Friday, 28 August 2009
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Gah! The evil blight has struck.
At the weekend Adam pulled up all our Marmande tomatoes. They were just starting to turn orange, too, the majority having survived the attack of the chavs. (Please note I am speculating wildly here; the vandals could as easily have been embittered old folk as delinquent yoofs... but somehow I doubt it.)
Anyway, it doesn't seem to have affected the other two tomato beds yet (touch wood) and we ate our first red tomato straight from the vine. Now we need just a bit more sunshine, please, to ripen the rest and help the sweetcorn along.
And we have beans, beans and more beans. We're leaving the borlotti to ripen and will dry the beans for storage. The French beans are delicious, crunchy and juicy, even the ones we missed and picked when they were six or seven inches long. But the runner beans are not great - a bit stringy and fibrous, even when we get them when they're tiny. We're thinking we may not bother with runners next year and go for different varieties of french beans instead.
We have a baby butternut squash, 'ickle and green but still that recognisable skittle shape. And a handful of winter squash, some green, some yellow, as well as summer squash and courgettes.
Oh, and potatoes! Still un-blighted, and we're working our way through digging up the second earlies - delicious.
The damsons have ripened (sorry Mum - forgot to tell you! The damsons are ripe!) and we've picked some, but not as many as we'd hoped. Enough for just about two bottles of damson gin for Christmas. And the blackberries on the giant bush next door were plump and juicy, so I've made some bramble jelly (which hasn't quite set so will probably end up swirled through some yoghurt, at which point I'll pretend it was intentional) and some blackberry flavoured vodka. Mmm.
And I haven't mentioned the parsnips for a while, have I? Well, after all that faffing around with kitchen roll and windowsills and toilet roll and greenhouses, two (count them!) have survived and seem to be doing well. Now I'm willing them to grow big and strong and pointy and hope they don't just put all their effort into pretty leaves.
Bank holiday weekend coming up... lots of weeding in store. And does anyone know when is the best time of year to move strawberry plants?
Sunday, 23 August 2009
I have realised I don't really know what to do with artichokes. I know you can cook them - boil them? - and then somehow pull off the petally bits and eat the bases with butter or hollandaise or something dippy and tasty, but that's about it. Except for the choke or some unappetising aspect which nestles at the bottom and which you should avoid.
Sounds like it's fraught with danger. Plus they're really spiky. Ow.
Sunday, 9 August 2009
We've been lucky, up 'til now, not to have had any sort of trouble on our plot. Other people have had lawnmowers stolen, tools nicked, and even - on one occasion - a shed burnt down. But we've escaped. Until now. When we went to the allotment on Saturday it was to find that someone - or maybe many someones - had turned our wheelbarrow of herbs upside down, and also pulled up all the stakes that we'd painstakingly (pain-stake-ingly, geddit?!!) tied our tomato plants to. We'd also acquired a heap of broken glass, and we still can't work out where that came from...
Gah! I cursed and sweared a bit, but then wandered further down the plot to realise that actually, it wasn't so bad. The bed of tomatoes at the far end had been completely ignored, as had the rest of our patch of earth. Adam said he had visions of all our courgette and squash plants, growing away merrily, to have been trampled, corn flattened and bean poles crushed, but it was only the beds right by the shed which had warranted any unwanted attention.
But our poor tomatoes, which had been a little bit neglected but were bravely producing plump, juicy fruit, were either pulled up by the roots, decapitated or twisted and crumpled, lying on the ground. We put the stakes back in and re-tied as many plants as we could, but it'll never be the same again. Our crop is not going to be as big as we'd hoped.
I'll have to get in touch with the secretary and find out how the bid for a big fence around the allotments is coming along.
On a brighter note, our first summer squash was picked, and we have lots and lots of beans.
Sunday, 2 August 2009
Dear me it's suddenly August. The allotment's gone crazy, and what with various weekends away and Adam having a knee operation, it's been a bit neglected. There are now many, many weeds. Grr. And raised beds to make. And things to plant for the winter.
And it's become a bit of a chore, again. I think it's just a phase, but it all seems like Such An Effort.
But we went down there this afternoon, staked all the tomatoes and nipped off all the side shoots. Did some weeding. Gathered our onion crop - a pitiful amount when compared to last year. Maybe last year was beginner's luck? Thought about strimming the paths. Tried to ignore the shameful, embarrassing, hideously overgrown "strawberry patch" (see, it's that bad I've even put it in quotation marks). Did some more weeding. Adam found a brown slug with orange frilly bits (yuk). Looked at the damsons, which are starting to go a bit purple. Ate a blackberry. Ate another one which was really sour. Decided they're not ready for picking after all. Examined the carrots - looking good! Cleared all the dead broad bean plants. Forked over the now-empty onion bed. Didn't pick two yellow courgettes - they're still a bit small. Put weeds in the compost bin.
No pictures I'm afraid. Camera screen still broken, and not being able too see what you're taking a picture of takes some of the fun out of it.
Next weekend (next weekend, always next weekend) we can spend a long time there and really get on top of things. I hope.