatoes from here so I really can not complain although trying to harvest is a challenge as there is plants and canes everywhere making it tricky to stick my hand in and reach etc.
The outside tomatoes are also slowly producing a crop now which is great but they are about the only thing producing at the moment. I'm sure everything else will certainly the sweet potatoes but the squashes are flowering lots but no fruit setting that I can see yet.
The chickens decided to eat all my radio and chilli seedlings from in front of the potting shed after getting in the netting. However the chilli plants protected in chicken wire are growing great and have some small chillis on them.
The saffron I have now planted up I have a few bulbs left over so need to find a home for them but otherwise the rest are planted and hopefully will grow over the next few weeks.
The peach tree has only one fruit on it this year it did have three but the other two where bad so I removed them and the one left looks really good hopefully it shall ripen soon and taste as good as it looks.
Well that's the updates not a huge amount going on as being on call over the weekend and the weather is making any projects a bit difficult.
So the finali in preserving crops which is basically going to cover some crops I haven't mentioned before such as leaks and cabbage in order to round this series up.
So we have freezing of which most of these other crops do very well simply cut up small blanched and frozen which is so simple and pretty much covers every crop. Another method to freeze crops includes cooking them into a meal and then freezing them such as soups. One of my favourite soups is leak and potato soup which is simply slice two leaks and a small onion. Sweat them in a little olive oil and then add 500ml of vegetable stock and two large potatoes which has been peeled and cubed. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, then pour into a food processor and blend until smooth. Return the soup to a pan to heat through and serve or allow cool and freeze. Simple but tasty.
Some crops can be stored as they are are such as squash. I've known someone to put a butternut squash in a window for 18months to see how long it would store for. 18 months in the worst possible way. Now to prepare the squash for storing starts at the plant make sure it is excellent condition and solid all the way around. Cut from the plant but leave a stem as long as possible on the squash and don't carry it from this stem always hold the whole squash. Leave in the sun to cure for a few days and then store it somewhere dark, cool but well ventilated and it should store for quiet a while.
I love to pickle cabbage, a nice red cabbage that has been stored in vinegar makes a wonderful accompaniment to many meals, if you've ever had cabbage from a kebab shop you get the idea of what I mean. I've added lemon to the vinegar before to add a bit of flavour too and that has worked very very well.
Leaks can be stored in the damp sand method I've discussed before which works very well just be sure to give it a very good was when its time to eat them.
Now many of the other methods I've discussed previously work such as dehydrating and canning so I won't repeat these again but I like to experiment with different methods and recipes and if anybody wants to hear more get in touch as I don't want to bore any of my listeners by repeating myself over and over again.
So that's it for this week thank you for listening, if you want to add anything let me know in the comments on the blog. I'm also wanting to hear from anyone that would like to be on the show to tell stories of there own vegetable gardening experiences. If that interests you get in touch. So till next week bye for now.

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