Tuesday, 30 June 2009

One girl went to mow...

So, all this heat and rain has made everything grow crazy-fast and the worst culprit is the grass and the weeds! I was fed up of 'wading' through knee-high grass when watering my allotment, so I borrowed a lawnmower from my friend Claire. I spent the early part of this evening at hers, being shown how to use it and of course, mowing her lawn for her!

My friend's lawn, half done - the mower overheated so here it is, taking a breather :)

Claire had a go at mowing too - a team effort. Look at that idyllic view she has from her garden. *Jealous!*

I went off to take photos of her lovely cherry tree...

Then we wrestled to get the mower in my car (annoyingly scratching my painted plastic bumper - argh!). Got to the allotment and mowed the grass there. No rest for the wicked! Here is the 'before' photo...

...and the 'after'. Much improved, though it might not look it on these photos!

Hmm, not the best footwear to cut a lawn then an allotment in! sorry about the feet photo!!

I've taken lots of 'what's growing' photos as I've been meaning to do it for ages. I have put them on flickr but will blog about them asap here. Just one before I sign off, for Jo at The Good Life...

Monday, 29 June 2009

My first bbq

So, I built the bbq yesterday. Today I had my first bbq meal on it. Check out the wee beastie!

I forgot to bring the bbq tools with me so my friend Gary had to improvise...!

Yes, that was last year's Xmas tree.

Here it is aflame!! hehehehe!

And here are some of the delicious bbq goodies and salads. Raspberries and icecream again for pud!

Oh dear!

My friend just sent me this link...


Luckily I am not like that... yet ;)

Jam and whatnot

The raspberries are out in full force now. The other day I picked 1kg easily so now I have 7 jars of raspberry jam! Next time I am going to try some tray-bake recipes and cheesecakes, etc. Got to freeze the surplus too. Can't let good raspberries go to waste.

I gave some raspberries and sweet peas to my neighbours as they're lovely and always very helpful. I got some lettuce and rocket in return so this was last night's tea - a salad with black peppercorns, goat's cheese and sweet chilli sauce. Yum!

I followed that with raspberries and vanilla icecream. A very cheap meal! And so tasty too :)

When I went down the allotment yesterday @ 5pm - too hot in the day - I planted out some leeks and dwarf beans. I pulled out some peas as they weren't looking healthy. I also did LOADS of watering! Need to get some tomato food for my tommies and re-net the broccoli as it has grown too big! Spotted some frogs in the pond too which was good to see. Hopefully they're feasting on my slugs!

I also built my new bbq and one of those mini greenhouses, the ones like a wendy house. Not sure how long it will last but thought I'd give it a go. Need somewhere to grow my seedlings as the tommies in the shed are huge now, so no room for seedlings in there! Bbq-ing tonight :)

Monday, 22 June 2009

Bringing it all home

As I was away at the weekend I popped by the allotment tonight for a check-over and a water. I was expecting to harvest more strawberries but brought a lot more home than expected :)

I thought I'd bring one of my basil plants home for the kitchen windowsill now it is a reasonable size (grown from seed). They're very slow growers so this has taken a while, but hopefully I can keep it going for a long time. I seem to be quite good with basil plants - water from the bottom!!

Lots more sweet peas were ready for picking. Bit more of a proper bouquet this time around. My lounge smells amazing now!

Strawberry and raspberry tubs full to the brim :)

Raspberries picked from under my net. A lot more now than thursday night's less-than-ten crop! Must be over 1lb there. I had to stop picking as my tub was overflowing! Shared some with the neighbours though :) Think they enjoyed them. I also ate a lot as I was picking them! I'm not a fruit person but real fruit beats shop-bought fruit any day.

Lots more strawberries to be picked - they're even still flowering!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Soft fruit yummies

Lots of fruit to harvest at the moment. Here's the latest haul. Took it up to my folks' place with me on my latest visit (so no allotmenting this weekend).

2 lots of strawberries - tupperware lot is half of one day's crop, black tub is another day's full crop, pink pot is a few ripe raspberries i wasn't expecting to find but much appreciated! def got the net on at the right time now the fruit is ripening. black tub's full of big, juicy blackcurrants :)

raspberries - not many but SO tasty!

blackcurrants - big and juicy, rescued from the birds!

so, what do you do with about 500g of blackcurrants? make 'blackcurrant fluff' that's what! seriously, that was the name of this pud i found on the net. was really yummy :)

**Blackcurrant Fluff recipe**
1 lb (450 g) blackcurrants
1/2 cup (100 g) 4 oz caster sugar (superfine granulated)
15 ml (3 level tsp) gelatine
3 tbsp (60 ml) blackcurrant liqueur
2/3 cup (150 ml) 1/4 pt fresh double cream (heavy cream)
3 egg whites
fresh whipped cream and chopped nuts or grated chocolate to decorate

1. Cook the fruit gently with the sugar until pulpy. Sieve to remove the pips.
2. Dissolve the gelatine in 45 ml (3 tbsp) water, in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Stir into the fruit puree with the blackcurrant liqueur. Cool until beginning to set.
3. Whip the fresh cream until softly stiff. Fold into the half-set mixture.
4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into the fruit mixture
5. Spoon into individual glasses and decorate with fresh whipped cream and nuts or chocolate. Chill lightly before serving.

