Sunday, 22 July 2018

Feel Good inc.

On Friday night we had some rain! It seemed like a lot when it was pouring down and we had to go out and revel in it, but by Saturday it wasn't clear that there had been any at all on the allotment.
So, there we were lugging watering can after watering can across the site to our plots - this was today (Sunday).
Jamie watered on Saturday while I showed a new plotholder around the site. Mari was lucky, what timing! As on Saturday we had another tapas and wine afternoon. Lots of fun and thank goodness for the sun umbrella for when the sun peeped through the clouds. Hours later we walked home through the warm streets - I love this weather, especially now that I have a week off work - yippee!
The usual suspects: Jamie, Kerry, Jane, Neal, David and Ivan
Today we had several hours on the site, with lots of sitting down in between the watering as it was even hotter today than yesterday. I had two leftover cucumber plants so I've planted them against the strings and canes to replace the mangetout. During last week I pulled up the mangetout plants which were no longer producing; the purple ones (Shiraz) had a bad year. For some reason the pigeons took a real liking to them, but didn't touch the golden pods. I don't actually know what the cucumbers are that I've planted - I think they're long ones. We have our favoured Rocky mini cucumbers growing on Plot46A - one of them is growing much stronger than the other.
My squash framework is definitely more grotty than grotto - but the plants are beginning to go crazy so hopefully my woeful structure won't be seen under all the growth!!
 The Borlotti beans look good - I'm going to leave them on the plant for a bit longer and eat them fresh (out of the pods), I probably won't dry them - I don't think there will be enough to try more than two or three meals with them, but they do look great.
These are the edamame (soya) bean flowers - not like normal bean flowers are they? I saw a bee pollinating them today so I hope some beans will follow fairly soon... All the other runners and dwarf beans are beginning to set now.
And here come the courgettes... these Goldmine produced a huge yield last year and it looks like this year may be the same!
There we go - the first trug shot of the season!
Mostly full of lettuce, which I've made into soup. It's tasty, not lettuce-y at all, apart from the colour. I added a bit (too much) of the garlic salt I made the other day.
And I'm currently cooking the courgettes topped with mixed nuts, shallot and cheese - mmm it smells good. I'm trying to fry the aubergine to blacken the skin - you'd think I'd be good at that, but I don't want them to go too far...

And the song title is provided by The Gorillaz - great song.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

All These Things That I've Done

It's been a busy July, what with Open Day preparations, the World Cup and such hot weather that it feels like I should be on holiday, not working. Lunches are getting more varied; the peppery turnips were a very tasty addition - I blanched them before adding to salads. But they, like the radishes, have not lasted well in the ground, I may try another sowing.
This has been our largest harvest so far, with our first courgette and the shallots, which have grown very well this year.
And we're very happy with our first aubergine! The plant in the greenhouse has plenty more fruits to come; the outdoor plants are slower, but I think we'll get something from them.
The ladybirds are making a show now, but too late for most of our broad beans - we've only managed a few meals from them this year because of the blackfly.
It seems that all the cabbage whites have emerged at the same time too. Everywhere you look they're flitting about or supping up the minerals where we've watered.
Another England win at the World Cup (this time 2-0 against Sweden) - AMAZING - meant another late night barbecue on the plot for Jamie and me last week. And we listened to Croatia beating Russia (on penalties) on the radio.
Kate's leek flowers are a fabulous display.
Now the World Cup is over and France won. The hot Summer weather continues to amaze - we're just not used to waking up to blue skies every morning! We had one afternoon with just about enough rain that we only needed to water the greenhouse...
 ... otherwise we're watering everything each evening as the ground is so dry.
We're leaving the lettuces under their cover as they seem happy under there.. these are the plants that looked so sad on 3rd July- great recovery ability!

And I found time to pickle some garlic in red wine vinegar, with mustard seeds, pepper, a little salt and a little sugar. I used these tiny Kilner jars which are so cute! It should be ready to eat in a couple of weeks and can keep for up to a year, apparently.
I used 3 remaining cloves to make garlic salt - the sea salt and garlic were ground together and then dried in the oven at 80° until it had formed a dry crust. I'm looking forward to having that on chips - it smells very strong so maybe not on a week-night!
Hmm, now what song to use for this summary of the last couple of weeks.... Ahh, The Killers  - please think of it as 'things that we've done'!

