Wednesday, September 15

Late flowers

Monday, September 13

We're not crying over our onions

Thank you for all the good wishes following, Martyn's hospital adventure. Thankfully, he has had no further nosebleeds, although we made sure to take things steadily last week. Martyn, had been instructed not to do anything too strenuous for a week. It’s a bit like treading on egg shells wondering whether a repeat is imminent.

We did pop to the allotment a couple of times, mainly to harvest a few things although on Saturday we did plant some overwintering onions and garlic. We planted two varieties of onions - Radar and Senshyu and some White Casablanca garlic. 

Fortunately, we had a bed ready for planting. Birds appear to consider beds that have been cleared and dug over to be excellent places to use as dust baths and so we covered the onion bed with a layer of enviromesh. We posted a video here.
Onions were a feature last week as I also tidied up the bulbs that had been drying off. Any loose skins were removed and roots trimmed off. The onions were then placed in a single layer in cardboard boxes and placed in our summerhouse for storage over winter. The summerhouse doubles up as a fruit and vegetable storage area once summer winds down. It is ideal as it is cool/cold and dry.
Any suspect bulbs have been set aside for using as soon as possible. I'll also keep checking the boxes and remove any onions that show signs of rotting.
The new strawberry bed had taken full advantage of our absence from the plot. I had been diligently removing runners and flowers from the plants so that they could build up strength during their first year. Whilst I had taken my eye off the ball, the plants had produced a mass of runners and one variety - Christine - had not only produced lots of flowers but had also set fruit. I removed all the runners but hadn’t the heart to cut off all the flowers and immature fruits. I doubt that any fruits will ripen but Christine deserves to be given the chance to try.
7 September - Mixed dahlias,  Peas - Onward & Terrain, Runner beans - Moonlight and raspberries - All Gold.

Tomatoes - Sungold, Crimson Plum, Shirley & Crimson Crush
The tomatoes are now in full flow. We are picking ripe fruits from both the garden and plot greenhouses and a raised bed in the garden.

I've been busy roasting tomatoes, as this way, they take up less room in the freezer than as ready made tomato sauces, which they will be used to make later.
11 September - Peas - Onward & Terrain, Courgettes - Ambassador & Boldenice, Raspberries - All Gold & Joan J, Broad bean -  Luz de Otono, Blackberries - Loch Ness, Tomatoes - Shirley & Crimson Crush and Sweet Corn - Earlibird

The last lot of Onward peas, that we sowed, are now starting to be affected by mildew which is affecting the leaves and the pea pods, Fortunately the peas inside are fine. Terrain produces small peas more like petit pois.

The thornless, Loch Ness blackberry produces some very large berries.

We have a few Joan J raspberry canes that, each year, enter into a battle with bindweed, however, they continue to produce some tasty berries.
We picked the first of our sweet corn to check whether the cobs had ripened. They had so we will strip the plants when we next visit the plot. The kernels will be stripped off and frozen.

We also picked the first few late planted broad beans. 

Fortunately, Martyn is now back eating warm food and last week we used some cabbage and onions in a chicken dish based on this recipe.

Carrots, tomato and peas were included in a minced turkey and quinoa dish.

Our onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes and courgette were ingredients in a tomato and courgette risotto.

Nostell was looking very autumnal last week. The flower meadow had been mown the previous week and last week bales of hay dotted the landscape.
I was also attracted to the bark of various trees as we walked around the lake.

The four cygnets are now just about fully grown but are still sticking close to their parents.

We often spot a heron patrolling the shallows. Last week he or she was wading through the flowers.

By the way is anyone else finding that they are collecting more and more itchy bites on a daily basis. We all are, in spite of using copious amounts of repellent.  Is it our imagination or this year are there more creatures around after our blood?

As always wherever you are keep safe and well.

This week I   am once again joining in with Dave’s Harvest Monday collection of posts over at Our Happy Acres.

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

Monday, September 6

Enforced neglect of the allotment

In my earlier blog post, I mentioned that, for various reasons, we didn't visit the allotment other than to do some necessary harvesting. This week matters were even worse and we only managed a harvesting session on Sunday.

