Sunday, 16 September 2018

Ça plane pour moi

We had a visit to the plot yesterday, mostly to pick some tomatoes. It was such a warm day that we stayed a bit longer to chat and were glad we did as suddenly there was an air show going on overhead

It was rather fun watching the sky with fellow plotholders and seeing all those bi-planes. And then there were parachutists with red smoke and also apparently wing-walkers - amazing! It was a shame I only had my little camera with me.
And, as if that wasn't excitement enough for one weekend - a frog has moved into our pond!
I took the mesh cover off it last week as I cleared some of the duckweed (it all grew back) and obviously froggy liked the look of it.
Today Jamie and I got on with working - no aerobatics to entertain us today, but the frog's still there. We did a lot of clearing, weeding and edging.
The carrot bed and sprouts plot - look how dry the earth is!
The leeks bed - not many leeks this year but hopefully they'll grow nice and big
The strawberry bed - masses of runners were removed
I also cleared the rest of the dried beans - soya (edamame) and Borlotti. There are quite a lot.... just have to shell them all now...
Jamie is going to pickle some of our Longor shallots this week - we finally bought some pickling vinegar - so they're at home now waiting to be prepared. And we pulled a Nicola potato - they are nice looking tubers; not slug-eaten and quite large.
There are a few of the Aviditas tomatoes which I'm going to add to salad lunches. Jamie made patatas bravas last week and will be making it again this week using the lovely larger tomatoes which are still in the greenhouse - they aren't Lizzano, which they're meant to be, but they are tasty.
My salad lunch is going to be very red this week - beetroot, tomato, red chard and red sweetcorn. I may add a red onion too for good measure :-)
I really wanted the Double Red Sweetcorn for the HAHA stall at Hungerford Food Festival on 7th October, but I'm not sure it's going to last that long; The covering leaves are very dry. And the kohl rabi are only tiny seedlings at the moment so they aren't going to be much of a show in 3 weeks time - luckily there should be plenty of squashes!
Aah, Autumn is definitely upon us, even though it was lovely and warm in the sunshine today - still Everything's Cool For Me as the title translates (apparently). Oh yes, and it has the word 'plane' in the title <ahem>. Enjoy!

Monday, 10 September 2018

Down to Earth

What a colourful month September is!
This was yesterday's trug - mostly to be used for last night's roasted vegetables meal. The spiraliser and the sweetcorn stripper came into action. The spiralised courgette cooks quicker than chunks and it's lovely to add a pile of sweetcorn kernels to almost any dish towards the end of cooking.
This was a harvest from earlier in the week. Our last successful cauliflower - the only one we actually ate - we roasted it - definitely worth trying again next year and worth trying a little harder with them too!
This was the harvest from Friday - much of that went into a vegetable cheese omelet (so delicious!)
I pulled the first two edamame plants which have completely dried. Shelling the beans was rather fiddly and the beans are very small. Some pods only had two beans but the majority have three.
Luckily there are several more plants which are nearly dry - I'll need a good deal more for them to be useful - especially with the preparation needed for dried beans...
Yesterday (Sunday) we had a busy afternoon on the site - clearing and weeding. There's Jamie, hand-weeding the carrot bed and pulling a few thinnings to add to our meal.
I cleared all the lettuces which had turned into trees on our plots - I still have chard to use as salad leaf before I move on to soups for lunches.
Two wheelbarrows plus buckets of lettuce - all to the compost bins.
I also gathered a lot of compostable material by hacking back the squash plants.
There were a lot of immature squashes which probably don't have time to reach maturity - so they got the chop. Although it's tempting to leave them, it's better to let the energy get to the squashes which stand more chance of maturing. The plant will generally do this by dropping fruits that it doesn't have the energy for, but it still uses energy creating long new trailing stems.
Now we have two full compost bins and another one more than half-full. We need to mix them up a bit, but that wasn't a job for today - it was very hot and sunny - we can do that once they've shrunk down a little.
So with all that clearing we can see what's growing a bit better - including this little line of Kohl Rabi seedlings - sowed in mid-August.
The song title is provided by Curiosity Killed the Cat (remember them?) because with so much clearing we can see the earth again...

