Sunday, 23 December 2007

Mutant Parsnips

I dug up the first of my parsnips just in time for Christmas dinner. Most of them weren't that big but I did find this for legged mutant whopper!

Unfortunately the sprouts are nowhere near ready. Should have planted them much earlier. Making slow progress on the allotment digging but at least I'm getting somewhere...

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Getting started in earnest

It's been two weeks since Henry and I moved into our plot. Although Henry used the last week of British Summertime to make a good start at evening digging and I managed to get an hour or two in last weekend, it was only this week we really got going.

I had Friday off work and Henry had just gotten back from holiday so we decided to get to work with our forks that afternoon. We managed to dig about a third of one side over by the time it got dark.

Our progress was slowed by continually picking over the earth to pull out the tough, long, white and yellow roots of stinging nettles and couch grass. We've been told by the guy opposite, Clive, that we can't leave any race of these in the ground or they will grow straight back. We're also told that they won't compost so have been piling them up to dry out and burn.

We're also not helped by the plot next to us, which is overgrown with nettles along the fence that borders our plot. I ended up reaching over to tug out all adjoining roots as well.

Another issue is the carpet that has been used to cover all the paths in between the existing beds. We've decided to rip all of this up because it's infested with weed roots - but this leaves us with the dilema of what to do with it.

As dusk settled, we got a small bonfire going and piled some of our roots on top to burn and smoulder, hopefully leaving us with some nutrient rich ash in their place.

A hard days work done, we headed down The Running Mare for a pint or two too many.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Patch update, allotment goodies and loads of nuts!

I spent the morning doing things on my patch. I untied the old tomato canes, took down the pea climber and composted all the stalks. I've left the roots in for nitrogen fixing goodness.

Then I staked my brussel sprouts and what's left of the broccoli. I've started putting pennies around the bases as slugs don't like copper, although when I went out this evening there were still some chomping away.

Meanwhile, I've got some late peppers flowering in my mini greenhouse. I doubt they'll fruit but I'm curious. I've also got some lettuce still growing as baby leaf which we've been eating bit by bit.

After a bit of work on the patch, I wlaked down to the plot with Mum to collect some dried french peas and runner beans for re-planting, the other slug addled pumpkin, a yellow courgette and the butternut squash.

On the way back we picked bagfuls of chestnuts and wlanuts from some trees by the Portsmouth Road. We had to stop when it got too dark to see though.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Moving in to Plot 18

Today we officially moved into our plot. I cycled down earlier this afternoon to have another look at what we've got to sort out. Unlike some people I know who have taken over new plots recently, ours isn't too overgrown. It's currently arranged into overgrown beds with overgrown carpet paths in between them all.

We're probably going to pull most of it up, make bigger beds, re-lay some carpet covered in wood chippings and put down some horse manure and/or a green manure over the winter.

While having a look I found some left over veg from the previous tenant. It felt a bit like a post mortem on someone else's growing season. Found dried French beans, Carrots, loads of Fennel, two pumpkins, a butternut squash, some knobbly cucumbers and some bush runner beans.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Autumn Feast

Just thought I'd put up some pics of the Shaggy Inkcaps Mum and I ate last night.

Rosie came round this evening and we picked some more on the way back, although they were too old and went inky. There's so many down on Leigh Hill, I've never seen so many before!

We also cooked the Shaggy Parasol, stuffed with garlic tomato sauce topped with breadcrumbs and cheese. We had this with carrots from my plot and the chestnuts Rosie and I picked on Sunday. Mmmm...

While all this was happening we cooked up some more Japonica Jelly from the bush in my garden. We boiled it for longer this time, and it went a lovely red colour, although still didn't set as well as the one we bought at the Farmer's market!

For pudding we had plums some of the walnuts we got from Stubbs Farm on the same walk as the chestnuts.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Shaggy Mushrooms

With all the wet weather and leaves falling from the tress, we're well into mushroom season. On the way to work today I was delighted to discover a Shaggy Parasol the size of a dinner plate on Leigh Hill. After a bit of research to confirm the find, I also discovered that these are not quite so tasty as the normal parasol but I still plan on having it stuffed with garlic breadcrumbs with Rosie tomorrow night.

As if this wasn't enough, on the way home I also found some Shaggy Inkcaps on Leigh Hill, which definately are good eating. I shall be having those with Mum this evening as they won't keep. Dad refuses to try them as he won't trust anything that's not bought in the shops. Although he's right to be wary, these mushrooms are so easy to identify correctly he's just being silly...

Sunday, 7 October 2007


Went for a long walk to Binstead and Wheatley with Rosie today and found some decent sized chestnuts to roast. Also found this Boletus mushroom with loads of others really near her house. It was pretty old and we weren't sure what it was, although retrospectively it looks like an edible one. Will double check next time we find them...