Martyn suffers from bad nosebleeds and, the week before last he had a bleed, that took over an hour and a half to stop so we didn't do much on the allotment as we didn't want to risk setting the bleed off again. Last week, matters were worse and another nosebleed caused, Martyn to be admitted to hospital for a couple of days. Not the sort of thing you need at the best of times, but at the moment hospitals are not the safest places to be in. Fortunately, Martyn was in a room on his own as the nosebleed meant he was unable to wear the required mask. 

When he came home, Martyn had to avoid bending down or any strenuous activity so any work on the allotment was out of the question.

If you imagine how an allotment looks after a two week holiday multiply by two. If we had been going on holiday we would have prepared for the absence. On top of this, we haven't had any rain for a while now and our soil is bone dry and some crops, especially those newly planted, really could have done with some watering. Courgettes had assumed monstrous proportions.
I didn't take any general photos, as it was too depressing a sight, but we did put together a video.

I managed some emergency watering but mainly we concentrated on harvesting.
September 5 - Mixed dahlias, Sweet Peas,  Climbing French Beans - Cobra, Plums - Victoria & Marjorie's Seedling, Greengages - Mannings, Blackberries - Loch Ness, A sprinkling of Blueberries, Beetroot - Boltardy, Carrots - Flakee, Cabbages - Mozart, Tomatoes - Sungold, Crimson Crush , Crimson Plum & Shirley, Raspberries - All Gold, Apples - Fiesta and Peas - Onward & Terrain

Martyn concentrated on harvesting the crops that he could manage from an upright position like the blackberries. Loch Ness produces some fairly large fruits.
We decided to lift a different variety of carrot, this time the variety was Flakee. As with Romance we pulled up some good sized carrots, although as is usual for us some were 'interesting' shapes.
I also lifted a few beetroot, the first of the season. We don't eat a lot of beetroot so we only sowed a short row. These will be pickled.
This year, varieties of apples have fared differently. The Discovery apples that usually crop well produced just half a dozen fruits but the small Fiesta tree has produced its best crop. I'm guessing it all came down to when the trees had blossom.
The plums and greengages both flower early and none of the trees have produced as much fruit as usual but at least we have some to enjoy.
Our garden and garden greenhouse have continued to keep us supplied with tomatoes, mini cucumbers and, I even managed to remember to photograph, some radishes. We've made good use of the salad ingredients as Martyn had to eat only cold food for a couple of days. 

Neither of us was impressed with the food that the hospital managed to offer him. For one of his meals the only option was a small scoop of ice cream. No other cold options were provided, despite him being on cold food only. He asked for either a sandwich or a salad but was told neither was available. If he had stayed in for a further meal his only option was a slice of cheesecake. Unfortunately, we didn't find out that I could have visited until it was too late as I could have popped down to the on site cafe and bought him something from there.

We did have a couple of cooked meals that used some of our vegetables. The first was a cabbage stir fry with cashews. Into this went our onion, carrots and cabbage, along with mushrooms, peppers, celery and cashews. It was based on this recipe.

On Tuesday, whilst, Martyn was 'enjoying' his ice cream dinner, I made myself a vegetable tagine. Into this went our onion, courgette, cherry tomatoes and peas along with some chickpeas. It was based on this recipe although I used a ras el hanout spice mix instead of the individual spices.
We're hoping for a less fraught week, this week. Wish us luck. Just to cheer us up though we have clusters of tiny cyclamen popping up on the plot and in the garden. They appear in the most unexpected and inhospitable places. We don't know how they arrived at the allotment as we never planted any there. Presumably, the seeds hitched a ride on something brought from the garden. Over the years the flowers have multiplied and spread. No doubt the armies of ants have been very busy.

As always wherever you are keep safe and well.

This week I   am once again joining in with Dave’s Harvest Monday collection of posts over at Our Happy Acres.

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

Wednesday, September 1

August in pictures

Monday, August 30

A modest harvest last week.

For various reasons, we haven't done much work on the allotment this week and, more or less, only done the harvesting that we needed.