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Bella Ciao

Can you guess what it is yet?
After two lovely weeks away in our favourite other place (Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife) we had to go and see how the plot is looking...
We were very pleasantly surprised. There has clearly been some rain and maybe some watering by friendly plotholders. The peppers have changed colour, though the green ones are meant to be orange...
And the tomatoes are delicious - the Aviditas are tastier than the Lizzano (still not convinced they are Lizzano as they aren't cherry-sized)
Most of the aubergines look like they've had their day, but the plant outside the greenhouse, in the ground may survive to produce us with another fruit or two. The real stars of the show are the sweetcorn - which are all just about ready for eating, so we took three home along with salad for my lunch tomorrow (back to work - ugh).
Really pleased with the Double Red Sweetcorn - it looks fabulous (prior to cooking - as you maybe guessed by now from the top photo) but the kernels are rather small. They are tasty but...
... surely nothing can beat the sweet taste of Lark. There are so many cobs that we don't mind sharing some with the birds. Clearly our heatwave Summer has been perfect for corn.
The squash are in their element too - in the grotto. That big orange Boston Winter squash is almost twice the size of my head! And there are two additional Crown Prince that have appeared along with multiple Festivals and Honey Boats. We really must go away more often (I wish!!) and leave the plants to their own devices.
Apart from that lot we have lots of pumpkins going orange. Should have a nice display for the Hungerford Food Festival and Halloween in October.
Aah, it's (sort of) good to be back...
Did I mention we'd been away?
More photos of this year's lovely stay in North Tenerife here, if you're interested...
And the song title....well, I was so enthralled by the fabulous 101 Brass Band from the Oratova Valley, Tenerife that I figure they should play this one out - the title is a bit off-topic, but then so is the band so it's quite appropriate really :-)

Sunday, 19 August 2018

The Show Must Go On

The Royal British Legion Horticultural Show, co-hosted by HAHA, was yesterday. It's a small-ish show, but still a busy time. We were pleased to hear that there were 23 exhibitors showing over 70 exhibits.
Last week Jamie had selected our best potatoes, we didn't want to pull all the plants up, though we have cut the haulms down now. Orla were selected for the whites and Kestrel for the coloured categories.

On Saturday morning we were trying to find five matching shallots from the good harvest of Longor that we got this year. We are very pleased at how they grew especially considering their early start which included getting frozen into the ground by the Beast from the East! Once found we tied them off with raffia - it's not too tricky to do and makes them look professional.
Then we met several other plotholders on site desperately trying to find items to include in the show. The trouble is the word 'matching'. This year much of our veg has grown in odd shapes, so to find two the same is a miracle 😃
That's not one of ours, but you can see the type of problems we plotholders had!

I basically picked twice as much as we needed in the hope that we could cover most categories. It did feel good walking away from the plot with a stacked trugful of veggies and a load more that wouldn't fit in the trug.

That's the first of our peppers that actually coloured all over

So after cleaning, snipping, trimming and selecting we had what we could enter and I took them up to the Legion Hall. Ted and Kerry were already there from Marsh Lane setting up their veg, flowers, baking and photo displays and lots of exhibits were already out on the tables. I put ours out and then went into Newbury to collect our judge for the horticultural sections.
Most of the time I sat outside while Jean was judging, but when the sun went in I sat at the back of the hall. I prefer not to hear the actual scoring but it's interesting watching her examining items and some of her little comments. After a couple of hours I took Jean home and I went home for a bit of grub and a rest before the evening's entertainment.
Auctioning of the exhibits is fun with Jim as the perfect host
We were pleased to see that we came 3rd in the Horticultural section - just 3 points of winning the RHS Banksian medal - well, there's always next year! Here are most of our entries which were placed.
And here's me as HAHA rep waiting to present the medal to this year's winner.
So pleased that our plot-neighbour came first, but he couldn't win the medal as he won last year and our friend Kerry won the most points across the whole show - her baking, crochet and photography were champions!
Overall it was a fun, but tiring day. Then today we had our plotholder bbq at Marsh Lane - a much more casual affair than the Open Day but I had to be the veggie-burger chef so couldn't join in the fun as much as I wanted to - well, at least until we ran out of veggie food. We had a great crowd on the hot sunny afternoon.
Such a lovely bunch!
And the tallest sunflower prize went to Roger {over 2m}- who wasn't there! He will get his prize though, £30 donated by our local Wyevale Garden Centre :-)
So the song, as suggested by Jacquie is, of course, by Queen.