Thursday, September 29, 2011

Friday 23 and Saturday 24th September 2011 - weather: bright and breezy

Okay, I confess, I have been popping to the allotment for the odd half an hour to pick and start tidying up for autumn, but I had a surprise day off on Friday, so I headed to the allotment straight from the school run. The paths hadn't been cut for weeks and weeks and were very shaggy, and full of morning dew, but I managed to get the mower through them. As I was struggling with the dense grass between plot number 2 and my neighbour, a very long slow worm slithered out and I just spotted it in time as he headed onto the brassica bed and avoided the mowers blades. It is amazing what a difference just cutting the grass can make, like hoovering a room, even with the weeds, the plots looked neater.

Now dear readers, I could give you a blow by blow account of my weeding, but I don't think it would make for gripping reading. Let's just say I started at the top of plot number one, amongst the strawberries, and worked my way right down to the shed. This took the rest of the day but the plot looked fab after I had finished.

I have in my onion sets, 3 varieties of garlic and 1 variety of shallots. Also still growing on plot number 1 are...working from top end to shed end... wallflowers, perennial salads, strawberries, globe artichokes, turnips, chard, onions/garlic/shallots, peas, spring onions, beans, leeks, apple trees, fruit cage, carrots, chicory, turnips, spring onions, kohl rabi, spinach, swede, parsnips, beetroot, beans, rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes.

A good day, and I met several new allotmenteers to the sight, young, friendly families so hopefully the site will be buzzing with activity next year.

Saturday was also an unexpected lottie day as I was planning to spend it in my garden, but the family had other ideas, so we packed up BBQ supplies and headed back to the plot. Whilst the kids built dens and played in the stream, hubby sorted out the waterbutts for the winter as I have been given another one, so they are all set up to collect every drop mother nature deposits. He then fixed the shed roof and re-felted it and then promptly emptied it and loaded all of the rubbish and unwanted toot onto the trailer and headed for the dump. I swept the shed and refilled it with everything I wanted to keep and tidied the area around the shed. I have to confess, it is all looking rather neat and tidy over there.

Whilst the kids cooked the bangers and burgers I started clearing plot number 2. I had already stripped all of the leaves from the tomato plants, and binned any suspicious, blighty plants, and already the fruits were ripening. Again, you don't want a blow by blow account of my weeding fun and frolics, but what I can tell you is I cleared most of the squash plants as they were dying back. So, still growing on plot number 2, starting at the top end by Darren and heading down to the stream there is a blackberry bush, Daughters patch with celeriac, carrots, spring onions and chard and on sons plot there are carrots, spring onions, chard and flowers. There are a few squash plants, like courgettes, marrows, cucumbers, plus a row of rocket and a row of lambs lettuce. Then we have the beans, tomatoes, chillies, then brassica heaven. Here we have sprouts, broc, cauli, savoys, pointy cabbage, round cabbage, purple sprouting and kale and at the end of the brassica patch is a long row of mixed beans for drying like borlotti beans. Plenty still going on there.

By now, the sun was getting low in the sky, we had fed our faces, and the children were becoming restless, so we headed for home. Visits will become few and far between now, just visiting to pick, although I did notice in our local nursery that they have an array of winter veg plug plants to get in I may be back to do some planting. Hoorah.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday 11th September 2011 - weather: cloudy

Such a long time since I updated my blog my ever faithful readers, and I can only humbly apologise. I blame the summer holidays, the kids off school, and us going to West Sussex for a week, and then a couple of weeks later, 2 weeks in the South of France, close to the Spanish border. A fabulous holiday was had by all, but now September is here and life very quickly gets back to normal.

The allotment missed us terribly, and how did it show us, by growing like some possessed tropical rainforest! We visited on Sunday 4th September and came away with 14 kilos of ripe tomatoes, a carrier bag overflowing with runner beans and the same with French beans. We also pulled a couple of turnips, and picked 20 courgettes. There was plenty ready, but I only wanted to pick things which really needed picking.

Before leaving, Darren, another younger allotmenteer, was digging up 2 monster cabbages and I mentioned how we had all been admiring them as they were mahoosive! Just like that, he said I could have them as they don't eat cabbage!! 'Well why grow them?' said I, and he just shrugged his shoulders. The tortoises will be living off the outer leaves for weeks to come and we will be having cabbage at every meal for a month.

Finally, we popped onto Jacks plot and picked some raspberries as he had left me a message whilst we were away telling me to help myself as he is getting sick to death of them. He is filling a bowl full every other day and his freezer is full. Well, how can a girl refuse such an offer.

The children and I popped to the plot again on Friday 9th September for a quick harvest and filled another carrier bag with tomatoes, another with runners, and we filled a basket and large tub-trug with apples. My two trees are so heavily laden I don't know what to do with them all. I have been making tomato soup and tomato pulp for the freezer. I have also done a couple of batches of chunky tomato sauce using courgettes and onions with the toms and freezing that. I have frozen a lot of the French beans as I do find they freeze okay, and have frozen some raspberries. I have juiced a large batch of apples and have about 6 pints of juice which I am going to turn into hot chilli jelly and mint jelly for winter use. I will juice more apples and freeze the juice, and I think husband is going to have a go at making cider now we have found somewhere that stocks home brewing supplies.

Our latest visit was today, the 11th of September, and the main plan was to get my Japanese onions in the ground. Husband dug the last of the spuds - won't be bothering with Maris Piper again as they were scabby and sluggy, so next year I will just be growing Kestrel, International Kidney and Pink Fir Apple. He then picked crates and crates of apples, clearing all of those that over hung the paths and beds. He then cut the branches back and tidied up. Meanwhile I dug and raked over the old spud area and planted my Electric, Radar and Biondie onion sets. The onions were pretty rubbish last year so I am hoping that these will do better as they have gone in a touch earlier.

I picked yet more ripe toms and then we headed for home. There is still masses on the allotment for harvesting during the autumn and winter. Swiss chard, purple kale, savoy cabbage, pointy green cabbage, white cabbage, purple sprouting brocolli, caulis, sprouts, spinach, spring onions, beetroot, leeks, parsnips, turnips, kohl rabi, swede, chicory, chillies, jerusalem (f)artichokes, french beans, runner beans, peas, carrots, courgettes, marrows, cucumbers, various winter squash and tomatoes. I have some radish which have run to seed and I have tried their pods, something which Alys Fowler from the beeb reckons are great with a beer rather than nuts. Don't know if I would go that far, but they aren't bad so I will pick some of them next time as I think they would be nice mixed with a salad.

Next visit, all being well, next weekend.
Sunday 11th September 2011

Ten years since the '9/11' terrorist attacks. Can you remember where you were? I can so clearly. Jessica was only 2 and James still a baby at almost a year so I was still at home. I had the lunch time news on, flitting in and out, when I saw what was unfolding and couldn't believe my eyes. I had friends in NY at PolyGram, and we have friends who are bankers in that district. Shock, sickening shock. To this very day I still cry when I see those shocking images of people choosing the throw themselves out of the windows, and I cry for the babies that were born after their daddies had been killed. I cry....