Wednesday, 29 July 2015

(Almost) All the Colours of the Rainbow

Love that little hoverfly in the background!
Because it's that time of year even if the weather has forgotten!
The Tenerife potatoes are still in full flower, although the foliage on the potato bags aren't looking so healthy.
One of the cornichon plants seems to be forming a flower on top. That can't be right, but we have the two other plants and lots of little gherkins are forming so we'll wait and see what it does...
The row of pot marigolds along the greenhouse were all self-seeded and are looking beautiful with all their different oranges and yellows.
The tomatillo fruits are forming their little lanterns - one fruit at each branch joint.
The wild flowers are coming on nicely but would probably appreciate a bit more sun (and so would I).
The chillies are producing well, I really hope they're not too hot to eat.
Shame we didn't see the Beechgrove Garden episode which included information on growing peppers as cordons till this week; perhaps we could have helped the plant produce more than 3 fruits.
Even the compost is colourful today.
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet - well, I got close but my rainbow includes pink rather than indigo I think!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Te presento...

Papas de Tenerife! Our first harvest of Tenerife potatoes!
And they really were that bright - (though we did spray water on the tubers so they show up a bit better against the earth). As you can see, they seem to grow very close to the top of the plant. There weren't any tubers lower than the top mass of roots.
Some of them are tiny (less than 3cm) but we think that's how they're meant to be pulled - the largest is only 6cm. Not sure how the plants in bags have fared, though the haulms appear to be similar to these which were planted in the ground.
Some of those little chaps will become part of the roasted vegetable dinner I'm doing later - it will consist of beetroot, garlic, onion, carrots, courgettes and a couple of florence fennel bulbs. I'll dauphinois some of our rosabelle potatoes to go with the roasted veg. Delicious!

We also got a bit of sowing done in the howling wind: Boltardy beetroot, salad onions, Kohl Rabi, Pak choi, Chinese radish, lettuce and rocket. That should extend our salad eating to coincide with our tomatoes - well, that's the plan... If it doesn't all get blown away!
Our new plot defender!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Yellow is the Colour (and Green is too)

This is a baby burpless cucumber. Did you know that looks like this up close? Freaky!
It's growing upward instead of down at the moment, but I'm sure gravity will put that right when it gets a bit bigger.

This is the amount of rain we had yesterday and last night - a long awaited and very welcome 30mm! It meant we only had to water in the greenhouse today and yesterday - although we did have to give some of the plants a boost with plant food so no escaping the watering can!
This is one of our pumpkins - it's getting big. Our nephew, James, is having a growing competition with us - this is to see whether he really does read my blog ;-)
And, this is what happens when you don't wait for your garlic to grow and plant another bulb! I've pulled it because the foliage had started getting rusty and there doesn't seem to be the need to grow any bigger bulbs!
I think there will be some available for the Open Day and Food Festival this year! 

The florence fennel which has been under fine mesh is looking happy and some are ready to eat.
Here are a few flower pictures - yellow is the colour of the moment, but the red runner bean flowers are on their way now too...
Rudbekia plant from our niece, Victoria, a couple of years ago
Marigolds make such a great show
Amazing pumpkin flower
And finally, if you're in the Hungerford area on 15th August - why not come and see our lovely site? We're making plans and hope the weather plays nice...
(Prepare yourself, this won't be the last time I mention this!)

Friday, 24 July 2015

A Day out from Hungerford

A little off topic, but as this is an allotment blog, here's how our site looked from the train yesterday.
You can see our greenhouse under the tree at the back in the middle
We took the 7 minute train trip to Great Bedwyn just so that I could get that photo - we see so many trains going past while we're sitting on the bench I wanted to see it from the other perspective. It wasn't quite as successful as I'd hoped; my favourite little Olympus camera is playing up :-(
Great Bedwyn is along the Kennet and Avon canal West of Hungerford but we've never quite managed the 8km walk there. So, from the station at Great Bedwyn we walked the 3km to Crofton Beam Engines along the canal. It was reasonably warm and bright so good for walking.
We didn't go to see the beam engines as we went earlier in the year and they weren't 'in steam' yesterday so we walked on to find the Wilton Windmill which was signposted from the Crofton lock.We stopped for a little picnic at Wilton Water where we saw this cormorant (we think that's what it is).
and a heron along with masses of kites and buzzards.
We found the windmill after walking through the very pretty village of Wilton.
It was a bit further than we thought, but definitely worth the walk and the sun came out while we were sitting in the windmill field.
As it was a weekday the windmill wasn't open but it was lovely sitting looking up at it and the fabulous views beyond.

A walk back through the fields and we were on our way back along the canal to our train trip home.
A total of 15km walked was plenty and made for a lovely birthday.
It's raining today, so no allotment today either - well, maybe just a quick visit...

