Wednesday, 11 August 2010
After pinching the growing tips off our tomato plants I now have an idea as to where that phrase came from...
The tomatoes are just starting to ripen and for once - hurrah! - we seem to have a healthy crop with no signs of The Dreaded Blight. (Touch wood). We've got a veritable field of tomato plants... well, a small field at least, which is good as they're all helping to prop each other up! (Some of our stakes aren't quite big enough!) The yellow cherry tomatoes are ripening first, with the red cherry and red standard ones close behind. The giant beef tomatoes which Frank gave us are getting HUGE but most are still green - a few just showing an orange blush. The smaller ones were red so I've picked 'em.
Sorry I haven't got the varieties to hand, maybe I'll let you know what's what next time.
The courgettes are also doing pretty well, especially as they've been a bit neglected as we've been away for the last four weekends, so they're surviving on fleeting evening visits from us and whatever rain they get. I'm trying to pick them before they get too large and watery.
The sweetcorn is growing well, but we were a bit late with it this year, so I doubt they'll get large enough to pollinate each other and ripen the cobs. Oh well. And the squash and pumpkin plants are also doing well, with a few summer squash on the way.
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Quick quick QUICK get some stuff on there about June before July's nearly over...!
Have you noticed I don't have the inclination to blog as much as I did? I think it's 'cos the novelty's worn off. The learning curve of having an allotment has levelled out and it's not quite as exciting digging up potatoes the third, fourth and fifth time around as it was the first or second. And my gut feeling is that there are only so many times you guys out there want to read about my potatoes... so it's more of a struggle to turn on the computer and tap away. So, apologies, but that's just the way it is right now. Plus, it's summer, for goodness sake! No one in their right minds really wants to spend time at a computer when the evenings are long and warm(ish) and there's the possibility of a barbeque and a cool beer in the garden.
Ah, the garden. Brings me on to my first piece of June news. The chickens are no more. That's right, we are now chicken-less, but garden-rich. I hadn't realised how much space the chooks took up! Ellie got egg bound, we think, and unfortunately didn't make it. We'd decided that once another chicken died we'd call it a day for now, otherwise we'd just keep ending up with one older and one younger chicken - a never-ending cycle of replacing chickens! So Peggy Sue got adopted by a lovely little old lady in a nearby village, who has three-quarters of an acre, a large veggie plot and about 50 other chickens, all living out their days free-range in the countryside. The good life, eh?
Now, back to the allotment. June started with a break-in - someone wrenched the hinges off our shed doors and about a dozen others down on the plot. Nothing major was taken - just our camping stove, coffee pot, kettle and radio - but it was a bit of a shock. Not as bad as it could have been, mind you, as a few years ago someone had their shed burnt down to the ground...
Veggie-wise, we've had peas, broad beans, potatoes, onions and garlic so far. The tomatoes are just starting to ripen, as well as the cougettes, pumpkins and squash. The damson tree looks good - lots of fruit - so there'll be more damson gin made this autumn! And the big blackberry bush along the side of the plot is also bursting with fruit, just ripening in the sun, so again, it'll be blackberry vodka. Possibly the tastiest flavoured alcohol type concoction I've ever made. (Please note, I'm not actually an alcoholic, it's just that sticking slightly tart fruit into cheap alcohol with a shed-load of sugar is damn tasty. And possibly one of your five-a-day... wishful thinking, eh?)
We tried making elderflower champagne at the start of June, using a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Lots and lots of fizz, but not much taste, so we're having to add some of our elderflower cordial to it for a bit of flavour.
What else... oh, the raspberry bushes are taking over (eek) and after all my faffing about last year with parsnip seeds on kitchen paper and in warm places and in toilet rolls, this year I just chucked some in the soil and loads have germinated. We've also got beetroot, swede and some crappy carrots. (really can't do carrots - any tips?)
Enjoy the summer everyone... will be back soon...
Monday, 7 June 2010
It's gone, already, hasn't it. We're halfway through the year and I don't even feel like 2010 has really started yet!
