Monday, 28 July 2008

arrrrgggghhhh .... its courgette time

Oh my god !!! So much for keeping on top of the courgettes. They have gone barmy and today I picked 18, yes thats 18 from cricket ball to small football size. Two have gone into courgette quiche and two have been chopped up and roasted. So four down ... when are those first frosts due ?

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courgettes copy

The peas are looking worse for wear and I suspect that these might be the last of them. I've still to sow the remaining packet. Some of them had grubs inside, I'm not sure how to avoid them

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It looks as though my first Gypsy is just developing, hopefully if they grow as long as last year, I may get some peppers yet !

gypsy copy

I pulled my first beetroot today, although they are still sat on the worktop waiting to be cooked.

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Beetroot copy

It seems that my potatoes don't have blight, they are just dying back naturally. The potatoes are quite small and I don't think I'll try the variety again. I've made them into potato salad to go with the quiche.

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Here is one of Ken's swedes, I've not grown them before so I don't know if it is doing well or not. Not sure yet what we'll do with them (especially as the carrots appear to have popped their clogs)

Swede copy

After a very poor start, thankfully the beans look to be making progress at last and they are all in flower. Here are my canneloni:

Canneloni copy


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and Scarlet Emperor:

ScarlettEmperor copy

We are having a fabulous supply of artichokes .. here are the latest batch about to go into the oven. I think we are getting addicted to them.

Artichokes copy

Its quite nice to be able to go to the lottie with a shopping list - today I wanted strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, artichokes & courgettes.

Sadly it looks as though the strawberries have finished. Just as I've found a fabulous recipe too. Fortunately I had just enough to make strawberry & raspberry oaty bakes and boy are they good. Next time it'll just be raspberry oaty bakes.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

There may be trouble ahead ...

Apparently we have had a few Smiths Periods recently (where conditions are ideal for a potential blight outbreak) and I'm slightly worried about my Vales Emerald Potatoes. So far only one plant is affected and I'm hoping it is just sun scorch, or part of the natural growing cycle - especially as they are next to my main crop, which currently look extremely healthy and green. I was away on holiday this time, last year and when I got back I discovered that blight had swept through the potatoes. The rocket were worst affected, but there was nothing at all left of any of the haulms, so I still don't actually know what it looks like.

ValesEmeraldPotato copy

I dug up one plant - the potatoes are still quite small, but they look good. They will be my tea tonight. I've harvested tonnes of peas too. I'm either going to make green pea tartlets, potato & pea fritatta or pea timbales.

On a happier note, my garlic has been drying nicely and I've bundled up the Germidor. I tried to plait it, but it wasn't terribly successful, so I've got three 'plait bundles'. The Cristo have been cleaned up, but I ran out of time, so next time I go I'll have to do something with them.

Germidor copy

The Fenugreek has already germinated:

Fenugreek copy

I'm going to put peas into the other garlic bed I think.

I've picked loads of raspberries again today. I need to find a new recipe for them. The strawberry bed is looking a little worse for wear. The recent rain and sunshine have created quite a humid condition and lots of the fruits are rotting. Its partly my fault as I couldn't face harvesting them last week - I'm running out of recipes and things to do with them and am ending up throwing out more than I'm eating. I also harvested some rhubarb, so I might make rhubarb pudding with strawberry sauce for tea.

I've got lots of red poppies and discovered this beautiful lilac one in the onion bed. I must try and save its seed:

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The carrots are flowing like mad, I'm not sure how I'm going to collect the seed, but some of them look as if they may be ready. I'd thought about a paper bag, but its been horrendously wet recently, so I need a plan b:

carrotflower copy

I harvested another cauliflower, but I think the rest may just end up on the compost heap as they've gone over a bit. We are getting better at eating stuff as it comes off the lottie, but its quite hard keeping up with everything. For lunch I took some roasted artichokes and a cheese dip to the lottie - they are so scrumptous. I've brought another four heads home. So far I haven't let any go to flower yet.

This little fella has been living in the half water butt outside the brick greenhouse and I keep forgetting that he lives there and accidentally scoop him up in the watering can:

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Friday, 18 July 2008

On a break

I've bitten the bullet and taken a couple of days off work to start on the decorating. Preparation is sooooooo boring. Today I've (almost) sized the walls and ceiling in the kitchen. Realised that the radiator is still on the dratted wall (its beyond me to remove, even if I knew how to drain it, its huge and there is no way I can lift it), so that wall will have to wait until OH is back. Still have the living room wall and ceiling to do. Yawn. Kitties have been helping and now we are taking a break !

Here is Ianto, the hair on his neck is starting to grow again. He is much better after having his teeth extracted and has started to sit with his tongue sticking out, which I think must help reduce the pressure on his top lip, as the sore spots are slowly healing

Catwink copy

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Don't be fooled by the kitten's sweet appearance, he is the spawn of the devil. I told him so at 4.30am this morning when he decided to attack everything in the bedroom.

Loki2 copy

He is growing like mad and is almost as big as Ianto now. When he was weighed a couple of weeks ago by the vet he is already just over 2.5kg. We nearly fainted when we looked at the wall chart and saw that his 'starting weight' is 6kg, vs Ianto (normal moggie) of 4kg. His tail has grown and really bushed out.

