Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Comedy courgette and big ol' blueberries

I've still not had much time to do any proper work down the allotment. I did manage to weed around 2 beds though so at least part of the plot is looking tidy. At this time of the year with the sun and rain the weeds are a proper battle. You dig them up, turn around and they are back again! I also got started on tidying up my 'burning bed'. My plan is to bag up all the crap there and get it down the tip. Once that is done I can plant out another 5x5m bed. Not sure what with yet!

I am pleased to be harvesting my first courgettes. It doesn't seem like that long ago when I planted 4 little weedy plants. They are now monsters and are producing the first veg. I have been down checking the progress of the plot every other day. I saw that they were nearly ready to pick so I have been waiting for them to get a little bigger. How the hell this one missed the checks I don't know! It is a whopper! It made me laugh when I spotted it. Almost looks like a marrow! It was very tasty :)

These two little beauties are much more reasonable size-wise. Look at the difference in size! These are waiting to be eaten. I expect they will taste better than the giant.

The checking also revealed some ripe blueberries off the plant I put it a little while ago. The fruits were really quite big compared with those you get in shops and they didn't have that soapy taste. I had them with some vanilla icecream and a smashed up crunchie. Yum!

More beans picked too. Looks like I will be eating a lot of beans as there are loads of flowers and forming beans on the plants. Luckily I love beans! I'm really pleased the blackfly seems to have been dealt with by nature too. Hooray!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Not done too much but harvest down the allotment. Too much rain! Have done some watering of the tommies in the shed but that is about it. I have been busy with my raspberry glut. I found some recipes I wanted to try and got down to business on Saturday. I baked a cake - raspberry and lime drizzle cake - and some bars - raspberry and hazelnut (an adaptation of the pinenut recipe). Both got taken into work and were very, very well received! So many compliments on the cake. It was the first time I've made it and it was very moist with a yummy tang. Easy peasy to make too :) My rasos were a bit gooey by the time they got used but both sweet treats turned out well.

Cake uncooked
Cake cooked

Bars uncooked
Bars cooked
I also picked some flowers from the lottie. I think these are 'goldstrum' daisies/'black eyed susan'/rudbeckia goldstrum. They're lovely :)

Also picked my first beans. Not too many yet so will hold off on photos!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Very first globe artichoke, picked, cooked and eaten - the verdict...

Well, I inherited some very attractive globe artichokes with the allotment. I've never tried them before so now they are getting ready for eating I thought I'd give one a go. I found this link on the internet and I followed the steps. They are very majestic plants and the heads are beautifully symmetrical - I like symmetry, me!

First you have to snip off the prickly, pointy tips of the leaves and remove the stalk.

Then you cut off the top.

Boil in a pan of salty water for 35 mins, making sure all the 'choke is covered in water - weigh down if necessary.

Scoop out the furry bit in the centre and discard. Eat the leaves by biting on the big end of each one and drawing out the flesh with your teeth, outer parts of the leaf are too tough. You can eat all of the fleshy heart as is.

Verdict - not too much hassle and DELISH! :D Hooray!!

Also chowing down on cauliflower cheese using the first cauliflower from the allotment, as well as some butter-fried mushrooms (from the supermarket!). Yummy :D

If you have globe artichokes I recommend you give those funny-looking things a go!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Firsts in the latest food harvest

I didn't get too much done this weekend down the allotment. Mum and I did pop down on Saturday morning to water - and, as usual, got distracted by other tasks! We did some harvesting which was the main reason for going. We picked raspberries and gooseberries and the final redcurrants the birds hadn't eaten! They look beautiful, like little jewels. Hopefully there is enough to make a jar of jelly. I am planning on making a cake and some oat bars with the raspberries and some chutney with the gooseberries - all will be adapted recipes I am sure :) Mum took some fruit for herself.

We also got to harvest my very first broccoli florets and a head of cauliflower. I also picked a bunch of sweetpeas but have found the flower stems are shorter on the new blooms. That means a smaller vase is needed! When I inherited the allotment, some produce was already there. I had a poke about in amongst the weeds and found a few (what I assume are) shallots ok to pick. I am drying these out and will see if they are edible!

We also picked, but didn't photograph, more charlotte potatoes (delish!) and the first globe artichokes. I am going to try mine tonight and see how it tastes. Will let you know! Cauliflower cheese is also on the menu. Yummy :) I hope you are enjoying your harvests.

I have now taken the netting off the strawberries and started to pot on the runners. Hopefully this will give me more strawberry plants to keep or to pass on to others, perhaps in a plant swap which they do at the allotment - not that I have had time to go to one yet!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Progress photos

More things going on down the allotment...

The partially fixed vandalised door. Grr!

Pertpetual spinach seeds starting to come through

Scarlet emperor runner beans starting to form

The Prince french beans starting to form

1st money maker aubergine looking promising

Yellow marigolds ready to be planted out - not sure where yet!

Cosmos sensation FINALLY flowering and such a pretty flower - currently my desktop image

this plant is huge! my aunt gave me this and i can't remember what it is but it is about to flower - hooray!

