A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: urban gardening

When I first started looking for courgette recipes at the beginning of the summer, this one for jam stood out immediately. I cut up and froze any parts of courgettes that I didn’t use in my other recipes, and eventually I had nearly 2kg ready to use. I managed to get eight jars of varying sizes from 2kg of courgette.

I haven’t made jam since I attended a workshop with Anna many years ago- before I’d even started this blog. I must say that making the jam was more labour intensive than I’d imagined/remembered.

The courgette released an enormous amount of water. I’m not sure if this was a side-effect of freezing, but also there was a lot of the watery middle bit of courgettes included in what I used. All the water took a very long time to boil off, and I struggled to be patient with it. I tested whether it was set a few times and found the results a little inconclusive. Because I had seen wrinkles on my saucer once, I decided to go ahead and pot.

According to the recipe, this jam will take a few months to mature in flavour, which should mean that it will be well timed to give away for Xmas.

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I finally got something other than courgettes out of my garden since I pulled my carrots and beetroot. It’s weird growing root vegetables as you basically have no idea what’s lurking under the ground.

For some reason only one of my beetroot grew to a decent size. I’m not too upset because I’m not that crazy about beetroot anyway. Turns out that I grew a lot of vegetables that I’m not too fond of. The fact is, I used to eat vegetables because they were good for me and not for pleasure. I have to say, though, growing my own has given me a new appreciation for veg.

Anyway, the small yield scuppered my plan of making chutney so I just roasted the beetroot in the oven. This was my first experience with raw beetroot. I followed Jamie Oliver’s recommendation of eating it warm on toast with horseradish. It was okay, but not sure I would make it again.

I was very pleased with my purple carrots because my dad’s girlfriend, who is a gardener, said that carrots are notoriously difficult to grow. I wanted to enjoy them in their raw form so I made some red pepper hummus with which to eat them. I followed this recipe, which produced by far the best hummus I’ve ever made, rivalling store bought. Hummus is one of the few things that I’ve found very difficult to improve by making from scratch.

I increased all of the amounts by 50% due to the ingredients I had on hand, so I now have an enormous quantity of hummus to consume. Fortunately it’s really good with the carrots.


The courgette glut continues. Here I am having harvested my biggest marrow yet, which weighed in at over two kilos.

Do you see the symbolism?

I’m hoping to get something other than courgettes out of the garden soon. I have a lot of fruit on my tomato plants, but it’s all still green. I think my carrots and beetroot are nearly ready too.


I made another traybake thing, this time based on this recipe from the BBC Food website. I used a whole pack of my favourite caramelised onion sausages for the stuffing and it was awesome. I think this might be my favourite courgette recipe so far.

I feel like this is a pretty flexible recipe. For the filling I used

  • 6 caramelised onion sausages
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • Breadcrumbs made from two slices of bread
  • 50g extra mature cheddar

Doesn’t look too bad once it’s tarted up on a salad, does it?


I’ve had two more absolutely enormous courgettes from the garden since my last post.

I made a couple of courgette-based traybake things that weren’t glamorous enough to be photographed- but I do tend to put pics on my Instagram story (@craftycrusader) if you’re interested. I made a courgette stuffed with a sort of Middle Eastern turkey chilli and a kind of lasagne, where I used ricotta rather than making béchamel sauce.

Parts of the courgettes were also grated and frozen for future cakes. I was throwing some of the middle parts away, but I felt badly about that so I am now freezing them in anticipation of trying out this courgette jam recipe.

Something I did make that was as beautiful as it was tasty was this courgette waffle recipe. The waffles are pretty tasty. I get six waffles out of the amounts stated, and they are  around 95 calories each. Most of the calories are from the cheese. I’m planning to make a few and freeze them for future brunches.


So far, my garden seems to be doing pretty well. That’s in spite of some weird weather that included powerful wind and rain that killed some of my young plants. They currently seem to be enjoying the blazing sunshine.

I’ve planted out almost all of my seedlings. After being stressed that I didn’t pick the best tomatoes to plant out, they seem to be growing pretty well. I have several good seedlings left and I feel bad throwing them away, but I also don’t really have a use for them. Meant to email colleagues offering them but forgot.

My two physalis plants are looking pretty strong so far too.

I’ve had some strawberry drama. After discovering an aphid infestation soon after planting out, I sprayed the plants with some stuff I found in the cupboard, which actually killed one or two of them. I’ve also had some other seedlings die off. Maybe I waited too long to plant them out and the sun is too harsh on them? On the positive side, I was so happy to notice the first fruit growing!

My veg patch is coming on wonderfully too. I made a GIF showing the how it’s changed over the past two months.


I have some courgettes starting to grow. I really find it crazy to think that all of this came from a single seed. Nature, right?

My carrots and beetroot are looking good too. Think I will plant some new beetroot seeds in the gaps left in the row to give me a longer yield.

The main task left is to stay on top of the weeding. My neighbour has a big flowering bush on the fence right next to my veg patch, which has dropped loads of seeds onto it. On the plus side, I discovered some jasmine right next to it in my own garden. Jasmine is one of my favourite smells, so it makes being out in my little sunny garden even more pleasurable.

I’m glad that after quite a heavy initial investment of time to prepare the garden, it’s down to routine maintenance that doesn’t take too long. I feel like I have a lot on my plate at the moment, so I’m glad the garden can be relegated to the back burner. It’s clearly still there though- a doodle in a team meeting turned into this.


A couple of years ago, I moved into my first house in London with a garden. Despite my terror of creepy-crawlies, I cleared it and planted some pumpkins that I’d grown from seed. Unfortunately the pumpkins succumbed to some kind of parasite or something after they flowered, so they never grew to full maturity.

I moved house again in September. Even though my new house also has a (nicer) small garden, gardening was pretty far down on the list of my priorities. However, I did buy some cute hedgehog-shaped herb planters from the shop at the Wellcome Collection.


My dad also gave me a very thoughtful Xmas gift, which was an urban farm kit containing the materials to grow an indoor herb garden.

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All of these things convinced me to switch the focus of my limited amount of gardening time from outside to inside. I occasionally worry about the fact that I am dying a slow death due to to levels of air pollution in London. Someone once told me that going for a run outdoors causes more harm to your health than good due to the dodgy air. No idea if that is a fact fact or an alternative fact, but it stuck with me and I decided to buy some plants that claim to have air-purifying qualities; a peace lily and two varieties of aloe vera.

I also bought these from This Way to the Circus on Etsy.

* Cat with heart eyes emoji*

Soon after my plants arrived from the internet. (Garden centre, what??) I followed the directions as best I could to re-pot them.

I’ve got to say that I’m thrilled with how they’re looking so far. I am considering creating a spreadsheet for perceived levels of air cleanliness over time.

Before long, I was struck with the fear that I may not be able to keep my plant babies alive.  I have killed many a plant in my time. Hopefully the investment I made in these plants will help encourage me to look after them properly. If I manage, I can see more greenery in my future.