Monday, October 25

A race against the winter weather

There's not much to report this week. The weather has meant that it wasn't really pleasant to be working outside and so there is not much to report on.

Despite the weather, we have done the usual walks with Ruby. She has so much energy that she needs the exercise. She doesn't mind getting wet if a walk/run is on offer but it's quite a different story when she has to go in the shower.

Autumn is certainly getting a grip now.

Some trees are wearing their autumn colours, whereas some hold on determinedly to their dirty green leaves.
The paths are becoming carpeted by fallen leaves providing new sniffing opportunities for a curious soggy doggy.

It was on one of the better days of the week that we visited Nostell. In sheltered parts of the grounds it was quite pleasant and the swan family was enjoying a siesta together.
There was even a little weak sunshine although away from the shelter the wind cancelled out any warmth that the sunshine managed to deliver.

We took advantage of the fenced off area where dogs can have off lead playtime. Ruby had great fun hurtling after her tennis ball. Her little legs can really motor. I ended up flat on my back courtesy of a collision with a two legged family member. I won't point the finger by naming names. Fortunately, I missed the muddy patches.

We managed some time at the allotment. I pruned the blackberry by removing all last year's fruiting canes - and accidentally one of the strong new canes oops - and tied in the surviving new canes. It is so much easier with a thornless variety no scratches or pain! Quite a lot of tall grass has grown around the roots which will need dealing with somehow.

Most of our time is still focussed on tidying and digging over the beds. It's a bit of a race before the weather puts paid to any more digging and the soil becomes too soggy.
We gathered a small harvest.
The dahlias are still hanging on and producing flowers in spite of me having given up on dead heading.

The Albion strawberries are also still producing fruit which we are still picking semi-ripe and finishing ripening indoors. 

The berries run the risk of spoiling when it rains and the slugs have also found them. With us not visiting the allotment as regular we pick them as soon as we notice them reddening. It's such a treat to have homegrown fresh strawberries at the end of October.

Of course, the weather doesn't stop us from cooking, in fact, we have more time for this.

We used to buy a snack when we were out for the day or afternoon but Covid has changed all that and we now take our snacks or lunches with us. Also now that we are avoiding red and processed meat, for health reasons not because Prince Charles tells us that we should to save the planet, we need alternatives to pork pies and sausage rolls etc, to have with our salads. 

Last week I made a batch of mini coronation chicken pies but I didn't photograph them as the only homegrown ingredient was an onion.

I also made a batch of orange, oat, coconut, walnut and sultans cookies which didn't use any homegrown ingredients.

Martyn, made his first focaccia which used some of our tomato and onion but I wasn't allowed to photograph it but it was tasty despite his reservations.

Some cooking did use some homegrown ingredients. I used some of our leeks, frozen peas and tomatoes in a leek and pepper curry. It was based on this recipe although I used coconut milk instead of coconut yoghurt.

We cut into our first pink banana squash and used some in a pumpkin, cranberry and onion tagine. The rest of the squash was frozen to use later. It was based on this recipe although we don't have much success growing red onions so I used our brown onions.
I used more of our leeks, carrot and frozen peas and green beans to make a turkey stew based on this recipe. The recipe refers to it as a summer stew but leeks always mean autumn and winter meals in my mind. It was served with some of our potatoes which were boiled and crushed.
Until next week, I hope that you have a good week and stay 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, October 18

We have leeks

Last week we continued clearing and tidying beds on the allotment. Beds where the soil is in good condition have been covered with weed control fabric held in place with wood chippings. Where the soil remains lumpy after digging the beds will be left uncovered to allow the lumps to be broken down by the winter weather.
As well as tidying, there is also some pruning to be done. Last week, I tackled the row of summer fruiting raspberries. The canes that fruited this year were cut out and any thin straggly new canes were also cut out. The remaining strong new canes were tied in. We have six varieties of raspberries. Some, Malling Juno and Cascade Delight, are faring better than others
I also pruned the purple fruiting, Glencoe raspberry, in more or less the same way. The difference is that Glencoe produces very long whippy canes, so the tops of the canes have been looped down and tied in.
Although we have spent most of our time clearing and tidying, we have spent a little time harvesting.  
October 15 - Leeks - Below Zero, Strawberries - Albion and Squash - Autumn Crown

We dug the first of our leeks. We leave leeks in the ground over winter and lift as we need them. When planting this year, we first dug a trench and planted the baby leeks in holes made in the bottom of the trench. As the leeks grew the trench was gradually filled in. The idea was to produce leeks with a longer white section and this seems to have worked.

As I cleared the dying squash vines, I found a few very small Autumn Crown squashes. Most were still green. Whether these will continue to ripen or have any usable flesh on them remains to be seen.
Somethings that do continue the ripening process, after picking, are the Albion strawberries. The flavour is very good even after ripening indoors. I wonder what the taste will be like when the berries have ripened in the sun.
On clearing another bed, we found a Pink Banana squash that we had previously missed as it had been accidentally planted amongst the courgettes.

We picked yet another bucketful of Fiesta apples.
October 16 - Apples - Fiesta, Squash - Pink Banana and mixed flowers.
Despite registering an overnight temperatures of 2.3C, the dahlias had survived so I cut what could be our last bunch of cut flowers. I picked some cosmos to put with them.

