Wednesday, July 28

Zingy zinnias

Monday, July 26

Another hot one

Last week was another week where it was too hot to do much on the allotment or in the garden

Ruby even had to forego her weekly visit to Nostell and her walks were restricted to the evening when the sun went in and the temperature dropped. She was not impressed!

Monday, we went to the allotment to do a bit of necessary harvesting and we decided to lift the overwintering onions. Lots of them had sent up flower stems and won't keep but, the whole point of planting onions in autumn is to provide an earlier crop to last us until the main onion harvest is ready and they should do just that.
Onions - Senshyu Yellow and radar

We noticed the first signs of blight on our Casablanca potatoes so decided to start lifting them. The Charlotte potatoes also seemed to be dying back. In this case blight wasn't the culprit rather a lack of water. We don't water our potatoes which means that they can suffer when the conditions are dry.
Left - Casablanca and right - Charlotte
The Charlotte potatoes were very small but are fine for using as salad potatoes. Martyn posted a video here. There's another video of Ruby 'helping' us empty the tubs of potatoes here.
19 July - Potatoes - Casablanca and Charlotte, Onions - Senshyu Yellow and Radar, Blueberries, Blackcurrants, Raspberries, Courgettes - Boldenice, Ambassador and Black Forest and sweet peas.

The Black Forest courgettes are supposed to climb but they seem to prefer to sprawl like the squash plants.

Wednesday evening we made a quick visit to water the greenhouse and pick more sweet peas as we don't want them to set seed.

Friday was cooler, so we paid another visit to the plot to do some more harvesting. The spring planted garlic never really seemed to get going, and the leaves were turning yellow, so I decided to lift it. I wasn't expecting much of a crop and was surprised when I needed to use a border fork to uproot the bulbs. What a surprise! Every plant had produced a good sized bulb which was nicely split into cloves with no sign of rot. Regular readers will have read that I was pleased with the harvest from the autumn planted garlic but this was even better. These are a softneck variety - Solent Wight, so will keep better than the hard necked bulbs harvested earlier.
Another job that couldn't wait was to remove the enviromesh from the second sowing of peas - it is actually the third sowing as the first lot never germinated.  Some swede, beetroot and mooli were also being protected under the mesh and so these needed some protection from the ever vigilant wood pigeons.
A chicken wire tunnel was placed over them and the peas were provided with some supports.
July 23 - Garlic - Solent Wight, Courgettes - Boldenice, Ambassador and Black Firest, Potatoes - Charlotte and Casablanca, Broad beans - de Monica, Gooseberries - Pax, Raspberries, Blueberries, Cabbage - Mozart, Sweet Peas and Dahlias,

We cut the first Mozart cabbage which had a really solid head. We now just need to hope that all the cabbages hang on and don't split before we can use them.

Martyn lifted more potatoes. The Charlottes were still very small but we have enjoyed them as salad potatoes.

Saturday, we harvested a few more things.
24 July - Calabrese - Calbrini, Courgettes - Ambassador, Carrots -  Romance and Blackcurrants

I also took a first picking from our second batch of broad beans. These were Masterpiece Green Longpod. I podded these at the plot whilst, Martyn was busy strimming and generally tidying.  On returning home they were frozen.
I also sowed more mooli. I hope that we like them, that is if they grow. A plot neighbour was intrigued by them, so I gave him the remaining seeds so that he could try them too. What's betting his grow better than ours?

Back in the garden, on Sunday, I sowed some lettuce, radishes, spring onions and spinach in some crates that we had grown early potatoes in. These are the types of crops that it is handy to have closer to hand at home.
As well as harvesting from the allotment, we also harvested one or two things from the garden and garden greenhouse.

We harvested our first ripe tomato - Tumbling Tom but didn't take a photo, as the first I knew about it was when Martyn popped half of it on my plate for lunch.

We also picked a couple of cucumbers - Pepinex from the garden greenhouse.
A pot of basil was about to flower so I cut it back and have frozen the leaves for use later. I did the same thing with the coriander that is also growing in a trough.

