Veg

Wow it’s been 3 months since I last blogged, but we’ve not been inactive, just time passes by and before you know it the moment has passed.

Anyway, despite the phenomenal recent heat and almost total drought, we’ve had yet more success with cauliflowers. Here is one of the smaller ones!Cauli

We’ve also had vast quantities of peas and strawberries too. Clearly they’re loving the weather!

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Blossoms

Well what a spectacular weekend’s weather-shorts on in early April! Fantastic.

The downside to all this settled weather though is our plot is already absolutely bone dry and rock hard. However, I’m not complaining as all our fruit and nut trees are fully in blossom now with plenty of bees buzzing around them. Hopefully this will lead to another bumper crop again, but we’ll see. When we’ve had dry Springs before, that usually leads to wet Summers or Autumns. Anyway, here are a few shots of the pear and apple blossoms.

All but our main crop potatoes are now in, the wigwams for the various beans put up and we have our first Asparagus spear showing. Planted last year nothing appeared, but hopefully more than one will be coming through this time. I’m not actually that keen on Asparagus, but like everything else, when you’ve grown it yourself all of a sudden it become worth eating!

Spring veg

Today was supposed to be raining, but as often happens here we stayed completely dry. In fact the whole weekend has been fantastic, lovely and sunny and warm.

On the plot yesterday the greenhouse window was wide open and the Orange tree that’s been overwintering in there was lapping up the rays.

Winter here has been pretty cold but mostly dry which all my overwintering crops seems to have enjoyed. The onions and garlic are looking great and here is our first spring cauli 20170312_173503

it tasted as good as it looks.

Apart from picking veg, our fruit cage has now been completely renetted. This is the first year we’ve not had any major construction project and it’s been enjoyable not having to do anything too physical. That of course will be changing soon as the ground covers come off and i give the soil a turnover again.

Finally unfrozen

We closed up the plot for it’s annual winter rest at the start of Dec and apart from popping up occasionally to pick a bit of veg and to top my greenhouse heater up, I’ve been enjoying not getting out of bed on a cold, dark morning. Not that we’ve been able to do anything else anyway as we’ve been frozen solid (literally) for about a month. Last weekend popped up to the beach for a stroll in the sunshine and the shingle was actually frozen into a solid mass, so that shows how cold it’s been here. But not today, No today has reached the dizzy heights of 8 degrees and the sun is out too! Can’t be bad. So, this morning on with the gardening gear and off to the plot we went. As always it felt great to be back in the fresh  air up there once more.

Today’s tasks in no particular order- finally finishing off laying the central pathway. It’s only taken 4 years to complete! We’ve discovered these fantastic, totally non-slip, interlocking plastic tiles that really work as they say and are extremely easy to use. Also, pruned all the fruit trees and bushes, dug out some chives and various weeds and put a bird feeder up, which was already being visited by the resident Robin before we left.

Overall the plot’s in good condition despite the cold.

Here are the overwintering onions doing fine-20170128_112957.jpg

Also, my Orange tree is doing fine nicely snug in the greenhouse-20170121_110439

Finally we have the first signs of life on one of the nut trees-20170128_112948

It won’t be too much longer now until the first signs of Spring proper arrive. Happy days.

Monster Veg

Up until this year I couldn’t really see the point of raised beds for veg, but now we’re busy lifting the fruits of our labour from them I’m now a convert.

Here are two of the giant parnsips picked yesterday. To get some perspective of how big they are, they’re roughly the length of my forearm20161105_110833

Was the first time in a long while that it was actually cold up there yesterday. Cold and damp to be precise. Was actually pleased to come back home and get warmed up once more. But before coming back, cleaned out the greenhouse and the Orange tree is now in there for the winter. Also fleeced up the peach tree, which has really grown this year. We had a couple of frosts earlier in the week when it was unfleeced which doesn’t seem to have done it any harm, but better to be safe that sorry.

Where our new raspberries will go now have their supporting poles in- just waiting for the plants now. Our main crop spuds dried off beautifully, so they’re now in their storage sacks. We have enough to last through the winter i think, so still not quite fully self-sufficient but we’re getting closer to it each year.

Now just the general finishing off to do before we shut up for our annual winter break. A couple of  more weeks and we’ll be finished with just the occasional visit to pick stuff. Talking of which we seem to have a massive crop of sprouts coming so will be looking forward to them.

 

 

Plenty of pears

We’ve had a truly bumper crop of both apples and pears this year. Here are a few of the over 75 pears 20161030_201449we’ve picked so far off just the one tree. These are currently firm and are going up onto the bathroom windowsill to finish ripening which takes about a week. the paper is to stop them rubbing together and bruising.

Apart from picking these have been bust lifting the main cop potatoes and beginning the realignment of our fruit cage- a major task but one that both needs doing and will be beneficial. Thankfully the weather has been so warm- just a t shirt today, then getting everything done has been no trouble.

On a different note, we went to see Monty don giving a talk at the beginning of the week. He really is exactly the same in real life as on tv. If his tour is coming anywhere near you i highly recommend going.

Beating the rain

When i went to bed last night the chances of getting up to the plot and doing anything this morning was looking pretty bleak. But when i checked at 7 this morning, dry until 11, so up we went. Sure enough at just before 11 the heavens opened, but we were safely back inside by then. The few hours we spent up there though were productive.

Removed all the shading from the greenhouse to let the aubergines get as much heat and light as possible. Our first ever year of growing them and they’ve been very successful. Whether the ones that are forming now will grow into anything meaningful who knows, but at least we’re giving them a chance.

