Saturday, 30 September 2017

Time is on My Side

We've had a couple of visits to the allotment after work but the light fades so quickly that we only have time to water the tomatoes in the greenhouse, pick some sweetcorn and get home as quickly as possible to eat it.
We had our HAHA 'Seed Evening' at the British Legion last Tuesday. It's really just a plotholder get-together where we are given the Kings Seeds catalogues and told how to get our 40% discount through our Seed Secretary. There weren't many of us there, but those of us who went enjoyed a bit of chat about what's grown well or what we won't try again next year - not always agreeing of course!
We visited the plot when it was already dark. You can just see my pumpkin (bottom left) for the Food Festival competition - it's not a winner, but it's going to do better than Ted's which unexpectedly grew into a sunflower :-D
Two tomato plants in the greenhouse and the redcurrant tomato at the end haven't succumbed to blight yet. They're still providing additions to most lunches. The onions and garlic are drying out in there but quite a few of the onions have a brown layer inside so won't store for long, though they taste fine.
I made this lunch look fancy so took a photo before I added the tomatoes. Raw grated beetroot and carrot with lettuce and lovely smoked cheddar cheese. That's one of the last cucumbers for this year, but we were pleased with MiniMunch.
And, that fancy-looking lunch is why I chose this title song. Well, I'm on flexi-time so sometimes I get into work a bit later :-D
(Oh! Didn't mean to put two Rolling Stones songs together)

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Paint it Black

Yesterday Arts for Hungerford arranged for the painting of a community mural, depicting aspects of the town. Luckily we were led by illustrator, Simon Jardine.
Zoe (friend and fellow plotholder) and I spent longer than you would think adding the Marsh Lane allotment site to the mural.
Zoe's are the neat, well-defined parts whereas my approach was more splodgy :-)  OK, so it's not exactly a work of art, but it kind of looks like allotments!

Here's a small video that was taken during the process. I'm hoping I will be able to find a photo of the completed painting quite soon. It looks lovely and colourful. I may have to wait until it's hung in the library.

In the afternoon Jamie and I spent a few hours in the warm sunshine on the allotment. The weeds have gone crazy! Here's a photo of our salad bed, which has some Chinese lettuce as well as 'normal' lettuce and one lone Pak Choi. In the 'before' photo it was less obvious that there was any salad there!

Jamie planted up our strawberries on top of the weed suppressant-covered compost bed. He's secured their watering pots as this year they kept popping out of the ground.

I spent a long time straightening and securing the Glass Gem corn.
There was a lot of snapping involved but if the weather stays warm then there may be a chance to get a couple of cobs for the food festival in 3 weeks time..

I also did a lot of weeding on Plot46. I don't think our swede are going to work,

but we have some lovely small beets which we intend to pickle.
We left with a bagful of giant Desiree potatoes - Jamie didn't continue excavating the plant as this lot will keep us fed for a while!
Thanks to The Rolling Stones (obviously) but I didn't use any black actually - poetic licence :-)

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Times They Are A-Changing

Misty mornings are here, the heating is on at work and squashes are appearing around the site as the leaves are dying back. It's definitely Autumn now. We've picked all our Jaune et Vert. I'm still not sure whether they're Summer or Winter squash, but they look great.
I had one as part of a roasted veg meal, but I hope most of them will keep for our HAHA stall at the Hungerford Food Festival on 8 October.
At the weekend we sowed three grass paths between four new mini-plots on our site and also showed a new plotholder around. I'm glad the sun shone a bit which always makes the site look lovely. There were a lot of butterflies about, including Red Admirals and this fine specimen of a comma.
We've harvested our first sweetcorn. I can't describe how deliciously sweet the cobs are. Even though they aren't all perfectly pollinated Lark are definitely worth growing in our opinion.
And the plot is still providing me with lunch if I haven't made soup - today's included lettuce, beetroot, cucumber, tomato and cheese.
Bob Dylan, of course, sings the title track.

Sunday, 17 September 2017


I just happened to mention at work that I thought Heinz tomato soup was tastier than any home-made tomato soup I'd had. I was accused of being a heathen :-D so today I made my own...
I pretty much used this recipe because it seemed quick and easy. It used lots of the Aviditas tomatoes that I cleared off one of the plants yesterday, along with some of the redcurrant ones.
The sweated onions, garlic, flour and stock was already tasty.
Then the tomatoes were added.
I added the tomato puree and smoked paprika and simmered for a while before seiving the soup. I usually use a blender, so it seemed very wasteful, I'm pretty sure I could have used this for some other tasty dish but we needed to get to the allotment this afternoon so didn't have time.
And, you know what, I think Nigel was right. Home-made tomato soup can be better than Heinz :-)
Thanks to Twenty-One Pilots for the music!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Such A Shame

I thought I'd start with a nice photo of a branch of Redcurrant tomatoes.
And now a tasty pan of lovely fresh veg cooking.
Mmm, fried tomatoes, onions and garlic, with a dash of peri peri sauce. Add a pile of chopped chard and a Granovita veggie pepperoni and finally add fried chopped courgette. An adaptation on this recipe on YumUniverse.
So, here come the reasons for the title track...
First we found our globe artichoke had snapped off :-( We only planted up a tiny seedling earlier this year - we bought it at the HAHA plant sale.
Next, we noticed our Lark sweetcorn at an unusual angle, but the roots are still in the ground, so we should still be able to start harvesting delicious cobs this weekend.
But... our Glass Gem may not survive :-( Lots of stems have snapped. They were just too tall and spindly to survive Storm Aileen.
We briefly tried to help it back up and this weekend I'll try to secure the healthy looking ones but it looks very unhappy and as the cobs are only just forming it may not recover - such a shame!
Thank you Talk Talk for providing a suitable title...

