Monday, December 10

In search of wellies

We managed a couple of visits to the allotment last week. Most of the week was wet and miserable so we were more or less confined to indoors. 

We escaped to attend a couple of appointments, film a steam engine and visit a couple of garden centres - although to call them garden centres at the moment is a misnomer as they have transformed themselves into festive emporiums. All things gardening have either been removed or squeezed into the background. Martyn needed some new wellies but didn't fancy what amounted to fashion statements although I thought he would look quite fetching in the pink spotty pair. We didn't waste our time completely as we had lunch at one that has a particularly good restaurant. No more garden centre visits for us now until January.

The plot is rather soggy at the moment which was why Martyn needed new wellies. His old pair were fine weather wellies which in current conditions meant wet socks. 
This bloom of toadstools or are they mushrooms, is thriving in the damp? (When does a mushroom become a toadstool?) They are growing on the wood chippings that are mulching the bed of hardy annuals. The annuals are growing really well but will they survive winter?
Mark over at Mark's Veg Plot is a fungi guru - he seems like a fun guy too, sorry I know it's hardly original but I couldn't resist - and he tells me that these are possibly Tubaria furfuracea - Scurfy Twiglet. It's not a very attractive name is it? Apparently they are inedible but not actually poisonous which must be a trait shared by the half eaten apple that is also in the photo. I don't know where it came from but I guess that it wasn't very nice and someone passing by just tossed it away. I'm sure some creature will find it and enjoy it.

Mark will be able to name this other fungus too as I'm sure it will be a really common variety. This one is growing on a larger piece of dead wood.

Our first allotment visit, on Tuesday, was mainly to replenish our vegetable store back at home. 
We also wanted to try out some new sound recording equipment and so decided to film a December Tour of the allotment which I have posted below - just in case you are interested.

We didn't get to the allotment again until Sunday when as well as a bit more harvesting we managed to carry out a couple of jobs.

The posts supporting the wires that the raspberry canes are tied into were in desperate need of replacement so Martyn  spent his time erecting and rewiring new posts.
Before
After

I'm not sure how well the raspberries will perform next year as they don't seem to have put on as much new growth as normal so it may be that we will need to replace the canes.

Whilst, Martyn was busy on this job, I tackled the two kiwis that had - to be honest - become a tangled mess and also totally hid two gooseberries plants. As we are more likely to have fruit from the gooseberries than the kiwis this needed remedying.
Before
After

I didn't complete this task but cut out three barrow loads of kiwi vine. The fence that the kiwi was growing along was really only being held up by the tangle of vines so it will also need some renovation as will the two gooseberries.

Before we came home we gathered some more vegetables. There is a theme to our harvests at the moment - leeks, parsnips and carrots.
The parsnips were not up to last week's daddy parsnip standard, I think that is going to be a one off, but there was still plenty of flesh on the roots. One parsnip went into Sunday's Turkey and Parsnip Curry.

We are now digging Autumn King carrots which are huge. They are so big that they make the parsnips look smaller than they actually were.

A recipe I was cooking last week called for two large carrots but I think the author's idea of a large carrot was very different to ours. I do wish recipes wouldn't use terms like small, large and medium when we have a perfectly good method of measuring by weight. The same recipe called for a thumb-sized piece of ginger but was that my small thumb or Martyn's large one?

Our leeks on the other hand are still rather small. Some will be used to make a batch of Wensleydale Patties for the freezer. These use a similar recipe to Glamorgan Sausages but use Wensleydale cheese and are patty shaped rather than sausage shaped. I'm sure Wallace and Gromit would like them!


This week I am linking to Harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Wednesday, December 5

November in pictures







Monday, December 3

Daddy, Mummy and Baby Parsnip

We only visited the plot once last week and that was mainly a harvesting visit and to try out Martyn's new toy - the resulting video was posted in my previous post.

I did take a few photographs. I usually take my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 with me when we go to the allotment but, as this wasn't really a working visit, I took my 'best' camera which is a Sony Rx10v4. It's amazing how much better the photos are, even though I was very satisfied with the Panasonic and not really convinced that I needed a better camera when Martyn suggested it.

