Sunday, 20 January 2019

The Prince

Two visits to the plot this weekend. It was quite chilly but no horrible wind and today was one of the brighter days that we've so far had this January so we actually sat down, with a coffee in my pretty flask which I got for Christmas (Thanks Cathy!), to plan and listen to the birds.
Showing off my fancy nail varnish
There are too many robins in our hedge; they're all getting very stroppy with each other - you may not be able to see too well in this photo, but I assure you, three is definitely a crowd!
Yesterday we collected the frame for a new cage that we're having on Plot3 this year. Geoff, our outgoing HAHA chairman, is moving away so kindly offered us the cage at a bargain price. We just need to work out how to put it together now :-) It's about 2mx4m and tall enough that we can walk in it - which should mean that we look after our brassicas a bit better.
Our purple sprouting broccoli have been sprouting for several weeks but the effort of getting access to the plants means that we haven't eaten any yet - what a waste! They are so delicious. Yesterday I chopped back the flowering tips so they should produce some more tasty buds for us to actually eat this time.
It was a very wet day yesterday and the ground was so soggy we didn't hang round for long, but the walk back home was quite pleasant, as all the catkins and snowdrops are out and are so pretty.
Today we've planned a few things and I cleared a few bits and put green/brown waste into the compost bins. There's masses to do, but when the sky is blue and the birds are singing their little hearts out sometimes you just have to sit and listen - the ash tree by our plot was alive with song (I think it was goldfinches).
Now we're home and I'm cooking soup - with about a quarter of the Crown Prince squash that's been stored in the greenhouse all Winter.
I'll have to take some excess chunks to work but I am intending to have roast squash for dinner tomorrow. It's flavoured with leek, a little chilli, garlic powder and multi-coloured peppercorns from Tenerife.
I left it cooking long enough so that the squash completely softened, no need to blitz it - I just squashed the squash. I made too much, what a shame, I've had to eat a bowl of it now - yum yum :-) I've just remembered how I had to throw away my last Crown Prince soup - I roasted it that time. This time it really is delicious.
The song is by Madness and obviously is about the squash. I haven't decided if I'm growing big squash again this year...we'll see.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Taste it

Another visit to the plot this afternoon where we didn't achieve anything - it's just too grey to want to stay outside, although it wasn't too cold or wet.

I spoke to Roger, a fellow plotholder, and he's decided to take on another two plots - he and his family are excellent growers and are happy to take on a couple of plots which have horsetail growing on them. Our plot 3 has this stubborn, but interesting, pre-historic weed, but it can be contained with regular digging - we've found.
Field horsetail - young
Not my photo
We have less empty plots than people on the waiting list now (although we're just at renewal month, so that may change). It's great for us to have a waiting list, as we sadly still live with the threat of a short lease hanging over us.

Jamie and I picked a few vegetables for a couple of meals and I'm making soup for lunches. Jamie's going to make one of our favourites: leek and quorn (chicken-style) in a cheese sauce with mashed potato topping. He's also intending to make bubble and squeak (potato and sprout) patties. We were very pleased to see how long the leeks have grown - it seems I must have puddled them in pretty deep as there is a lovely long bit of blanching on them.

My soup is celeriac and leek. Mmmm, I so love the smell of celeriac.

I've used half a stock cube, lots of pepper and some of this seaweed (Kelp) seasoning from Ebb Tides - a Christmas gift from my sister who lives in Devon. Lucky we're just about to have dinner otherwise there may not be much soup left for my lunches next week!

The allotment site had a delivery this weekend - that should be encouragement enough for us to actually do some digging next weekend... hmm, we'll see what the weather is doing at that point...
£1 per wheelbarrow-load to plotholders - what a bargain!
So to the song title...a little bit of INXS - nice. Well I couldn't resist a taste of the soup. The kale has been revitalised, from dry, and has given an extra dimension to the soup - a little bit of chew to each spoonful! Delicious!

