Wednesday, March 31


Monday, March 29

Paying the price?

Last week we took advantage of the better weather conditions and worked on the allotment for another two afternoons.

We haven’t started any planting out yet so we occupied ourselves with more tidying and getting beds ready for the growing season.

I replanted the perennial plants that were left over after replanting a border in the garden. These were added to the mixed border along one edge of our plot. There are still a few spaces where I can plant some of the lupine that were grown from seed last year. This was a mixed packet of seed sio I’ve no idea what colours the flowers will turn out. I’m hoping for some nice surprises.
Martyn, rotovated several beds so once we are ready to start planted we will have some beds ready and waiting.

I tidied up our strawberry bed. The plants are in their third year so once they have fruited these will be discarded. In the meantime we will be starting a new strawberry patch.

Last week, on their blog Thompson and Morgan linked to a page on our website describing how we grow our strawberries. As a result they have offered us a gift of some strawberry plants. We’ve chosen a variety called Albion as this is one that we have never grown before so it’s an opportunity to try something new.

They also linked to our page describing our potato growing technique on another post on their blog. For that they offered us a gift of a pack of potatoes. Again we chose a variety - Royal - that we hadn’t grown before. As we didn’t manage to buy any trial potatoes as usual we will plant these as this year’s trial variety.

We had already removed some other strawberry plants that were past their best from another part of the plot. The bed was one of those that, Martyn rotovated. After being planted up for a few years the ground was quire rough but once dug over and then rotovated it isn’t too bad.

Our remaining parsnips, were beginning to regrow and so these were dug up. We didn’t want to waste them so these were - prepared and frozen.

To add to the parsnips, gathered together a small harvest of Rudolph broccoli and a small bunch of daffodils. I chose stems that had buds that had just bent over. These quickly opened once placed in a vase. They’re the first cut flowers of the year.

Not all the parsnips brought home last week were frozen, some were used in a pumpkin and parsnip cassoulet along with some onions and Crown Prince squash.

Another meal that used some of our vegetables was a vegetable curry made on the slow cooker. Into this went a few of our remaining potatoes and some runner beans and peas from the freezer.

We used some of our frozen vegetables t9 make a chicken, vegetable and Parmesan orzo dish. Along with a onion, frozen runner beans, peas and. sweet corn went into this dish.

Chopped parsley was scattered over before serving.

It would seem now that I am paying the price of entering into battle with obstinate weeds as I think that I have pulled or strained a muscle in my left shoulder. It’s amazing how this hurts doing a variety of things that you wouldn’t think had anything to do with a muscle in your shoulder. I can’t sit up straight without back support and can only sleep on my back. I’ve had to write this blog on my iPad - which isn’t my preferred meth9d - as I can’t sit at my desk. I’m hoping it doesn’t take too long to be back to normal as we have a busy time ahead.

Just a quick update on my eye hospital over the telephone. This really was just a general discussion about how I felt my eyes had been. Fortunately I could feedback the outcome of my optician’s examination. The drops that I use for my dry eyes was adjusted but otherwise the consultant was happy to leave it at that and will make another telephone appointment in 4 months time.

As always in these uncertain times keep safe and well.

This week I'm joining Harvest Monday on Dave's Our Happy Acres blog so I have linked to him this week  

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

Wednesday, March 24

First butterfly on our plot

Monday, March 22

A busy week

An improvement in the weather meant that the gardening activity moved up a pace last week.

We managed to spend a couple of afternoons in the garden and the same on the allotment.

First in the garden or more precisely the garden greenhouse.

We planted three crates each with two tubers of Casablanca potatoes. The tubers were planted deeply and will not be earthed up. All we will need to do is give them a drink and when the time is right bring them out of the greenhouse. All very low maintenance. This method produced a good crop last year, although we planted them up in the plot greenhouse and brought them home during the first lockdown.
We sowed some  Sweet Candle carrot seeds into a few containers in an attempt to grow some early carrots.
To give us an early start, each year, we order a collection of early brassicas from DT Brown. Our collection arrived this week and so the young plants have been potted up to grow on in the greenhouse for a while.  In the collection were two lots of cabbages - Mozart and Regency, cauliflower - Seoul and calabrese - Aquiles.

Martyn also sowed  some sweet pea and broad bean seeds.
Martyn, potted up the new dahlias that we bought earlier. The pots have been kept in the garden greenhouse. The older dahlias have been uncovered and placed in boxes of compost and are being stored in the allotment greenhouse.

The garlic that I planted a week or so ago is growing well although we needed to place covers over the trays as mice were digging up the cloves.

Outside in the garden I cut back the ferns in our fern bed.

