Friday, 12 August 2011

Green Pepper!

We have successfuly grown our first pepper of the year.

It's been sat dangling off the pepper plant for a while now and it was finally a good size and didn't seem to be getting any bigger. We snipped the pepper off the plant and cut it into small pieces to skewer on to some kebabs we were making for a barbeque. With some chicken pieces, fresh tomatoes and onion, the kebabs were absolutely delicious.

This is the first ever pepper I have grown, so to grow it and enjoy it with Amy was really nice. I've grown lots of chilli peppers before, but never had much luck with actual peppers. There are about 6 more peppers in the pipeline so fingers crossed they will be just as tasty.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Final Call

There's only three days to go until the entry deadline for our contest.

The contest should take you a few minutes to complete and you will have the chance to win a £20 vegetable growing hamper!

You can read this post here to find out all about how to enter.

Good Luck

Martin and Amy

Endless amounts..

Does it ever feel like some things are just endless?

We were only cheering with delight at the emergence of these tiny courgettes a few months ago and now the amounts are just.. endless.

I've been trying to hack down and dig out the weeds at the garden share but the amounts are just absolutely endless.

The tomatoes keep coming and are thankfully, endless.

We've been trying to catch up read everybody's blogs this afternoon. We've missed a few days of reading and the posts are just endless.

You get the idea. If you don't keep on top of things quickly and efficiently you can get the feeling of things becoming endless, but that doesn't mean they are any less enjoyable or unwanted, it means it just takes you a little longer longer to get to that place you want to be.

I've took some time this afternoon to plant out some very late leeks and some cabbage plants. We've planted them in the garden at home instead of the garden share. We were probably being over ambitious trying to get the garden share up and running straight away. It is definately going to need some time sorting bits out and restoring the paths and raised beds. We will definately be ready come March when the plot will really begin to take shape.

We are sorry that we have lacked a bit with blog posting in the last week or so, but we have been glued to our television screens watching the unbelievable scenes that were the UK riots. How can anybody support or not condemn such lawlessness and criminality.

We fully intend to be back to blog writing tomorrow, and I believe Amy might even write her first post in months if you are lucky.

Have an enjoyable evening and keep safe.


Monday, 8 August 2011


I love watching cooking programmes.

But it occured to me the other day that I never ever get around to making anything that I see on the programmes.

However, something that we saw Jamie Oliver make a few weeks ago really tickled our fancy and this is our attempt at it..

Yes, it is a glorified sandwich, but it was delicious. We bought the foccacia bread from Marks and Spencers, and slipped it in the oven for 8 minutes. I prepared the salad for inside whilst it was in the oven. We simply used a round lettuce, some slicing tomatoes and some mozarella. All of it was cut in to slices ready to go in to the bread. When the bread was out of the oven we sliced it in half, it's trickier to cut foccacia than you think. Then we drizzled some olive oil onto the bread as an authentic Italian substitute for butter and then layered the salami in to place. Then the lettuce, followed by the tomatoes and finally the mozarella. It's a massive sandwich, and looks great on a wooden chopping board which can be used for serving. This could feed 4 people, or two really hungry people. It's definately the tastiest sandwich we've ever made. In fact, we've made it twice since.

I think a lot of inspiration  for my cooking comes from what I have seen on a telly, mixed with what I have seen my grandparents and parents cook. If all celebrity dishes taste this good then it won't be the last thing I cook off a TV programme.

So, who are your favourite celebrity chefs? I find it really interested how people can despise one chef and love another who in turn another person despises. My favourites are Hugh FW, Jamie Oliver, Heston and good old Nigella.

Leave a quick comment if you have time to let us know who your favourite celebrity chefs are!

Enjoy the rest of your day!


Saturday, 6 August 2011

Cabbage Patch Kids

You wouldn't know the trouble we've had trying to find some cabbage plants this late in the season. We wanted to get something in the ground at the garden share plot. We've tried numerous local garden centres and all of them proved fruitless. It seems that garden centres think the vegetable growing season ends when the final strawberries ripen. All those grow your own banners have been taken down, the vegetable plants have gone.

We were lucky to find a single pack of cabbage plants and a single pot of leek plants on a shelf by some limp and lifeless strawberry and chilli plants. We felt quite lucky to get these as they were just what we were looking for. 

They were a bit pricy though, but what do you expect from a fancy garden centre in an affluent shopping village..

Having all of that space just to simply over winter at the garden share would be a real waste. We've been up there a few days this week to clear all of the raised beds, and cover the two side beds for over the winter. The middle bed has been dug over and is ready for the cabbage and leek plants as well as some late salad.
I was hoping that we'd have some more brassica plants  but some wretched caterpillars have eaten the lot, and there is nothing worth saving which is a real shame. We were lucky to have a few to plant at home, but that is it.

Next year it is really important that we plan properly, we will have 3 spaces to plant up, and ideally we don't want to spend a penny on seedlings and plants because we haven't planned properly. If we use saved seeds and the ones we already have then it will be much more cost effective all round.

