Saturday, 30 July 2016

Looking Up

The title refers to most of today's photographs, but we also sowed some pak choi and kohl rabi, as well as planting out our sad little Brussels Sprout plants and the leeks - so I guess things are generally looking up.
We are most grateful to fellow plotholder, David, who let us have some of his surplus leeks which are in great condition, particularly when compared to our little wisps of grass! We now have 27 leeks puddled in!
(this photo doesn't fit the theme!)
Through the sweetcorn, which is getting taller by the minute, no sign of corn yet...but I love these leaves.
And this is looking through the beetroot stalks in the raised bed. The beets are still tiny but have so far been pretty much pest free, unlike the ones planted into the ground.
This photo is from the middle of the runner bean canes on Plot3 - Scarlet Empire, our favoured variety. Plenty of beans and flowers.
This is the parsnips. They're growing well but not tall enough to get underneath! In the distance you can see one of the pumpkins. I couldn't do a photo from under the pumpkin leaves because it's just too spikey! Very painful to get near!! We've chopped back some of the trailing arms of this plant as it's got at least 5 pumpkins growing and there can't possibly be enough energy to get to all those new pumpkins!
This is one of the Rocky cucumbers. They are planted in a pot which is on top of another pot so it's growing about 1 metre off the ground; it's making its way down the side now which will hopefully keep the little cucumbers a bit cleaner (and maybe slug-damage free).
The yellow courgette is providing us with most of our courgettes, with the green one being slow but sure and the Disco summer squashes just being plain slow! Not one flower yet...
And so, back to the fennel plant - this isn't the florence fennel. It's herb fennel which has gone to seed - I don't mind, it's such a pretty plant and it's only there to look nice anyway!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Summer Vegetables

Ooh, I'm excited - look what's in the oven! Looks cool, huh?
I got the recipe from Pinterest,
I got the ingredients from the allotment - 
Ah, apart from the onion, tomatoes and the cheese which will be added for the last 20 mins in the oven.
It's got fried onion and garlic under the thin slices of courgette, potato (Kestrel) and tomato.
I hope it keeps its shape/colour once cooked, I won't be photographing it. I'll be eating it :)

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Ooh La La - Ail mariné

Or, marinated garlic, which is what I've been making this afternoon. There it is, it's got to wait in the fridge for a couple of weeks before I can have a taster. The authentic french version is apparently delicious...
I used three fresh garlic bulbs, which didn't go as far as you may think - these are only very little jars.
I added salt, one of the jars has this Smoked Cornish salt, and red wine vinegar.
I also picked for my dinner this evening: our first beetroot of the year, this one is in surpisingly good condition; fennel; first carrots of the year - these are thinnings so they're only little; a courgette that's getting a bit too big. I'm roasting the veggies (although I haven't got any garlic left at home - duh!). I'll shallow fry the courgette so it's a bit of a different texture, I'm removing some of the water from it first, using salt.
And raspberries for pud.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Mostly Green

But starting with a bit of colour as the raspberries are doing pretty well on Plot7 this year, obviously leaving them to do their own thing is the answer!
We're disappointed with our 3 grafted pepper plants. We expected them to produce a whole string of peppers... At the moment they're all green but they should colour-up when they're ripe.
Milena - the orange one
Perhaps the colder weather mid-growth stopped them in their tracks.
Britney - the red one
Or maybe it was just not warm enough with the greenhouse door open - but it gets stifling in there during the day if it's shut.
Chelsea - the yellow one
Well, hopefully these five peppers will grow big and tasty, even if they don't produce the 'abundance of tasty peppers' the plants are meant to.
At the end of the greenhouse the loofah is growing tall. It's rather straggly with just one flower and no fruits yet...
The pumpkins on Plot7 are spreading as intended - we want them to grow over and around the sweetcorn as the small pumpkins then hang and stay nice and clean.
The Minicole cabbages on Plot3 are looking more like cabbages now. We weeded most of the plot today and it's looking much happier - though the spuds still look awful!
This ringlet butterfly was in the greenhouse, reminding me that I need to do the Big Butterfly Count but want a nice sunny day to do it on - today wasn't sunny, but was warm. 
And for dinner we have our first runner beans - Benchmaster. They have a red line along the edge. I'd take a photo but they're in the cooking pot right now!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Next Evening

Well! I'm glad we weren't planning to watch stars this evening! It's grey and drizzling - quite nice to see a bit of rain actually, as long as it stops by the morning!
We had to go up to water the potato bags and greenhouse. The pumpkin on Plot3 definitely doesn't need help growing - it's gone crazy!
And there are a few pumpkins which look pretty good for the competition in October...
The Rocky cucumbers are flowering and we should be eating cucumbers daily quite soon...
The potatoes on Plot3 are a sadder tale...just hope there are some tubers under there..
We had lunch out, so a little light tea using up the last small Annabelle potatoes cooked in oil and garlic.
And 3 yellow courgettes with cheese and spring onions...mmmm. Needed more by the time it was cooked!