A third herb, growing in a large pot, is garden mint. This is picked regularly whenever we need a sprig but, last week, I picked a small bunch to add to a batch of courgette, pea and mint soup.

I made enough for the two of us to have four helpings. This has been frozen. It can be eaten as a cold soup but we prefer our soups warm.

The recipe was a mixture of ideas from these two recipes. Courgette and mint soup and Pea, courgette and mint soup. I didn't add any creme fraiche as this wouldn't freeze well. It could be added when the soup is warmed up but, having had a taste, I don't think it needs this addition.

Broccoli and some of our frozen green beans went into a stir fry loosely based on this recipe. As I didn't have any snow peas so I used frozen garden peas instead.

As you can imagine courgettes featured in last week's meals. Firstly I made a pasta dish with a vegetable ragu which was based on this recipe.
Another meal was chicken and courgette curry loosely based on this recipe. I used tikka masala paste, tinned tomato and chicken stock rather than the korma sauce. I also added lime juice and zest to the curry and not to the rice which was just cooked in chicken stock.

By the way, do you remember the battered sweet corn that we very nearly pulled up? Well here it is now.

Who would have guessed that a few weeks ago it looked dead? It is now starting to produce male and female flowers.

I had a, much overdue, hospital appointment at the eye clinic last week. Despite, the so called, Freedom Day they still had all the Covid protocols in place and I was glad about that!

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, July 19

Too hot for the plot

At the end of last week, the temperatures soared, so it was far too hot to do any work on the plot. We did manage some harvesting and general tidying at the beginning of the week, and also managed some fun time with Ruby.

On Wednesday, once again, we headed for the coast. There was none of the uncertainty of the previous visit as Ruby plunged into the sea.
The timing of our visit was unfortunate, as Ruby was clipped and groomed on the previous day. The visit had been scheduled for the week before but the weather caused us to postpone.
On returning home, it was time for a shower to rinse away any salt. Two showers in two days was the price Ruby had to pay for a day's fun.

Thursday we visited Nostell, and walked through the ever changing meadow.
We now, have to adapt our route to avoid whichever field  the cattle have been let in to graze. Dogs and cattle are often not a happy mix. Not that Ruby would trouble them, she just stands and stares at them, but they may decide to take exception to her presence and turn nasty. There have been several incidents whereby dog walkers have been attached by cattle.
The lime trees were in full flower and treating us to their lovely perfume.

I didn't manage a photo of the cygnets, as they were feeding amongst the reeds, and my camera refused to focus but all four cygnets are thriving.

Back at the allotment, we managed a little tidying and I thinned out the mooli seedlings.
We have decided to cut back most of the redcurrant bushes which we inherited when we took over the plot. They had produced quite a thicket so the idea is to cut most down to the ground, leaving some to, hopefully, provide us with some fruit until the bushes that have been cut right back produce fruiting branches. Redcurrants fruit on two to three year old wood.
Cutting the bushes down meant that we could harvest some berries that neither us nor the wood pigeons had managed to reach.

Sunday we made a flying visit to do some essential watering and to plant a third lot of broad beans. This time, the variety was Luz de Otono. These should crop in autumn and have been planted in some temporary space in the new strawberry bed.
13 July 2021 - Courgettes - Ambassador, Black Forest and Boldenice, Raspberries - mixed varieties, Blueberries, Sweet Peas and a sprinkling of Jostaberries

16 July 2021,  Cabbages - Regency. Calabrese - Calabrini, Courgette - Boldenice, Ambassador and Black Forest,  Gooseberries,  Blackcurrants, Blueberries. Raspberries, Redcurrants and another sprinkling of Jostaberries,

The gooseberries and blueberries are under netting to protect them from wood pigeons and blackbirds. The plague of wood pigeons means that next year, we will probably need to cover more of our fruit. This year any berry harvest is a bonus.

Sweet peas are flowering profusely, which means we are busy cutting the flowers so that the plants don't produce seed pods and think that their job is done.

18 July 2021 - Courgettes - Boldenice, Ambassador and Black Forest

On the menu last week were meals that took advantage of our seasonal harvesting.