Back in the garden we picked more ripe tomatoes from the greenhouse and raised bed and yet another bucketful of apples. We’re not sure of the variety but they are cooking apples.

We decided to take Ruby to Temple Newsam for one of her walks. It was showery so we spent some time sheltering under trees. I hadn’t taken my camera with us so had to take photos with my phone. I hadn’t realised that I needed to change the format so the photos all ended up square.

We paid our usual visit to Nostell Priory.

The young swans are now far more confident and independent. Two of them came right up to the bank close to us. Maybe they thought that we had some food for them. They are gradually losing their brownish feathers and exchanging them for white adult plumage. Martyn posted a short video of the young swans here.

Finally, last week we used our vegetables as accompaniment to fish and also as ingredients in other meals.

An onion and apple went into a fruity turkey curry. I kept the pieces of fruit intact rather than sieving them, as stated in the recipe, to make a smooth sauce. To my mind this is a waste of the fruit.

I used some of the leeks, carrots, fresh sage and potatoes in a vegetable 'shepherds' pie based on this recipe. I didn't have any sweet potatoes or cauliflower so just used a mashed potato topping and I used sweet chili sauce instead of the chilli flakes, sugar and soy sauce.

Our final meal of the week was a chicken, leek and tomato casserole. In this I used some of the leeks, tomatoes, garlic and parsley. It was based on this recipe but I left out the olives as neither of us like them. It was served with some of our potatoes mashed.
That's all for this week. Hope that you have a good week and stay 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, October 13


Monday, October 11

Last of the mega harvests

We are now at the stage where most activity on the allotment revolves around preparing our plot for winter and in many ways for next season. The more we can clear, tidy and dig over now the easier it will be next spring when we are ready to make a start on sowing and planting.

Some beds will be covered with weed control fabric to keep any weed growth down but the rougher beds will be left uncovered to allow frosts and rain to break down any lumpy soil over winter.

The sweet William plants are growing well and just needed some weeding which, now that we have had some rain to soften the ground, was fairly easy. All being well, we are looking forward to a lovely display from them next year.

We removed the cover from our over wintering onions and garlic. It was just intended to protect the newly planted sets from being dug up by any allotment wild life. The onions and garlic are now producing shoots so its job is done.

Last week saw the last of our bulk harvests. At the beginning of the week we picked most of the tree fruit. We posted a video here.
5 October - Apples -Fiesta & Egremont Russet, Pears - Invincible, Quince - Meeches Prolific and Strawberries - Albion.
The quinces took us some time to prepare for the freezer. If you are unfamiliar with cooking quinces we have posted a video here.

Every year, our Invincible pear tree is affected by rust. it looks quite scary when viewed from the underside of the leaf, but doesn’t generally affect fruiting. Strangely it doesn’t appear on the other two pear trees growing in the same bed, neither of which fruit as well as Invincible.

We picked another bucketful of apples at the weekend. This time the varieties were Golden Delicious, Tickled Pink and one lonely Queen Cox.

9 October - Mixed flowers,  Cabbage - Cabbice, Apples - Golden Delicious, Tickled Pink & Queen Cox, Potatoes - Apache and Strawberries - Albion.

Our determined strawberry plants produced more fruits that we picked to finish off ripening at home. The fruits are huge and despite the lateness in the season have a good flavour. They have been a real bonus.

I added a few sprigs of statice to my cut flowers last week.

The dahlias are coming to an end. It's just a matter of time before the first frosts will blacken them and they will need lifting to store over winter.

We'd planted some Apache seed potatoes in our old strawberry bed with the aim of breaking down the compacted soil. We didn't expect to get a crop from them but, out of curiosity, Martyn decided to dig some up and was surprised to find some decent potatoes.

We’re still picking a few ripe tomatoes from the greenhouse and raised bed in the garden.

Last week we stripped all the tomatoes from the plants in the allotment greenhouse as we wanted to clear them out to make way for, amongst other things, our over-wintering dahlias. There were still lots of green tomatoes that will be ripened at home.

Last week instead of our usual visit to Nostell Priory we decided to go a little further afield and had an afternoon out at Clumber Park.
There are some rather impressive trees that must have seen some changes over the course of their lifetimes. I wonder just how old they are?

The remains of one specimen has been left for the wildlife to enjoy. Can you spot the squirrel? You may have a better chance if you click on the photo for a larger copy. One of the two squirrel pictures will give you a clue.

Seeds are left to encourage birds to visit. 

Just like at Nostell there was a family of swans on the lake. This family had five cygnets but one had struck out on it's own and is missing from the photograph.

Ruby enjoyed her visit and, thankfully, is now fully recovered from her tummy upset.

Finally our roundup of last week's meals that incorporated our vegetables.

Our onion, garlic and carrot went into a vegetable bolognese.

I made a chicken, potato and green bean curry based on this recipe. I used our onion, potato and green beans in this.

Our carrot, onion, frozen sweet corn and frozen peas went into a stir fry based on this recipe. I served it with noodles instead of rice and added spinach. I also used far more sweet chilli sauce than the amount specified in the recipe.

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that every day brings news of more problems. Shortages of HGV drivers, farm workers, meat processors, energy companies going out of business, to name just some issues that our country seems to be facing. Whatever will next week bring? I dread to think!

As always, wherever you are, I hope you all stay 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