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Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Well I’m still on schedule (we’ll see how long that lasts), I got to the allotment today as planned lugging my tools plus a pruning saw and mattock to sort out the small holly tree at the back of the plot and boy am I knackered.

Was only down there for two hours and the job took at least an a hour twenty minutes to get done with lots of breaks to sort out the little one’s wants and needs as well as to catch my breath.

The tree was cut down pretty easily but the roots were in there nice and solid so swinging the mattock was hard work, the over hanging tree branches of a hawthorn and the roots being within a foot of the neighbouring fence meant the angles I had to work in were sometimes quite awkward.

Well I finally grubbed the trunk out plus a smaller trunk which was cut back previously by some one else. Now I can get on with digging the area over and removing any perennial weed roots.

Before with tree.

After without tree, yah!!

On returning home I did a spot of harvesting.

Check out the size of this beefsteak tomato, variety Costullto Florintino (questionable spelling will edit laters)

Sunday, 27 September 2009

I've Made It!!

Finally I’ve made it to the allotment, yep I forwent my Sunday lay in and prepared a pack lunch for myself and kids and took myself off the plot. The kids were walked down later by their dad after they had their lie in and a relaxed brecky (lucky them).

On arriving I immediately got stuck and since the kids weren’t there I was able to get quite a lot done in a short space of time without any distractions whatsoever (except Oscar the lotty cat who wanted a rub down) .

So what did I get done; I started the week before last to clear the last 10ft or so of the back of my plot of the composting materials that was on it from the communal heap and I also started to cut back the nettle to a manageable level for digging out. As I was not able to get their last week the work I had done was undone by others not realising I had started clearing and they had add fresh composting material to an area I had already cleared but as it was fresh it was easy to move off again.

Today I cracked on and removed all the composting material off the plot, there was lots of useful stuff on my plot which I removed and neatly stacked on the communal section, such as bags of soot, ash, bark and leafmold, there was also large folded pieces of carpet, chicken wire and 4” thick logs approx 5ft in length. Any rubbish was left in a neat pile for discarding Wednesday when I would see the others as I didn’t know where or how the got their rubbish dumped.

In between all that I was constantly cutting down the nettle patches which weren’t a lot but tall. I disturbed many a frog and lots of snails, very little slugs were seen. All that is left to do is to cut down a small holly tree but I didn’t walk with a saw so that will be my Tuesday job and I also hope to start digging over that patch of ground to remove all the nettle roots and as much as I can get out of the bind weed roots I came across.

The kids did join me about a half an hour before lunch and we all had a nice picnic together. They also helped me to shell some past their best runner beans which was on my plot and which I noticed the others had been clearing and composting. And as you know I hate waste so the remaining plants I cleared for myself and de-podded the fresh full beans, which was made into a lovely stew for dinner today.

Here is a before and after of the area I cleared. The first photo was taken on the 11th when I started.
Now here is a quick update on what’s been harvested before the weekend:
Friday morning before the day ran away with me I harvested what needed to be harvested. The runner and French beans are doing so well this late in the season with their second flush of flowers saving me from cursing myself for my lack of discipline re successional sowings and watering of the current crops. The patty pans are still producing and I removed this damaged butternut to use now (this will let the plant concentrate on ripening the undamaged ones better), it will be lacking in sweetness but the flesh would be lovely and dense with a clean starchy flavour. The radishes (which I forgot about) and the carrots will be used over the weekend and the sweet corn was used Friday. The tomatoes are finally slowing down but there is still more than enough for our needs. The borlotti beans are starting to dry at a faster rate now and as you can see in the picture below the ones I picked earlier have stared to split and shed their seeds.
On Friday I also took pictures of these two pretty blooms;
Another new but tiny sunflower.
This emerging carnation/ dianthus which was bought in Morrisons a few weeks back, I really need to plant the poor thing out, maybe tomorrow.
Hope to do a little pottering in the garden tomorrow, such as; planting out some plants that are in pots, etc, but i'll fill you all in when those jobs are done.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Best Laid Plans

So I got up yesterday with the plan to be a real organized ‘Super Mom’.

The plan was to cook up a batch of ketchup in the morning and then to take myself and the younger offspring to the allotment to do some more clearing of my plot, then on our return, we would go straight to the school and pick up the older offspring return home and cook up a batch of chutney before dinner (there was enough leftovers not to actually worry about cooking dinner).

Ok now for what really happened:

Ketchup making took much longer than expected so morning session at allotment was moved to mid afternoon after picking up older offspring (perfect as little one will have company which frees me up to get more work done) and chutney making moved up into empty time slot, great save I thought.

Feeling well smug about saving the day but in hindsight I am suddenly aware of the old proverbs, such as; ‘pride goes before the fall’ and ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’.