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Its Raining Again

Such a grey and wet afternoon - what a shame we didn't get moving earlier!

We intended to get some weeding done today, but that didn't happen. We did manage to measure and mark out the new mini-plots at the front of the allotment. Our chairman has rotavated the 4-pole plot so it's nice and clear, but the weather wasn't right for sowing the grass paths.
The rain was being blown sideways by the strong winds and so were the sunflowers. One has already snapped off. We're glad we planted the Glass Gem corn behind the runner beans to offer them some protection. The cobs are forming quite well now - so many per stalk, not like our Lark sweetcorn, that is generally just one or two per stalk.
The asters are still providing some lovely colour to look at while we hid in the greenhouse drinking our coffee. And the hibiscus is finally flowering - not a great show, but it's something!
Our sprouts this year aren't looking great. We think the mole digging underneath the plants has caused the two green plants to 'blow' (e.g. flowery-looking sprouts, rather than nice tight ones) and the red plant seems to be going the same way, although the sprouts are just really tiny at the moment!
I had to chop the Tigerella tomato down in the greenhouse as blight had got into the stem. The Aviditas seem to be ok so far as are the Redcurrant but I'm sure they'll soon follow. I need to find a nice recipe to make a tomato sauce. This is the tasty meal we had earlier in the week - I love the ready-made puff pastry and just some pre-fried courgette, garlic, onion and tiny tomatoes, with a topping of cheese and basil.
Looks so much better once it's cooked!
And this was our quick lunch - if you haven't tried Granovita vegetable pate you really need to! It's so delicious!
The predictable song title is by Supertramp.

Everybodys Talkin

It's been organ donation week in the UK. There have been lots of positive news stories showing how lives are changed by the gift of organ donation.
As a person who has lived with kidney problems since birth, leading to the need for dialysis at the age of 38, I can certainly agree that a shorter wait for a donor kidney is very welcome if not life-saving. I was lucky, I only had a four year wait.
The gift of a kidney literally gives the recipient a new lease of life. A chance to remember how it is to have free time, enjoy food, have the energy to do something active and feel like yourself again.
Thankyou to my donor's family. Thankyou to my donor. And thankyou to anyone who reads this post and talks about it to their family, so that, should the worst happen, the terrible decision may be slightly less terrible.
Nilsson provides the beautiful track...

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Things that make you go hmm

We had to walk up to the allotment to collect our car after yesterday's barbecue. Unfortunately it's a drenching and chilly day so we didn't stay long. This post is a bit random, hopefully you'll find a few 'hmmm' moments....
Fabulous looking Tigerella tomato
We picked three of the Tigerella tomatoes which are lovely and ripe - we're having a mozerella and tomato salad tonight. I've got more Aviditas and Redcurrant tomatoes for lunches - blight has struck most of the site so we need to get through them before it reaches our plot/greenhouse.
Unfortunately the sunflower head which I was attempting to dry in the greenhouse isn't looking so good - this is how it looked when I picked it. Quite beautiful isn't it?
I saw a recipe the other day for a sliced courgette which reminded me of Hasselback potatoes, so I made this for my dinner - so delicious and looks so interesting! I baked everything, sprinkled with chilli oil and then added cheese for the final 20 minutes.
Our Glass Gem sweetcorn are very tall and have quite a few flowers and a few cobs now. Some of the cobs have red tassles to match their red male flowers - I hope they survive to produce full cobs. The magpies have been spotted tucking into our Lark sweetcorn on the other plot :-(
Significantly taller than most sweetcorn
And the last picture of wonder is from the I Love My Allotment Facebook group. Never has one of my posts ever caused so much interest. But then, the moulded cucumbers really are cool!
So, did you go hmm at all? C&C Music Factory come up with some alternative reasons to do so :-)

Come Together

We were so pleased that we had a hot sunny day for the plotholders' barbecue yesterday.
 I was cooking the veggie burgers, which didn't keep me too busy so I had plenty of time for socialising.
So lovely to spend some proper social time with our allotment friends.
People brought along dishes made from their allotment harvests.
Our moulded cucumbers are there along with some lovely potato salad and courgette muffins.
A couple of the plotholders brought their home-made wines along: Walnut wine - amazing, dark and licoricy; Apple wine - sweet and delicious; Apple and Blackberry wine - my favourite and such a great colour. It was such a beautiful afternoon we stayed long after all the burgers had been eaten.
So now we're planning our next gathering - a bonfire party is appealing and another skittles night. Plus, does a dartboard on an allotment sound like a good idea? I think so!
The Arctic Monkeys' Olympic ceremony version of The Beatles song fits this post perfectly.