More importantly though we’re planning a major rehaul of our fruit cage over the winter, with all of our current raspberries coming out, the ground being properly dug over and improved, plenty of grit added for drainage, then new canes going in at 90 degrees to the original ones. So today cut all the summer canes down, then dug them out and dug the ground in between, which had only ever been walked on, over. The autumn canes are still fruiting so they can stay in for a few more weeks, but our new ones are coming in November, so I want all the groundwork done before then. When you’ve had a few months with no digging you can forget how hard it can be!

Also did plenty of harvesting too with all the usual suspects of spuds, carrots, kale, squash all being picked. Most pleasing though we have picked our first ever successfully grown melon, something we’ve been trying for years to achieve but have always failed. Another plot holder said to me a little while ago they couldn’t see the point of growing things like onions or melons as you can buy them in a shop. While of course completely true, surely that’s missing the whole point. Going to the supermarket and picking a melon off the shelf will never give me the satisfaction of watching something I’ve grown develop from this in early August20160809_191446

to this 20161001_084109

Strangely i don’t even really like melons, but when i eat it later it’ll be the tastiest melon I’ve ever tried i know that!

And now as i sit here typing this the rain is coming down outside and I have the realisation that we’re now in October and the autumn will be coming upon us soon even though it’s still been pretty warm/hot and sunny here. That’ll mean the return to trousers rather than shorts, wellies rather than trainers and colder, darker mornings. At least I’ll have a bumper crop of apples to look forward to so it’s not all bad.

A day of firsts

Well today has been a day of firsts, some good some bad.

Firstly the bad.

We were first up onto the plots this morning as is often the case and it immediately became obvious that there had been yet another break in on the site. For the first time though we had some things taken. Like everyone else our spades had gone whilst things like the rake and hoe remained. Luckily no damage to  the plot and nothing else taken, but it’s so irritating. Quite what anyone expects to make money wise from a cheap spade who knows, but now of course we have to buy a new one. We supposedly have CCTV on the site now, so hopefully whoever is responsible has been captured on it and they get caught.

Anyway, onto the happier firsts now!

Have picked our first ever aubergine20160910_104706

Also, we have our first apples ready-

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These are a cooking variety called Bountiful and the tree is groaning under the weight of this year’s crop! I love an apple and have had great success growing them. Our plot has a commercial apple and pear orchard next door, so whether our trees benefit from that i’m not sure, but it can’t be doing any harm.

Brilliantly we have our first ever cobnuts too-20160910_104548

Wasn’t expecting any this year as we only planted the trees over the winter but they’ve grown from tiny little saplings to strong looking small trees. The other tree is a Red Filbert and has beautiful crimson catkins on it. Whether they’ll develop into nuts this year i’m not sure, but it gives hope for better crops over next few years.

Elsewhere on the plot have planted up our first overwintering veg, a Japanese onion called Yellow Globe and some cauliflowers

So all in all an eventful day!

 

Wine

Having been away on my holiday and doing various other things a whole month has passed by without me blogging. So, now back to the sad realities of work it’s about time I got back into the swing of posting updates once more.

At the allotment there’s nothing much to report apart from the cycle of watering and harvesting. Having been pretty wet throughout June we’ve barely had a drop of rain since. Also last week we had some very high temperatures- 34 degrees plus, meaning regular watering has been a feature of most of my trips up. Have picked a ton of beans and loads of other fruit and veg, but coming near readiness in our greenhouse are both our first ever aubergines and melons. Hopefully this coming weekend at least one of those will be ready to pick. Also, our cucamelons, despite looking like the world’s most unlikely plants are thriving and producing fantastically tasty fruits. Plus the brand new variety of squash growing this year- a climber called Festival- are producing superb results. Lots of big, tasty squashes which taste fantastic roasted. A definite repeater for next year.

Away from the allotment, whilst I was away, the gooseberry wine that I started last month has finished it’s fermentation so has now been siphoned off into a  fresh demijohn and disappeared into my ‘wine cellar’, or the understairs  cupboard as it’s better known for about a year now to mature. As you can see from the pic below it’s beautifully clear and a fantastic colour. Of all  the fruit wines I make, this has to be my favourite as it’s so tasty!20160829_101937

If this is anything like the previous ones it’ll taste as good as it looks! The 2014 batch went down well at out allotment bbq a few weeks ago, so hopefully this will do the same in a couple of year’s time.

 

 

Wine making and baking

I’ve not blogged for a couple of weeks, not because I’ve not been doing anything but posting photos of fruit or veg picked can get a bit boring!

But, something I have been doing is making wine with our excess fruit. Here are both gooseberry and mixed fruit ( blackberry, blackcurrant and raspberry) wines underway.

it never ceases to amaze me that something so disgusting looking can turn out into something so amazingly clear and unbelievably tasty. Here’s last year’s gooseberry wine now bottled up to give you an idea of what it looks like-

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Apart from wine, I have for the very first and probably the very last time baked a cake! My wife’s been away for a short while and is coming back home today, so as a little welcome home gift and a good way of using up the glut of courgettes we’ve got, I’ve made courgette and lemon cake-20160731_133549.jpg

It smells amazing, so hopefully it’ll taste good too! We shall see.

At the allotment we continue to have masses of fruit and veg to eat much like everyone else i’m guessing, so i won’t post any pictures. But here is a photo of our cut flower patch. Not a bad transformation from a derelict bit of ground littered with stones and bits of wire, glass and metal20160724_154057

Next week it’s our summer bbq and show so hopefully the weather is kind to us and I might win a prize or two!