Monday, November 30

A sting in the tail?

We had a one or two bright sunny days last week. The photo below could almost fool you into believing it was summer.
Appearances are, however, deceptive as bright cloudless skies coupled with a complete lack of wind have a sting in the tail. They are followed by very cold nights and we were hit by night time frosts.

No more dahlias to cut as the plants have blackened.
On the other hand, the frost should have changed some of the starch to sugars and improved the flavour of our parsnips. We will now be able to discover whether we have any decent roots.
Despite the wintry weather, some plants are optimistically preparing for the next growing season.

The bright days are being offset by days of murk and drizzle and so we haven't been encouraged to do any work on the allotment or in the garden. We made a harvesting visit to the plot but otherwise have stayed away.
23 November - Chrysanthemums, Autumn Giant cauliflower, Flakee carrots, Sabrosa savoy cabbage and mixed leeks.
We cut the last of our four Autumn Giant cauliflowers. This time we enjoyed it 'neat' as an accompaniment to some tuna fishcakes which were made with some of our potato, onion and parsley. I forgot to take a photo.

Some of the leeks went into a chicken and leek crumble pie which was accompanied by sauteed potatoes and some of the savoy cabbage.
I made a vegetable stir fry based on this recipe.
My version used our carrots, peas, sweetcorn and French beans from the freezer and some baby spinach. Instead of serving with rice I served on a bed of egg noodles.

Although we didn't spend time outdoors gardening, we did spend some time outdoors enjoying the periods of bright weather. One afternoon was again spent at Nostell Priory.

This time there were no bright autumn colours reflected in the lake.

Most of the trees had shed their leaves
As usual Ruby enjoyed sniffing everything and ended up with a very soggy chin.
Just in case you are wondering none of the photos in the car were taken whilst we were traveling.

Next week sees England come out of the general lockdown but our area will be then placed in tier three restrictions so to be honest this will mean that we are still in lockdown mode. 

We decided to do a bit of decorating but being in the throes of a pandemic means that things are not as straightforward as normal. 
Fortunately we had the paint that we needed but, as we are still very wary of going into any shops, we have had to order some wallpaper online. This means that there will be about a fortnight's wait until the paper is delivered and I can find out whether I actually like the design that I have chosen. The room we are decorating is a small upstairs room that has generally been used to store things that we have not got around to throwing away. This has posed another problem as there is restricted access to, what is now euphemistically called, the recycling centre - previously known as the tip. This means that we can't get rid of the aforementioned rubbish. Then we need a carpet which I don't fancy ordering online as you need to feel the quality don't you? Isn't life full of frustration at the moment? Although we are lucky that all we are experiencing is some inconvenience whilst many are losing their livelihoods or worse.

As always stay safe and well

As usual, I'm linking to Harvest Monday on Dave's blog

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started. 

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Monday, November 23

An allotment free week

I haven't really much to report this week. We haven't been out and about nor have we been to the allotment. Although we generally do a little work when we visit the plot, the main trigger for heading there, at this time of year, is the need to replenish our vegetable stocks. Last week we had already brought home everything we needed or used vegetables in our winter stores.

Although, last week, we had some sunny spells, we also had drizzly rain and wind. It was also quite cold so all in all, other than local walks with Ruby, we haven't been encouraged to be out for extended periods. Even when the weather is dry, after all the rain, everywhere in the garden and on the allotment is wet and soggy. There's no immediate rush to get things done, so we have contented ourselves with staying at home and doing indoor things. Martyn's learning to drive a train. Fortunately, for all concerned, it's not a real one as he has crashed a couple of times. It's a computer simulation but very realistic.
We've also been busy working on a website that we manage for someone we know who has a small travel services business. His main income is generated by airport transfers so he is one of the people hit hard by Corvid restrictions.
I managed to get my photography fix by mooching around the garden searching for possible subjects.
Some things were tenaciously hanging on whilst others were impatiently preparing for next year. No doubt hoping like us for a better year to come.
Amongst other things I've been trawling the internet for more recipe ideas. I gather together recipes that I like the sound of into an electronic database.
Just over three years ago we stopped eating red meat and any processed foods so many of the recipes are based around vegetables and poultry. We eat fish too but tend to keep fish dishes plainer.
Each week I make at least one large bowl of coleslaw which makes good use of all our fresh cabbages.

