Monday, 16 September 2019


Autumn has brought the usual misty mornings with a slight chill on the air, but the last three days have (almost) returned to Summer temperatures, which is most welcome. We've been busy the last couple of weekends but have been visiting the plot most days to water and pick veg.
Cucumelon don't seem to be that popular, but I quite like them - as long as they're picked small. Anyway, they look nice and provide an interesting addition to my packed lunches occasionally.
Above is the cucumelon plant - it grows very happily outside and has rather taken over, but the little fruits are so tricky to find! Lots of immature fruits are beginning to drop off now, so I don't think there will be many more harvests.
A couple of the courgette plants have stopped producing and the leaves have developed the usual powdery mildew. We're pleased to see some of our peppers are going red; so many of them are being nibbled by something or get so heavy that the branches snap :-(
This is what the Yard Long Beans look like - that's different isn't it! They've appeared a bit late in the season. What a shame, as they look very interesting. I hope the few that have appeared get long enough and aren't too tough to at least try.
The free tomato plant that we put in the hanging basket has produced quite a lot of fruits and they're nice to eat while we're visiting Plot3 but the Aviditas in the polytunnel are providing us with all the tomatoes we need for lunches and dinners and they're still the best tomatoes we've ever tasted.
I'm still hoping for a long growing season so that my Double Red sweetcorn swell.... but it will surely not be long enough for the Glass Gem sweetcorn, which have only just developed tassles - another one to try again next year... But for lunch today I have our first Lark sweetcorn of the year - not really ripe, but we had to pick one to be sure and it tastes lovely and sweet though the kernels are a bit small.

The song, by The Prodigy, is apt because of the lovely colours our harvests are giving us at the moment.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Summer Moved On

The weekend moved us from August to Autumn. Don't be too sad, September and October can still  offer some lovely warm days.
The weekend was variable; one moment needing my raincoat and the next needing to sit down as it was so warm when the sun shone. There were also some strong winds which brought the occasional sharp shower.
The main aim of the weekend was to dig up a couple of Kestrel plants - providing us with ~7.5kg of potatoes (~16lb).
That's cleared enough space for us to get our leeks planted - I'm making the holes for leeks in the red-raincoat photo - it's easy using that big pole and leaves enough space around the tiny leek seedlings to 'puddle in'. This method should stop too much dirt getting into the leeks as they grow - eurgh, gritty leeks - yuk!
That should keep us going for a while. We have more left in the seedling pot. We'll probably fill other gaps with some of them.
The Lark sweetcorn is coming on well, should be ready in a couple of weeks I reckon. Hopefully the birds and wasps will stay off for a while longer.

As is the Double Red sweetcorn (below) but the Glass Gem has only just developed it's first male flowers - we'll be extremely lucky if we get anything off those plants before the temperature falls too low.
Another crop which has been too slow to produce is the Yard Long Beans, they're only just flowering! I sowed them at the same time as the other runner beans. I don't think they've got time to produce any beans let alone a yard long one!
The Gigantes have been more successful, producing lots of large pods. Currently no sign of them drying off which is how the beans are to be eaten.
The cucumbers have caught up with the Summer squashes now - we're trying to catch them before they get too large, but there's only so many two people can eat. Still waiting for more tomatoes to go red, but I can't resist eating some each time I visit the plot to water.
And we lost the battle with the courgettes so I cut all these off to encourage the plants to keep producing smaller ones for us to actually eat!
The Summer flowers are still looking beautiful - so pleased with the begonias which we grew from mini-plugs in March and the snapdragons that Ivan gave us as tiny skinny seedlings.
So Summer has officially moved on (song provided by A-Ha) but it's still pleasant for a little while yet..