So here's an update on the month that was May...
We had purple sprouting broccoli. And Lo! it was goo-o-od.
The strawberries started flowering. Pollinate, bees, pollinate!
The rhubarb went a bit crazy. We had to give loads away, and then make more rhubarb-and-orange-flavoured vodka. Mmm... ready in a couple of months...
We got new neighbours over the other side of the crookedy fence. I'll try not to mind that their new shed shades our garlic bed in the afternoon.
At the start of the month we sowed a whole load of seeds - sweetcorn, green and yellow courgette, cucumber, butternut squash and a few different varieties of winter squash. Along with the tomato and pepper plants they’re in our tiny plastic greenhouse at home, but will be heading outside onto the plot any day. We’re a bit behind with these - most of the other allotmentholders have already got their tomatoes and squash in the ground. But a nice lady from the next plot along gave us three summer squash plants and another butternut, and Frank The Italian gave us some tomato plants (he'd already planted 300!), so hopefully we’ll have a few things which are in line with everyone else!
Our broad beans are flowering, and our peas and French beans are growing steadily. I built a complicated bird-deterrent using netting, canes, string and plastic bags (which I home will flap and rustle in a threatening manner) so hopefully that’ll keep off the pigeons.
Onions and garlic also growing away, as well as our potatoes - which got a bit frosted at the start of the month but seem to have recovered well. The 2 elephant garlic look like leeks! God only knows how big the cloves will be!
And generally, day to day, we’ve been fighting with the weeds that are continually trying to take over.
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Wow, look, there I go again, getting on with everyday life and forgetting about my poor blog. I seem to have lost enthusiasm for posting right now. Maybe it's work related, maybe it's cos there's not much new going on. But I don't feel like I have much to say. Not that will interest anyone else, anyway. We'll see. Hopefully I'll perk up again soon.
But we have been doing stuff down at the allotment, honest... just not for a couple of weeks.
Just over a fortnight ago we planted our potatoes - first and second earlies. We also did a lot of weeding and hoeing, but still the dandylions come. We've also sown tomatoes and peppers, and any day now we'll get around to doing squash and courgette as well as some salads to grow in windowboxes at home. Adam pottered off one evening and got some seed trays, pots and compost, so there's nothing stopping us now.
Maybe for the next little while I'll just try posting more pics and less words.
Bear with me...
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
Monday, 29 March 2010
I know, I know, rubbish, rubbish me. Where does the time go? All I have in my defence for being a useless blogger during the month of March is a crazy departmental restructure at work, meaning more work for me and even less inclination to sit in front of a computer screen for any more hours than I'm paid to.
So sorry, blog, you got neglected there. Again.
We spent a couple of hours on Saturday and more than a couple of hours on Sunday at the allotment. Did a whole lot of weeding (where do they all suddenly come from?!?) and sowing, and planting, which was nice.
So we now have....
A bed of white and a bed of red onion sets.
A big bed of broad beans, which we're going to try and pick when they're small this time, so they're not as tough-skinned as last year. Yuk.
A small salad bed with a row of little gem lettuce and a row of radish - beetroot seeds are ready and waiting to be sown next week.
A big row of chard and 2 rows of spinach.A whole load of slightly rotten-in-the-middle cauliflowers. Grr.
4 garlic beds with about a million different varieties, all growing well - although only one of the two elephant garlic cloves has so far emerged.
Raspberry canes and a gooseberry bush both just showing new shoots.
16 transplanted strawberry plants so now the overgrown middle of the plot can be properly dug over... finally.
2 artichoke plants. Spiky.
Lots of red cabbage, getting there slowly.
Leeks of various sizes. Give it another month and a couple of them may finally be edible.
Purple sprouting broccoli which is not yet sprouting. We don't seem to have that much luck with brassicas.
And three trays of potatoes, chitting under the dining room window.
And the damson tree's just about to blossom. No late frosts, please!
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Sunday, 28 February 2010
It keeps raining at weekends, that's the trouble.
Then when it clears up for a while the allotment seems like too much hassle, muddy as it is.
