Tuesday, 20 July 2010

MAHOOSIVE marrow and other miscellaneous veg

Well, up to the allotment I went last night. I've not had much time for it lately. I was gadding about on Saturday at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire at the Battle Proms. Very nice it was too. An excellent way to spend a Saturday night. The spitfire fly-by put a tear or two in my eye. I'm a plane fan and everyone cheering and being uber patriotic tugged at the heart strings ;) What a sap!

Sunday I was working on glassy goodies - listing things for sale in my folksy shop, as well as putting together some commissions.

So, last night I had a poke about, seeing what was new. Did a bit of weeding/hoeing/dead heading and all that jazz. I found my first hooligan pumpkin hiding under a leaf. Looking forward to these. They're pretty cool smallish striped numbers - well, they looked it on the packet! I await the stripes...

The two tomato plants my aunt gave me back in spring are doing so well! Last year the tomatoes in the ground died off. I am guessing from all the rain we had. This year it has been much drier and the tomatoes should be ripening any time soon. They are so laden and heavy with fruit I have had to support them with some cane hoops. Hopefully this will give a bit of support in the wind, keep the fruit off the ground and make watering a little easier to do. I may put down some straw mulch to hopefully stop the low tommies sitting directly on the soil.

I planted a whole bunch of stuff too (I was the last up there in the dark with a torch by the end!): hollyhocks, 2 rows of sweet williams, red cos lettuce, dwarf beans - 'purple queen' and 'stanley', as well as some 'the sutton' broad beans, again. I did most of the sowing post-digging up the last of the charlotte spuds in the big 'road end' bed. Potatoes are great for soil being easy to turn!

It was a bit of a bumper harvest. Loads of the charlotte spuds, some beetroot, courgettes, a couple of yellow courgettes and a MAHOOSIVE marrow :) My first ever marrow. I am like a proud parent!

Check it out! Pretty big. I thought it best to harvest it at this size, rather than leave it too long and lose it. My mum has a great marrow recipe so I'll be using that for this bad boy :)

This batch of spuds were a pretty impressive harvest, especially as I didn't plant any of this variety this year! These are leftovers from last year's laziness ;) Five and a half pounds of tastiness. I have saved some to chit for next year.

I grabbed a few beetroot too. These will be peeled then I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with them. I don't want to pickle them in vinegar, so maybe I'll find a recipe where you can appreciate their fab taste and great colour :)

And the courgettes just keep coming! I only have 4 plants and they are keeping me well in stock. I spoke to my friend at work and she has FIFTEEN plants at her allotment! Blimey!! She says her veggie friends are loving her though :) I really like this photo of them in the sink being washed, with the sink edges forming a frame. Maybe it is just me...!

And this arty arrangement is me drying them off before they go into the fridge. I am definitely going to make chutney, but I don't want it to be dominated by tomatoes or apples as a lot of the recipes are. I also will be making some into a chocolate cake! Watch this space :)

Oh, and what do you think of the new blog template? I kinda like it. Seems fresher to me and gives me more space on the page. Need to re-size my header but can't for the life of me find the file to do so! Ho hum.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Next close-up catch-up...

Here's some more close-ups of what's happening at lottie and at home on my balcony...

Spotted these cute piggy cane toppers on someone else's blog and had to have some of my own!

 tomatoes starting to form

runner beans in flower and black-eyed susan vine adding colour to the wigwam

celeriac putting on lots of growth

globe artichokes look all architcturally splendid

1st purple podded peas

on the balcony..., borage in flower - so pretty

pouch of chillis need repotting

peppers forming - these are about 1.5" long

stunning succulent flowers

'bill' the basil plant - not seen such a dense bushy variety before. varigated too and smells intensely basil-y. i had to have it! got one for my mum too as a gift. she loved the heart-shaped potato ;) it is her birthday today. happy birthday mum! we are off to the zoo. very excitied!

Thursday, 8 July 2010


Just spotted this when searching for some sweet william seeds:

Not browsed it properly yet but thought I'd bookmark it here.

Does anyone know of a good place to get sweet william seeds? I'd like to grow lots next year and also get some for my sister-in-law. Ideally the mixed variety.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Close-up catch up

Here's a little catch up of some close-up photos. I like these. Lots of things are looking good :)

sweetcorn & kohl rabi

gold rush courgettes, marrow, patty pans

patio apples

dwarf dahlias, LOTS of cornflowers with buds, gladioli

purple podded peas

I ♥ spuds!

Isn't nature magical?! Look what got dug up last night. :)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Blackcurrant jam & blackcurrant booze!