I'm not sure the better quality will be apparent at the size I post on my blog - you can view a larger image if you click on the photos - but I'll include some if only to show how empty the plot looks.
The cardoons are already putting on next season's growth but, in this part of the plot, the only crops growing are the red cabbage under the mesh in the far distance.
In the above part of the plot the only real growth are the two beds that were sown with green manure.
 The fruit bushes and trees are now leafless.
In the area above there is another bed of green manure and in the foreground is our bed of hardy annuals. In the distance the mesh is covering some very disappointing Brussels sprouts and some Purple Sprouting Broccoli plants. Under the straw are our carrots and parsnips.
The clump in the foreground is chard. Alongside the chard, just out of view, there are also a few beetroots and swedes
Above we have a bed of leeks and under the mesh we have more PSB, some cauliflowers and savoy cabbages which we hope to harvest next spring.

Now on to last week's small harvest which, as is usual for this time of year, was just the vegetables that we needed for this week.

We grew three varieties of carrots, Early Market, Flakee and Autumn King. Last week we harvested the last of our Early Market.
We only grow one variety of parsnip, which is Gladiator, and one of the roots harvested last week lived up to its name.
It was huge. As far as I can remember, it's the biggest parsnip that we have ever grown and has supplied more than one meal.
Even though it was so large it was as tasty as its smaller bedfellows. As you can see below we harvested a more 'normal' sized root and a small one. They were dubbed, daddy, mummy and little baby parsnip. I wonder why three seedlings, growing alongside one another at a equal distance apart and treated in exactly the same way, produce such different sized roots.
As you can see above we also harvested a few leeks which were used in a chicken, leek and mushroom pilaf.

The leeks are a variety called below Zero and have only produced small 'stems'. To be honest, we didn't expect them to produce a crop at all, as straight after they were planted  - which was later than we would have liked - the grass like plantlets were flattened by strong winds. We consider any harvest to be a bonus! We have two more varieties - Oarsman and Blue Solaise - to harvest after this one is finished, so it will be interesting to compare.


This week I am linking to Harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres


Wednesday, November 28

A different perspective


Wednesday, November 21

Ready for spring



Monday, November 19

Digging completed

We managed a couple of visits to the allotment last week and each time manged to clear and dig a bed.

Our first target was the bed which held the remains of the sweet peas and some of our annual flowers. The sweet pea frame was dismantled and the debris cleared. 

The bed was then dug and recovered with weed control fabric and wood chippings.
 This completed the digging on one side of the plot.
The next target was the annual bed on the other side of the plot. With no frame to take apart this bed was cleared quickly but the digging was heavier going and we decided to leave the bed open to the winter.
We are now at the stage where all the beds have been dug over. It's some time since we actually achieved this happy state of affairs.
Even when covered in weed control fabric, some weeds manage to seed into the bits of soil that end up on top of the fabric when planting and so I cleared any that had managed to grow on the strawberry bed. The plants didn't perform well last year and so are probably destined for the chop. We intend to buy new stock but we tend to leave older plants in place - just in case - until new plants are established elsewhere.

At this time of year fungus often appears in various places on the allotment. The wood chip mulch around out autumn sown annuals has an impressive cluster of what I am advised by Mark, the fungi guru from Mark's Veg Plot, could be  Tubaria furfuracea - Scurfy Twiglet. Not a very attractive name is it?  Unfortunately it isn't edible, although to be honest I'd be far too timid to eat any fungi that I food growing in the wild.

Martyn, cleared the old tomato plants from the plot greenhouse and generally tidied up in there. He even managed to harvest a few remaining tomatoes. Freshly picked tomatoes in November is a first for us.
We picked a few vegetables to replenish our cache at home. I've been waiting for parsnip harvesting time as I have a recipe for Cheese Veggie Cornish Pasties that I want to try. I know that officially they shouldn't be called Cornish Pasties but I'm not selling them so should be allowed to get away with calling them that.
The seeds under the grow light are doing well. We have coriander, salad leaves and spring onions. I'm not sure how these will work out but anything they produce will be considered to be a bonus.

With no flowers to gather from the plot, we had to content ourselves with our two orchids to provide us with colour indoors.
That was until we visited a garden centre last week. After pushing our way through all their festive paraphernalia we actually found some plants and came home with these.
Just call me Ebenezer if you will but isn't that better than all that tinsel and glitter?

If you are interested we have posted a few videos taken of last week's plot activity on our vlog here.



This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres