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

Monday, August 23

It's all about the harvest

This week, time on the allotment - whenever rain showers allowed - has been spent harvesting and preparing our harvests for freezing. It's that time of year when other jobs have to be placed on the back burner. Harvesting is our priority. If crops are left to sit on the plot, there is really no point in it all.
It's not just the allotment that provides us with a harvest. Tomatoes and Mini Munch cucumbers are being harvested from the garden which, unlike the allotment, has so far avoided the dreaded blight.
Martyn, got out a ladder to pick more apples from the tree in the garden. We passed on a couple of bucketfuls to neighbours. This lot was just from our side of the tree. As it grows on our boundary, at least another couple of neighbours help themselves to fruit growing on the other side. Most of our share has been stewed, either by itself or with other fruit picked from the allotment, and frozen. Like squirrels food is stored away for winter supplies.
We didn't manage our major allotment harvest until Friday but it was definitely worth waiting for.
20 August - Sweet Peas, Dahlias, Plums - Oullins Gage & a few Victoria, Courgettes - Boldenice, Ambassador & Black Forest, Blueberries, Blackberries - Loch Ness, Cabbage - Mozart, Tomatoes - Crimson Crush, Crimson Plum, Sungold & Tumbler, Calabrese - Monclano, Raspberries - All Gold, Apples - Discovery, Potatoes - Nadine, Carrots - Romance and Peas - Onward.

The first lot of pea plants have now been stripped and the bed cleared. The next lot of peas, Onward and Terrain are now setting pods so we will soon be picking and freezing again. Unlike Onward, Terrain produces flowers in pairs. 
I wonder whether the next batch of peas will be free from pea moth grubs too. We also usually have grubs in the first lot of plums that we pick but these too have been bug free. The potatoes lifted so far have been mostly free of minibeast damage. The odd one or two have been nibbled by slugs but, usually some tubers have wireworm damage. It's early days as there are lots of potatoes still to lift but could it be that the pests haven't thrived in this year's weather conditions? Has anyone else noticed something similar?

It's a good job that our garden apple tree has fruited so well this year, as some of the apple trees on the allotment are having a year off. The Discovery tree which is usually dripping with fruit has produced just six apples. It had lots of blossom but the poor weather at the time probably led to poor pollination.

Some of the tomatoes from plants caught by blight were picked whist still green. The fruits showed no sign of blight so will be ripen ay home. Just in case, they will be kept well away from the tomatoes growing in the garden.

There were a few red tomatoes in the plot greenhouse. We have planted, Crimson Crush and Crimson Plum which are both described a blight resistant. Next year we are likely to stick to blight resistant varieties at the allotment. Has anyone any recommendations?

On Saturday, just before we left the plot, Martyn decided to lift a root of Nadine potatoes. He just wanted to confirm whether his doubts that the plants had produced a decent crop were correct. The tops of the plants hadn't seemed to make much growth. Happily, he was wrong and the root that he dug had produced a good amount of tubers.
After digging up a surprisingly good root of Nadine the previous day, on Sunday, Martyn decided to dig up the rest of the row and the row of Elfe growing alongside it. Both rows had produced good crops which considering the tubers were planted in a very rough piece of ground - our old strawberry bed - was very pleasing.
Whilst, Martyn was digging up potatoes, I was loosening the onions. The leaves had flopped over indicating that there would be no more growing. The uprooted bulbs now need to dry off ready for storing and using over winter and hopefully beyond. We could do with a few dry sunny days to help with that.
On the whole, the onions have also produced a good crop but, the bed on the right above was very soggy in places and a few of the onions growing there had succumbed to rot.

The onions that were badly affected have been disposed of but in some cases rot had only slightly affected the outer skins and these will be quickly used in the kitchen. Some of the onions are quite large - too large for using up in a meal for just the two of us, in such cases I fry the whole onion and pop half in a container to be kept in the fridge and used the next day or frozen for later in the week.
22 August - Calabrese - Montclano, Plums - Victoria, Courgettes - Ambassador, Boldenice & Black Forest and Peas - Onward

We have given lots of courgettes away. Thankfully we have neighbours who don't lock the doors and hide in the house when they see me approaching with a bucket.

Monday I used some of the courgettes, an onion and some of our cherry tomatoes in a chicken and courgette risotto. I used risotto rice rather than the basmati specified in the recipe.

Friday I made curried cabbage based on this recipe. The recipe contained our cabbage, onion, carrots, peas and some of our frozen coriander.
On Sunday I used some of the potatoes freshly lifted, a Boldenice courgette and a handful of garden mint to cook a  courgette, potato and mint frittata. This was served with sauteed potato and calabrese. Most of the ingredients - not the eggs were harvested that day so you can't get fresher than that.
Despite the weather not looking too promising, we set off for our usual walk in the park at Nostell Priory. Our walk was shorter than usual as we were caught in a heavy shower and all ended up wet and soggy.
Ruby wasn't in the least bit worried by the rain. Strangely if she had been getting as wet in a shower cubicle, it would have been a very different story!

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, August 16

Harvest time continues

Last week was a fairly busy week. As well as time spent harvesting, we managed to do a few other jobs on the allotment. As I mentioned in the previous week's post, beds are now being cleared.