So leaving 5 minutes late to go pick up the eldest and the youngest running ahead falls not 20ft away from our gate on pavement and badly (I mean badly skins her knee). The scenario plays out as follows; grab child up off of the ground, run back into house , grabs box of bandaids and run next door, thrust screaming child onto neighbours kitchen counter and ask her to please clean her up for me so I’m not late picking eldest up.

On the return home youngest is no longer crying (she is a toughy) but her knee is hurting a lot and her mood is not nice. She doesn’t want to visit the lotty (can’t blame her) I dose her up with some painkillers and she promptly goes off to sleep within an hour.

SIGH! So much for being a super organised mom, never mind, better luck next time as they say.

This morning she is still very sore and walking very higgly piggly, so the lotty is out of the question this morning as well but hopefully once the knee has warmed up sufficiently maybe we could fit a trip in this afternoon with big sister in tow as well.

So walking backwards so to speak from yesterday to my last posting date I’ll fill you in on what I have been up too.

So yesterday I finally got round to cooking up a batch of ketchup using some very ripe tomatoes that had gone pass their eating fresh best but were still lovely to use in sauces etc.

I used a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s - Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life cook book. It took a lot longer than I thought it would and though it did taste delicious I think I would look for and use a simpler recipe next time.


(Clicking on the recipe will open it up bigger)

I did do a couple things differently though; as I had no bulb fennel I used one bunch of fresh fennel seeds right off the plant (I think this did impart some bitterness to the sauce but once I added the sugar and vinegar that bitterness disappeared). I also did not dice up the chilli but cooked it whole in the sauce to impart its flavour but without too much of it’s heat (gotta think of the kids). The end result was approx 900- 950mls of yummy homemade tomato ketchup.

After lunch I started to make some chutney with some of the patty pan squash I had in the vegetable bowl. This plant is cropping really well this year and as such I have had to give away and now pickle some into a chutney for winter relish. I used this recipe ‘Glutney’ from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall last year for my courgette glut and it was a huge success, so as they say don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. I got 6 bottles jars, my larder is stocking up nicely.

The weather over the last five days or so have improved greatly and with this return to hot sunny days and relatively mild nights the beasties are remerging from their hidey holes. Here are some photos taken on Monday of the garden’s wildlife and flora.

I am seeing a few more of these of late.
The bees are also more active again.
As are the hoverflies.
Female Ichneumon Wasp query sp.
And not sure how many of you have noticed but gosh there are tons of these about, they are making huge webs in all manner of places, which freaks my girly girls out.
The flowers as I mentioned are still at it although not at the numbers they were before:
New sunflowers are still opening.
California Poppies are still blooming.

And finally the Jerusalem artichokes are finally going to open their buds.

Monday I also did another big harvest; along with the usual stuff another of my winter squashes were ready ‘Blue Banana’ weighing in at 5lbs 4ozs.

Well that’s it for now, toodles.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Late Blooms

This is just a quick update on what has been keeping me busy and out of the garden/ allotment (I had hoped to get there Tue, Wed, and Thurs of last week).

I’ll also show you some pictures of flowers that are still blooming here and there in the garden.

So last week my four year old was not a hundred percent and as such kept me both out of the garden and away from the allotment. Thankfully Wednesday the allotment site manager brought me her key to keep and use till I see her again on this Wednesday coming, so on Thursday with the little one finally on the mend and the weather warm and calm we made it to the allotment. I set about clearing some of the nettle and part of the communal compost heap off of my plot. I completed about a third of it and hope to if the weather is good make it back there again on Tuesday of this coming week.

While I was clearing I disturbed this little fellow and I also found this dead what I believe to be a shrew (not sure which one though).

On my return home last Thursday I did some harvesting in the garden. The Patch produced its first pumpkins ’Snowman’ x 2 from two plants (one of each plant) and a squash ‘Kobocha’ x 1. I’ve put them to ripen further then I’m store them away for the winter. The summer squash ‘Patty Pan’ is also still producing well and I took one off the plant that should have been picked at least two days before, it was approx 7” across. I also got some more dried pods of ‘Ying Yang’ and ‘Borlotti’ beans along with more tomatoes and my second lot of sweet corn which were all ripe and went down a treat at dinnertime. The late sown dwarf French beans a yellow pod variety also gave it’s first harvest.
This weekend I have been kept just as busy and I barely got chance to water some of the greenhouse plants. I have though harvested some more corn on Friday, and some perpetual spinach on Sunday.
Now as promised here are a few pictures of all I found in flower still lat Thursday.

They are getting far and in between now but there are a couple mini beasties about.
Quite a few of these speckled woods are about.

Not sure what caterpillar this is.


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