Friday, 28 August 2009
On Site 2 the Nicola potatoes are all doing well as are the onions. Photos on those after the weekend when we have a proper session up there.
The main focus this week has been on home produce, namely plums. When we arrived back at the start of the week we were amazed that all the plums were ready to harvest. There were about 25lbs of plums to do something with. I passed a couple of pounds over to my Mum and a few were eaten, but that still left a lot to use up.
A couple of weeks ago, Cloddigger had taken a first harvest of plums - enough to start 2 gallons of home brewed wine. From this bigger harvest he has started a second batch of plum wine. All being well it will be ready in time for Christmas.
I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon making Spiced Plum Chutney using an amazing recipe recommended by Mum. It's an adaptation* of Deliah's Spiced Damson Chutney and boy, does it taste good. The recipe recommends letting it mature for 3 months before opening, so that'll be another plum product ready in time for Christmas.
* my adaptation was to use 1.5 pints of vinegar (Deliah says 2 pints, but I find it doesn't all evaporate off) and I used equal measures of malt vinegar and white wine vinegar, rather than just malt vinegar. I couldn't get any whole berry mixed spice, so sprinkled in about a teaspoon of ground mixed spice over the cloves and cinnamon in the gauze square before infusing it in the other ingredients in the pot.
I still had a couple of pounds of plums to use up, so this morning I spent an hour or so making Plum Jam from a really easy-to-follow recipe found on the Internet. This was the first time I'd ever made jam and was surprised how straight forward it was. Of course cook's prerogative meant I got first taste and was pleased that the resulting mixture was just the right balance of sweetness and fruity tang.
all the ingredients in the pot to start the Spiced Plum Chutney. I didn't have gauze so improvised with an old clean muslin square to infuse the cinnamon, cloves and mixed all spice
near the end of cooking, I dished some out to check how well it thickened as it cooled (yummy flavour!)
the chutney all bottled up, labelled and ready for storage
plums, water and lemon juice boiling up before adding sugar jam (this already has pectin added so no need to buy separately)
Sunday, 16 August 2009
a treat for me - new pair of Town and Country leather and fabric gloves. So comfy and no more cuts and stings. Pricey but definitely worth it. And no, they don't look this clean now!!!
Yesterday we went to Site 2. The fruit bed is now planted up. Against the fence are a loganberry and 2 redcurrant bushes. The rest of the bed is taken up by gooseberry bushes courtesy of Deb & Dan who popped up yesterday with them as an allotment warming present (very much appreciated). At some point we'll construct a fruit cage over the whole bed to keep the birds off the fruit.
Our Nicola potatoes have started making an appearance already! Not shown, but the first of the onion shoots have also come through and all only a week after planting.
Today we went to Site 1 and were greeted by a huge sunflower smiling down at us as we walked along the path to the plot. Cloddigger is going to harvest the seeds to keep for next year.
The Boyz flower patch is looking particularly colourful. All the plants you see here were plug plants rescued from the compost heap!
Our first pumpkin has started to grow
managed to harvest more runner beans (they just keep on coming) and the spring onion
Friday, 14 August 2009
A wonderfully engaging film which we really enjoyed.
If you didn't get a chance to watch it, possibly its available to see on BBC iPlayer. I would really recommend watching it if you get the chance.
Monday, 10 August 2009
Looking at a neighbouring plot, Cloddigger could see that their potatoes have been infected. Luckily our last batch of salad potatoes had been spared so these have now all been lifted. We're not taking any chances though, the potato plants will also be burned.
I guess it was pretty inevitable that we would feel some effects as the weather conditions have been perfect for encouraging the disease. I think we will be cautious about planting up tomatoes at Site 2 and just stick with growing them in the greenhouse at home where there is more control over the climatic conditions.
When I took them out of the pod I was surprised at just how shiny and colourful they were. They almost look magical and put me in mind of how Jack must have felt when he exchanged the family cow for a handful of "magic" beans.
If they do produce plants next year, then they truly will be magic !!!
Sunday, 9 August 2009
All the potatoes from the main barrow have been lifted, as have the onions. The carrots are still going strong and are now starting to be quite big. The taste of them is amazing - having never grown carrots before, we can't get over how much better they taste compared to shop-bought ones which are insipid in comparison.
The runner beans are consistently providing plenty of pods each visit and I'm having to now freeze them as we are in danger of glut.
sweetcorn are doing very well. Lots of cobs which should be ready to begin picking by the end of the month
the cauliflower have started to develop
a little sad that the potato barrow is now empty and onions all lifted as this signifies the start of the gradual "closing down" of our section of Deb and Dan's plot
Monday, 3 August 2009
- Jerusalem Artichokes in Bed 1 (permanent bed) right at the back to act as a screen. These have been transferred from Site 1 so fingers crossed they'll take ok
- Bed 2 is designated for brassicas this year, so have planted up sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflower. Also set up a net cage around them as cabbage white butterfly are prevalent on the site
- Bed 4 is for root veg so the spuds ("Nicola") have gone in and, if I've got my calculations right, should be ready to harvest just in time for Christmas Day
- Also planted up a clematis to grow up the side of the shed
All in all it was quite a productive day. Didn't manage to sow the spring onion (need to do soon as just slipping past the ideal time to get the seed in the ground) as the netting took longer than I thought. But hey, time has its own pace on the allotment :D
(clockwise from top left) Beds 4, 3 and 2 with all paths in and chippings laid down
Sunday, 2 August 2009
some of the component parts prior to re-assembly
are you sure that bit goes there?
ta-dah! The finished item. Well done to Cloddigger and Dad for your splendid efforts!!!