Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sunny Sunday

It was a beautiful day today ~24 degrees this afternoon when we were at the plot. There are masses of ladybirds, hoverflies - they love the calendula - and cabbage white butterflies. Didn't find any caterpillars on the cabbages today - we found 2 yesterday :-(
Our Congo purple potato leaves have started to lean over - this may have been because it was windy, because their stems are so big and heavy or because they are almost ready to die back (hopefully because they've reached that stage naturally, rather than through disease!!)

The sweetcorn are still small (less than 2 feet) but the male flowers have already started growing. It seems the weather may have caused short sweetcorn plants - don't know whether we'll get short cobs as a result...
Picked some more lovely coloured carrots, Orla spuds and broad beans for tea. And the obligatory courgette!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Rainbow Carrots

Made carrot and coriander soup, using our pretty multi-coloured carrots - the soup turned out orange as normal but the pinky carrot kept its colour after cooking.

French Bean Chutney

Spent a few hours this afternoon making french bean chutney - we used our shallots instead of onions and our first harvest of french beans (just managed to get 0.5kg of beans)

Friday, 29 July 2011

First Patty Pan (Balmoral)

This is our first patty pan, picked in the rain to eat, stuffed with broad beans and carrots, for my lunch.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Veggies for my mum

Really lovely hot and sunny day.  I took a trugful of veggies to my mum - pulled the last of the Rocket potatoes and so was able to squeeze 6 more leeks into the space.

We sat in the sun most of the afternoon and in the evening went back up to the plot for a bat hunt. We didn't see any though! We heard a few on the bat detector, but not many although there seemed to be plenty of moths and bugs about - perhaps the bad winter really took its toll on the bat population here :-(

Lettuce flower and nature..

This is what lettuce looks like if you let it go to seed and then leave in the ground for a year - really quite beautiful! The flowers are on long spikes of stem - over a metre tall - amazing!
And this is what I found living in our compost bin - eek! He's probably helping in some way and as long as he stays there and doesn't get too close to me then no problem!
Rather prettier was this comma buttefly I managed to snap before it took off again...

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A long barby afternoon

We spent all afternoon having a barbecue. It was such a lovely day, just perfect weather!
We had shallots and courgettes from the plot but had to buy tomatoes - ours have flowers and tiny tiny fruit but it'll be a while...
I was going to pick my first patty pan but will wait and maybe have that stuffed.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Turnips planted for winter

Another warm day and annual leave meant we spent a few hours up the plot this afternoon.
We've moved some of the better looking shallots to dry onto the metal cage - we'll pickle that lot first. In the space on Plot 7 we sowed 2 rows of turnips - Atlantic and Oasis (which are melon-flavoured, apparently).
I took all the grotty-looking leaves off the onions and tickled round the bulbs and you can see they look really healthy!
The runner beans have climbed to the top of the wigwam and have lots of flowers - no sign of beans setting yet, a good job really as we've got plenty of broad beans and peas to keep us going.
Tonight we're having our first ever baked spuds from the plot - 2 lovely big Orlas.

Monday, 25 July 2011

It was lovely and sunny this afternoon so we spent a few hours sitting and pottering. We watered everything as the ground dries out really quickly and we haven't done a proper water for a few days.
We pulled our first Orla potato - lots of lovely big potatoes, which should be good for mashing and baking. Also picked a load of broad beans for tea.

Whilst wandering around the site I spotted this pretty gingery moth - a Ruby Tiger apparently. The whole site is covered in Cinnabar caterpillars, so expect to see a mass of the pretty red and black moths soon....

Sunday, 24 July 2011

BBQ weather

The sun shone for much of the day and it was lovely and warm, so we had a barbeque on the plot - just me and Jamie, though Malcolm and Richard joined us for a bit and our neighbouring plot holders, Sue & Chris, Jane and Dave were around so it was unusually busy at our end of the allotments!

Earlier in the day we saw this Common Footman moth sitting on our potatoes.

A ladybird gets its spots!

