Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Another trug of goodies

We picked a radish - one of the 'Candela di Fuoco' ones. Lovely and tasty and HUGE!
We gave the celery a bit more room as the leaves were pressing against the top of the netting. Took the opportunity to pick a few stems (to add to some stuffing and soup this evening). Some of the plants look like celery from the shops, but the stems are weird - they're hollow... not sure whether this is to do with lack of water or whether celery is meant to look like this before it's fully formed! Will wait and see as it's got another month or two to grow really...
I'm having a stuffed patty pan for tea and some white/yellow/orange carrot soup for lunch for the next couple of days so had a lovely full/colourful trugful of veggies to take home. There's the celery, carrots, thyme, Orla spuds, onions and a little cucumber for Jamie's sarnies and the obligatory courgette in there to. Lovely!


Quite a few people on site have noticed that their sprouts aren't looking too good - either not producing any sprouts up the stem or 'blowing out' (not forming little buds). Ours are under the enviromesh so are a bit tricky to see. It's clear that some of ours have done better than others.
This plant looks reasonably happy. There are sprouts, though some do appear to have blown, so hopefully there'll be enough for Christmas lunch...
The sprouts on this plant appear to just be made up of a couple of leaves, so, unless, they do a lot of growing over the next couple of months they may not amount to much....

Our leeks are looking pretty good, although a couple have started to be eaten - not sure what by. It may be birds or maybe slugs.. The majority of plants seem fine at the moment, so we hope it stays that way!

Sorting out Compost

We were up the plot this morning as it was quite warm, although not as sunny as it should be in August!
We've sorted out the compost bins completely now and have made an area where we'll store the horse manure before it's ready to be used. We're going to keep it covered with black plastic so that it doesn't all get washed away and the worms should like it under there too...

The black compost bin is almost full and we're leaving that till next year - it's full of worms. The green bin we'll keep adding to and the wooden (open) bin is empty at the moment - that'll be used for all the beans, etc. when the time comes - not yet though, there are masses of runners coming through still.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Mostly runner beans

Rainy most of today so we just picked some runners to have with our tea. They just keep on growing! Every time you turn round there's another bunch ready to be picked. The longest one we picked was 14 inches long!!

We left just as it looked like it was going to pour again. Looked beautiful in the sunshine with the dark sky and all the berries in the hedgerow.

Spuds and Raspberries

In Spring we put 3 spare kestrel spuds in Plot 8A, alongside the raspberries. Anyway, we've been pulling them over the last couple of weeks - they're pretty scabby, especially compared to the lovely-looking spuds we've been getting from Plot 7 - they taste and cook fine though. The plant closest to the raspberries grew much slower than the others and looked a bit different, but we pulled it yesterday and it was a kestrel.
It seems that potatoes and raspberries are not good growing partners. The raspberries are certainly happy (Dave took a punnet-ful away today) but the potatoes only produced about 4-5 tubers and are quite uneven shapes and scabby.
We won't put them in there next year and will move the raspberries and get them under control now we know they're mainly Autumn fruiting varieties. The roots have got everywhere and are spreading to path and neighbouring plot so we'll pull them and transplant just a few canes - probably in December/January. Autumn varieties can be chopped right back and then will fruit in the same year, so they should be fine....

Friday, 26 August 2011


We had a big salad for tea last night - it was a record-breaking meal with our maximum number of our home-grown ingredients consisting of:
  1. Red cabbage
  2. Carrot
  3. Potatoes
  4. Spring onions
  5. Beetroot
  6. Cucumber
  7. Radish
The coleslaw made with the red cabbage and carrot was lovely - Jamie thought it wasn't quite as tasty as the green cabbage stuff we made last year. Still, the Rocky cucumber is definitely vastly superior tasting than any shop-bought cucumber!

There was enough edible cabbage from that giant red that we picked - we had plenty for 2 meals and could have had 3 if we'd been more organised. Quite a lot of shredded cabbage went into the compost bin :-(

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Scarlet Empire Runners

Our Scarlet Empire runner beans are looking happy. Producing some really good 30cm pods!

