Monday, May 31

Harvesting from the freezer

Last week it started to feel more like spring. The trouble is that meteorological spring comes to an end this week, so spring has been late in arriving but I guess it's better late than never. The question is, of course, how long will the better weather last. It's been good to experience some warmth from the sun.

Of course, we did have some rain thrown into the mix, but we also had some rain-free days.
We all had our hair cut last week, including Ruby. Ruby is the only one willing to model her new hair cut.

She had a summer cut, in the hope that the predicted better weather would actually arrive. She did need a coat one day but for the rest of the week it was fortunate that she had said goodbye to her thick woolly sweater.

We spent a couple of afternoons at the allotment. On Monday, I started to plant up a new strawberry bed. I planted three varieties, Christine, Malwina and Albion (the freebies from Thompson and Morgan). The bed will be filled up when I manage to root some runners from the Sweetheart and Elsanta plants that are growing well in the old strawberry bed.
I also planted a second batch of broad beans - Masterpiece Green Longpod. The first batch is now flowering so we have fingers crossed that this year we will have a harvest.
Martyn, weeded the early brassica bed. We're pleased with how they are coming along. Unlike the brassica seedlings in the greenhouse that are just not thriving at all.
There's no sign of any of the peas that we sowed a couple of weeks ago - we're guessing that something has made a meal of the seeds. The only consolation is that others on our site are having the same problems so our lack of success this year is by no means unique. It's some comfort to know that we are not alone.

The jury is still out on the carrots and parsnips. There are signs of germination but it is too early to tell how successful the sowings have been.
Last year, our cold frame skeleton blew over on a couple of occasions, so this year, Martyn has hammered some shortened fence posts into each corner and tied the struts of the cold frame to it. This is really just used as a giant cloche and, later,  will be home to some tomato plants.

Saturday was our second afternoon at the allotment.  Martyn was horrified to note how quickly the grass had grown since last being cut.  He tried to ignore the grass and planted out our new dahlias. 
The older dahlias, planted last week, have been ravaged by, what we think was, a combined army of slugs and wood pigeons. The new dahlias have been covered with enviromesh to at least give protection from the pigeons. Unfortunately, this will not keep the slugs at bay but maybe the drier conditions will cut down on their nightly forays.

We have empty beds that need to be turned over but the soil is still wet and sticky. I wonder how long it will be before the pendulum swings and it becomes too dry. Oh for hitting that sweet spot when conditions are just right.

We paid, what has become, our weekly visit to Nostell, where I was happy to note that all four cygnets are still fit and well. They are just beginning to develop their long necks.
During the summer months, cattle graze in the parkland. This means that electric fences are erected in some areas. As a result, we have to make sure that Ruby keeps well away from the wires. I must find out whether the electricity is on permanently or only when cattle are in the enclosure.

Some fields are permanently fenced and, as dogs and cattle don't mix, we have to check whether livestock is in a field before entering. Dogs on leads are allowed in areas where cattle are grazing but, there are warnings that the cows could turn nasty if they feel threatened. Dog walkers have been killed by charging cows so it's not worth the risk.
This group were safely behind an electric fence. Some seemed to prefer browsing the trees than the grass. I wonder whether any will evolve long giraffe-like necks.
The cow parsley and speedwell growing in the hedgerows make a perfect combination.

As well as spending a couple of afternoons on the plot, we had a couple of afternoons working in the garden.

One major task is the continuation of the restyling of a flower border. The photos below on the left shows the part that was completed a couple of years ago which is now populated by mature plants. The next part used to be a shrub border which has now been cleared and which we are gradually planting up with perennials.
Many of the plants are either still growing on in the greenhouse or have yet to arrive but I planted some that were garden ready.

Some plants don't need a courier service and arrive on their own. Two such plants are the allium below that is growing in the lawn, on the edge of the fern bed. It's not a good choice of location, as it runs the risk of being cut down by the mower. The aquliegias have made a better choice, and have been growing at the base of a palm for some years now. Strangely I have never planted white aquilegias but they are pretty.
Patio pots containing summer displays have been overwintering in the greenhouse. Some years plants survive and other years they don't. This year quite a lot of the plants made it through the winter. The pots containing spring bulbs have been set aside and the summer pots have been brought out and tidied up. Some will need a few additional plants which hopefully I can source from our greenhouse.
I can't write a blog post at this time of year without featuring a rhubarb harvest. We did pull quite a lot. Some was intended for my sister but we forgot to take it for her, so we now have several tubs of rhubarb compote for freezing. We picked two varieties, one was Early Timperley and the other was a red stemmed variety. We're not sure which variety it is, as we have moved crowns around, but we did have at least two red varieties, Raspberry Red and Giant Grooveless Crimson so it is probably one of those two. The red varieties produce a pinkier sauce or compote.
We may not have much to harvest fresh from the plot, but we still have plenty to 'harvest' from the freezer.

On Monday, I made a vegetable pie that used some of our frozen leeks and parsnips. Instead of a pastry lid, I made a cheesy scone topping. I'm afraid that I forgot to take a photo.

Friday, I used some of our frozen squash to make a vegetable tagine that I served with an apricot and almond quinoa.

Sunday I used some of our frozen French beans in a Chicken risotto.
Anyway fingers are crossed for a continuation of our friendlier, warmer, drier weather. 'Til next week, stay safe and well.

This week I'm going to sneak into Dave’s Harvest Monday collection of posts over at Our Happy Acres where no doubt others will show off a much more prolific harvest than ours.

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


  1. ooh ! Vegetable pie with a cheesie scone topping sounds good ! :)

    1. It was Debs, The recipe used a scone mix but I just made some cheesy scones instead.

  2. I hope you have success with your strawberry plants from T&M. At least they were free. Several of my neighbours and I collectively agree that buying anything from them is throwing good money after bad.

    1. Oh dear, Deborah. We've usually done OK with them.

  3. Too bad about the peas. I had to re-sow some of the bush beans here but I know that was due to cool soil temps. It must have been haircut week everywhere - my wife cut mine last week!

    1. We're hoping that the second lot do better, Dave. It could be that the first lot rotted off. I don't suppose your wife let's you cut hers!

  4. Archie is ready for a haircut again, it seems to grow so quickly and he's really uncomfortable when the weather turns warmer if it isn't cut short, it costs us a bomb though, he has it done so regularly. Yes, the grass really has grown quickly this spring with all the rain about. We've finally managed to get ours cut this week but it was like a jungle out there, it just didn't dry out enough for weeks to be able to get the mower on it.

    1. Ruby has hers cut every 8 weeks. It seemed to grow really quickly this time and her eyes were disappearing. Martyn strims the grass at the allotment and needs a shower when he has finished

  5. Your strawberry bed is looking great! I'm probably going to pull mine out this year. That's one of the problems with trying new varieties - sometimes they work out and other times they don't, which is the case with the ones I have growing now. I'll probably do the same as you and try 2 or 3 different ones next time instead of only one.

    1. I believe in not putting all my eggs into one basket, Margaret.

  6. Great to hear you have all had a haircut. It's wonderful going to a hairdresser again. What a shame about your peas, my courgettes still haven't germinated, weird as they usually fly out. Here's to your dahlias growing. Pesky pigeons. How quickly those delightful cygnets are growing. Great progress in the garden and some tasty looking

    1. We use a mobile hairdresser, Dina and she cut Martyn’s, my sister’s and my hair one afternoon so we didn’t need to venture into a salon. Ruby is also groomed at home. The wood pigeons have a lot to answer for.


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