Sunday, 30 October 2011

More Tidying

Another sunny morning meant more weeding and tidying up on the plot. No signs of life in the broad beans yet.
I ventured into the sprout cage, weeded and pulled off all the yellowing leaves at the lower level of the sprouts. Masses of white fly under there, while some of the sprouts look really healthy - others look really awful!

We actually weeded Plot 8A as well - it was a state! Filled a compost bag with weeds. It looks so much happier now.
And we went home with another trug full of purple Congo potatoes.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Sloe Gin

As expected there weren't enough sloes in the hedge by our plot so we picked ours from Hungerford Common where there were loads. Some of the berries were pretty small but we filled a jar and made a litre of sloe gin in 2 kilner jars half filled with sloes and with about the same weight in sugar. We'll just give the jars a shake every day and in a few months we'll have a lovely drink.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Enjoying the sunshine

And it was lovely being able to sit in the sun with a coffee again! Look at that blue sky - gorgeous!
This bee was enjoying warming itself in the sun too

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Digging and Clearing

Had a lovely 4 hours on the plot this morning in the sunshine.
The temperature had reached -1 and the beans, courgette and tomato plants all collapsed due to the frost. We cleared them all away to the compost - such a lot of runner beans went uneaten. We must sow them earlier next year!
Frosted Runner Beans
Frosted Courgette

Jamie dug and put organic chicken manure pellets on the quarter for onions next year and I dug all the areas which had the plants cleared. It's satisfying to clear the areas and nice to be able to dig again - funny how you miss it even though it's tiring!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Pickled Cucumber

We pickled (sweet pickled) the cucumbers. The chopped cucumber was left in salt overnight to remove some of the water. Pickled in about a pint of white vinegar, 60g sugar and a teaspoon each of mustard and celery seeds. We made some last year which were really tasty but overly sweet so we reduced the sugar by half this time...

First frost

Well, at the weekend the thermometer on the plot was showing that the temperature had got down to 3degrees C. The only plant affected was the basil plants which had gone completely brown then black over 2 days - well, one of them was Greek basil so not too suprised it doesn't like the cold! We picked the last 5 cucumbers as the weather was expected to get colder this week.
And... the weather people were right! I had to scrape ice from the car this morning and had to find my woolly gloves. May not get up the plot for a couple of days but I've got a feeling the beans will have gone down - luckily Jamie pulled a few pods to get the beans out when he popped up the plot yesterday.

At least it means we can pick some sloes and make sloe gin this weekend - I've been waiting to do this for about 3 months it seems!!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Another sunny day

We went up to do some digging and other bits this afternoon, but again it was so sunny we stopped and chatted for about an hour then didn't have time to do all that we planned!

However, we did chop down and dig in the mustard green manure and planted a couple of rows of broad beans which we're hoping will over-winter. We've put cloches over the beans as the mice are still causing trouble on other people's plots.
The beans are planted on the strip where we thoroughly dug in the horse manure that we're slightly concerned about - our test at home produced 4 broad beans; a couple which look rather fern-like and a couple which look just about perfect - so not such a great result to put our minds at rest! However, we figure the on-plot test will tell us for sure, so fingers crossed that the manure is fine....

Put a lot of corrugated cardboard (ripped into small bits) into the compost bin and gave it a good mix about - it's still a bit stinky, but there is a lot of green in there so not too suprising. It's not too wet so should be ok. The black compost bin has shrunk to about half full and is lovely compost for use next year. We've also bought some bags of Westland Farmyard manure to put under our spuds again next year.

Purple chips

Used a few Congo spuds to make purple chips at lunchtime. They look so great and tasted good too!
You can see where some of the potato flesh is white, that is the case with some of the tubers where others are deep purple all the way through - brilliant :-)

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Sitting in the sunshine

Went to the plot in the morning. Only intended to pick a few spuds and a cabbage, but ended up picking some other bits for my sister. I took all the remaining courgettes - there are still a few more flowers but not sure they'll have time to grow as frost is threatened...
It was lovely and sunny and really quite warm so we just sat in the sun for a bit, watching other people clearing their plots.
And we saw a steam train go by - I was shooting into the sun so actually missed the engine, but the smoke looks quite artistic :-)

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Cabbage Patch

Ventured under the cabbage netting (which hasn't been terribly successful at keeping butterflies off) and weeded. I pulled a couple of the red cabbages which have split and been eaten. I found a lot of snails and slugs in there - netting won't help against them! You can see from the picture that the non-eaten cabbages look brill.

This month's pest - Leek Moth

Well, another crop has gone because of the pests! The leeks have been looking bedraggled for a few weeks but after confirming that we have leek moth we decided to bite the bullet and pull the whole lot up :-(

Such a shame, though I did manage to save a few to eat (after some very careful checking for critters!)
 Jamie dug the patch over and we took all the leaves and other waste home to attempt to avoid contaminating the ground with any remaining caterpillars/pupae. Hopefully our friendly robin will spot any that we didn't clear...
The ground did look good after it was dug though - it looked a bit awful with a load of miserable looking leeks on it!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Weeding, weeding, clearing

As promised, we spent a few hours on the plot yesterday. Weeded the whole leek/potato quarter and the root/onion quarter (well, lots of it!). The green manure (mustard) has grown really tall and should really be dug in, but we'll wait a bit to do that.
green manure
I cleared the pea netting and weeded that area too. Tomorrow we should do the brassica patch. Some of the cabbages look really good but others have been chomped by something - not sure whether it's caterpillars or something like mice - it certainly has a big appetite whatever it is!!

The leeks (all over site) are looking pretty awful - we think it may be leek moth and need to examine for further evidence now we've checked them out on t'internet....

Our poor neglected plot

We haven't spent time on the plot for a couple of weeks, last weekend was so hot and there was grass seeding going on on-site so we went for walks in the sun instead. Jamie did pull some Kestrel spuds on Tuesday.
We went up yesterday though and it's desperately in need of some tlc! There are so many weeds and the Congo potato foliage has all died so looks a mess. We'll go up later and do a lot of weeding and clearing.
We picked 2 sweetcorn. Only about half the cob had formed proper kernels. Soo sweet and tasty though! We also had another cucumber, some little turnips and carrots for snacks while we listened to England footie.
Picked 2 courgettes which should have been picked a fortnight ago - they're giant marrow-sized now. Think I may be living on courgette soup all next week!

Not much room for anything else in our Ka boot!
We picked our first celery plant. We didn't really look after the plants as much as we should have and although they're tall and bushy the stems are weird. Some of the stems and just a shell, with no tasty fleshy bit. The rest appeared to have gone to see so we had some stem which was tasty but not spoon-shaped; more round... Still tasted ok and could have been used for soup, but not really properly grown. Celery needs much more water than we gave it; the ground needs to be almost water-logged apparently, so different plan for next year!