Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Pretty in Pink

In May I started soaking chive flowers in white wine vinegar and now it's looking pretty in 5 small bottles with the remainder in our vinegar bottle.
It has a lovely mild onion flavour, much less over-powering than pickled onion vinegar, which makes it perfect for adding to salads. The chive flowers had faded completely in the bottle.
I strained the liquid into a jug to get rid of any loose bits of flower and dusty pollen.
And voila - looks like an apothecary! It needs to be kept out of sunlight though, otherwise the colour will fade.
The Psychedelic Furs provide the title song ...

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Another Chance

We spent several hours yesterday weeding one of the mini-plots, which had to be given up by the tenant. We should have got in touch earlier and then the weeds wouldn't have been so high and the ground not so solid - it was hard work. But, we managed to clear the whole plot and cover it to avoid some future weeds appearing. So, we didn't get to work on any of our plots, but there was a reward..
That is a lot of new potatoes - at least 4 meals worth. They weren't planted by the latest plotholder, but were 'rogue potatoes' which were leftover and re-grew from potatoes growing at least two years ago!
The lettuce is lasting well as I always add chard to the salad too. As well as the mangetout which I'm barely managing to keep up with. And, look what we've got for dessert tonight...
Hooray! Our original strawberries have paid out so they can stay for a bit longer. The raspberries aren't quite so good yet - I thought I was going to find more ripe ones when I started picking them!
So, Roger Sanchez's song is for the mini-plot which gets another chance at having a growing season this year.. If we can find an interested person...

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


Four full days (so far) of scorching temperatures (high 20s) and sunshine. Of course, we're now moaning that "it's just too hot"! Particularly in the greenhouse where it was 49.1! It also means that the watering each evening is a very busy time on the site, you've got to love a sunny evening on the plot with fellow plotholders.
 Potatoes have such pretty flowers, these are on our Desiree.

On Saturday we had another go at clearing our new plot (46a). It looked like this and our chairman thought it was abandoned and needed spraying - oops! It was just that the other plots took priority - honest!

So after a few hours in the heat on Saturday we had cleared a lot of the most bothersome weeds with seed heads. And Jamie found two blueberry bushes - bonus - and part of the plot now looks like this... Plenty more to do on there though...

I also showed two new plotholders around and they are both happily joining us along with their children, so that's a bonus - we like to see new plotholders!
I'm leaving the cage around the sunflowers, on as the stems will need some support when they reach their full height.

We've let ourselves down with the strawberries. We should have taken runners last Autumn and planted another row. We didn't and our remaining row is producing a pretty poor crop - delicious, but small fruits and ants/woodlice are tasting more than we are at the moment 🙁. Luckily there are also some strawberry plants on the new plot, so perhaps we'll get a few fruits from there...

I pulled one garlic, but it's a bit too early. I've hung it to dry out, as it'll still taste of garlic, but will leave the rest for a few more weeks.
Our Rocky cucumbers and pumpkins haven't germinated! But we bought some Mini Munch little cucumber seeds and two of those are now growing on a bit before they're ready to plant out. We're actually away for Halloween so don't really need pumpkins, but they always look nice and I'll miss the soup!
EMF singing It's Unbelievable, which is a phrase I heard on the plot about the current weather.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

What's Up?

What's up with my asters? They really don't look happy. Are they diseased? Will they recover? Nearly every plant has these horrible screwed up leaves :-(

Also, what's up with this annoying windy weather? It's causing irritation all round. Here's our attempt at keeping our Valerian upright - certainly not pretty but it's better than crushed flat like it was during the week.
We've been doing a lot of planting up over the last week. All the sweetcorn (the Lark and the Glass Gem) are planted, with protective bottle cloches. Not sure why this one Glass Gem seedling appears to be albino - I wonder what difference it will make to the cobs...
Jamie sowed two rows each of Speedy dwarf beans and Purple TeePee. He also sowed two more rows of Eskimo carrot as the original rows didn't germinate. On the plus side, my florence fennel seems quite happy in the recycle bins, but they've grown tall quickly so I've had to remove their protective netting - I hope they are ok and not too tempting for slugs.
We've planted up our tomatoes - 3 x Aviditas down one side of the greenhouse; 1 x Tigerella on the other side of the greenhouse and 1 x Redcurrant tomato at the end - this is a "sprawling" variety apparently, so I'm hoping we can use the shelving skeleton as a method of control...
Our greenhouse looking tidier than our flat!
I gave my sister one of the redcurrant tomato plants and the other is braving it outside - albeit with some protection from the wind at the moment... That should be enough sprawling space!
I'm pleased to see that the beetroot is looking healthy - a few nibbles, but not too many.
And I'm also pleased that I'm eating salad lunches from the allotment although I wish I had a few more lettuces growing.. I've added a bit of herb fennel and pak choi.
So, '"what's up" is an appropriate title, with the song provided by 4 Non Blondes.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Oh You Pretty Things