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Something for the Weekend

I've had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend. I visited my mum in her new care home in Devon staying with my sister, Carolyn, on the hottest bank holiday on record. As if Devonshire sunshine wasn't enough, the nursing home grounds were being used for a big party!
The live music, 1500+ people, a jug of Pimms and sunshine made for a fun afternoon.
My mum's room was very close to the stage so the music was incredibly loud but she enjoyed it and it didn't go on late into the evening. By the next day it was all cleared and there was little evidence of what had gone on the day before.
Before the party we went for a long walk along the Tarka Trail beside the tidal estuary of the River Taw.
Lovely scenery and interesting rock formations as well as lots of seabirds to look at - mostly gulls, oyster catchers and a curlew. We walked back past a lovely field of corn and sunflowers.
And an amazing field planted up with flowers for wildlife. Beautiful.
Both evenings we ate our meal in Carolyn and Paul's lovely garden.
They have a raised bed with veggies and I am envious of their nasturtiums which we must try growing on the allotment again next year.
The evening didn't exactly get cold but it was fun having the fire and watching the bats fly around us and the dark sky above North Devon was so clear that I saw two satellites (not the International Space Station). I've only seen them in Tenerife before.
Paul put his telescope up on the clearest night and we saw Saturn! Amazing to see it 'live' after seeing so many pictures of it. And, using his strong binoculars, we saw two of Jupiter's moons - another first for me, very exciting!
Then on my final day we took my mum out and, along with lots of other people, we watched The Legendary Grand Tour Mini rally as it drove past the manor - apparently the mini is 60 years old this year.
We think there were about 300 minis, decorated and tooting their horns.
My mum's hat blew off and went under a mini :-D Luckily it went between the wheels and survived' causing much amusement to onlookers :-)
But then I had to drive home. Luckily the journey home only took 3 hours, not the 5 hours it took to get there - the M5 was slightly less busy. Devon is so green compared to Berkshire; I couldn't resist stopping to take a photo of the stunning scenery.
And I do like to see windmills.
Today I planted up the cuttings from their beautiful buddleja which attracted so many butterflies in their garden - I hope they survive and we get more than just white butterflies on the allotment over the next few years..
Divine Comedy provide the song title.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Coming Around Again

We had a very busy weekend! Saturday was the Hungerford Horticultural Show - hosted by HAHA and the Royal British Legion.
Last Friday Jamie and I ventured to the plot to pick vegetables.
We were hampered by two things:
Not enough veg and torrential rain!
We had to pick masses of runner beans, french beans and carrots to find the necessary matching ones - how can every bean be unique?! Our runner beans have gone to seed rather quickly so most weren't suitable because the beans could be seen through the pods, but we managed to find 5 similar small ones... And one gnarly looo-oonnng one :-) So, we actually won the Longest Runner Bean category - the first time ever :-)
We also won a few other placings with potatoes, tomatoes (one had been eaten by the time we took the photo),
Carrots, onions, courgettes,
And quite a few photos, including these.
My favourite category is the 5 Different veg because it's easy to use up spares. So I made up two entries with leftovers!
In the evening we found that we came third in the Vegetables section and third in the Photography section - well, there's no prize for third place but no problem with that. I had the pleasure of awarding the RHS Banksian medal on behalf of HAHA (due to our RHS affiliation) to our chairman. I was happy to do it so I'm not sure why my face looks like that :-D
On Sunday we had our Plotholders Gathering which as always was a lot of fun. It poured in the morning but the sky cleared and we had a mostly sunny afternoon for our eating and drinking session.
The song is very appropriate as this post is very similar to this time last year. And probably this time next year - with a few more exhibitors we hope, though there were 250+ exhibits!

Friday, 9 August 2019


Last weekend I decided to pull up all the broad bean stalks and put them in the compost bin but I couldn't be so hasty to throw the remaining beans away and I actually made the broad bean hummus that I've been talking about for a while..
It was very straightforward:
Pod the beans, boil for 10mins, plunge into cold water and take the bean-skins off.
Blitz along with crushed garlic, pepper, lemon juice and a small amount of water. Add a little chilli powder. Voila - very tasty with crudites for lunch,  including a cucumber from Ivan and carrot-thinnings from our plot.
We pulled our first potato Foremost from one of the bags - a lovely supply of spuds; some big but lots of little ones for salads too, they're so delicious.
And, of course, we've had plenty of courgettes. The green ones Sure Thing are very tasty; much more so than the yellow ones.
The patty pan went to work as we wouldn't have time to eat it this week.
Liz has harvested a spaghetti squash and given it to us - ours are not ready to harvest yet but let's hope we like them! We have another plant on Plot3..
The flowers are growing nicely - such beautiful colours. And we have some tomatoes just beginning to go red in the polytunnel. Last weekend I joined fellow plotholders to pick up our prizes for the Hungerford in Bloom competition - £20 garden vouchers, nice!
We've had a lot of rain this week, interspersed with sunshine. Hopefully we'll get some time on the plot this weekend to do a bit of weeding... And then we need to start preparing for the Horticultural Show next weekend followed by a plotholder's get-together.
The song choice by Lenny Kravitz.... well, those sunflowers are our efforts for the HAHA Tallest Sunflower competition - we're not going to win, but they look nice, nodding their heads in that photo!