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A Fun in the Sun Weekend

On Saturday morning we did the last bit of tidying on plots 7 and 8 for the Hungerford in Bloom judging on Sunday. We had to do it Saturday morning because in the afternoon it was the plotholders' barbecue and we knew we wouldn't want to do much after the event. I was cooking the veggie burgers - the Linda McCartney mozzarella burgers went down very well among vegetarians and meat eaters. And I fried the onions in Oak-smoked Rapeseed Oil.
Geoff's home-made piccalilli was the perfect accompaniment and Kerry's home-made elderflower cordial was delicious and refreshing in the sunshine.
It was a lovely day for a barbie and with 25 guests it made for a great afternoon. The last of these photos was taken after we polished off all the beer, wine and Kerry's home-made Green Walnut liqueur! (I only learned that walnuts grew in Britain a couple of years ago!)

So, Sunday morning was the Hungerford in Bloom allotment judging and we couldn't be on site. I entered Plot 7 and Jamie entered Plot 8. Plot 7 got a 'highly commended' I think we missed out  because the lettuce, broad beans and mangetout on Plot 7 are all looking a bit tired and seedy now. Not to worry, at least it meant our plot had some particularly good weeding sessions (mostly by Jamie) over the last week and the Marsh Lane Site gets a mention in the local news so residents remember we're here and are perhaps reminded that the lease on our land expires next April :-(

Well done to the prize winners: 1st, Chris; 2nd, Our plot neighbour, Neal equal 2nd with Liz & Ken; and 3rd, newcomers Tui & Glen, who have done a great job on their plot. This is a photo I took of their fabulous hollyhock the other day - the flash has made the middle of the flower glow beautifully.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Some Kind of Soup...

I'm not sure it's going to be very tasty soup. It doesn't look very pretty.
It contains some of these ingredients, perhaps I should have added a few more...
I'll call it 'cream of purple mangetout soup with garlic scapes' and will have it for lunch tomorrow. One of its problems is that it should have an onion in it and perhaps more garlic, but I have to consider my work colleagues!
This is the recipe:
  • Mangetout (115g)
  • Small potato
  • Garlic Scape (Just one, I'm hoping it will be garlicy enough)
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 150ml milk
  • Pepper and salt
The 'garlic scape' is the flower stem that appears on hardneck garlic. I don't know what variety of garlic I'm growing (due to the problem earlier in the year) but some stems certainly appear to have scapes. 
I thought the plants had gone to seed but they have pretty good bulbs on so I'm going to treat the stems as scapes and consider them a delicacy like I've read about online - and our garlic definitely has curly flower stems like this picture (I don't know why I don't have a photo of our garlic!):
Garlic Scape
 Anyway, the reason I started getting 'creative' in the kitchen is because we got rained off the allotment. We hid in the greenhouse with Neal and Jane, our plot neighbours, a few times but it was too heavy and frequent to carry on weeding. We need to tidy the plots for the 'Hungerford in Bloom' judging next week. We aren't expecting to win, especially as there are so many empty places on Plot 7 at the moment. Of course, they may be full of weeds by next Sunday if the rain continues!
I've cleared a lot of the lettuce which has gone to seed - such a shame and I still haven't done my succession sowing of salad leaf!! I do have a few more lettuces which aren't quite trees yet though...
Lettuce shouldn't look like that!
There's a lot more room in the raised bed now, which is good because the florence fennel and some radish will probably appreciate the extra light and space.
I had to change the setup for the gherkins - they were going to struggle growing through the mesh so now they can climb up it instead.
Beautiful chard in the rain

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Some (Kind of) Welcome Rain

It rained today - unfortunately it started just as we got to the plot after our jam-making session this morning! It was lovely rain though and we had a nice view from inside the greenhouse.
That's the purple-podded mangetout on the right and this is the colour of the water that is drained after they've been cooked for about 3 mins - pretty huh?
During one of the bright spells between the heavy showers I managed to get our 6 Brussels sprouts (Revenge) planted. 4 on Plot 7 and 2 on Plot 3, where we figure the ground is probably harder, so may make for better, tighter sprouts. They're all under netting with a cloche (to protect from wind for the moment) and slug pellets.
Jamie's trying to weed around the raspberries on Plot3 but it's a bit of a nightmare, with couch grass, common figwort and horsetail to name a few of the most prevalent weeds...
We were so pleased to see this new visitor - a male bullfinch and his partner - to the hedgerow while we were hiding in the greenhouse! He'll get a mention on my Wildlife Blog, but is so great looking that he deserves a mention here too!
Not the best photo, but hopefully he'll return
The cucumber in the greenhouse has done just what it was meant to do by climbing through the shelf and clinging on - perfect.
And this was today's harvest (as well as the strawbs). Broad beans and spuds are on the menu for a while :-) We don't freeze our veggies which is why we generally only plant a few of everything. The only preserving we do tends to be pickling and chutneys (and now jam).
There was no rain yesterday (thank goodness) when I helped on the HAHA stall at the Hungerford Primary School fete. It was a really good afternoon with hundreds of people.
Bonnie helping to make paper pots and planting a bean

We made up all of our insect hotels and by the end of the day children were running around trying to find their own sticks and twigs to fill the remaining couple of bottles! We'll definitely be making more bug hotels at future events - it proved very popular.
Zoe & me helping with bug hotels