Sunday, 6 January 2019

We Started Nothing

Back to work last Wednesday for me. I was glad that it was a short week; it was such a struggle getting up early. The weather finally turned cold with some frost and I thought today was going to be awful, but it was actually quite pleasant on the plot this afternoon - though I didn't stay long.
Altocumulus clouds

I only visited to show a new plotholder around and pick a few carrots. The sun didn't show itself, but as you can see, the clouds were interesting and there were quite a few plotholders busying themselves with clearing and tidying their plots. I found this in the greenhouse - some little mouse or vole showing off to a prospective mate, perhaps? I know they like to pull leaves down to conceal the entrance, but this feather isn't a very good concealer!

Our plots look a mess, but it's nice to see some new growth - our Spring bulbs are pushing through in all the pots.
The garlic is looking happy.
The broad beans are much taller than we intended them to be at this stage - the weather has been so mild that they've just kept on growing in their mesh cage.
One of the rhubarb plants is showing signs of life but the other two are still in hibernation.
Meanwhile the weeds and grass are continuing to grow...

I did a tiny bit of clearing and put some kitchen waste and dried out stems into the compost bins. At least two of the bins have tunnels leading in through the bottom; presumably for rats, though I stirred the contents up a bit and nothing leaped out at me - thank goodness!
I brought the Honeyboat squash home as I may use that later in the week. I thought I'd check whether the black-skinned turnips are still edible - they look good on the outside, but...

No good for eating - so that's a shame. They'll be more rat-food, I mean, compost.
The song title is by The Ting Tings and it's true, but we really must start soon!
Happy New Year and thank you for reading - this is our 10th year on the allotment, so I hope it's a good one!

Friday, 28 December 2018


I've really enjoyed this Christmas, even though the weather hasn't provided any snow, or particularly cold days, the whole month has felt very Festive. Our living room is evidence that Jamie and I enjoy a bit of sparkle :-)
Brussels sprouts and carrots are the only veg we've had fresh from the allotment during the holiday and, I have to admit, that we bought some sprouts rather than going back to the plot.
We've discovered how delicious sprouts are roasted (with olive oil, salt and pepper). They need to be properly browned and are much more flavoursome than steamed.
They even taste good cold, squished onto a cheese cracker! So I intend to make some sprout pate, with the addition of seaweed flakes that my sister gave us for Christmas - I fancy the Dulse, smokey-flavoured one. Perhaps I'll make some carrot pate too...
We had our Christmas roast (Quorn) with all the trimmings at about 11:00pm on Christmas Eve and subsequent meals have mostly been snacky/tapas. The Granovita vegetable pate is so delicious - you should try it! I never ate meat pate so don't know how it compares.
We received lovely presents from family and friends including beautiful decorations, books and lots of food and drink to keep us going well into the new year.
I spent some time with my newest Great-Nephew, Isaac, at his Great-Grandma's (my mum) on Christmas Eve - he's such a cutie. Since then we've only set foot outside a couple of times and still no visit to the plot. We've been having too much fun watching films, playing games and doing quizzes in between eating and drinking - so much eating and drinking!
Next stop, new year's eve but first a Christmas song - I thought I'd struggle to find one (hohoho) but decided on this by The Who.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Wonderful Wonderful

What a wonderful pre-Christmas week I've had - culminating in last night's Hungerford Extravaganza, where a few of us plotholders joined in with the lantern parade, I don't think I've ever been in a parade before, it was a lot of fun!
The HAHA lanterns were a beetroot, a carrot and one decorated with flowers and a butterfly.
And we managed to get HAHA into each of our designs...
We made our paper lanterns over the last two weekends at workshops. First we made the structures, then added tissue paper coated with a PVA/water mix, then they were hung up to dry for a week.

And after the parade Kerry, Zoe and I walked to Marsh Lane Allotments with our lanterns - look how lovely the look on the plot. (I expect they look a bit sad now as it's raining - freezing rain!)
While we were looking at the lanterns and star-gazing the Extravaganza fireworks display started and we had a great view from the allotment site. The ricochet around the town from the whizzes and bangs was amazing - echoing all around and such beautiful fireworks.
Earlier in the week Jamie and I enjoyed the HAHA Committee Christmas meal - delicious food and lovely company.
I'll say HAPPY CHRISTMAS now and please listen to this song, at least twice. It's so beautiful by The Killers - enjoy x