Last weekend Adam went for a visit and a bit of a dig.
And took the camera so I could see what's going on down there.
I've been neglectful, really. Even if neglectful isn't a real word.
I keep thinking it's spring, and then it's not, again.
There's a bit of garlic, and rhubarb... but, hurry up spring.
Sunday, 7 February 2010
You know, all you're going to see from our plot for the next month or so are pictures of brassica leaves.
They're the only things of any interest at the moment, and I'm strangely fascinated by them.
They've got pink bits on, for goodness sake! Pink bits!
Some of the garlic that Adam planted last Autumn is starting to shoot, but really, that's about it. We haven't yet chosen any seeds, bought potatoes to chit or decided what we do and don't want to do this year.
2010 has caught us on the hop. I'm. Just. Not. Ready!
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Mangocheeks at Allotment 2 Kitchen has tagged me for a Favourite Photo Meme. That's lovely. But also REALLY difficult to do! Thinking about which photo to select has made me realise how lucky I am - from having Adam and my friends and family, to enjoying open spaces, fresh air, fresh food, and great holidays, even keeping chickens - they all represent different aspects of a wonderful whole. Which is great, as 2010 hasn't been that brilliant so far. So thanks for making me think, Mangocheeks!
Ok, so an hour later, after scrolling through many more photos than I thought I had, here's my favourite picture (of the moment):
We went away to stay at a yurt in the Cotswolds last May, to celebrate us being together for ten years. The yurt was in its own little forest, in the middle of farmland, and was totally secluded. At night, the only light was from candles, the shower was a watering can hanging on the branch of a tree, and the toilet was a hole in the ground behind a willow screen. It was all pretty basic. At the time this photo was taken we'd been there all of ten minutes, but a campsite's not complete without a good campfire! I've never seen Adam more content than when roaming around 'our' forest with his axe, looking for suitable burning materials! The fact we had to start a fire and wait 15 minutes for the iron kettle to boil for any cup of tea forced us to slow down and take it easy. And you know what - it was a fantastic escape from real life. Which we all need now and again.
I'd love to go back.
Monday, 11 January 2010
Wow, it's still cold. Though the snow's starting to melt a bit. The red cabbage doesn't seem to want to let go of that last bit of ice.
Not a lot going on at the plot at the moment. But we've had some seed catalogues through the post so I guess it's that time of year again for looking back at what worked and what didn't, what tasted great, and what didn't, and planning and dreaming for the future.
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
As promised, dear readers, here are some pictures from Christmas...
Here's the garlic, under its thin blanket of snow:
And Oh! What's this hiding away?
Could it be...?
It is! A parsnip! Small, but perfectly(ish) formed.
But wait! There's more!
Parsnip number two!!!
I was most pleased.
And on another note, this is why chickens are called 'chicken'...
"What on earth...?!?!? No, I don't think so thank you. It looks far too cold."
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Oh look, we seem to have vanished for a while there. Been busy-busy over Christmas, what with family, friends, birthdays and weekends at the seaside to fit in, but a belated Merry Christmas to you all, and best wishes for 2010!
There. Done the important bit.
So, we went down to the plot on Christmas morning to gather carrots and parsnips for lunch. And the parsnips were GREAT! The surviving two from my epic battle last spring to get the darn things to germinate were big enough, slightly gnarly, covered in mud, and truly delicious.
But! The brussels sprouts were rubbish. ("I'm not angry, just disappointed".) They're still only about 6 inches high, or 8 at a push, with the teeniest sprouts ever. Maybe we'll have some to eat in June...
What else... well, the garlic is still tucked up, hopefully not rotting in the soil and not killed outright by the days of snow. The red cabbage, cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli are also still growing away nicely, and not nibbled by pigeons.
I'll put some more pics on here later, I promise.
For now, you'll just have to enjoy a shot of our slightly bedraggled chickens after enjoying a 'dust' bath in the mud.
Eleanor Rigby ('Ellie') on the left, and Peggy Sue ('Pegs') shaking her comb on the right.