Our first two plantings of broad beans have been harvested and so I cleared the bed. Expert wisdom says that the roots of broad beans should be left in the ground so that the nitrogen nodules release nitrogen back into the soil. The first lot of beans must have fulfilled that task ask no nodules were apparent on the roots. As we wanted to dig over the bed in order to put it to sleep for winter, I pulled up the second batch of plants. The roots of these were covered in nodules so I rubbed them off onto the bed. My, maybe mistaken, logic is that the nodules can decompose without being attached to the plants. Maybe I'll never know whether this is true or not. (Video here)
Martyn rotovated several of the empty beds and two were then replanted. One bed was planted with Safari dwarf beans. Hopefully these will provide us with a late harvest of small French beans. It's worked that way for the last two years. Some seeds were sown earlier and really had grown a bit too big so these were squeezed in amongst some dwarf sunflowers. They may produce some beans or not but nothing is lost in planting them.
You may remember the sweetcorn that was battered down by the wind when I planted it. It was almost consigned to the compost heap but look at it now!
Another group of plants that have earned a reprieve are one lot of strawberry plants that are residing in our old strawberry bed. This was due for clearance but one variety - Sweetheart - produced such a good crop that we have decided to leave the plants for at least another year and tidy up around them.
I also planted some sweet Williams which will hopefully create a colourful display next year.
We had a very unwelcome visitor on our plot. Some of our larger tomatoes have blight so it looks as though our plot tomatoes will fail to ripen. We grow tomatoes in our greenhouse at home so hopefully these will avoid the same fate.

Although the larger tomatoes are slow to ripen, we have harvested quite a few cherry tomatoes both from the allotment and the garden. We also grow our cucumbers in our garden greenhouse, and now Mini Munch is providing us with a crop.
Martyn is still picking apples from the tree in our garden.
We think these are Bramley apples.
We have some tubs of herbs in the garden and the coriander was ready for cropping as it was on the point of producing flowers. The leaves were chopped back and have been frozen for use later in the year when no fresh leaves are available.

Martyn dug more potatoes. (Video here) This time the variety was Osprey. The tubers were a good size and just like potatoes lifted earlier showed no signs of pest damage, other than some casualties of a misplaced garden fork.

 9 August - Potatoes - Osprey and a few Apache, Peas - Onward, Courgettes - Boldenice, Ambassador and Black Forest. Climbing French beans - Cobra and Golden Gate and Blackberries

10 August - Sweet Peas, Blackberries - Loch Ness, Courgettes - Boldenice, Ambassador and Black Forest, Cabbage - Mozart,  Blueberries and Runner beans - Moonlight &Lady Di

Although we are not going to have as good a plum harvest as usual, we are managing to pick some Oullins Gage plums.
13 August - Plums - Oullins Gage, Blackberries - Loch Ness and Courgettes - Boldenice, Black Forest and Ambassador
Despite our first sowing of peas failing to germinate or being eaten, our second sowing is providing a good harvest which means time needs to be made for podding and freezing. Usually a few pods are home to pea moth grubs but, this year, so far, we haven't come across a single grub.

14 August - Mixed dahlias, Runner beans - Lady Di & Moonlight, Peas - Onward, Tomatoes - Sungold, Calabrese -  Monclano, Blueberries and Carrots - Romance.
The large head of calabrese was a welcome surprise as it was hiding under leaves and we hadn't spotted it developing.
The leaves of the shallots had died back, and so we decided to lift them. We grew two varieties - Longor and Meloine. Both have produced a reasonable crop with Longor growing larger bulbs.
15 August - Mixed sweet peas,  Shallots - Longor and Meloine, Blackberries - Loch Ness, Raspberries - All Gold, French Beans - Cobra,  Runner Beans - Lady Di & Moonlight, Courgettes - Boldenice, Ambassador & Black Forest. and Plums - Oullins Gage

The summer fruiting red raspberries are over now but the autumn fruiting All Gold are now starting to fruit, so we will have a continuous supply of raspberries for a while longer.

So how have I used our vegetable harvest?

Monday we had cheesy bake that used some of the cauliflower picked the previous week and onion.
Friday we had a chicken, courgette and mushroom dish, based on this recipe and served with Casablanca potatoes.
On Sunday I made a turkey stir fry using, courgettes, runner beans, onion, calabrese and carrot.
Some of the shallots went into a batch of turkey sausage rolls.
As well as being busy gardening, harvesting and freezing, we managed walks with Ruby, one of which was, as usual, around the grounds of Nostell Priory. My sister had heard that a rare butterfly had been reported there and that Nostell was the only location this far north to report seeing this butterfly. How exciting - for a few minutes anyway. I read the article about this, only to find that the 'rare' butterfly was a gatekeeper. They reckoned that the warming climate was making them move further north. Hardly rare as we regularly see gatekeeper's on our plot and have been photographing them since 2009 and we are slightly further north than Nostell. I do wish reporters would check their facts before making sweeping statements. I even read that Nostell had listed gatekeepers as a butterfly found in their park as far back as 2012.

We didn't see any gatekeepers on our visit to Nostell, but we did see plenty of damselflies.
The cygnets were feeding alongside mum, in a much more convenient place to take a photo of them. They are now just about as large as their parents.

The only other noteworthy event was our wedding anniversary last Monday. We would usually celebrate by going out for a meal but we haven't felt comfortable enough to brave a restaurant yet. That's four birthday and two anniversary meals out that we have missed so far. With reported case of the virus still fairly high I wonder whether next year we will be dining out again?

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