Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Food, Glorious Food

Hot crumble and custard!

( Not the original words, but more appropriate in our circumstances!)

Well the produce keeps coming. It's a daily battle with the soft fruit bushes to keep on top of picking. We have huge amounts of Raspberries and Blackcurrants. I've actually got a blackcurrant and apple crumble in the oven right now, so it is an ideal time to sit down and write a blog post.

The rain hasn't stopped in recent weeks but admitedly the weather is starting to ease and believe it or not they are predicting that we might have a week long summer next week. I'll certainly be getting my shorts and wellies on to get up to the allotment. Due to the weather the only visits we are making is to harvest fruit and vegetables for dinner. The weeds keep growing, but there is little chance to do anything about it until we get a break in the rain. We had planned to have a whole day down at the plot on Friday but due to the weather it turned in to a solitary hour, but we managed to weed the onion bed in that time.

Aside from soft fruit, we've been harvesting lots of vegetables too. We are harvesting potatoes every other day and each plant is giving us a good amount and is plenty for just the two of us. We are getting between 7-10 potatoes off each plant and they range from golf ball size to just under the size of a tennis ball. Some of them are the biggest charlotte potatoes I have ever seen. When I have grown them in the past they have been small and kidney shaped, but these have completly dwarfed all of my previous efforts.

The courgettes keep coming and you could say we are beginning to enter the glut period. One of my favourite times of year! The other cucurbits doing well are the pumpkins, their plants are almost 10ft long now. They are running away from their patch and encroaching on paths and other beds. We're really hoping for a giant pumpkin this year but at the moment we'll settle for a giant marrow and giant lettuce. The rain must be good for something. Although this marrow isn't a giant, I read that you shouldn't let the first one get too big and then pick it and this will encourage more growth. We're not growing for the show bench, but for the dinner table so this is a very good size.

I was about to sow some lettuce seeds about 10 weeks ago when a fellow plot holder came over to me offering me some of his spare lettuce seedlings, not only did it save me a job then but it has also provided us with lettuce in the kitchen. We have had it in salads, in sandwiches and on top of big juicy burgers in a bun and it has been great. He didn't know what variety it was and I still don't know exactly either. It looks like a cos, but what variety, who knows? I've decided to call it Jumbo Gem and you'll see why...

Other things we are picking include broad beans, strawberries and other varieties of lettuce. The runner beans and dwarf beans are flowering now so it can't be long until those. I must remember to take pictures of the allotment. You can just about see it behind Amy, but the weather never really does it any justice when we take pictures of the whole plot. I'll try it tonight after dinner, we'll be making a flying dash to pick some more soft fruit and courgettes to top our pizza for tomorrow night.

It's an absolute delight being back on the allotment site after a 2 year absence due to studying. It's fantastic to be picking and eating delicious food again, and great to see Amy's enthusiasm continue to rise every time we pick something new.

If you're lucky I might upload some more pictures tomorrow. I was busy at a job intereview today for next year's placement year at university, I was amazed to see their fantastic grounds and gardens. It is located in Selly Oak and the manor was owned by George Cadbury who was of course the founder of the iconic chocolate brand. They also had an allotment area and polytunnel and ran gardening courses. I would be deligthed to get the job there and contribute not only to the business function side of it but also get in and amongst the gardens too! Paradise!

Will be setting time aside tomorrow to catch up on my favourite blogs, have not had time to read them for well over a week.

Hope the sun shines for you!


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Plenty to pick and much to eat!

Well, we are about a 1/3  of the way through our new potato harvests, and the rest of this years crop should see us up and onwards until the maincrop are ready at the beginning of August.

We have been really impressed with the potatoes, it is so nice forking them up and seeing golden balls of luxury gleaming back at you. They are a great size for new potatoes too, we bought them as 'Charlotte' seed potatoes, but I don't think they are. They don't share many of the main characteristics of that variety, so I am adamant they were marked up wrong or either we provided such a fantastic growing medium and quantity of fertiliser that we really have encouraged them to bulk up greatly.

It's not just the potatoes that are ready. We've been picking plenty of blackcurrants, raspberries and strawberries. We enjoyed some raspberries with meringue and cream on Thursday evening, it was heavenly! There is a punnet of blackcurrants in the fridge ready to make a pie or crumble tomorrow afternoon.

The lettuce are still growing well, but like quite a few of the leafy vegetables and plants they are looking a little bit scorched. Over the last few days we have had torrential rain in the mornings and baking heat in the late afternoon. It's doing the pumpkins and the rest of the cucurbits the world of good, but a lot of the other veg aren't too fond at all.

The shallots were one example of vegetables that hated the diverse weather. They really struggled when the weather changed from scorching hot in late May to wet, wet, wet in June. The leaves died back and I've decided to pull them out, because a few of them were showing signs of re-growing and dividing again. The shed currently smells like and onion factory (if such a thing exists) they are spread over newspaper on the potting table whilst they dry off. They are all a good size for pickled onions. We did actually plant some shallots in mid May when the sets were reduced at a garden centre, they have thrived and have already exceeded the size of most of the March planted shallots. It definately is a case to illustrate the case for staggering planting and sowing of vegetable crops.

Anyway, here is a picture of what we harvested this evening...

Plenty to look forward to tomorrow dinner time.

Weather permitting Amy is coming down to the allotment tomorrow to help to do the weeding which is a real God send. Knowing my luck it will definately rain.

Fingers crossed!


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Welcome to November (July)

Well. I took this video at 4:30 pm today on our way out to the garden centre from Amy's mum's house. This has been the picture for the last 10 or so days...


It is more like November than July, but at least the fresh produce keeps on growing, albeit rather more slowly than per usual!

We're now harvesting plenty of broad beans, courgettes, lettuce and soft fruit including raspberries and blackberries. We made a blackcurrant and apple crumble yesterday and today we had homemade ratatouille with chopped tomatoes, courgette ribbons and chunks as well as handfuls of broad bean served with pasta! Delicious!

When the weather sorts itself out, I'll give you a proper allotment update!