Welcome to our allotment blog. We've got a plot, now we're trying to figure out what we're doing! So please join us - put the kettle on, sit back, and dream about Living The Good Life...

Monday, 24 November 2008

Eggs three and four

Two more eggs today!

I thought one of the girls was eyeing-up the nest box when I left for work, and then - hey presto - two eggs, Both In The Nest Box.
Clever chooks!

Adam's cunning ploy of putting a shop-bought egg in the nest box, so they'd spot it and think: "ooh, there's an egg - that must be a lovely place to lay eggs. I'll lay mine there too and I won't poo on them" seems to have worked.

By the way, they do have provisional names, we're just going to give it a day or two before I post them, otherwise there's no going back...

Cauliflowers fluffy...

...and cabbages green. (or red, in our case.) Anyone else remember that song from school?

Went to the plot yesterday afternoon to discover that one variety of the green cauliflowers look like they'll be really interesting, a sort of Romanesco type. They're still quite small, but beautiful. Can't wait to try them. Some of the others were getting to a nearly edible size, but I restrained myself and will let them grow til they'll at least feed the two of us!

The purple caulies were looking fantastic as well! Ok, my focus isn't great on this pic, but just LOOK at that colour! Verging on ridiculous! We'll have to remember to steam them when we want to eat them to preserve the purple. Cauliflower cheese will never be the same again!

I really must have a look at the plant labels underneath to find out what varieties these really are, but when it's cold and damp and threatening rain and snow, the last thing you want to be doing is crawling around on bare earth to rummage underneath cauliflower plants.

After ooh-ing and aah-ing at the caulies, we tied the larger leaves around the... err... umm... heads? to protect them from frost, as a couple were looking a bit suspicious. Picked some pathetic-looking carrots, a swede and a couple of little kohl rabi, and roasted them all at home with some Picasso potatoes from our crop waaay back when. The only potatoes we buy now are really BIG baking potatoes, as only a few of ours got large enough. But Picasso have been great for baking, mashing, boiling and chipping. (Mmm, chips...)

Also, we've decided we need some friends to come and help us do some weeding, in return for a meal and maybe some beer. Any takers? :)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Egg-cellent news

Another egg!

100% success rate!!! Well done girls!

Feathered friends

We've got our chickens!

We picked the girls up from a nice little local farm shop (www.freedompoultry.co.uk), had their wings clipped, stuck them in a big cardboard box, bought their food and that was that!

I felt a bit sorry for them last night. They'd been plucked (excuse the pun!) from a nice big barn, which was filled with hundreds of their chicken-y friends, to a little hen hut in our garden. Plus it was the coldest night of the year so far, with snow predicted. But in the end we only had a light dusting of snow, and the girls looked quite pleased to get out of the hut into their run this morning. The weather was grim - freezing cold with rain and wind - so I took a quick snap to post.


...we had an egg! The first egg! Even though the chicken man said they wouldn't lay for a couple of days, one of them Laid An Egg! (I think it was the chicken in the foreground as the egg was where she was sleeping last night.)

If the rain eases off a bit this afternoon we'll be off to the the allotment to see how our sprouts and cauliflowers are doing. Plus we should probably do a spot of weeding, but there's nothing worse than weeding in the rain 'cos you get covered in mud and the rain goes down the back of your neck. Brr.

Actually, I've just thought, we're going to have to pop to the plot later anyway to get some veg
, even if it starts snowing again, as we've got a chicken to roast for dinner! (shh! Don't tell the girls!).

Oh, by the way, they're not named yet. Any more suggestions welcome!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Home to roost

Everything's slowed down a lot at the plot now. This time last year we still had half the plot to dig over, but, seeing as that's all done now, it's just a matter of tidying up for time to time, and spreading manure on the enpty patches. We've already planted red and white onions, and lots of garlic, to overwinter. We're just starting to pick our first decent-sized brussels sprouts, we're waiting for the cauliflowers, leeks and swedes to grow larger, and we're unfortunately getting to the end of the carrots, so looks like we may need to buy some for Christmas dinner after all.

Plus, we have a new project back at home - chickens! Yes, you read that right, we've been building a little chicken house for two chooks to live in, plus a run so they won't have the whole garden to decimate. We'll feed them the odd bits of kitchen scraps, they'll do their droppings on wood shavings or straw, we'll bung all that nitrogen-rich stuff in the compost bin, which will then end up fertilising the allotment. Plus we'll get fresh eggs.

Don't have the actual chickens yet - will probably pick them up next weekend.

Some of you must also have chicken or two, so any hints or tips about keeping our feathered friends happy would be much appreciated!

Any ideas on suitable names? (I'm not adverse to calling them Tikka and Korma, or Paxo and... umm...)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Yeay! Pumpkins!

It just keeps raining, doesn't it? We managed to pop down to the plot on Saturday in between showers to harvest our mini pumpkins, not quite in time for Halloween. We B Little, they're called. And they are - about the size of a grapefruit. Just right for two, in fact. I got a good armful for a picture. (Would have been a shame not to, seeing as how I'd managed to colour co-ordinate myself!)

After the pumpkin plucking it was obviously time for a sit down and a cup of tea (so soon? Well, it was quite cold.) Adam took some time to give his Grandad's old dibber which - he's inherited along with some other handy tools - a bit of winter protection with some beeswax. After a spot of weeding, Adam flung some of our home-made compost on one of the beds and then we planted lots of garlic, using the dibber of course. We'd bought 3 white bulbs from a garden centre - for improved disease resistance an' all that - and then bought 3 more from our local Italian shop, which have a pinkish tinge. So we'll see which ones work out best.

Discovered a tiny purple (PURPLE!!!) cauliflower nestling among its leaves at the bottom of the plot. I'd guessed that the 'Cheddar' cauliflower variety might be yellow, but purple is much more exciting!!! I'll have to check what type it is next time... I think they keep their colour better if you steam them, right? Although that might be purple sprouting broccoli, I'll have to check. Also had to do some more caterpillar flinging. Little bastards. Gerroff! How on earth are you supposed to stop the little squidgy things from getting onto the brassicas? Obviously the netting didn't stop the butterflies from laying on them.

We picked our first decent sized swede too (ok, it looks quite small here but honest, it was a proper size, like you get in a shop!), and ate it mashed with half a dozen small carrots for Sunday lunch. Along with a roast chicken, a good handful of spinach and chard, and oven-roasted pumpkin on the side it was really tasty. Real sense of achievement, after that meal (until I saw the washing up...)