Sunday, 28 July 2013

Waiting for Rain and getting some!

We went up in the afternoon yesterday in the hope that we'd get caught in a rainstorm, we watched it moving towards up, getting darker and the wind started up but we only felt a few drops. As we got home the heavens opened and we got a lot of rain overnight and this morning. 11mm in total
The plots look so happy after rain and the weeds appreciate it even more! Above is some of the Asparagus Pea which are very pretty (but don't need a trellis).
Below is one of the Uchiki Kuri squash plants - I'm going to need to cut back some off-shoots. It would happily cover 4 poles I think!
We're a bit concerned about one of our Brussel Sprouts plants - it's leaves are going rather curly. We'll keep an eye on it but may need to pull it up in an attempt to prevent any cross-infection.
I'm also unsure of what to do with my Florence (bulb) fennel. After all the panic as the slugs were munching their way through it earlier in the year, it's come on really well. However, how big are they meant to get before eating? I wanted to keep them for soup but they look like they're mature now.
This is the biggest one - as big as my palm and quite pump. Is it ok to leave it to carry on growing?
This is my herb fennel. It's really tall and has flowered. The flying insects really love it, so I'm leaving it to grow as it's not really something I will use much for cooking and it looks very pretty.
The runner beans are also looking beautiful with masses of flowers. There are a few beans forming but not sure whether they'll be ready to win 'longest runner bean' this year (or even come second as we did last year...)
Just as it began to rain again this afternoon, we left the plot with a lovely selection of veggies which will cover us for a few meals.
International Kidney potatoes on the left and Orla on the right. You can tell the Orla as the slugs love them :-(

Friday, 26 July 2013

Last day of holiday :-(

The last few days of my fortnight's holiday have remained very warm and mostly sunny. We had rain overnight on Wednesday which produced another 4.5mm of rain but we've still been watering a lot as the ground dries out so quickly.

We've been eating from the plot all week; potatoes, broad beans, raspberries but mostly courgettes. I'm desperately looking for interesting courgette recipes, though so far plain, topped with a cheesy-nutty concoction is winning. We've managed to give away several as we've had so many family visitors to the plot this week, but now the green courgettes are arriving along with the Floridor yellows.
I couldn't resist modifying this cloud photo I took - the evening cloud had such a perfect formation! I immediately thought of this pic of Aeolus (or one similar).
I wanted to paste in an arty wind-blower, but couldn't find anything suitable so had to use me instead :-)
I did the 2013 Big Butterfly Count today - details on my wildlife blog.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

4.5mm of rain

That was quite a lot of rain in one night but it didn't make much difference to the earth at Marsh Lane - hopefully the veggie roots are enjoying the benefits.
It was another humid day and very hot whenever the clouds cleared. We had a couple of visits to the plot, one with my sister, Joanne and nephew, George.
This is one of our little Rocky cucumber plants - we're growing one over this mesh (an old fireguard) in the hope that the little cucumbers will hang through. There are lots of cucumbers appearing but we're still only supplying Floridor Yellow courgettes for the spares table at the moment - Joanne asked why my courgettes had grown into bubbles :-)
We left having picked some salad to have for lunch, along with potato salad made with some of the International Kidneys we pulled yesterday. That's our first red spring onions Apache and some of the lovely little turnips which are so good raw.
I've bought a new camera; an Olympus SZ-31MR compact. It's not that fancy; it's the update to my previous one which I loved so much but the zoom went wrong - it gets rather abused by being taken to the plot in all weathers. I love the super macro option, but it needs a bit of getting used to as it's slightly different. Here's one of my first pics:
I'm pleased so far - look at the detail in the hairs!


Monday, 22 July 2013


We went to the site in the morning and did a bit of labelling on the HAHA Plot. As it's meant to be 'unusual veg' we thought it would be sensible to let people know exactly what is growing there. The squashes are doing well, as are the asparagus peas but I don't think the globe artichoke liked being transplanted - it doesn't seem to have grown at all since the move..
It was so humid we couldn't do anything energetic and only did a bit of watering because we have the promise of rain later.
I could have done the butterfly count today,  though it wouldn't be a particularly average day (see wildlife blog)!
In the evening we walked up again to pick potatoes (International Kidney) for dinner. We got a healthy haul from the one plant and they were very tasty but did fall apart in the pan after just 17mins of cooking. I had a few mangetout too and the strawbs are for tomorrow's breakfast. 
Juat as we got close to home it started to rain but we got indoors before we had the most tremendous thunderstorm - very exciting! Haven't heard thunder that loud for years! And with it came the RAIN.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Lettuce Soup...hmmm

Yesterday was cloudy! And not so sweltering. We went for a lovely walk along part of the Wayfarers Walk; from Combe Gibbet to Buttermere near Shalbourne. There were so many butterflies - mostly meadow browns, tortoiseshells and peacocks flitting along the ancient chalky path ahead of us. Just beautiful.