Monday, we had a cheesy cauliflower bake based on this recipe. I added some courgette and mushrooms to the dish.
Friday I used some courgettes in a Turkey ratatouille based on this recipe.

Sunday, some of the calabrese went into a chicken dish based on this recipe.

This week is set to, more or less, end our Covid restrictions. With cases rising and three of our chief ministers, including the Prime Minister, self-isolating, only time will tell whether this is the right move or whether it will precipitate another surge of this awful disease. Personally, I will not be returning to my pre-Covid lifestyle any time soon.

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, July 12

Real rain

We had some 'real' rain last week for which we and the plants were very grateful. It's amazing how a bout of rain triggers plants into growth when our feeble attempts with a watering can fail to satisfy them. Of course, all plants put on a growth spirt after a good bout of rain and that unfortunately includes the weeds.

Not to put a dampener, no pun intended, on things the warm humid conditions that followed the rain, were just the sort of conditions that can trigger an attack of blight. Fingers crossed that we avoid that scourge.

As I have done in most of my posts. I'll start with an update on Nostell's family of swans. This week the whole family was feeding and preening together. Martyn put together a short video of them here.
The flower meadows were also growing well.
I tried to capture a shot from, Ruby's eye view.
On the allotment we had a little more planting to do. Martyn planted up another brassica bed. He planted cabbage - Cabbice and two lots of cauliflower - Autumn Giant and Zaragoza.
Whilst he was planting brassicas, I planted a first sowing of dwarf French beans - Safari. These went into a mixed bed in which was already planted some dwarf sunflowers, courgettes and climbing beans.

9 July 2021 - Cauliflower - Seoul, Cabbage - Regency, Courgettes - Ambassador, Black Forest and Boldenice, Purple Raspberries - Glencoe and Mixed Raspberries

Boldenice produces spherical fruits.

10 July 2021 Cauliflowers - Seoul, Broad Beans - de Monica, Onions - Senshyu, Strawberries - Sweetheart and Elsanta, Gooseberries - unknown and Mixed Sweet Peas

The sweet peas were our first picking. From now on, I will need to keep cutting the flowers so that they don't have a chance to form seed pods and stop producing new flowers.
It was a bumper week for cauliflowers. One drawback of F1 varieties is that they tend to come to maturity at the same time. This meant that a few heads were frozen for use later.
Any soft fruit that we manage to pick this year will be a bonus as we are suffering from a plague of wood pigeons. A plot neighbour counted sixteen sitting on the wires overlooking the site and he had several times scared them off our plot.

Not only are they stealing the fruit but they are breaking branches and canes so that any remaining fruit dries up.  Unripe fruit is also knocked off the plants.
There was only a sprinkling of ripe jostaberries but I picked them before the pigeons stole them.
11 July 2021 Cauliflower - Seoul, Red Currants, Purple Raspberries - Glencoe and a tiny number of jostaberries.
In earlier years we have been content to share some fruit with blackbirds but we are now going to have to build cages over some fruit. Before long the whole allotment will need to be covered. We do see sparrowhawks and buzzards flying above the site but they don't seem to effectively cull the pigeons.

My blog usually focuses on our gardening activities on the allotment but we also have work to do in our garden.

This year we have been concentrating on two beds, One bed was past its best so we dug out all the plants and split some and replanted. The trellis behind was also renewed. This is now bulking up
We also dug out an overgrown shrub border which we have filled with perennials. They were quite small when we bought them but are now filling out,
Another bed that was planted up a few years ago just needs a little weeding and dead heading. Some of the larger plants need a little bit of controlling to stop them dominating the smaller plants.

Impatiens were planted to fill the space left by miniature daffodils,

Once the ferns have been cut back in early spring the fern bed more or less looks after itself.
Another border is on the list for a major renovation later so we are not short of things to fill our time!

Finally, let's go back to vegetables and a couple of meals that incorporated our harvest.
On Monday, calabrese picked on the day before was used in a pasta bake. 
On Friday I made a chicken and cauliflower curry.  I added some courgette to my version.

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