Monday, 9 July 2018

Sunny Afternoon

We had another sweltering day for Open Day yesterday (Sunday).
Committee members were on site from 10:00 setting up games, bunting, sun umbrellas (lots of them) and picking flowers to decorate the tables. We had two gazebos: one that we bought with the Tesco Bags of Help grant money and the other on loan from someone in Hungerford.
About 30 minutes before the start time (2pm) we risked putting food out - lovely donated cakes, delicious sweet and savoury scones, squashes, home-made elderflower cordial with sparkling spring water and tea and coffee for those who could bear to have a hot drink in 30° sunshine!
The barbecue was surprisingly popular on such a hot day - well done to Richard, Neale and Jane who worked with that additional heat.
The tombola was a huge success as usual, with so many lovely donated prizes to try and win. Children were happy with their party bags if they won a bottle of alcohol!
The stone painting was really popular with the children - they've done it at school and love it. As part of #HungerfordRocks people place the stones around the town (country or further afield) and if you find one you should post a photo to Facebook with the hashtag and then re-hide it for someone else to find. I hope some of ours turn up online. The little ladybird won't though, because I painted that and it's on our plot!
People had tours around the site, peeping into greenhouses and checking how we grow different vegetables before seeking out the shade under the umbrellas or anywhere else they could find it. I even showed someone around for a new plot - that's what Open Days are for, just perfect!
Kate, enjoying the stone painting as much as the children :-)
Then at 5:00 the last of the visitors had gone. Phew, time for the volunteers to have a bit of relaxation.
And we crowned Neal with his Peoples Choice award for receiving the largest number of public votes for his plot - well done Neal, sorry you only got a round of applause!
So, at about 9:00 we left the site and wobbled home through warm streets and placed a few HAHA Rocks around the town as we went...
So, what better song than The Kinks? Though yesterday wasn't an afternoon for lazing...

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Little Things

Still no rain and as everything is growing it's getting thirstier. Small fruits are appearing in the greenhouse: a couple of cute aubergines
Each of the pepper plants have multiple peppers on them - all green at the moment, but we should have yellow, red and orange.
We're so pleased that we finally have some carrot seeds that have germinated - they took a long time coming but we can just see them in a couple of rows now. Much more speedy to grow were the Pink/Purple Sun radishes - these were only sowed a week ago.
And our little salad turnips are coming along nicely - I'll let them get a bit bigger.
Unfortunately the rows of radishes which looked so great a week ago have mostly got too big and are no longer tasty so they're destined for the compost bin. Fellow-plotholder, Neal, let me have some of his lettuce seedlings so I've put them in the ground - they look pretty dead, but they usually recover...
They're filling the gap between our carrots and our Brussels sprout plants - our three plants had become two after some beastie got into our nursery plot, so we had to fill the gap with one of Ivan's spare seedlings. We've also planted up some runners from our strawberry plants - they were delicious but rather short-lived - not sure whether it was the weather or the variety. We need some plants which will provide delicious fruit later in the season.
We bit the bullet and bought some chemicals to spray the broad bean plants which look like they may survive the aphid attack to produce full beans... We bought the pesticide because we noticed blackfly moving onto the leaves of some of our other beans and it doesn't seem like the natural deterrents are working...
These are our Edamame (soya) beans. And at last the Asparagus Pea plants are getting slightly bigger, but they're usually quicker to grow than this.
This is the structure for our Rocky cucumbers to climb up - one chicken wire door each. I wonder if the cucumbers will hang down like we want them to...
But I still haven't worked out the climbing frame for the squashes.... how long have I been talking about this?!
So lots of things are growing, but most are pretty small at the moment which is why they need so much water. But these clouds that were building towards each other just dissipated and brought us not a drop...
If you're in the area - come and visit us!
Here's a track about all these little things, which will hopefully not take too much longer to be big things! (from Danny Elfman)

Tuesday, 26 June 2018


Oh yes! Sunday evening was a time to celebrate - England scoring six goals in a World Cup match! OK, so it was Panama and they got one back, but really, it was very exciting. So we went crazy and celebrated on the allotment....
Hahaha, well, we hadn't prepared for a BBQ! But it was a beautiful hot evening to sit and watch the moon rise and the sun sink.
I picked the first of the broad beans - had them in a delicious salad for my lunch.
The plants are being destroyed by blackfly, so we're going to pull the most damaged ones, but I want to harvest a few more beans off them first.
The blackfly seem to halt the growth of the beans, but if they don't get onto the pods until they've grown a bit they don't generally affect the bean - however, they're disgusting to pick!
So, now it's time to singalong with Kool & The Gang.