While we were at the plot yesterday we saw that a ladybird had just emerged from his chrysalis, which you can see on the cane below him.
Over the next couple of hours his spots became clearer and here he is the end result - quite amazing!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Shallots galore

At last a lovely warm sunny day this July! We went up the plot in the morning and have laid all our shallots out to dry on a canopy for a few days - looks like we'll have plenty of pickled onions at Christmas and beyond!
We planted out the 12 french bean plants which were germinated under the cloche. We put a few in between the sweetcorn plants, but the others in the legume quarter.

The first patty pan courgette is swelling - it's meant to be white, so though you can eat them when they're small I presume I should wait for it to change colour. The green courgette is providing me with plenty for the timebeing anyway.
We've got rather behind with picking the broad beans. Will probably make some humous or find some other way of using lots of beans - broad bean soup may be interesting..

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The only shed I'm allowed!

My friends at work, Cathy and Sarah, gave me this lovely cake for my birthday at the weekend!

I can't tuck into it yet - need to leave it intact to show to others :-)

Peas, peas, peas

Managed to avoid the rain while we picked peas. Loads to be picked and plenty more coming. The smaller ones seem to have managed to avoid the pea moth but there were still lots with larvae in them - urgh, makes podding a bit of a chore! Anyway, they tasted lovely along with spuds and onions.

We need to pick more broad beans - I took a load to work the other day but there are still masses more. These two butterflies were sheltering from the rain amongst the leaves.
The french beans have all sprouted in the cloche so we'll plant them out at the weekend and beans are just about big enough to pick from the 5 plants we planted out already.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Fungus Gnats

It's been really rainy over the last couple of days. We've been up to pick food but haven't done much else. Had a courgette, spring onions and chard yesterday. Today pulled a load of Rockets from just one plant (forgot to weigh them) and some lettuce and radishes.
Peas and broad beans are desperate to be picked, but we've got a cabbage from Malcolm today, so they'll have to wait till later in the week...

We took up a lot of compost today - all the broad bean pods, etc and some cardboard boxes (which is mainly what we use as brown for our compost and it works well).
There were masses of little black flies all over the wooden compost bin - fungus gnats apparently, don't seem to do any harm.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Potato, carrots and onions for tea

Picked a couple of lovely big onions, another Rocket spud and a few carrots (Early Nantes - they're so delicious!). They're all cooking (dauphinois-styly) in the oven at the moment.

The crimson broad beans have flowered - they're really beautiful and lots of different pinks and purply. I thought they'd all look the same. The beans are meant to be red in green pods, but we'll see...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Broad Beans galore and first courgettes

Jamie pickled our first lot of beetroot yesterday - in red wine vinegar.

Picked another mass of broad beans for tea and to have raw in a salad tomorrow lunchtime. The crimson broad beans are just starting to flower - I'll take a photo when a few more have bloomed.

Also picked the first 2 courgettes - they're only little and there are 2 more growing already. I'll try to keep ahead of the game, otherwise they'll be marrows within a couple of days.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Pea moth

Taken from my website for 2010 - some things don't change though
Hmm, well we did pick a lot of peas and they really WERE delicious, but podding and finding little caterpillars is REALLY unpleasant! Timing must have just been wrong when we planted the first lot as there were a lot of worms in them - ugh.
Hopefully the next lot will have escaped the moth laying period...

Sunday, 10 July 2011

On the plot today...

We've sowed 2 rows of carrots where the parsnips failed - a row of Autumn King and a row of Resistafly, so they should be good for over the winter.
We pulled a Rocket potato which will do us for a couple of days and our first lot of peas for tea tonight.
We ate a couple of peas on site and there was a pea moth larvae in one (ugh), so more careful podding is required!
We got a lovely trugful of veggies today - we're going to pickle some of the beets and I'm having a broad bean salad for lunch tomorrow.

Avoiding carrot fly

We went to the plot yesterday evening. Jamie ventured under the enviromesh and weeded the carrots - all the carrot flies don't fly in the evening (apparently). We tasted a carrot, it was a yellow one - they're rainbow carrots - looked a bit weird but tasted lovely and sweet.