First Red Cabbage

Here's our first giant red cabbage - if there's enough to eat we'll have half cooked and the other half as coleslaw. The other cabbages don't look as big as this one, but may be able expand a bit as they're thinned out.
After taking all the outside and eaten leaves off this is what we're left with! Looks nice.
Jamie picked lots of runner beans on Monday but there are loads more appearing and our crimson broad beans are almost ready. We've still got lots of peas and the courgettes/patty pan are producing new ones continuously at the moment.
The weather was wet all day yesterday and not very warm, but it's burning hot again today... so plenty more growing time for our sweetcorn hopefully.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Green Manure

We sowed mustard, as green manure, yesterday in the middle section where the onions/shallots were. We grew this last year and it just gets dug in when it's died down after the frosts. This quarter is going to be for the legumes next year. So, at the moment it's turnips, green manure and horse manure under black plastic.. The turnips have just started showing a white bulb.

We're picking one of the red cabbages tomorrow, so this is the last photo of it growing - there's a lot of caterpillar damage, hope there's enough edible stuff left for us!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Courgette Cake

Another way to use courgettes, other than frying in butter which is always delicious, is in courgette cake. We made a chocolate one last year and it was far too heavy.
This one, from the Hairy Bikers website is really tasty and has walnuts in. You can still see the grated courgette so it's a bit interesting - but can't taste courgette at all!

Saturday, 20 August 2011


Made borscht (Beetroot soup) for tea, using a recipe from the Vegetarian magazine ('Recipes from Under The Lime Tree'). As well as beetroot it had apple, onion, garlic, ginger and orange juice.
Prior to blending
It was really nice but even better than the taste was the colour of it! Look at this, after blending - I can see why they call is 'Beautiful Borscht'!
The final product

Best made plans..

We got to the plot in the morning to avoid the rain - but didn't get there early enough and got soaked, before running for cover in the container!
We did manage to get some of the manure dug into (what was) the onion quarter - it's going to be the legume quarter next year so we plan to overwinter some broad beans in there. We covered the dug-in manure area with black plastic to encourage worms, etc.
It should mean we start getting broad beans a few weeks earlier - unless the frost strikes too soon...
Picked a couple of massive beetroot - we wanted 400g for cooking borscht for tonight. In fact the two we picked weigh more than 500g each :-} Really should have taken the scales with us!
I also picked about 250g more of raspberries to make up some more vodka...


I think these are Canada geese, which probably means they aren't actually migrating, but it looks quite a wintery scene with them heading off and the low sun :-( It's only August!! Hopefully we still will see some lovely sunshine!!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Vapourer Moth caterpillar

Went up the plot this evening to pick peas for tea - very pleased to find that these later-sown ones was much better than the early ones. That is, we only found 2 with pea moth larvae - much happier podding this lot!
I also had to pick a courgette which had grown too massive over the last 2 days so that'll be going to work!
We found this amazing looking caterpillar sitting (and eating) our basil. It's the vapourer moth caterpillar, but a bit disappointed to see the moth it develops into isn't anywhere near as interesting looking. Best looking caterpillar I've ever seen though!!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Raspberry Vodka

Well, now we know that the raspberries that we inherited when we took over plot 8A are Autumn ones - they're better than the harvest we got in Spring (not that we look after them at all). I picked as many as I could and we made up Raspberry vodka (raspberries, vodka and sugar) - should be good to drink in at least 3 months...

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Manure and Compost

Nantes Carrots. Congo potato plants
We spent most of the morning on the plot. My friend gave us a big bucketful of well-rotted horse manure so we've put all the compost into the black composter - it's full to the brim now - and put the manure into the green one. There's a problem with some manures at the moment, due to contamination by herbicides. For this reason we're growing a bean in the manure before we risk spreading it across our plot.
Andy's confirmed that he's seen veggies growing in the manure without curled leaves so it should be fine - GOOD!
The Congo potato plants are still looking amazing. Jamie put his hand around the roots and didn't find any potatoes - hopefully they're there though!!

