Sunday, 27 September 2015

Home Again...

From our two week holiday in lovely Puerto de la Cruz in the north of Tenerife. It's such a beautiful part of the island and we feel so at home at the Casablanca Apartments.
With the fantastic El Limón vegetarian restaurant nearby in the old town and the bus stop just up the road it's the ideal location for us. The bus journeys are an adventure in themselves and you get to see great views and can peep into the lives and gardens of the locals! It was extremely hot and the hills and heat took their toll so we were quite relieved when the clouds were drawn down from the mountains - still sweltering but you didn't feel the burn quite so much!
Anyway, we're home now so we popped up to the allotment to see how it's looking. I'm pleased to say the sun was shining and though about 10 degrees down on what we've been used to it was lovely to sit for a while. The plots are not so overgrown as we'd expected - the clearing we did before we left was obviously very timely.
Some of the pumpkins are ready - a bit early but they'll keep and we need some for the Hungerford Food Festival next week. And the Cornells Bush Delicata squash are looking good.
The Lizzano and Sungold tomatoes have trusses of lovely ripe toms for us. Some of the tomatillos are huge and have burst through their lantern sheaths.  Thanks to our plot buddies (Neal & Ted) for keeping the greenhouse watered!
The gherkins haven't quite grown as intended - they were meant to be tiny cocktails gherkins...
An unexpected bonus is the radish rats tails. The plants appeared to be devastated by weevils but they had a new lease of life and they're now covered in flowers, bees and tiny radish-flavoured 'chillies'.
While we were away the local newspapers had photos from the Hungerford in Bloom awards. I don't actually call nyself 'Belinda Thompson' but it's all good publicity for the allotments!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Celery Soup

We may not grow celery again as it's a bit hit and miss. Some of the bunches are really well-formed, others papery. However, this soup makes me think it is worth growing some - thanks to the 'Goodness Green' website.
Desk buddies looking on
Everything in the pot (except oil and pepper) was home-grown.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon thyme (optional)
1 head of celery, cleaned & chopped roughly
1 white potato chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock
pepper & salt
  1. Heat the oil in a non stick pot and add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup using a blender. Hand held works fine.
  4. Return to the pan, check seasoning and serve.
I do love a straightforward recipe and the result was delicious!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Composting and Clearing

The weather was reasonable at the weekend so we managed to spend about 6 hours on the plot. Jamie was clearing a section on plot 3; digging out raspberries and couch grass to have a new position for compost bins on that plot - just to store manure in for a bit.
I was dealing with the compost bins on plot 7. I emptied them both out onto a tarpaulin and then layered the contents, along with straw and some manure, into the new bins. The 'wet' bin was full of worms - lovely fresh looking red ones. They do such a good job turning all that waste into new soil!
'Dry' Compost which has been left alone since April
'Wet' Bin we've been filling since April
Someone dropped off two unwanted compost bins on the site a couple of weeks ago so we swapped one of our smaller ones for a nice big one; we now have two matching ones on Plot 7. I dug them down a bit and they're more level than they were previously. The stones round the edge are a haven for snails but they're also a vain hope to stop mice making a winter home in them.
Both of the bins are pretty much full but they won't take long to decompose and the compost will probably be usable in the Spring.

I cleared all the overgrown lettuce, chinese radish (which went to seed) along with the dried remains of the mangetout. I also cleared the cucumber and pepper plant from the greenhouse and chopped back lots of the tomatillo, which was trying to take over half the greenhouse! That all got chopped up and added to the compost bins so we can actually see the bottom of the gherkin plants again now.
The chilli pepper plant is now outside to see if that can be shocked into going red, some appear to be going black (not in a bad way) - perhaps the label is wrong and that's the colour they'll end up as.

This was part of Saturday's harvest. All those tomatillos came from the branches I chopped off. Some of the fruits are quite large. They taste quite nice as part of a salad, but will be interesting to see if any go purple and then taste them.
The fruit is really sticky inside the papery lantern. It doesn't taste like a raw tomato. If I get a chance I'll see about making some salsa with them - which apparently is what they're used for generally in South America. (They aren't Cape Gooseberries, although their lanterns look similar).

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

September Means Soup

I figure it's now ok to move on to soup lunches rather than salads and so the first of this year's soups has now been made and I'm having a little taster while I type.
I don't think I've made carrot and fennel soup before but I love the aniseed-licorique flavour of the florence fennel when it mingles with other flavours. I've decided I'm not so keen on roasted or pan-fried fennel, but maybe I just didn't cook it very well this year.

As usual I've made enough for a family of eight rather than just me for 3 lunches, so I may have to freeze some. I left one of the carrots out and only put 2 cloves of garlic in and to cook I added ½ litre of vegetable stock but after blending it needed a bit more water adding. I also needed to add more salt and pepper - I do love a peppery soup!

We had a busy day today but managed to get to the allotment just in time for a heavy shower so we waited in the car and didn't get any weeding done (again). Jamie was harvesting a Kestrel potato while I pulled all the onions whose tops had folded down naturally. A few still have upright stems so I've left them in the ground, but I'm not sure that they'll grow any more - or if we want them to!
Here they are in the greenhouse to dry out. I found enough space on the shelving by hanging some more of the garlic from the roof.
It looks like I may need to make some onion soup sometime soon...