I hope you enjoy the remainder of your weekend and a good week is in store for you! The football season has just started again., which excites us both (well one of us more than the other), let's hope for some good weather for the first few matches. We shall see...

Martin and Amy

Friday, 5 August 2011


Today saw the harvest of the first ripe tomato. This is from a variety simply called 'Orange Cherry'.

Hopefully this is the first of many, a whole vine were ripening in the sun this afternoon...

It was sweet and delicious! It was only small but we had half each. Not quite enough for tea.

Talking of meals though, we have had plenty of food from our own garden to eat. We had an entirely self produced curry (minus the sauce) the other day. We also had cottage pie with home grown new potatoes, spinach and runner beans. Sunday Lunch was completed with the daily harvest too!

Enjoy the weekend!


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Autumn August and the Alphabet

Well, a belated welcome to August. What has the weather been like? It's absolutely piping hot, very muggy and until today there has been absolute drought.

The water butts have been empty, and I've had to sinfully use a hosepipe to water the veggies. Thank goodness for today's drizzle of rain, first of all it will save me some time watering the plants and secondly those butts will fill back up and secure us a few weeks worth of useage.

I was reading another blog called The Compost Bin. They are doing an Alphabet August, where each of their blog posts must start with the next letter in the alphabet. Obviously we start today with A.

I wanted to write a post about the misconsception that people have regards Autumn and August. I have to admit then when I was younger, my friends and I all believed that August was the start of Autumn. Ok, the first two graphemes A and U are the same, but that is where it ends in reality. Everywhere you look you can still see summer. The fruit is still ripening, the sun is shining and the school holiday's have just begun for youngsters across the country. The leaves aren't turning brown just yet, and although the night's are beginning to draw in slightly, we can still be out in the garden until about 9pm.

We need not fear quite just yet about those long winter evenings, although we should be planning or have planned for them. We bought some winter brassica seedlings today to put in to our new garden share plot, we should have some fresh vegetables in early February through to April whilst the main growing season crops are yet to begin to grow.

On the other hand it is understandable why people think August is the beginning of Autumn. Next month we will be embraced with Christmas goods beginning to fill the shops. I know that the stock room at the place where I work already has 2012 calendars, seasonal chocolate selections, cards and gift wrap waiting to find their way on to the shelves. Many people will see September as the beginning of the indulgence in to the winter season, and we've only just enjoyed June and July's sun, so logically August is Autumn.

Christmas already..? seems like only yesterday we celebrated Christmas in Disneyland.

I feel that this misconception regards when our seasons begin and end is down to globalised firms who shove our faces with Christmas in September and Easter in January. No wonder we're all out of sync.

I don't know about you, but I recon the best people to ask about the seasons are gardeners. We know when to plant, protect, sow and grow in order to make sure we have full bellies all year round.

Tomorrow's post will start with the letter B!


Monday, 1 August 2011

Too good an opportunity...

Well, I presume most of you have heard of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. He's the crazy celebrity chef, slash grow your owner who campaigned for us all to eat free range meat. Got it?

Well, another one of his campaigns was called Landshare. A relatively straight forward campaign where people with spare land allow potential growers to work it and grow and produce their own food. We have visited the Landshare website sparingly since it started out, however a couple of months ago it appeared that somebody in our area had land to share.

More research and contact lead to us discovering that in fact an individual didn't have land to share. The icon on the map was actually an organisation called 'Transistion Stratford' who were trying to regenerate Stratford Upon Avon. They run not a landshare but a garden share scheme. We would have been keen on a plot in Stratford, but after talking to some of the people involved they let me know of a potential plot in Alcester, and only ten minutes walk away too.

So on Friday evening we visited the house for the first time, and  weinstantly fell in love with the garden that we could potentially get to grow some veg in. The garden is centred around 3 long raised beds, so all we needed to do was clear the area.

Well, after falling in love with the potential of the plot, the agreement was signed up, and I started the clear up process today!

Here is the classic 'Before' picture...

Hopefully this time next week we can show you some 'After' pictures. We are going to be using the raised bed in the middle to grow spring cabbage, leeks and some other brassicas, and some hardy salads too. The raised beds on the right and left will be covered with some old carpet ready for next year's main growing season.

It's not in a massive state, it's just overgrown with weeds, most will pull out easily...

Not only does the garden have 3 assembled raised beds, but it also has compost bins, sheds, an outside toilet, electric hook up, a tap. All which we will be able to use. Here are the compost bins...

Not only is it a great place to grow veg, but there are also chickens. They are not the house owner's chickens they belong to the next door neighbour, because ironically they are having problems with introductions. The great news for us is that the house owner said we could keep some hens their too. It's definately something that we can discuss further. Here are the current two resident hens...

Our minds are brimming with ideas. There is so much potential with this area of land, and we are greatful to the house owner and the team at Transistion Stratford for making this all work.

We'll be posting some more about the plot over the next week and beyond. We'll also take a look inside the beehive this week via another... video!

Before, we go we'd like to thank everybody who has entered the contest already! Thank you, and keep them coming for those of you who haven't entered yet. There are some great prizes to be had!

Thanks for reading our blog. We really appreciate it.

Martin and Amy x