In the Night Garden

It was my birthday yesterday - such a beautiful hot, sunny day, just how I remember most of my birthdays. I love being a July baby!
We had a late night on the allotment to watch bats, stars and enjoy a bottle of wine. The swifts and swallows entertained us for an hour or so before sunset at 9:20. They were swooping so low over the bean poles.
The pigeons and a distant peacock(!) were the last birds to go to sleep and then the moths and bats came out. Our bat detector provided the evidence that there were more bats around than we actually saw, probably mostly the common pipistrelle.
It's nice taking night photos - you don't notice the bugs till you get home!
The stars and planets were shining brightly in the clear sky. Jupiter was, as usual, the first to be visible. The star app on my phone showed that it's just below the Leo constellation - I prefer to have Leo as my star sign, though I am on the cusp of Cancer - I'd rather be a lion than a crab :-)  Mars and Saturn were really visible as part of a triangle to the South of the allotments.
The night-scented stock provided us with a highly fragranced evening and the moths were enjoying them as much as we were. 
There's a moth on the photo above ...
  We walked home to the sound of hooting owls. Aah, I love Summer!
Macrame by my sister

Friday, 22 July 2016

Hot, Sunny, Hot, Hot, Hot!

It's still sweltering and pretty sunny. Lovely! But the plants need a LOT of watering, especially in the greenhouse. The Indigo Rose tomatoes are blacking up, only on the side facing the light at the moment.
The loofah has its first flower, but we think this is a male, unless that's a loofah and not just a stem... Time will tell...
I'm drying the garlic outside as it's so hot. I think I'll be giving some away, but want to pickle some in wine vinegar as it's apparently delicious.
We walked home under screeching swifts. They are amazing and gather on the power lines over the allotment. I'll put a video on my wildlife blog, if it's any good when I've uploaded it.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Feeling Foodie

It was another hot, humid day. In fact there was a short rain shower while we were on the plot this afternoon. We were mowing some of the grass paths, which look good but need a lot of maintenance. It was so hot that we didn't stay long, so I made the planned fennel and courgette soup. I used this little bowl that my brother brought me home from Dinard, Brittany about 35 years ago - just as a taster, you understand :-)
We're looking after our neighbour's plot (Hungerford in Bloom Marsh Lane winner, Neal) and the three green courgettes in the trug are from there - he did say we could pick them! The potatoes are the 2 Annabelle from one of the bags. A First Early which we haven't grown before - they look good and we'll have some of them tonight.

I intended to use this recipe for the soup, but didn't stick to it. I fried the fennel and then the courgette, which was only roughly peeled; I scraped quite a lot of the inside out, as I used the big courgettes. I had to buy the onion as it's too early for ours.
Mm, I could have eaten that lot straight from the pan, but I refrained and added it to the fried onion and 600ml of vegetable stock - for once it was the right consistency without any extra fluid to be added and has made a litre of soup for a few days lunches.
This is the broad bean curry we had last night - we were going to add Quorn but it really didn't need it.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Take Care...

.. whilst barefoot-gardening. Ouch! I found this in my foot. I thought it was a bit of thistle until I looked closer. It's the jawbone of a common shrew! It's tiny, about 7mm long.
It was such a lovely hot day (26°) even I removed a couple of layers while we spent the afternoon weeding, and watering.Even though it was mostly cloudy.
The cloches are off the sweetcorn and I planted out the Speedy dwarf french beans.
Some of the fennel is beginning to grow tall and thin, rather than the bulb fattening up, so I'm going to make soup with those tomorrow, before they go to seed.
The garlic has got rust - a common fungal disease, but it's due to be pulled anyway, so won't impact on growth at this stage. I've lifted some of the bulbs and will remove them soon because we don't want the rust spreading to the onions. I'll dry them out in the greenhouse, but need to check that rust can't spread to anything in there.
The runner beans are beginning to set, but seem quite slow growing across the site this year. Even with lots of empty plots the site cheers up when the towers and walls of scarlet flowers appear.
We've got a broad bean curry tonight and I'll have the yellow mangetout on the side so that the plants keep producing flowers.