serving amount
serves 6 - er no, I think it serves 5 at a stretch, 4 comfortably

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Just thought I'd make a quick post about the goings-on with the neighbours at my allotment. Someone's been stealing John's gooseberries - they've cleaned him out :( But worse than that, Bev & Andy's shed has been broken into. The lock and a door panel was ripped off. Not sure if anything was taken. The community bobbies were around looking at it on Saturday but they didn't come over to speak to me. I wouldn't be able to help them anyway. There was also a brassica missing from B & A's plot and the netting not replaced neatly so I wonder if the barstewards got to that too? It's so sad as everyone at the allotment is so friendly and generous. The few can so easily spoil things for the majority. *sigh*

Monday, 15 June 2009

'Surgery', strawberries and sale plants

...hmm, how do i do this??!

Saturday afternoon/eve was spent down't allotment with my friend, Eva. I needed a helper so I could get my raspberries netted - not a solo task! - so I was terribly greatful she volunteered her help. There are many jobs an allotmenteer can do solo but sometimes one needs help! It took a while to decide how best to tackle the netting as the raspberries are mixed in with the other soft fruit in a 7 x 5m bed. It would cost a fortune to do the whole thing so I am prioritising raspberries this year as my fruit to protect :) I plumped for a longer-lasting net and went with 2 packs of 8 x 2m 12mm pond netting. Luckily most of the raspberries are at one end of the bed so I could net most of them. Here's some pics - I was quite pleased with the results and, like ever, I did a neat (read "perfectionist's"!) job and more or less sewed the two nets together - I felt a bit like a surgeon!

i'm going in!

...and for my next trick, i will make a raspberry net out of bamboo canes, plant ties and pond covering!

ta da!! surgical stitching!

here's the finished result. no bird is getting at them there raspberries!! muhaha!

So, job done :) That was all I'd planned to do. That, and water the plants. However, we all know it is far too easy to get distracted, especially by reduced sale-price plants. Yes, I succumbed to 2x sweet peppers, 1x tomato (will look up the type), 1x pack of 6 cherry tomatoes, 4x pumpkins, 2x leek packs. I also got drawn in by a handsome-looking blueberry bush. Not that I needed more soft fruit but I don't have a blueberry... oh it is all too easy to get sidetracked!

2nd big bed, newly planted out with pumpkins, peppers, tommies to go with already planted sweetcorn, aubergines, baby sweetcorn and potatoes - busy bed!

Next, plant out that impulse-buy blueberry...!

Look at me go! ha! However, this next photo will show you why I bought it - it's so handsome!


I am also having a fantastic run on juicy, scrumptious strawberries. I picked about 750g of ripe red beauties. The net I put over them really has protected the crop and more or less all were pristine. There are some real whoppers and the taste and smell is heaven!

The rest of the allotment is coming on in leaps and bounds. Here are a few snaps of what's growing...

sweet peas

developing flower and herb bed

vialii primula

ripening blackcurrants

globe artichokes starting to flower

charlotte potatoes - bottom right's looking a little sad :(

broccoli, red onions and charlotte potatoes

charlotte potatoes, red onions, broccoli and cauliflower

So, all going well. I hope your growing's going good :)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Harvest of goodies

Yummy! I've already eaten some of my peas before but here's a harvest punnet of goodies. Strawberries (lovely and big and juicy), gooseberries (in the freezer until there's lots), peas and my very first sweet pea - smells amazing :)

Saturday, 6 June 2009

where have you been??!

i've been the other side of the world! been off on my sabbatical in New Zealand via Hong Kong. very spectacular in NZ and hong kong is very unique. i'm so glad i went, but won't be emmigrating!! it certainly was no relaxing tour. we were mega busy each day and saw so much. usually on the bus by 730 to head off to the next place. got a float plane flight in and a jet boat safari. went up a 62nd floor revolving restaurant in hong kong and did a nighttime boat trip round the harbour. went on a cruise around milford sound, saw loads of waterfalls, a glacier, went on a steam-driven paddleboat, explored the jungle, the beaches, went in a glowworm cave, visited LOTR locations, milked a cow and so much more! busy holiday :D

came back to the expected 2 foot weeds! bit disheartening and scary but a whiz round with the strimmer soon tamed the wilderness! so much has come through and grown in the 3 weeks i was away. all my plantings have been pretty succesful - the charlotte potatoes being the most surprising. boy do they grow fast! no new photos yet but i will get on the case. so much has been done since my last post. my folks and older bro were down to help in the days i still had off from work so we spent 2 days working at the allotment (and i got sunburnt - doh!). dad and col dug a new bed near the shed and having everyone pitch in made such a big difference. lots of weeding was done and the strawberries got a protective net. i have sweetcorn & baby sweetcorn waiting to go in, along with dwarf beans (mum grew these for me when i was away - thanks mum!). i've put in some aubergines and am trying a chilli pepper. i moved some red-skinned potatoes when i was digging over a bed so they must be leftovers! no point throwing them out though. well, i will blog more when i have photos to go with my waffle! hope you're all well and things are growing for you too :)