In the evening we popped up the plot to pick some lettuce to make lettuce soup. I added an onion, veg stock and garlic. It wasn't that tasty but with some marmite added it was ok - probably won't bother again though!
Today we just had another quick visit to pick some Orla potatoes and courgettes. The potatoes are a bit slug damaged - Jamie's really wishing he had bought the nematodes we talked about last year.  I'm making a layered bake thing with potatoes, onions, Quorn pepperoni slices with a pre-fried cheesy courgette topping.
Our peppers are growing well but not going red yet. Well, perhaps they're timed to be ready with the tomatoes...

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Heatwave - it's official!

Southern England has just moved into Level 3 Amber alert heatwave, according to the Met Office. This is because we've exceeded the threshold temperature of 30° by day and 15° overnight for at least 2 days - feels like 14 days to us!
The courgettes are making the most of all the watering we're doing - I had to put 2 big ones on the shares table today. We picked some more strawberries and I got a handful of mangetout - Malcolm provided a few more so that I've enough for my dinner tonight.
We've found more evidence of dust baths and today I found feathers - pretty sure these are pheasant feathers.
Talking of birds - take a look at the wildlife blog entry for today! Here's a teaser...the video is gruesome...

First Garlic

Another scorcher so just a couple of hours on the plot this afternoon. We walked there via Freemans Marsh and saw this lovely family of swans on the River Dun.
Whilst on the allotment we pulled our first garlic. It's still a bit green but we just had it with courgette,  tomatoes and peppers topped with cheese and pine nuts - delish!
The peppers and toms were shop-bought but we did eat our first red tomato yesterday. It didn't last long enough for a photo :-)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Pretty Clouds and Pretty Plants!

More sunshine and extreme temperatures over the last couple of days. It's so exhausting to move! Thank goodness for annual leave. The wildlife blog has been updated as there's so much more activity at the moment - nature seems pretty happy with the heat.
Beautiful Cirrus cloud formations on Monday when we were having a BBQ.
The asparagus pea on the HAHA plot has had a few flowers for a while and it's produced its first pod now. It's tiny at the moment; you're meant to eat them whole and raw but we're sure it should get a bit bigger first. The flowers are very pretty.
The clouds produced a nice effect with the sun - the photo doesn't quite do it justice. The evenings are warm and nights are staying in the high-teens.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Salad and Accent Potatoes for Dinner

Another boiling hot day meant an early morning visit, for watering the HAHA plot and Neal's plot (while he's on his hols) and then a late afternoon visit for watering our plots. It was beginning to get a bit cloudy in the afternoon but still sweltering and gorgeous!

We picked for our dinner - the first of our carrots - very skinny at the moment and super-sweet. Perfect for salad. The potato plant we pulled is Accent. Extremely tasty potatoes, but again not many tubers - though enough to cover a dinner and a lunch, so not too bad. The Atlantic turnips are delicious - they're the ones that are meant to taste of melon. We don't cook them, just have them sliced; they're peppery and so fresh tasting. Lovely.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Too hot to blog

Wow! The weather's been so fabulous over the last couple of weeks that I haven't had time to write a blog post! 34° in the shade today! Mrs B found it a bit hot too!
We've been going to the plot straight from work. These are the Summer evenings we missed last year.
We've been eating quite well from the allotment too - lots of salads, strawberries, a few raspberries today and the yellow Floridor squashes have started to pay out.
Our potato plan hasn't worked - the earlies are arriving later than we intended. We think they probably haven't bulked up because of the lack of rain. So we've been watering the plants a lot over the last week.
We pulled an Arran Pilot - only a very small amount of spuds (about 5 tubers) - lovely as potato salad for lunch! And we pulled a couple of the Pentland Javelins which were enough for two meals - very tasty, but in general we hope to get more than one meal per plant.
Here are some photos showing each quarter of Plot 7 - all growing nicely now!
And here's my one fennel which looks like it will actually get to grow to maturity - hope I haven't spoken too soon!
I have updated the wildlife blog as a few more insects are appearing on site.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Never fear - Robbie should return!

We visited the plot after work to pick some broad beans, strawberries and a bit more salad. We watered everything and chatted a lot. This is the best time of year; lots of people on site, planting, watering and harvesting.
My Floridor yellow squash seems to be doing well - looks like the one plant (on our plot) will provide plenty of courgettes, perhaps Jamie will have to get a taste for them after all!

Since last week we haven't seen our Robbie; only Mrs B (blackbird) has been around feeding her chick. We were concerned that the cat had found him but Malcolm informed us that robins go into hiding for a few weeks after they've fed their chicks. They moult and go to ground while they are feeling vulnerable (and ugly - are robins that shallow? :-}). So, hopefully our little chap will be back again quite soon.
Here's an archive photo of him just because we miss him!