I used some of our leeks, potato, carrot and frozen green beans in a vegetable gratin.
I can't track down the recipe that this was based on but, basically, you can use a mix of any vegetables you fancy. The vegetables are cooked and added to a cheesy sauce. The mixture is then topped with a mix of breadcrumbs and some grated cheese, then baked in the oven. To our homegrown vegetables I added some chestnut mushrooms and courgette and I used Gruyere cheese.
Finally some potato, onion and carrot went into a green Thai curry with vegetables based on this recipe. I used vegetable stock instead of a tin of broth. I also bought the green Thai paste and sprinkled the curry with sweet red pepper rather than chilli pepper

There’s no harvest pictures this week so I thought I'd include some photos of Ruby instead.

Two of Ruby's favourite things are having her tummy rubbed ...
... and playing with her squeaky ball.

Finally, I hope everyone is still keeping safe and well. At least last week brought some hopeful news as various Covid vaccines seem to be showing real promise.

I don't qualify for inclusion on Dave's blog for his harvest Monday theme, this week as we didn't do any harvesting but I'll still be popping over to see what other people have managed to gather in.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Thursday, November 19

Ground level

Monday, November 16

A bit of brightness in the midst of the gloom

I'm having some difficulty getting my head round this second lockdown here in England. I understand what I have to do or not do, but the decisions as to what can open and which businesses remain shut seem rather confusing. We can only hope that we achieve some benefits from these latest rulings.

Onto more cheerful topics, we had a couple of rather pleasant days last week. Although it was cold, we were treated to some sunny and dry periods. As these types of day have been in short supply, on Thursday we went for a walk around the grounds of Nostell Priory. Our booking was for two in the afternoon. We were, at first, a bit concerned by the number of parked cars but the grounds are fairly extensive so it was easy to remain socially distanced.
I wanted to try for some better photographs as potential prints for the dining room but the conditions were tricky. There was a great contrast between the brightness of the sky and the dark shadows being cast.

The sun cast really long shadows. Ruby has long legs but not as long as her shadow.
I did manage to take a few photos but still haven't mastered my camera settings and had to rely on post processing to sort out the contrast.
Many of the trees had lost most of their leaves ...
... however, there was still some colour which was reflected in the lake.
By the time we were leaving the sky was darkening and conditions were even trickier and the colours faded.
On Friday we made the most of the second, pleasant day and had an afternoon at the allotment.
Martyn, tidied one of our rhubarb beds, which I forgot to take a photo of, whilst I made a start on the chive border. For those of you who think our plot is tidy, look at this!
At the end of last year when I would have tidied the chive border, the weather kept us away from the allotment and this border was, therefore, neglected. I'm trying to bring the area back under control and made a start.
Unfortunately for me, the border is in a shaded area so I didn't enjoy any benefit from the sun and also after a while my kneeling pad had acted like a sponge and was soaking wet. I need to pop it on a plastic sheet in future.
13 November - Autumn Giant cauliflower, Kalibro cabbages, Sungold tomatoes,  leeks and chrysanthemums
As  usual we managed to gather the vegetables needed for this week's menus. We picked the third of out four Autumn Giant cauliflowers. Hopefully the last one will be OK for next week.

Martyn, cleared the tomato plants from the greenhouse and the few Sungold were those left hanging on the plants.

Although the dahlias still haven't been cut down by a frost, the remaining flowers were very bedraggled so I didn't cut any.
We dug the first leeks of the season. We sowed Below Zero, Musselburgh and Porbella but unfortunately the labels were lost before the young plants were planted out so we have no idea which are which.

There are still plenty to use over winter.

So how did we use some of last week's harvest?

Some of the cauliflower and onions  were cooked with chicken in an Indian Spiced dishThis was cooked in a slow cooker and the recipe was followed exactly, other than I mixed my own curry spices. My version looked nothing like the photo on the internet.

I'm not sure how cauliflower can cook in a slow cooker and keep it's shape - mine didn't, however, the resulting meal tasted fine.

I then used some Crown Prince squash, onion and carrot in a tagine based on this recipe.

Instead of the spices I used ras el hanout and unfortunately had to buy the courgette.

