Tuesday, 7 September 2010


You may have noticed I've been keeping something of a low profile over recent weeks. This is mainly due to the fact that my Dad had taken ill early in August and sadly, unexpectedly, died on Tuesday 31st August 2010.

As you can imagine this has been very hard for all of us in our family to come to terms with especially as, at the time of writing this, his funeral is yet to take place.

As part of the healing process, I guess, I wanted to dedicate a post to my Dad. He was a truly kind and generous man, ready to offer advice when required but knowing when to hold back and let us get on with things our way and helping to put right the mistakes invariably made. He was always the person my sister and I would turn to as young adults for assistance with practical things like putting up wallpaper or changing the wheel on a car. I remember when I first left home and was living in a top floor flat, the skylight keep leaking whenever it rained and it was Dad who clambered on to the roof of the converted Georgian house to renew the flashing and clear the guttering and sort out the problem.

He had a kind manner and infectious sense of humour and a penchant for minor practical jokes. He was always ready to "spin a yarn" and would often keep me believing some made up story for ages before I caught on that Dad was pulling my leg.

I think it was through Dad that Cloddigger and I caught the growing bug and, as regular readers will know, it is with Dad and my Mum that we share our allotment. The allotment was very much shaped by Dad's efforts. He put in so much time and energy to clear the derelict site and turn it into the thriving plot that it now is.

I can't say much more at this time other than I will very much miss you Dad and the allotment and our lives won't quite be the same without you xx

Sunday, 8 August 2010

bring me sunshine

Not an allotment post today but a few pics from the garden. I had a stroll around this afternoon and realised that many of our flowers are starting to go over, so took the opportunity to take a few snaps of our sunflower while they are still in full glory.

We have grown some different types of sunflower this year and they seem to have been fairly successful. Here are a few from our garden.

Giant sunflower - this one is about 8 feet tall

Just love the deep purple centre with contrasting cream tips to the leaves

These hint towards 'traditional' sunflowers with the heavily seeded centre and tri-colour leaves of pale yellow, lilac and cream

A real stunner this one - I just love the purple leaves; very striking

Saturday, 7 August 2010

spud you like?

We're due to go on holiday in a few days time so it was decided that we needed to harvest the 2nd earlies and what a crop it was! We have from left to right: Kestrel, Courage and Mayan Twilight. We'll leave them to dry off in our greenhouse at home then bag them up and store them. Should keep us going for a week or two!

So here's a quick and tasty potato-based dish:

Layered Potato and Onion Bake

Potatoes sliced thinly
Onions any variety (I used our red onions) sliced
Milk or single cream if you're feeling extravagant
Grated cheese
All quantities to fit in whichever dish you're going to cook it in

Pre-heat oven to 180C
Alternate layers of potato and onion
You can also add anything else you fancy, e.g. courgette, tomato, aubergine, etc.
Splash over some milk (or cream) to give a bit of moisture
Cover in foil and place in oven for about 45 mins or until potatoes have begun softening
Remove foil, sprinkle over cheese and return to oven for about 20 mins or until cheese golden and bubbling
Allow to cool for 5 mins before serving either as a main vegetarian dish or accompaniment to chicken or fish

Saturday, 31 July 2010

flowers and a courgette recipe

As well as all the lovely veg growing at the allotment, we've also planted up loads of flowers not just because they look pretty and add a splash of colour but in the attempt to lure the bugs and insects away from our crops. It stuck me the other day just how lovely some of the flowers are so I couldn't resist photographing them.

Ok, this shouldn't strictly go to flower but I just love the fluffy lilac flowers of our mint. They're soon to come off though as we want to contain the plant to just one spot so I'm afraid the plant will be having a trim very soon before all the seed disperses across the plot

These Nasturtiums were grown from seed harvested by Cloddigger from a neighbouring plot last year. They add a wonderful splash of colour and seem to grow in just about any condition

We love Marigolds not just for their magnificent display of colour but because they've helped keep the blackfly off the broadbeans this year. Such jolly little fellows guaranteed to brighten up the dullest spot

Our latest harvest - snowball turnip, courgettes (green and yellow), red onion, two HUGE cauliflower and, just out of shot, a big bucket of spuds - Kestral (whites) and Courage (reds).

The round yellow courgette have been very successful, much to our delight as it's the first time we've grown courgette. It's been nice to pass some of the excess on to friends and family but it has been even better to eat ourselves. If you've ever wondered what to do with a round courgette, you might like to try the following easy-to-prepare recipe:

Stuffed Courgette

1 round courgette
250ml passata or tin of chopped tomatoes
Clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
Couscous (plain or flavoured - I like the Mediterranean variety available at most supermarkets)
Optional - fresh basil, finely chopped

Pre-heat oven to 180 C
Cut the courgette in half going through the middle of the stalk
Scope out the seeds and discard (or keep for drying out for sowing next year)
Carefully scope out some of the flesh and place in a bowl; retain the two halves of the courgette
Add the passata, garlic, oil and basil (if using) and mix
Add the couscous straight from packet and mix thoroughly, seasoning to taste
Divide the mixture equally between the two halves
Loosely wrap each courgette half in tin foil leaving enough of an air pocket to allow the couscous mixture to expand
Place in the oven and cook until couscous has risen and courgette flesh is soft - depends on size of courgette allow 40 mins to 1 hour

Makes a delicious dish on its on or as an accompaniment to chicken or fish

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Monday, 12 July 2010

bad blogger >:{

Ahem, I'm back *waves*. Sorry I haven't been round much lately, no excuses to be offered just been a very poor blogger *hangs head in shame*.

Please don't think I've neglected the allotment in the same manner. Oh no, no, no. Have been very good there and enjoying a very productive season so far. A photo from the weekend shows beds bursting at the seams:

Here is a flavour of just some of the goodies pulled from the soil in recent days (1st earlies "Emerald Vale", beetroot, red onion, green & yellow courgette, mangetout & turnip)

I would like to think I will be less tardy with my blogging from now on, but I won't make empty promises ;)