Aah, it's that lovely time of year when everything is beginning to flower! I thought Spring was my favourite time, but I remember now that Summer's the best :-) Here are some of the flowers that have burst into colour.

This is the first pot marigold to flower, there will be many more to come later in the year.

Calendula self-seed and can take over a whole plot, but they're so beautiful, who cares?!


This is a Corncockle flower.

There's a whole bunch of them which self-seeded from a wildflower mix we sowed last year.

This dog rose (that's the only name I know it by) may have been planted when the hedge was first planted, but the roses are spreading along the border now.

They're short-lived but very pretty.

And here's a little pink bud from further down the hedge.

So delicate.

This is Nigella - Such a complex flower and so pretty.

Love in a Mist because the flowers appear to emerge from the mass of foliage (apparently).

It's an annual which readily self-seeds and I'm so glad that it reappears every year in the corner of the plot.

And there is this slightly mauve-blue, with different looking stamen - even more complex.

There are some near the allotment site's front gate - in pink and white as well as this lovely blue.

This is a flower on the purple mangetout Shiraz. 

There are a few more buds so not too long till I've got some mangetout in my lunchtime salads!

I was most surprised to see that my new "yellow poppy" also produces white flowers!

What an unexpected and welcome sight!

I do love poppy flowers, they are so delicate, but that's why the flowers only last a couple of days...

But there are plenty more buds to follow that one.

This is clearly another white one, I wonder if there are any more colours to come...?

I love how tightly crunched the petals are in the bud.

And finally, here's another from last year's wildflower mix which will apparently return year-on-year.

It's a red campion.

So pretty with the blue nigella in the background.

And of course the song is provided by David Bowie - aah

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Who Will Buy?

An early start this morning (for a Saturday). I had to collect the plants from our allotment and take them to the Fairfields site  other plotholders had left their donations in our greenhouse so I made two trips with our little Ka.
While I was doing that my allotment buddies were putting up banners, balloons and posters advertising HAHA and the charity which plotholders nominated Wiltshire Air Ambulance. We aren't in Wiltshire, but we pretty much touch the border.
We had a great morning! We had lots of visitors who appreciated our bargain prices and quality vegetable and flower plants. All the flowers including sunflowers, cosmos, sweetpeas and geranium were sold out before the vegetables. People happily went off with beans, brassica, tomatoes, cucurbits and more - I couldn't resist buying a globe artichoke plant myself.
Thanks to all the volunteers, visitors and plant donations. You helped raise £91.65! Well worth the effort and a musical flourish to sing-along to from Oliver! (There was no singing at the sale :-) )

Friday, 2 June 2017

Little By Little

The clouds heavy most of the afternoon. It was extremely hot and when we finally got a little shower it was a relief, though the ground could do with a bit more of a soaking.
We were using Jamie's new Kelly Kettle for hot drinks. It's really good. It only needs bits of dry sticks, grass and paper to get the flames roaring up the chimney and the water, which surrounds the chimney, is boiling in a few minutes - saves making up a flask whenever we're expecting a long session on the plot.
And it caters for the natural urge to burn things when we're not allowed a fire!
Jamie made up two brassica cages on Plot 3 so little by little the gaps are filling up: the runner beans and Brussels sprouts (2 x green Nelson and 1 x Red) and a Goldmine courgette is planted on Plot 7. I was potting on geraniums for the plant sale tomorrow for much of the time and then I planted the two Speedy dwarf french beans into a bag in the greenhouse - we'll be sowing/planting more outside in a few weeks time.
Both the Lark and the Glass Gem sweetcorn have nearly all germinated so it won't be long before they're planted out too.
Glass Gem
I'm pleased to say that the flowers are growing ok so far, still 14 sunflowers and look at the bargain poppy - beautiful!
Oasis provide the title track.