Friday, December 29, 2006

Sunday 24th December 2006 - CHRISTMAS EVE

Wow, another year has flown by, and once again, I am visiting the allotment on Christmas Eve to gather veggies for the big day. Daughter number one came with me to keep me company and it was lovely. We giggled and got muddy and gathered loads. I was chuffed to see the plot still looking in tip top condition.

We dug parnsips - 'gladiator', carrots - 'Kingston', leeks and a celeriac - 'alabaster'. We cut a nice bowl full of sprouts, not as many as last year, they seem to be really late for me this year, but there will be enough for dinner. Also gathered brussel tops, cavalo nero kale, bright lights rainbow chard and plenty of romanesco brocolli. Cut a nice big bunch of flat leaf parsley to make chestnut and parsley stuffing with and we both enjoyed a suprise treat.......raspberries! Couldn't believe my eyes to see them hanging there, like Christmas jewels.

Once the children get back to school in January I will be able to spend more time on the allotment and get ready for the new year. I certainly have plenty of seeds to get sowing!

Jobs outstanding - rebuild the fruit cage!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday 8th December 2006 - Weather: Cold, windy and WET!

Cor, a whole month since my last entry! I have popped to the plot from time to time, but only to check all is well, and to pick things I have needed. The same thing today really. Just a general check over after all the wind we had at the weekend and through this week, and to take stock of what will be available for Christmas dinner! Can't believe Christmas is upon us again already! Where did that year go???

A general tour down plot number one heading for the shed. Still a good patch of flat leaf parsley. Must decide what to do with it really - the frost hasn't touched it at all! The leeks up there are slow at fattening up, I can't remember the variety but the ones that were given to me by the site secretary are already huge. At least I should be able to harvest over a long period. The parsnip foliage has started to die back. I dug a couple just to see and they are fabulous long chunky clean roots with no sign of canker. The carrots alongside are also looking great, and again I dug a few. Some splitting and a little slug damage, but considering they have been left in the ground, they are huge and look great! The globe artichokes are in full growth, looking lusher now than they did in the summer, the same with the cardoon! I fear that a really hard frost is going to kill the lot, although maybe all that foliage will protect the crowns.....we shall have to wait and see. There are still lots of beetroots in the ground from a late summer sowing. I am going to leave them in and take them as I want them. The French beans never flowered, even with cloche protection. Well it was an experiment really. Next year, if I am more organised, I will try some in the greenhouse with more protection to see if that works. Nothing ventured etc. I have two half rows of mooli - one white and one black. They are all lovely and thick and useable over the winter. I pulled one of each to have over the weekend. Down to the greens. WOW! The rainbow chards look great at this time of year. I'm sure the cold air brings out their colours even more, and my cavalo nero kale is looking good and dark so the frost did it's job. I will have just enough sprouts for this Christmas dinner, but they haven't grown as well as last year. All I can really put it down to was the incredibly long dry summer/autumn we had. My allotment really suffers being very open, yet sheltered - a real suntrap, and with no water on site things do struggle through July and August. I plan to try and irrigate plants more next year....if I can get enough water on site before the dry spell begins. Loads of romansco brocolli coming. I couldn't believe my eyes! I am hoping as it is cold that they won't make significant growth now and go over before Christmas as they will be lovely with our dinner! The cabbages have slowed right down, but they will bulk up for spring. Nothing showing on the purple sprouting broc yet.

On plot two I have my onions and garlics and I am pleased to report everything is up and growing like mad! Hopefully the cold snap will have help the garlic start to clove up. The onions have a good 3 inches of top growth, which considering they went in quite late, I think is excellent! Spud volunteers everywhere! I never know whether the heavily fleece some to see if I can get some new spuds or just to dig them out and dump them. The leeks on this plot are huge and because I 'earthed' them up with shredded paper and straw, they have lovely long white shafts. Down the far end I do have some red and green kale for spring greens, but they suffered a real check in growth when they were infested with caterpillas. I am sure they will be fine as the days warm up again in the New Year and will provide well wanted veggies at a time when most other things are nearly used up.

Overall, thrilled! After all that wind and rain I didn't really know what I would find up there, but alls well in the world. I imagine I won't go back now until Chrissy weekend to harvest enough veggies to feed us all - but if I am pasing and have the camera, I may well stop by and take a few snaps!