Monday, 24 September 2007

No Nuts

Went for a walk with Rosie on Sunday, back from the Three Horsehoes to her house through the hazel nut grove. Picked loads of nuts which the Squirrels seemed to have left, only to get home and discover that they were either hollow or gone off. Left it a few weeks to late I think, even though all the books said mid-September onwards. We also found this little fellow (below).

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Tomatoes doing good - at last!

Well at last my tomatoes have come good! (at leat those that survived) I've had sweet juicy cherry Gardeners Delight in my lunch box every day this week, with these Harbringers (above) ripenening up quickly too. I think it's all the dry weather doing them good. I've had to do a lot of watering lately though, seems very dry for September after such a wet July.

We've also been eating loads of runner beans lately too. Definately the biggest success so far, theres some to pick almost every day!

The bad news is that I'm fearing the worst for my Broccoli, which have been completely descimated by baby slugs. The Sprouts are hanging on in. Time will tell.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Adventures with Jam!

On Bank Holiday weekend, Rosie and I went to stay with her Grandad, Reg, who lives in the tiny village of Campsea Ashe in Suffolk. The hedgerows in the fields near his house are full of ripe damsons (or wild plums... can anyone explain the difference?) and sloes. We picked loads to bring home, along with some early apples from Reg's garden. On the way back we stopped off at 'Jimmy's Farm' (of TV fame) to feed some sheep, see the pigs and the herb/veg garden and buy some fresh organic pork (Rosie's a veggie but I still buy organic meat from farms if I know it's had a good life).

We'd be hoping to pick lots of blackberries but they're not ripe in Suffolk yet. We made up for it this weekend by picking a few kilos in Kingsley on Sat along with more sloes. We got surrounded by a herd of about 30 curious cows at one point who kept trying to creep up to us by the hesdge before following us all the way accross the feild, keeping about 5 paces behind the whole time. Although it was quite funny, there was also something slightly unerving about a gang of cows breathing down your neck!

Once back at Rosie's we made 12 jars of sweet damson jam, a lovely Apple and Blackberry crumble and a few litres of sloe gin. On Sunday we noticed a heavy cropping wild greengage tree oppposite her house, so had to make a few jars of that before going on to make of 10 bramble jam and 3 spiced apple chutney. Mmmm.... I ate so much jam this weekend!

In other news, Henry and I are going down to see our new allotment tomorrow night! Going to measure it up and then go down the pub to mull over our plans...

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

August Update - bumper post!

Well, as usual, this Summer I've been enjoying the great outdoors too much to spend anytime inside communicating online. I spent the end of July at festivals in floods, on farms and and in fields. August has involved lots of BBQ's, bike rides and a week at the Heathrow Climate Camp.

Vegetable wise, we've had a few more mange tout, loads of runner beans and courgettes (modelled by Rosie) as well as our first few carrots which were really tasty, and tomatoes which have continued to be dogged by blight. The rocket's still going strong, and I've also sown some Chinese Baby Leaf to compliment it.

Slugs (as featured on the news lately) have continued to gnaw away at everything, and I'm sure contributed to both the early demise of my peas and a lower courgette output (we have to pick them small to get there first). The main casualty has been my purple sprouting broccoli though, which is all on its last legs and riddled with holes. Sprouts seem to be doing alright still though, touch wood.

The big news is that as of Sept/Oct, I'll have my first allotment! Yes, that's right, after an off chance visit to my nearest allotments - where Rosie and I had a look round and were given armfuls of runner beans to take home - I put my name down for a plot. I was delighted to hear only a week later that I have been granted Plot 18!

I'm going to share it with Henry as we're not too sure how much additional work it's going to be. We should be able to have a look round in the next few weeks (having already been down for a sneaky peak) and will take ownership not long after the current tennants have moved away. I'm very excited, we can't wait to measure it up and get planning what top plant!

Monday, 16 July 2007

Hazel grove & Sugar Snaps

Went to the Farmer's Market in Alton with Rosie on Saturday and bought lots of local cheese, pastries, bread, beer, fruit wine and cider. Mmmmm. Went for a pub lunch afterwards and walked back to Kingsley from East Wordham. On the way we found a whole grove of bountiful Hazel Nut Trees Will have to go back nutting in late August/September.

We also came across this snake. We assumed it was a Grass snake but couldn't tell if it was an Adder or not. Thankfully the dogs didn't even notice.

I came home yesterday to find some of my Mangetout Sugar Snap peas are ready already! This is despite a lot of the plants being chewed to bits by slugs that can apparently climb the plastic netting I put up as well as they can. Picked a handful to stop them getting too big and spoiling the yeild. Had one fresh off the stem which was really tasty. Also picked more loose leaf lettuce and rocket.