In the garden, the final task of the week was to sort out the bed in front of the newly erected trellis. The perennials had become worn out and untidy and so we dug them all out and dug over the bed. We then split the perennials and replanted some along with some lupins that we grew from seed last year and a jasmine that was growing in the greenhouse. The remaining plants will be transferred to the allotment where some will be added to the mixed border.
At the allotment it was mainly a case of continuing to clear and tidy up beds.
I weeded and generally tidied the mixed border which is along one edge of our plot. This was to prepare clear areas where we can plant up any perennials that are no longer required in the garden.
Whilst I was concentrating on that, Martyn dug over an old strawberry bed which as you can see from the photo is rough and will need more work to break down the large lumps.

Martyn also uncovered some beds that had been covered over winter with weed control fabric. This will help them to dry out a little quicker before we need to plant them up.

The pace of growth on the allotment seems to have speeded up.
The garlic and over wintering onions are now beginning to grow away ...

... as are the clumps of Timperley Early rhubarb

The Rudolph broccoli is now cropping and providing us with a small harvest.

Last week, at the end of each allotment visit we brought home a very small harvest.
16 March
Our second harvest of the week included the remaining leeks. We needed to dig them up before they started to grow. Most were cleaned, chopped and frozen. Interestingly, the later planted leeks were not spoiled by the brown streaks evident on the earlier ones.
20 March

I slipped up last week and haven't any photos of a couple of the meals where I used our vegetables.

Monday was a vegetable casserole that used leeks, carrot and parsnip along with some green lentils and some leftover swede.

On Wednesday I made a chicken and vegetable casserole in the slow cooker. To the chicken thighs, I added onion, carrot, leeks and some of the very small potatoes that were left in our potato sack. I also added some shop bought celery.
Friday we had a stir fry. I just tend to throw in whatever vegetables I want to use up. In this instance, I had some red pepper and mushrooms in the fridge which were added to strips of carrot and onion. Our frozen French beans, peas and sweetcorn also went into the pan. I added a sweet chilli sauce 'dressing' as we don't use soy sauce. The stir fry was served on top of noodles.

Sunday, I made a turkey pasta bake which used some of the leeks gathered the previous day. I wasn't quick enough to take a photo before it was on the plate.

As always stay safe and well - let's hope all the mass protests and demonstrations haven't affected our battle to get the Covid infection rate down.

This week I'm joining Harvest Monday on Dave's Our Happy Acres blog so I have linked to him this week.

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

Wednesday, March 17

Siskins pay us a visit

Monday, March 15

The March winds doth blow

Last week, March certainly lived up to its reputation of being a windy month. It was a week for hunkering down, so gardening was once more on hold. We can only hope that the winds played their part in drying out the soil on the plot, although as the wind was often accompanied by some quite heavy rain showers the drying effect may have been cancelled out.

The only gardening activity was, Martyn erecting some trellis to hide the garage wall.

The trellis has been waiting patiently, as it was a job that had been earmarked  for completion over winter. Now we just need to renovate the border in front of it which will necessitate the purchase of more plants - oh dear!

Elsewhere in the garden more miniature daffodils are adding to the spring display.
More hellebore flowers are adding colour too but in the windy conditions it's tricky taking a decent photo.
I find the centre of the flowers really fascinating.

Our bird donated daphne is covered with fragrant flowers. I'm glad that I didn't weed out the unidentified 'weed' when I first spotted it several years ago.
Once they form, I'll need to make sure that I gather up the poisonous berries before Ruby is allowed near. Everything that can possibly go in her mouth is fair game. She is even likely to pull the berries off the plant before they fall to the ground.

I'll also be keeping a close eye on the aucuba berries, although they are not as toxic as daphne berries, they can cause an upset tummy.
It's quite scary, just how many of our garden plants are poisonous which is why Ruby isn't allowed in the garden unaccompanied.

She's had a go at a tub of wallflowers on the patio but at least one individual, that is out of reach, is determined to thwart her. 
I'm afraid that there is no allotment activity to report on and we have no harvest to show you, but we did use plenty of vegetables in last week's meals.

On Monday I made some spicy tuna fishcakes. A small amount of our potatoes went into the fishcakes which were accompanied by sauteed potatoes, savoy cabbage and our first picking of broccoli.

Thursday's meal used more of our potatoes and some carrots. As we don't seem to be able to grow swedes, I had to buy one and I also used some of our frozen peas to make a sort of turkey cottage pie with a twist.

Friday I made a vegetable biryani based on this recipe. I used onion, carrot, frozen peas and French beans along with bought red pepper and mushrooms. This was served with one of, Martyn's homemade naans

Sunday, I made an orzo dish that used some onion and carrot. I didn't follow the recipe exactly as the amounts given for ingredients weren't helpful. How much exactly is a packet of cherry tomatoes? Then it used a mixture of cups and ounces. As a basic recipe it could be adapted using a range of different ingredients.
There were a couple of visits that we had to make last week.