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He is extremely cute and sweet though

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butter wouldn't melt !

Loki3 copy

Loki1 copy

Oh well, back to it I guess ... I just love the fragrance of wet plaster, don't you. Maybe more allotment news tomorrow.

break no. 2 !! :-)
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Ianto4 copy

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Vampires Beware !

I've got raspberries coming out of my ears and when I came across a recipe for Chocolate & Raspberry Brownies I couldn't resist. It was impossible not to stick my finger into the mixture :)

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raspberry & chocolate brownie mix copy

Here they are fresh out of the oven:

raspberry & chocolate brownie copy

Me and a friend had one each last night, warm with lightly whipped cream ... mmmm, they are divine. In fact we had two each - always a good sign !

Its been a beautiful day here in Sheffield and I been harvesting the garlic - Germidor and Cristo. They are my best garlic harvest yet - nearly every bulb is the size of my palm. I've been reading my compost book to see what it says about composting the rusty leaves and surpringly (to me at least) it recommends that you compost blighted potato leaves, but burn rust infected plants. For now they are drying in potting shed and brick greenhouse.

Germidor copy

Cristo copy

I'm getting pretty good now at turning the beds around and have already sown Fenugreek, a green manure which fixes nitrogen, into the bed that had the Germidor. The soil is beautiful (or is it only me that has a fetish for soil).

Fenugreek copy

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are turning into very stout and solid plants. They are still quite small, but have tonnes of leaves, so I've been doing a bit of pruning. I've managed to stake around half of them and need to do the rest fairly soon. The leaves were hiding precious fruit:

This is my sweet olive plum, which were prolific last year:

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and my roma, another plum:

Roma copy

The melons finally seem to be picking up - if they don't get a move on though, they may be too late this season:

Melon copy

I don't know why I ever worry that the courgettes are going to be few and far between. They are one of the most reliable croppers on the plot - I've ended up with three yellow and one pale green:

courgettes copy

Of course, the remaining cauliflowers have ALL matured at the same time. I have 7 ready. What on earth am I going to do with them all.

cauliflowers copy

The broadbeans are flowering again, which is a relief, as I thought the plants had finished. They are not doing as well this year. Its probably the bed they are in. I've given up on the ones in the alfalfa bed - must remember not to try that next year:

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Here is my most reliable, most prolific plant, that never ever requires tending, watering, feeding, pruning and does not care whether it is in full sun, shade or under a bucket. Sigh.

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Here are my beans - they've finally reached the top of the wigwam, which is a relief. The nearest ones are Gold Field. No flowers yet:

beans copy

I've lifted my first Vales Emerald - I was slightly disappointed, but then again I did raid the same plant a week or so ago and stole around 4 small potatoes then. I only noticed a couple of plants in flower, so I'm assuming the rest flowered when I've not been around. They certainly can't complain that they've not had enough water - all its done for a week or so is rain.

ValesEmerald copy

Here are Ken's swedes, which are looking surprisingly good considering they were attacked when they were tiny by the pigeons. I'd like to say that I had a cunning plan to allow the weeds to grow up around them and give them some protection, but sadly I've just been slacking and have only got around to weeding them. Still it obviously worked and they are looking quite good now.

Swede copy

The strawberries are still coming thick and fast (we had croissants with strawberries, raspberries, strawberry jam and blackberry jelly for breakfast), but this is the only plant that is flowering - I wonder if it is a different variety, or if I have done something to it to make it flower again - I need to do some googling, it would be good to extend the season if possible:

Strawberry copy

Mum's salad is looking really pretty - it is currently in flower, which I'm sure is not good, but it does look pretty:

Salad copy

I'm getting a little fed up of the Rye. Its all falling over with the wind and rain and it seems to have been in the ground forever. But Nick hasn't done anything with his yet, so I need to leave mine I guess. Still not sure what I'm going to do with it (or why I'm growing it !!)

Rye copy

The leek flowers are truly spectacular .. I'm watching them closely so that I can harvest the seed:

Leekflower copy

Here is one that has just 'popped':
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I'd like someone in the know to come along and confirm whether this plant is comfry ? I have my fingers crossed :)

Comfry copy

Breakfast this morning reminded me how lovely the blackberries are - I have quite a few between me and Ken - they are in full flower and quite a few green berries have already appeared:

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Here is my flowering Alfalfa, I think it will be turned in over the next couple of weeks if I can get around to it.

Alfalfa copy

I forgot I had verbena in the wild flower garden - it has managed to force its way through the dratted ox eye daisies which are spilling everywhere.
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I only stayed a couple of hours as I've felt strange all week, a little light headed and after feeling as if I was going to faint on more than one occasion and stumbling around the plot with a terrible headache, I did a final harvest and then went home to bed - until the dratted kitten woke me up to complain that the litter tray was not up to his high standards and winged until I got up and changed it. I can't wait for OH to come home, only another couple of weeks.

This is my harvest from today - I've yet to decide what I'll do with it all:

harvest copy