Saturday, 28 September 2013

HAHA at the Hungerford Food Festival

Another busy Sunday as we will be helping to man the HAHA stall at the Food Festival tomorrow.
We've picked some produce from the HAHA plot - a lovely colourful haul!
That is: Golden Hubbard squash, ridge cucumbers, kohl rabi, mooli, jack-o-lantern pumpkins, courgettes (floridor yellow & normal), uchiki kuri squash and purple haze carrots.

We like  to highlight the benefits of growing your own. Of course, we'll also take advantage of the platform to highlight the plight of the allotment sites in Hungerford and how we really need a permanent site for the town.
Here's a lesson on why you should pick your courgettes regularly :-) Hmm, wonder if anyone will want to take that home with them...

Monday, 23 September 2013

Open Afternoon - Success!

We had fabulous weather for the Open Afternoon - we were so lucky! It was warm (probably about 23°) and the sun even showed itself at times.
We were pleased it was so well attended - there were about 80 visitors that I'm aware of.
We even had a group of people from Swindon join us, they just happened to be visiting Hungerford and followed the carrot arrows that we'd posted along the route from the High Street!
I was really pleased to see Bill Acworth again - he was on the council when the allotment site was first set up. Without him we'd never have our lovely site. He was impressed with the changes over the last couple of years and understands what an asset the site is to Hungerford. 
The burgers went down so well that we had to send out for more stock half way through the afternoon. Even all the veggie burgers were all sold!

The cream teas were also a great success; people had made cakes and scones for HAHA to sell and, of course, there was lovely home-made jam too.
Children were entertained with paper flower making and a questionnaire which meant they walked round the plots spotting certain veg and water butts, etc.
Some visitors spent a lot of time wandering through the site looking at the various methods we use for protecting our veggies and our growing techniques - that's why we always like to see what's going on on other plots too.

I was looking after the tombola and really enjoyed it. We had over 40 prizes, mostly donated, and with a 1-in-5 chance of winning all the tickets were gone by 3pm! (Next time we'll need more prizes). It was such good fun and when I did have a couple of breaks my sister stepped in to deal with customers - thanks Joanne!

The produce stall was well stocked and visitors went off with bagfuls of fresh veg and home-made pickles, jams and chutneys. A bit of a shame that Joanne bought the cabbage that we'd put on the stall - I would have given her a freebie :-)
Jamie was on standby to provide me with food and drinks and enjoyed chatting with other plotholders and visitors.

Now we are looking forward to holding more events like this in the future!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Bye-Bye Toms and Hello Sweetcorn!

This last week has really felt autumnal; we had a lovely Summer but it feels like it's over far too soon. I went up the allotment before work during the week. There was heavy dew on the paths and look at our sad tomatoes :-(
Lots of fruits to be had but blight had struck so this weekend we cleared the area and to be honest, it's a bit of relief to have some space on that part of the plot! There were calendula there too but they had long since been buried by the pumpkin leaves and haven't been seen since July so they got composted too - not to our compost bin, but to the Council green bins.
The Jack-o-lantern pumpkins have taken over but probably won't have much more growing time - just hope they start going orange soon...
We cut back the runners on the strawberries - we've potted on a couple which will replace non-fruiting strawberry plants from this year.
Today we picked our first Spring(?!) cabbage. It's there in the trug with our first sweetcorn (fabulously sweet and didn't even need butter to make it delicious) and some of our Kestrel potatoes. They're extremely scabby and only about 5 tubers per plant...but one weighed 850g! Don't know what went on there - we're blaming the weather...! 

Marsh Lane Allotments Open Afternoon 2013

Have I mentioned the Open Afternoon on here? I don't think I have, though I have been talking about it a lot in real life! It's a little later in the year than intended, because of the lease extension and then time constraints of HAHA committee members but we're really hoping the weather will be reasonable - or, even better, SUNNY!
I'm going to be looking after the tombola/produce stall and am looking forward to it. Especially now that we have some gazebos to use, thanks to helpful plotholders and my sister :-)

So, next Saturday we're going to have a busy day tidying the site and making the communal areas look their best and then Sunday we'll hopefully have lots of visitors to see how great the allotment site is. There are going to be activities for children too including a 'Nature lotto' (allotment hunt) and paper flower making so they can be entertained along with the adults.

Hope to see you there and maybe a few more Hungerford locals will be inspired to get on the waiting list for a plot! Follow the carrots from the High Street to find the site :-)

Friday, 6 September 2013

Chain Mail Article 2

Just a quick link to my second article for the Hungerford Quarterly magazine, Chain Mail.

I pretty much summarise what I've written on the blog over the previous months and try to raise the profile of the allotments within the local community. We need all the help we can get with the short lease still hanging over us.

Anyway, here's a link to the article.
And here's a photo of a hover fly that I took on our wildflower patch on Wednesday - every blog post should have a pic :-)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Lunch at the Allotment

I was working from home today and it was such a hot day that we decided to go to the plot for our lunch. It was lovely; certainly could have stayed there for the afternoon!
Jamie picked some long-awaited runner beans for his dad and we picked some bits for our dinner tonight - fried marinaded tofu with veggies (tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, basil).
Our peppers are rather gnarly but they taste fabulous.

I also took some photos of the many 'beasties' and will put entries on the wildlife blog. I'm not a fan of spiders but the one I took a photo of today is quite amazing looking! It's your standard orb weaver garden spider - the type that makes a web across your porch so you walk through it in the morning <shiver>

I meant to post this photo the other day of our pickled silverskin onions, runner bean chutney and tomato & courgette chutney.
We've decided that the pickled onions will provide us with enough for next year too so we won't plant any shallots next year - will give us a bit of space on the plot for something else...

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Chutney and Pickles

I know, we're a bit obsessed with preserving at the moment - I'm sure we're smelling rather sweet and vinegar-y too. I certainly know our flat is!
We picked this lot from the plot this morning - the silverskin onions are currently soaking in brine prior to being pickled tomorrow. Some of the courgettes will go to work but some are for dinner for the next two days as well as for the chutney. There are also a few leaves of perpetual spinach from fellow plotholder Geoff (Thanks Geoff).
Yesterday we made some runner bean chutney - the same recipe that we always use, as it's so delicious.
And today we've been making tomato and courgette chutney, with a different recipe - based on the one I found here, but with a few adjustments. This is the ingredients list we've used and we just put it all in the pan and cook until it thickens:
  • 455g courgettes
  • 284g onions
  • 284g tomatoes
  • 270g Demerara sugar
  • ¼ pint malt vinegar
  • ¼ pint pickling vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ½ tspn paprika
  • ½ tspn salt
 It's smelling delicious as it simmers away so hopefully it'll taste just as good! We'll find out at Christmas.

This is the stage we figured it was ready - it's always a bit tricky; The spoon leaves a clear path through the mixture until the liquid slowly covers it again.

Here's the end result, along with the pickled silverskins and the two types of chutney. The courgette and tomato is far right, with the runner bean in the middle - mmm