Monday, 27 March 2017


The clocks changed this weekend - we're now on British Summer Time. An hour less in bed but, lighter evenings mean plot-time after work -Yay!

It really was a lovely warm and sunny weekend. The butterflies emerged for the sunshine: tortoiseshells, peacocks and brimstones. And the birdsong! Such a pleasure to sit, watch and listen with the sun on your face, in between weeding/tidying/digging of course.
The only clouds were contrails left by high-flying planes
I showed a newcomer to his new 'mini-plot', which we'd just finished the paths on. We're leaving them under weed suppressant for grass-sowing in the Autumn. Our other newcomers were enjoying seeing so many plotholders on the site - probably the busiest weekend of the year so far - certainly the warmest...
Even I was down to my tee-shirt
We spent about 10 hours on the plot over both days - no wonder my arms and legs are aching so much today (and I'm writing this blogpost on Monday lunchtime rather than Sunday evening).

We were pleased to see some of the broad beans and sweet peas have germinated. My tomato seedlings at work still look like straggly cress - I wonder whether they'll ever become plants. Coldplay provide the music for the clocks springing forward to BST.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Daydream in Blue

So close to Spring, but it wasn't feeling like it this weekend. I've been reading blogs from warmer climates - Ki Si in Spain with such amazing blue skies and hot temperatures which mean she's harvesting already and Endah in Indonesia with her interesting fruits and beautiful flowers.
Not that we don't have beautiful flowers and our fruit and veg will grow eventually... it's just so tempting to wish the months away...
But there are many signs now that Spring is on its way and not just in all the UK blogposts.
It's a good job time isn't moving too quickly though we have managed to do more preparation on Plot 7 this weekend, in the cool breeze with grey skies.
Jamie's dug most of the quarter where the onions are going, they're due to be delivered any day now - I wouldn't let him dig up the last of the carrots as I want to use them in cooking during the week.
I cleared out one of the strawberry beds - there were so many snails and spiders hiding in there! That should make the plants happier, along with the plant food we watered them with afterwards.
So there was time for daydreaming, but time for working too. I Monster provide the music..

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

Look what we had for tea last night...

Believe me, we haven't returned to our carnivorous past.
I know, it looks just like bacon (more than salmon to me) but it's an amazing marinaded carrot recipe, which Shaheen shared on A2K on her lovely veggie food blog and she found it on Olives for Dinner, another veggie food blog.
There, see, CARROTS

It involves liquid smoke - that's interesting enough in its own right. Most things I cook will now have a vaguely smokey flavour. Probably could have added a bit more to the marinade we made for the carrot bagels and I doubt we'd use this much salt in future, but I guess that's what makes it fishy-similar(?)
It's even made me less afraid of using the mandolin.
So, yum yum, nom nom and mmm mmm mmm mmm provided by Crash Test Dummies.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

What Ive Done

On Thursday I sowed some Tigerella tomato seeds in a tray - they're on my windowsill at work because it's such a light window without full sun. And, as an aside, that lovely orchid has been in flower since the Christmas holidays!
Yesterday we spent 6 hours on the plot - exhausting work, but great to have cleared and dug such a large area of Plot3. This is how it looked initially...
And, after Jamie dug a huge trench and we added three of last years spent tomato bags plus 3 bags of lovely home-made compost...
We could then rake it over and it now it looks like this.
And to stop the annoying weeds returning before we've even planted the broad and runner beans, we've covered the whole lot in weed fabric.
Today I sowed 25 sweet peas in the greenhouse - protected by 'giant crumpet' packages, which happen to be a perfect fit for those pots!
Surprisingly we managed to miss any rain all weekend - though today certainly threatened.
Another thing I missed (pretty much) was the steam train that went past while we were working yesterday...
Today's song is by Linkin Park - such a great song and video. It should be 'what we've done' of course!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

One More Time

Here are our Kestrel potatoes; chitting happily under the grow-lamp in our hallway.
Such amazing looking little things! The Orla aren't quite so impressive, but they'll catch up.
It was a very rainy day today but we wanted to sow our broad beans in the greenhouse.We thought we had a new packet of Longpod, but it was open so we went to our local Wyevale and of the 3 packets that were left (yes, 3!) we opted for Dreadnought, which are an heirloom longpod variety.
Jamie made up seed compost by mixing multi-purpose, John Innes seed and this coco coir, which comes in a solid block and you 'just add water'.
There are our little broad beans sitting in their mini-greenhouses - Jamie had to eat a lot of trifles for this plan :-) Last year we found that they grew tall at different rates, so this means that each one can have it's lid lifted before it hits the top and once its a size that a mouse won't fancy quite so much...
While Jamie was dealing with that I set up another compost bin and cleared some compostible items from the plot; most of last year's sweetcorn stems, though some sections are too hard, like bamboo, so they may need to be disposed of differently. The chard - I like to sow afresh each year. The sprouts - I chopped the stalks into small pieces first. And then put a bucketful of manure on top and gave it a stir.

We're on our way, but there's so much to do, but not on a soggy day like today. So back home into the warm before some torrential rain arrived again.
I'm pretty sure I took potato photos like these last year, but they're just so amazing in close-up, I can't resist one more time...
Haha! See what I did? It means I can put Daft Punk on my Plot7 playlist - go on, have a dance round the room :-)

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Feeling Good

Today we had a workday at Marsh Lane. It's been a wet week so we were very lucky with a mostly dry day and even some lovely sunshine producing fabulous rainbows.
It was good to meet some plotholders who we haven't met before and enjoyed a tea break which included biscuits and Honey Rum - a welcome addition to any get-together :-)
Jamie and I spent much of the time preparing 'mini-plots' for people who don't want to grow much or who just want a taste of allotment life before perhaps moving on to a larger plot. We'll grass the paths between the mini-plots in a week or two. (Can't believe I didn't take a photo of them! So, here's a photo of the manure delivery instead).
I showed two new plotholders around - it's great to see our site population growing again. Other volunteers were getting on with cutting back the hedgerow, which should encourage it to burst into life very soon.
So, although tired and achey, I'm feeling good - thankyou Muse for this great version...

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Go With The Flow

I had a flexi day today, so although drizzling, it was quite pleasant in the afternoon when we popped up to the allotment. We only went to feed the birds and pick some leeks and carrots. Whilst there we saw this...
At this point we were worried for the cat
At this point we were worried for the pheasant
We needn't have worried!

So it turns out that this cat probably isn't the reason why we found part of a pheasant on our plot a couple of weeks ago... Though the mystery footprints in our raised bed are most likely solved..!
On Sunday I made watery carrot and leek soup and it was delicious, so I've made another lot today... Just a few simple ingredients...
Sweat leeks, olive oil, garlic and spices...
Chop up carrots (not too small)...
Heat them all up together - try not to eat too many at this point
Add the stock (half a cube in half a litre of water was fine)
There! That's what watery soup should look like.
I think the cooked leeks provide a bit more buoyancy for the carrots. So, go with the flow and no need to blitz those veggies every time.
Music (and slightly dodgy video) provided by Queens of the Stone Age.