Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Star-struck Cucumber

That's my starry salad lunch - we were so pleased that our cucumber mould was successful this year, for the first time! We may be lucky and find a heart-shaped cucumber waiting for us on the plot one evening this week!
The growth spreads suprisingly well into the corners of the mould and then there's a bit of a fight to get the mould off, but I think it's worth it. (Not convinced it would work too well on tomatoes, but maybe next year)
The weather is sweltering, but still the plants are beginning to look rather autumnal - that's our largest pumpkin preparing itself for October!
And the hedgerow is well-stocked with berries already. Summer seems to have been rather short-lived although we have had some lovely hot days and long evenings to enjoy this year. And recently we've had some hot Septembers and Octobers, so I hope this year follows suit.
My salad was all home-grown: delicious coleslaw, with cabbage and carrot, two tpes of tomato, purple basil, rainbow chard and Rocky cucumbers. And the salad we had for dinner last night included courgette and potato/onion cakes.
We're still waiting for the purple/black tomatoes to ripen, but they can't be too far off now...

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Showtime 2016!

It was the second year for HAHA to join forces with the Royal British Legion for the Horticultural and Handicraft Show. With 32 exhibitors and 406 exhibits it was even more successful than last year - See how useful allotments are to local communities!

Setting up the Show
We were picking, selecting, washing and trimming our vegetables on Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning. We managed to gather together reasonable items for the following categories:

  • Tomatoes on a vine

  • 5 Bush tomatoes

  • Matching pair of cucumbers

  • 4 carrots with tops

  • Any 5 veg

  • Any 3 veg

  • 3 onions (over 8oz)

  • 3 onions (under 8oz)

  • Largest circumference onion

  • Plus a photo for each category

  • And now we have a flat full of slightly wonky carrots, dodgy spuds and damaged cucumbers. Also the cabbage that we were hoping to include but that is too holey - I think we're going to have lots of coleslaw over the next week! This is our trug of spuds. The Salad Blue are a great colour, but horribly scabby - they were grown in a bag. The white ones are Orla, grown in a bag, and are really good quality. The Kestrels were grown in the ground when we were searching for coloured potatoes to show.
    Can't believe we couldn't find 5 runner beans that were suitable! And again our longest runner bean wasn't long enough - doh! We got 1st place for a couple of the categories but mostly 2nd, 3rd or highly commended. But all placings earn points so we got equal third prize so not bad considering the year! And we're always happy to share with Ted :-)
    After a busy morning and afternoon it was good fun going along to the prize-giving in the evening. Along with the auction of exhibits and raffle and a bar to enjoy a shandy (ahem) or two or three :-)
    It's such a fun event and great to mix with our fellow growers along with bakers, picklers and handicrafters!
    We're only sitting by the cakes - we didn't buy or make all of them!! 

    Sunday, 14 August 2016

    Count your Lucky Stars

    We had a stroll up to the allotment in the early hours of this morning to look for shooting stars during this year's Perseids meteor shower. It was a beautiful night and the moon had just dipped out of view from the bench so we had a great dark sky to view. 
    That's not a photo :-) We only saw a couple of meteors each, but it was worth venturing out. An owl was very active and noisy in the trees around the site and on our way through the Croft a hedgehog trundled across our path! We'd only mentioned yesterday that we hadn't seen one for a couple of years.
    We had a lovely sunny afternoon on the plot yesterday; watering, feeding and deadheading various plants.
    And look! The sunflowers are here! The tall ones are still growing but not flowering yet, but the short ones are very sweet and the bees love them.
    We picked a few bits for dinner - our yellow courgettes are getting greener each day! Cucumbers are featuring in every harvest now.
    A bit annoying that this was amongst the carrots. That could have been our entry for the 'funny shaped veg' in the show next week. I expect there will be more to choose from though!

    Sunday, 7 August 2016

    Pulled Out of the Bag

    I've been trying to think of a way to mention the Olympics in this post and today we pulled our Athlete potatoes - see what I did there?! A topical potato if ever there was one! That's a good haul from two tubers planted in a potato bag.

    The 31st modern games started in Rio de Janeiro on Friday night with an excellent opening ceremony (I have to admit that is my favourite part of the games!). Rio does look amazing from the images they're showing on TV - I love the enormous Christ the Saviour statue, but this new art installation is pretty impressive too!
    We picked lots of other veg today, mostly because I'm back at work tomorrow (eurgh, my lovely break is almost over!) so need some salad bits for lunch. I'm intending to grate or thinly slice some fennel, which has gone over but should still taste nice) into the salad but it'll mostly be lettuce, chard and beetroot. I've also got some of the radish rats tails pods to give it a bit of a peppery flavour.
    Dinner is just cooking - obviously it contains our staples of the moment: potato, courgette, garlic, beetroot and halloumi - mmm, we love fried halloumi! The potatoes look interesting now they've been tainted by the beetroot. It looks a bit like a peachy dessert!

    Now That's August!

    Aah, two lovely hot days. That photo was taken on Saturday when it really was blue sky and dazzling sunshine all day - how lovely it is! 
    Sunflowers growing tall, but no flowers yet
    Friday was hot, but not quite so blue. Jamie and I had a long lazy afternoon picnic on the plot with wine, olives, sandwiches and fruit. Such a perfect way to while away a few hours. Jamie couldn't help himself and mowed the grass, but I mostly sat, photographed (see Wildlife blog) and did a bit of watering.
    I decided to do a butterfly count on Saturday, but the numbers are very poor. I guess that's what the Butterfly Conservation are interested in seeing though...
    • 4 Small Whites
    • 1 Brimstone
    • 2 Meadow Browns
    I may try again today, but it's rather grey, though warm, at the moment
    Meadow Brown
    This is evidence that the birds do eat the giant slugs. But he spent more than 10 minutes rubbing and scraping it in the dirt - presumably to remove the slime. Most unappetising!! (Of course, I'm vegetarian, maybe to you meat-eaters... :-D)