My folks are visiting this weekend and have brought their gardening clothes! I am always more than grateful for their help. Mum is keen to go away with a good harvest :)

Monday, 6 July 2009


Vandals. Bloody vandals. Looks like they've been trying to get into my shed. Didn't manage it but they made a mess of the door. Another job for me to do. It's put a real downer on the lottie for me tonight. I'm going to take all the decorative tools off the shed (up still from the old tenants) and reinforce the door - they've made a hole in one of the panels which needs fixing up. I'll also put some stuff on the window to make it opaque but to still allow the light in, just so folk can't see in. *sigh*. I did notice that John's shed has been broken into and the one next to it. Looks like they've had a go at a few of the sheds. SO FRUSTRATING.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Mini greenhouse

I mentioned a few posts ago that I'd built the mini greenhouse. Well, here it is in situ. I've tried to put it somewhere where it won't blow over but there are no guarantees of that! The temperature does get quite reasonable inside there so I am hoping it will be good for getting seeds going. It's done wonders for bringing on the marigolds after only a couple of days inside it.
I've planted out a tray of chive seed and also put the basil plants in there to hopefully get them a big bigger.

I also spotted this little critter on the zip. It's a ladybird larva and welcome he is too! I popped him on a plant before I opened up the greenhouse.

What's going on down't lottie? - PART 2

More photos of the 'growings on' (groan!) down the lottie...

2x 'garden pearl' tomatoes in full flower. Lots of flowers! I like this variety as it is teeny tiny and grows close to the ground rather than up so I don't need to stake it. Both plants are looking really healthy and I even spied a little fruit forming. It's about 1cm across so really 'ickle!

The 'money maker' aubergines (I have 5 plants) are all in flower now. They're looking beautiful. Such dark stems and lovely purple flowers.

Here's another photo of the sweetcorn. It's now about 25-30cm high and is looking really good. I was a bit worried they wouldn't take at first but it is always nice to be proved wrong :)

I spotted these self-seeded rogue nasturtiums growing at the end of the soft fruit. They're very pretty with the leaves a blue-green.

There are more raspberries than I know what to do with!

The globe artichokes are looking very productive with a fair few on each plant. I will have to try them soon, maybe next weekend when my folks come to visit again.

The 'money maker' tomatoes are producing fruit now in the shed. They are SO thirsty though and are such a responsibility! I need to water them every day and I think even that might not be quite enough. Worse than having a pet :P

Very first cauliflower starting to form. Yay! Exciting :)

Sweet williams, self-seeded. These remind me of my childhood home where these grew wild in the meadow.

Double geum. This plant has given a wonderful show of colour.

Finally, the cosmos sensation if starting to show signs of flowering. It has grown really big and although the feathery leaves are interesting, I was hoping it would flower for me.

1st spuds and other jobs

Ah, what a nice view. The photo above is the sight that awaits me as I pull up to the allotment. The sweet peas are glorious so I think I will have to have some of those in every year.

I thought I'd take a snap of that flowering shrub I mentioned in the previous post. Isn't it pretty? It says it grows to 30x30cm so I thought it would be fine in this old metal bucket. It makes me smile anyway, even if I can't eat it like most things on the lottie!

As I was tidying up the edges of the 'road end' bed and doing a spot of weeding, I noticed how many ladybirds there were on the plot. Of course, this is a good thing - I have plenty of blackfly they need to eat and they're just so darned attractive! This is a snap of one that I spotted (hardy ha!) on the runner beans.

Hooray! I got something ticked off my 'to do' list - I re-netted the broccoli as it was growing too big for the original net protection I put up. You can see the difference between the cauliflower (left) and the broccoli (right). They were the same before I re-netted. I don't think I need to re-net the cauliflower as they look like they're just about right. I did some weeding around the broccoli as I had the net off but I think I'll just leave the weeds under the cauliflower net for now. I noticed that all the plants had broccoli forming so I can't wait for that to be ready :)
I am getting a bit fed up with all the grass, and to be honest, a little embarrassed I'm not using all my plot for growing. Yes, I know I've not been there that long really (especially as I had most of May off!) and I am doing most of the work solo, but I am feeling guilty. I plan on putting 3 new strip beds in between the 'road end' bed and the 9-grid bed. I made a start on taking the turf off the first one in the stifling heat of yesterday. It was hard going as the ground is pretty rock solid from the hot weather and it must've been in the high 20s when I was digging. I did set up my chair and parasol with a big water-filled bottle for breaks but I didn't get as much done as I'd like before I started to feel a bit too faint to carry on! Ah well, at least I've made a start.

I'm a curious ol' thing and thought I'd take a peek at the progress of my charlotte potatoes. One of my allotment neighbours told me that once the flowers turn, the potatoes should be ready, apparently. My flowers on the pots were on the turn so I thought I'd take a peek at the new potato crop. This is what I found...Yes, there are potatoes to eat - and delicious they were too, but I think I'll wait a while longer before digging too many up. There were still quite a few tiny potatoes so I replanted one of the plants I dug up to see if it will keep growing. This is the 'haul' from 2 plants...