Wednesday, it was back to the vet for Ruby, for her booster injection and annual examination
She was ready and looking forward to a walk until she realised where we were heading. I had to carry her through the door as she refused to go into the porch and wasn't at all happy when I left her there to be collected by the vet. She couldn't get out and into the car quickly enough when I collected her. About an hour after the injection, she worried us as she just wasn't interested in anything and just wanted to curl up and sleep which is most unRubylike at that time of day. She looked generally unhappy. I rang the vet to check whether this was normal as it seemed a rather extreme reaction. I was told to give it four or five hours and keep an eye on her. A good sign was she perked up when food was on offer but just long enough to eat it. She wasn't really back to normal until later that night.

I also had an unwelcome appointment, mine was with the opticians which I hate. Give me the dentist any day. Being so short sighted, I hate doing eye tests as I panic and then feel so stupid when I can't read the letters on the screen. I can't have a scan either as the machine can't cope with my prescription. It makes me feel freakish. Fortunately, I always see the same optometrist who understands me. Happily, there was no change in my eyes. Hospital appointments are far worse as I am dealing with strangers.  I have a hospital appointed just over a week from now but it's a telephone appointment which to be honest seems to be a waste of time when they can't actually examine my eyes or do pressure tests. I guess this is the world that we live in these days. At least I now have something to report back to the consultant

Anyway, let's hope for some better weather this week and as always stay healthy and safe.

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

Monday, March 8

A new bird on the plot

Last week was a bit of a teaser. One minute it was bright and sunny and it felt as though spring was knocking on the door. Then, when you were ready to let it in, it backed off and hid behind the clouds.
Some of our top up seeds arrived so we are more than ready to make a start on the new growing season.

Not to be put off by the fickle weather patterns, plants in the garden are coming into bloom in ever increasing numbers.
The hellebores seem to be late to flower this year and are vying with the mini daffodils, shrubs and crocuses for attention.

Ruby's walks saw us back to trying to get her to dodge the mud, something that she is not good at. We paid a visit to Nostell Priory which is almost becoming a weekly event. I didn't take any photos as we were accompanied by drizzle which started to threaten to become heavier rain. Our visit was shorter than usual and Ruby ended up needing a date with the shampoo bottle.
Earlier in the year, I bought a couple of garlic bulbs which were advertised as suitable for spring planting. I didn't want to leave the planting until too late and the ground is still too soggy for planting out, so we decided to start the cloves off in pots.
Martyn also decided to sow a couple of salad leaves. These have been put in an upstairs room under a grow light. I guess this marks the real beginning of our growing season.

On the same day we did some tidying in the garden but there is still lots to do.

We managed an afternoon at the allotment which involved more tidying. Some of the beds are even ready to go when planting starts later this month.
As usual, we had a wander around the plot to take note of which plants are growing and which are struggling. It looks as though we may soon be able to enjoy our first rhubarb of the season.
The Early Timperley clumps have put on lots of new growth and just need a little more warmth to spur them into producing stems. The later varieties are just beginning to push fat leaf buds through the soil. They have all been given a top dressing of fish, blood and bone to give them  boost.

Cherry, blackcurrant and cobnut
Buds are swelling on the fruit trees and bushes and will also be bursting into leaf and flower as soon as they are certain that winter has been defeated.
Blueberry, pear and jostaberry
Despite having had lots of crops spoiled by the weather we managed to gather together a small harvest.
Mixed variety leeks, broccoli Rudolph and Sabrosa savoy
We harvested the first sprigs of our Rudolph broccoli, more leeks and a couple of small savoy cabbages. The savoys, although small, seem to have stood up to the weather better than the smooth leaved cabbages.

Back in the kitchen, I used some of our frozen tomato sauce with some bought in ravioli.
I'd ordered some Parmesan shavings but was disappointed that they came as small squares as I'd expected something shaped more like wood shavings.

Onions and carrot were used with French beans and peas from the freezer to make a vegetable paella.
Some of our leeks went into a chicken bean and leek bake which was accompanied  by hasselback potatoes
More leeks and carrot along with some freshly picked coriander were used in a vegetable and lentil casserole. This is the third harvest from a pot of coriander that has been kept all winter in the garden greenhouse. I can't find the link for this recipe but it was basically leeks, carrot, celery, courgette and garlic fried for a short time. Cumin seed, ground coriander, tumeric, black pepper and red lentils were added and then tinned chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and stock. This was cooked for about 30 minutes and chopped coriander was added before serving.
Finally, during most of the afternoon at the allotment a new bird joined in the chorus being provided by robins, blackbirds and tits. What the new chorister lacked in tune he made up for in enthusiasm. I wonder whether he will find himself a female.  I guess if he does we will have more than just wood pigeons to guard our crops against.

As always stay safe and well  - hopefully vaccination  our programmes will get us back to a near normal life soon.

I hope that my mini harvest qualifies me for joining Harvest Monday on Dave's Our Happy Acres blog so I have linked to him this week

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