This begins with maths. Maths and some improvising. The lbs of blackcurrants I picked were languishing in the fridge and I didn't want them to spoil so I had to do something with them. I really wanted to make a blackcurrant chutney, something different, but I've not found a recipe yet. I'll keep hunting and if you know one, let me know. Anyway, maths. There seems to be a fair few different ways to make b/c jam so I picked one which seemed most sensible and worked my brain to calculate how much sugar and water I needed, hence the numbers on the piece of paper in the 1st photo. I think I must've got it right as the jam seemed to turn out to a T.

Voila! Scrummy b/c jam on toast. Delish! Still got another bunch of b/c's to pick so more jam perhaps, or finally some b/c chutney. Might have to make up a recipe!

With the rest of the b/c's I made some b/c booze. I thought I had some plain vodka knocking about but no, I had to make do with raspberry vodka (not homemade). I think this is no bad thing and look forward to trying this in, alas, 6 months. Well, it will be a good Christmas! I kinda made this up from various research on b/c booze, so just stuffed the bottles with b/c's, squidged it down with the end of a wooden spoon and topped up with vodka. The bigger bottle I threw in some sugar too but I don't know if it will need it as the raspberry vodka is already pretty sweet.

Roll on Christmas!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

A quick 20 minutes... PAH!

I should have sorted this post out mid-week but I just didn't get round to it. I went to lottie for a quick raspberry pick. Ya know, a short 20 mins to harvest the first of the fruit ready for picking, then back home to do other things. Well, as usual, that 'quick 20 minutes' turned into a full-blown 3 hours! To be honest though, I was really pleased to actually spend a good chunk of time really working the plot. I got the hoe out and did lots of weeding. The generous watering the plants are getting is, of course, benefiting the weeds too. Once the hoe gets pushed around the plot is transformed and looks nice and tidy. I have very tidy plot neighbours so I usually get guilty if mine looks messy. Silly really!

I also re-jigged bits of the plot I'd planted out. Some plants were being overshadowed by others so they needed to be moved to get more light etc. The peppers in the med bed were being dwarfed by the tomatoes so they got re-homed. Also the charlotte potatoes from last year have popped up again (great, as they were SUPER delicious) and were encroaching on my aubergines. Aubergines, why do I bother? Last year they didn't do all that great and this year they don't look all that great either! Maybe next year I will learn not to bother....!

FINALLY, I have success with sunflowers. This is the 3rd or 4th lot of seed I've tried to get going and by a miracle I've got 4 plants looking pretty good. The rest of the seed were a no-show and the earlier seedlings I tried just got munched. I am amazed at how hard I have found it to get sunflowers growing happily. Aren't they meant to be a doddle, something a child could grow?! Anyhoo, I've moved these into final growing positions and put in some support canes. The way I got them to grow eventually was like with the peas - in plastic bottle tubes in an attempt to keep the slugs away.

I mentioned the rogue charlotte potatoes just now. Well, I had to dig up some of the plants that were growing through the path and over the aubergines - they had to go. Even harvesting a little early I got a good crop from the few plants I culled. There are still lots left. I am sure I will have charlotte pots popping up in the 'road end' big bed for lots of seasons to come, which to be honest, is no bad thing :)

I also spotted this red lettuce (variety unknown - any ideas?), growing under the patio apple, seemed to be nibble-free. Odd, I thought, as I've avoided planting lettuces due to the expected battle with the slugs. I can just about handle the holes in spinach as I love spinach so much. Well, reading blogs and lottie sites, as I do, I learned something I didn't know. Red lettuces don't appeal to slugs. Well I never, why didn't anyone tell me this before?! That's it, I am definitely stocking up on red lettuce seed to grow my own. I actually prefer the red varieties of lettuce anyway - it appeals to my artistic eyes more than the green. These are a few leaves I grabbed to munch on. Tasty :)

I also finally planted out the last lot of sweetcorn that was struggling along in the containers I'd planted the seed into. Poor things needed space to grow. I planted out 24 seedlings so if their older brothers are anything to go by they should do well. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and I did pick some raspberries and it did take a 'quick 20 minutes'! I just got the ripe ones from outside the netting and it was enough for a bowl of rasps for pud. However mostly they need a little more time before the main harvest. I also brought home some of the cornflowers which are making a great sugarsnap support, as well as looking fabulous.

The weekend is ear-marked for catching up on my glassy goodies business but I am getting a 'go down the allotment' urge already! I also need to do something with all those blackcurrants I picked the other day.