On Tuesday, Martyn dug up another bed of potatoes. This time they were McCain Royals. I mentioned in an earlier post that we were gifted some potatoes by Thompson & Morgan after a page from our site was featured on their blog. At the time, it was a bit late for ordering and many varieties were out of stock. As we wanted to grow a variety that we hadn't previously grown, the choice was limited and we chose McCain Royal The potatoes were really slow to start growing and we weren't hopeful of a crop. However, they seemed to suddenly burst into growth and eventually produced some really healthy foliage. They were still green when, Martyn lifted them. The resulting crop was really good weighing in at about 27 kg. Most of the potatoes were of a good size, some being huge. Martyn posted a film here.
We were concerned that, if it rained, the onions that were lifted the previous week would sit on wet soil. This wouldn't help them to dry off and so I moved them onto a grid, made up of the sides of an old bird cage supported on bricks. They were left spread out on this for few days so the foliage dried out a little. They were then transported home where they have been housed in our now empty cold frames. Here they will be under cover if it does rain but the tops of the frames can be lifted to allow air to circulate when the weather is dry.
If you don’t include the haul of potatoes, the harvests last week were modest as we only brought home what we needed or anything that was likely to spoil.
24 August - Carrots - Romance, Sweet Peas, Climbing French Beans - Cobra, Plums - Marjories Seedling & Victoria, Greengages - Mannings, Raspberries - All Gold and Tomatoes Crimson Plum,

The birds ignore the yellow fruits of All Gold but they taste exactly like the red varieties.
This year's plum harvest is very modest. It was cold during blossom time so the pollinators can't have been very active.
We froze the cobra beans. We like to have a supply of green beans to see us through winter.
28 - August - Mixed Dahlias, Cabbage - Mozart, Calabrese - Monclano

There was some damage on the surface of the cabbage, probably the work of slugs or snails. Once the outer leaves are stripped off, there is plenty of cabbage for us. The heads are really solid and it takes some effort to cut them in half.
We can never predict when the calabrese will be ready to pick. The heads soon burst into flower if they are not quickly cut and cooked once they are ready so a change of menu was required in order to use the two heads above.
I picked enough dahlias to share with my sister. The picture above is my share and my sister's share were in the bucket shown in the photo above.
We're picking tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden and garden greenhouse. The tomato pictured above is almost like a little red snowman.
Tomatoes - Tumbler.
The Crimson Plum tomatoes pictured below along with some of our carrots and onion went into a tomato sauce. This was served on some bought ravioli. I haven't ventured into the realms of homemade pasta yet.

Tomatoes - Crimson Plum
As well as harvesting there is plenty of dead heading required on the allotment. As well as the dahlias and the need to keep up with picking sweet peas, the annual flower bed needs attention.
Regular visitors may remember that, this year, we planted up a new border in our garden. Most of the plants were bought as collections of small plants that we grew on before planting out. Lupins were grown from seed sown last year and although the leaves are now mildewed the flowers have kept on coming for months. As I didn't expect the small perennials to bulk up as much as they did, I also popped some annual zinnias and cosmos in among the perennials. The whole thing has exceeded my expectations.
Last week, we used our vegetables in meals which included, a chicken stir fry with cabbage and pineapple. Into this went some of our cabbage and garlic.

One of our Boldenice courgettes went into a turkey and vegetable stroganoff based on this recipe.
Half of the calabrese and some of the McCain Royal potatoes were served as an accompaniment to a fillet of salmon and the other half, along with some of our tomatoes, garlic and onion went into a rice dish based on this recipe.

During our walk in the park at Nostell this week, autumn really did seem to be in the air. The scenery was very different as the flower meadows had been mown. At times it was difficult to find the pathways that had been cut through the meadows. 
Ruby is quite a poser when a camera is pointed in her direction. She is now starting to resemble a cuddly teddy bear.
Actually, she rarely sits still and loves a game running around after a ball.

As always wherever you are keep safe and well.

This week I   am once again joining in with Dave’s Harvest Monday collection of posts over at Our Happy Acres.

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