Our third vegetable based meal was Curried Cabbage which used cabbage, carrot, peas and coriander. I added a few cubes of our potatoes to make a more substantial meal and a few cauliflower florets that were left over in the fridge.

I used a tablespoon of tikka masala paste instead of the curry powder. As I felt that the curry was too dry I added a little vegetable stock too. This was served with one of Martyn's homemade naans.

As always stay safe and well

As usual, I'm linking to Harvest Monday on Dave's blog

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started. 

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

Wednesday, November 11


Monday, November 9

A sort of lockdown

Well it’s happened! Here in England we are all being subjected to another lockdown. With the dreary weather, I think that this month is likely to drag. 
Last lockdown we had better weather so we could cheer ourselves by spending lots of time at the allotment. (Just an interesting aside - the predictive text on my iPad picks up on lockdown after I have typed the letter’c’. A sign of the times that we are living through). 

If I’m honest lockdown hasn’t turned out as badly for us as expected. Our bathroom fitter was allowed to work so now at last our bathroom is finished. It’s taken about 15 months due to some very complex shenanigans but finally we managed to end up with an excellent and reliable person to finish the job that was started by his polar opposite!

National Trust and RHS properties are allowed to remain open so weather permitting we can still visit them. 

For some reason the Yorkshire Wildlife Park has had to close despite having set up the same protocols and the fact that not one case of Covid has been traced back to them whereas some Covid hot spots remain open. It doesn’t seem right when they need revenue so they can care for the animals. Whilst it has been closed they welcomed a new polar bear from Scotland but sadly two other polar bears have left for France.
Au revoir Nissan and Pixel

The park is a sort of finishing school for male polar bears. Young bears spend their youth there and then go off to mate when they reach breeding age. It’s all part of an international breeding programme. The park also takes older males that have retired from the programme.
As the previous week, there has not been much allotment activity. We made just one visit to the plot, on a misty Sunday afternoon. It was a quick visit in order to harvest a few vegetables.

8 November  Autumn Giant cauliflower, Flakee carrots, Luz de Otono broad beans and flowers

We use a lot of carrots and their bed is emptying quickly but at least, unlike last year, we have had a carrot harvest. Maybe next year we need to grow more.
You may remember that last August we planted some very late broad beans. We had a complete crop failure of the two batches of broad beans planted earlier and, Martyn spotted an advert for some broad bean plants that it was claimed would produce a harvest in November. When we planted them we weren't very impressed by the plants and didn't expect much from them. The plants rallied and produced some flowers but as yet not many beans have developed. We managed a very small picking on Sunday but don't expect many more. Maybe if late summer and early autumn had been more plant friendly they would have been more successful.
One successful planting has been some Autumn Giant cauliflowers. We planted just four as an experiment. All four have produced good heads and, what’s even better, the four have produced heads at different stages. We cut one the previous week and another last week. The other two look as though they will follow on for the next couple of weeks.

I also harvested a batch of coriander which was in the freezer before I remembered to take a photo.

So how were some of our vegetables enjoyed last week. Two meals that used lots of our vegetables were Cauliflower and Lentil curry which included our cauliflower, carrots, onion and French beans. This was accompanied by, Martyn’s homemade naans.

Our cabbage, onion, carrots and parsley went into a cabbage lasagne which uses layers of cabbage rather than pasta. I used minced turkey as we don’t eat red meat.

Each week, I think I have cut the last bunch of flowers but they were still hanging on last week.
Ruby was ten months old on Sunday and last week she had her first experience of fireworks. For the first couple of days, she wasn't at all happy. It didn't help that the first loud bang occurred when she had popped out for a comfort break - it was still light at the time so should have been safe. She is very aware of sounds and likes to know just where they are coming from and what is making them.
As the week went on she seemed to take the bangs more in her stride and bark at them rather than be frightened by them. She obviously decided to fight back.

Does anyone else remember when fireworks were only allowed on November 5, unless it fell on a Sunday when you could choose to have fireworks on the Saturday or Monday? I also seem to remember that they could only be set off up until a certain time and that was when there were less bangs and more coloured stars. How times change!

As always stay safe and well

As usual, I'm linking to Harvest Monday on Dave's blog

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started. 

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrettto closes