I sowed 12 more dwarf french beans (Speedy) into pots and left them under the cloche to germinate. Nights are still colder than you'd expect in July though - only 8 degrees...

mmm, look at all those peas!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Weeding, weeding, weeding

We got up early to work on the plot before it was due to rain. It's been raining for much of the week and weeds are everywhere again.
Two of the sweetcorn had blown over so we earthed them up and made sure the roots were better firmed in.

We trimmed the tops and roots off 20 leeks and puddled them in where we pulled the first row of potatoes.
The leeks look tiny, but hopefully will be ok. We left quite a lot of room (about 20cm between each) in the hope this will keep the mould at bay...
We've got about another 20 which we'll plant when we've cleared the next row of spuds.

 The onions are actually looking a lot better than last week, they've bulbed up well - seems that the 'tickling' may have helped after all :-)
The shallots are really close to ready now, we're hoping to get a bit more sun/warmth to dry them off.

We picked some more broad beans and chard for lunch. There are lots of ladybirds and larvae around picking off the blackfly and the rain dealt with most of the whitefly (it seems).

Looks like there will be plenty of peas for tomorrow's dinner and we plan to pickle some of the beets in the next few days too.

The congo spuds (the heritage ones) have really pretty flowers on. The plants are different from newer varieties; they sprout up from all around the plant rather than just shooting upwards from the seed potato. We hope they're growing well under all that earthing up we did earlier in the year!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Er, no, not immature spuds!

A little searching has shown that actually, they're known as aerial tubers. They seem to be symptoms of Rhizoctonia (see The cankers appear on the foliage and the black scurf appears on the tubers. We saw some of this dark sooty deposit on some of our spuds last year but it wasn't apparent on any of these Lady ChristL ones.
There certainly didn't appear to be any adverse affect to the taste, look or quantity of tubers - maybe that's because we pulled them quite early.
Ho hum, just another disease to be aware of this year!!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Immature spuds...?

Have just got back from the plot - it was so hot and humid there. Did more weeding and sowed some spring onions (White Lisbon), Radish (Chinese Dragon) and Lollo Rosso in the raised bed.

Jamie pulled the last Lady ChristL from the first potato row - making room for our leeks, which we'll put in in the next week. The potatoes could clearly have formed more as you can see they're still green and on the stem (which wasn't buried). Looks like they could have done with more earthing up - we've never seen that before.

Still loads of well-formed spuds (1.5kg) to have with our first crop of broad beans for tea.

Chard snack

Dave gave me a lovely little yellow courgette so had that fried in butter with chard stems on top of the chard leaves with some rice. Lovely little lunch.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Everyone loves a Qualcast Panther 30!

We cut the paths where the grass had grown really tall along the edges of the plots and did lots of weeding.

We were at the plot at 8:00 this morning - beautiful and sunny and there were only a couple of other people there. The earth is really dry as you can see from the photo, but there's water not too far down and all the plants are finding it.
Transplanted 8 celery plants, 4 peppers and 2 tomatoes (ones from Carolyn & Paul) onto 8A.
The sweetcorn are looking healthy, as are all the beanies - should get to scoff some tomorrow. The brassicas look good, especially the pretty red cabbage but when you move a leaf you get a face-full of white fly :-{ Chemical warfare is imminent...

Minimum temp of just 5 degrees last night - crazy, no wonder the cucumber is about 10 centimetres tall and has already produced a flower!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Downy Mildew

Not great news, but not terrible news regarding the onions. The stems have been looking a bit puckered and have been bending over for a little while. Turns out they've got Downy Mildew - basically due to horrible weather, oh, and watering from above rather than just at the bulb...

Jamie found some information about it in the US - see link.

At least we should get some onions to scoff though and won't have to pull the lot which we were worried about - they just won't be so impressive as some of the huge bulbs people have around site :-(

The shallots seem to have got away with it so far because they're just about ready to be picked and dried.

At least we've got flowers on our dwarf french beans now so we should see some signs of beans soon...