Some of the cabbages have got proper heads now but there's a lot of holes and I found another cabbage white caterpillar to flick off...

Picked some carrots and onions for carrot and coriander soup for tea and pulled another Orla potato. And Dave gave us a parsnip which we'll have along with a veg roast tomorrow. We've taken all the shallots home now and will make up another small jar of pickled onions.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Pickles and things

Here are our jars of chutney and pickles - stored away for a few months now so they should be lovely for Christmas.

The seasons seem ahead of themselves this year so hopefully we'll have some sloe gin to add to our store quite soon - though some say they need to be frosted before they can be used.... We DON'T want frost yet!!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Ladybirds & a spider

We've spotted (sorry for the pun!) these two ladybirds on the plot over the last couple of days and there are masses of 7-spot ones. There's a good ladybird website and they're surveying so I sent them some info.
 Oh, and Jamie found this amongst our spuds... it's crawling up his tee-shirt sleeve!!
wolf spider

Walking round a damp allotment

We walked round some of the other plots and saw Jerry's globe artichokes which have flowered - really beautiful.

Our runner beans have a few beans which have set but still really tiny, so the plan's worked so far - we didn't want green beans, runners and broad beans all at the same time. The flowers are looking brilliant and keeping the bees happy.
The raindrops on the bottom pic are quite arty :-)
Scarlet Empire F1

Rainy Sunday

We went up the plot after a rainstorm this afternoon - just to pick some veg. The potatoes are Orla and there are a few obligatory courgettes which I'll take to work - there should be a couple more ready when I want them for my dinner tomorrow evening! Also got another harvest of express french beans from our dwarf plants.
I made some carrot & coriander soup, using our lovely coloured carrots and one of our onions.
My soup recipe is always the same, just with different top 2 ingredients - this is the soups I made last weekend (measurements are very vague):
  • Vegetables (e.g.4 carrots/pile of broad beans)
  • Some type of herb (e.g.coriander/parsley)
  • An onion cooked in butter with the herb
  • 1 pint of vegetable stock
  • Black pepper

Saturday, 6 August 2011


These are just some of the hundreds of worms in our compost. Not sure why the one in the middle has shiny blue edges! The compost is made up of allotment waste, grass cuttings and cardboard. We've also added some really stinky comfrey juice that we were given a year ago - we added that occasionally.
We're going to leave this bin for a few months (or a year) now as we've started filling our second bin again.

Clearing legumes and spotting bugs

It wasn't a very nice morning; a bit chilly and drizzly but eventually the sun came out. We cleared weeds and also cut down the pea plants which had dried/died back and a lot of the original broad beans which had stopped producing pods and have rust - we don't want that passing to the crimson broad beans (not before the beans have been picked anyway).
We also cut the haulms (tops) off the potato plants which have died down. The Congo plants though are looking amazing - they are standing up again after the rain. We just hope the potatoes under the ground look as good as the plants and flowers!

Found a great little shield bug on the enviromesh over the sprouts - unfortunately we now know it's a Brassica Bug! Doesn't seem quite so pretty now. It'll overwinter in the ground apparently - hopefully it doesn't have too many buddies on our plot - though a lot of nibbling has happened to our purple cabbages in particular...
Eurydema oleracea
Our first Rocky cucumber will be ready to eat next week and another's on the way. Courgettes are going strong and the Balmoral patty pan is producing quite a few more sqashes.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Mostly pickling

Jamie pickled another jar of beetroot this week, again in red wine vinegar but with less demarera sugar than the previous jar.
Also pickled 2 jars of shallots, after soaking in brine for a couple of days. The shallots aren't that good - not many big bulbs. When they are cut into they break into more bulbs. Not sure whether this is because of the weather or the downy mildew, which may have stopped them forming. We did notice that the green tops grew very tall very quickly so maybe it was the soil being too rich from our compost...
Still, I'm sure the pickles will taste lovely at Christmas. The shallots we've used in other cooking have been very tasty.