Sunday, 26 February 2017

Glory Box

Nice to see the crocuses making a show.

We've had two afternoon visits to the plot this weekend - both were dreadful. Yesterday we put our new storage box together - it's big enough to store loads of mesh and fleece as well as other useful items that usually end up buried somewhere in our flat or car boot.
Storm Doris had blown a lot of  'plot furniture' around the site. Today it seems Storm Ewan has started even windier - which made laying the weed membrane tricky! I wonder if our box will still be in place when we next visit.
One of the corners where all the bins gather...

The garlic seems to be doing well - all 30 cloves have sprouted and they had a bit of frost which is apparently required to encourage the cloves to form. You can see where a bird moved one of the cloves so 2 are growing next to each other :-) Last year's garlic is still being used regularly and I have one and a half bulbs left.

As I write this I'm having another go at making a non-blitzed soup - carrot and leek this time. I'm only using the green parts of the leeks as the white parts are going into our pasta bake tonight. There are quite a few carrots and parsnips left to eat, but the leeks will be used up quite soon.
This is the valerian which is growing back much stronger than it grew last year - I hope we get some vanilla scented flowers this year.
Portishead provide the music - a glory box is apparently where a girl stores her clothes, sheets, etc. prior to marriage - well, this glory box is full of useful bits and bobs for an allotment instead! Anyway, it's a great song.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Digging in the Dirt

There's evidence of a lot of activity on the site. Newly dug areas are appearing on lots of plots - excellent! A sunny day in February is always a bonus and encourages allotmenteers out of their hidey-holes.
Not just plotholders, it seems! Whatever made this hole in the compost bin had moved on. There are mole hills all over plot 3 so it may be something to do with that...
I bagged that up all that lovely compost for use in the bean plot at a later date - the broad beans and runners should appreciate that organic mixture.
Jamie spent the afternoon digging last year's bean plot, which will be for our sprouts this year. Look at that! He is very good at finishing off, when I'm busy packing up hoping to get home before the aches and pains set in too much!! Well, this is the first proper labour since the Autumn.
I pulled a leek and a couple of parsnips and have made spicy parsnip soup - mmmm, it's so tasty and so easy to make because I used curry powder, rather than making up the spicy mix. That should cover 3 days of lunches.
Peter Gabriel has kindly titled this song perfectly!

Saturday, 18 February 2017


We had a change of scene today. Rather than being at Marsh Lane we were at the other HAHA-managed site in Hungerford. We joined some Fairfields plotholders for a general tidy-up workday.
Fairfields is a small site with twenty-four 1-pole plots.
It was originally allotments for the people who lived in the surrounding old people's homes, but now most of those homes have gone and a new estate is opposite so the plots are available for all.
It's close to the Primary School and at the moment there's a primary school plot, a nursery school plot and a plot looked after by a residential home in the town. There are a few spare plots available for £12 a year.
The site has sheds (shed-envy strikes again) which were part of the old laundry buildings. I wonder what each of the little sheds were used for when it was a laundry? It has a nice view overlooking the town - there's the Town Hall clock.
Aah, it was good to be using tools out in the fresh air, even if it wasn't on our plot. The sun even came out for a while. Dare I say, it felt quite Spring-like! I hope it's the same tomorrow when we're intending to do some proper work on our plots! Here's a photo of our snowdrop - planted about 25 years ago, we finally have some flowers (2 so far)!
Title provided courtesy of The Lightning Seeds.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Cold Cold Cold

Well the north wind did blow and we did get a dusting of snow (although some may call it sleet). It wasn't enough to have fun in but it made the rooftops look pretty.
The old Hungerford Fire Station - 'Hungerford Volunteer Fire Brigade' from 1910.
We avoided being outside too much today by going to Wantage to buy our seed potatoes - Charlton Park Garden Centre is great because they sell individual tubers for 17p each. And there are so many varieties to choose from...
We opted for Orla, Kestrel, Chopin, Desiree and Burgundy Red - most will be grown in bags. We don't grow masses nowadays. When we first took on the allotment we grew 2 full rows, but we don't store them and there were far too many.
Yesterday we stayed on the plot for a little while so Jamie cleaned the bird bath and I cleared old pots in the greenhouse. This is a little video of a bird singing - well, it's the sound of a great tit but I couldn't actually spot the bird and had to look up the song when I got home - you can see the snow though :-)

The bulbs are making their way up through the soil. The garlic I planted last month are being pulled up by birds so each visit I have to push them back into the ground. They'll be fine though once the roots get a grip in the ground.

We visited the plot twice this weekend - to feed the birds and pick some veg. We've taken the netting off the sprouts now, so the pigeons will probably clear the plants off and the blackbirds and thrushes can clear away any under the plants to clear any pests that the cold temperatures haven't killed off. (Fingers crossed)
Today's song title is very apt and is provided by 'Cage the Elephant'.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Its Not Right, but Its OK

Actually, it's very tasty! But it doesn't look like the vegetable soup I was expecting it to look like..
For a change I decided to make a watery-type soup rather than blitzing the ingredients. I fancied the idea of tasting the individual vegetables - just one of each. The other leeks are for dinner tomorrow night and one of the parsnips had such bad canker that most of it was composted. 
I chopped the carrot and parsnip very small (maybe too small) and added it to the stock with a little rosemary and thyme. I added the leek after about 40 mins.
So, the top photo looks like a real vegetable soup, but this is what it looks like in the jug - a bit too much veg I think and I was expecting it to be suspended rather than sunken! However, the taste is good and the ingredients are fresh and that's the main thing...
So, over to Whitney Houston for the song...

Saturday, 4 February 2017


February has begun mostly grey, wet and rather windy, but at least it's not January; such a long month - I'm really trying not to wish the months away but it's hard! We're keen to get started now, though it's too soggy to do much, so instead we did a bit of online shopping this morning, from Dobies of Devon. Here are a few of the basics that we'll be growing...
We've opted for grafted tomato plants again - they produce so many fruits and Aviditas is the sweetest, most delicious variety we grew last year. I also have some stripey tomatoes and these 'redcurrant tomatoes' look interesting. It seems they may be tricky to grow, so we've ordered plug plants rather than seeds.
And I ordered a few flowers for the plots too. The silky ones look very pretty and are good for bees apparently. I hope they aren't good for slugs! We're hoping that the frosty weather has set back the mollusk population this Winter - we can see evidence that the thrushes have.
I need to start thinking about sowing these quite soon.
The sun came out in the afternoon so we walked up to the plot. There were quite a few other plotholders enjoying the sunshine and making plans for the year. Jamie and I have planned what's-going-where on our plots. Well, it's a first draft; it's bound to change and more plants will get on our list...
We walked home as the sun dipped low and it started to get chilly.
Aah, here's a dance-along track from 'Jungle' to provide the soundtrack for today's title.