I must’ve misremembered the weather forecast for today – I was ready to go to the allotment to carry on weeding. It wasn’t to be, it has been raining since early morning and I think we had rain during the night too. Plan B had to be used. When in doubt, do some cooking. I was going to prepare today’s lunch anyway so I just continued in the kitchen getting tomorrow’s lunch done. Today’s meal was a simple affair – pasta with homemade sauce and veggie sausages. The sauce was oven roasted tomatoes, peppers and courgettes. Very tasty and quick.
The plan for tomorrow was a dish using one of my squashes I grew on the allotment. I like BBC Good food so I chose one of their recipes. It is a slow cooker recipe, even better as I can cook it overnight.
The recipe asks for a butternut squash but as I didn’t grow them I have used a substitute – Moschata muscade
They grew well and I have saved some seeds to make sure I’ll have them next year. The rest of the ingredients was my own as well, roasted tomatoes and peppers instead of a tin of chopped tomatoes and homemade pesto.
Of course anything made at home from scratch always takes a while – peeling, chopping and so on but the result is infinitely better. My slow cooker was just big enough for it and we shall have at least two servings each from it. I’m going to make the dumplings for the first day and we can have it with some bread the next time. Of course the bread will be homemade too.
It was a clean-up time in the last few days on the allotment. I knew that I took my eyes off the weeds in the corner of one of my plots but when I actually got down to it I was in for a shock. The stinging nettles did very well and filled the space between my net tunnel and the enclosure for discarded pieces of wood and unwanted items.
In the end it was quite therapeutic to hack at the nettles and pile them on the compost heap. During this process I rediscovered another composter bin and that was the best surprise – it was full of beautiful crumbly soil. It must have been there a good few years, I kept adding to it but never emptied it. It reinforced my resolution to leave these bins as long as possible, it pays off.
Of course it followed that I would sort out inside the net tunnel. I have blackcurrants there and as they are still young I had some free space – enough to plant a couple of squashes. These did very well and I harvested one already, it will ripen at home. There are a couple more, a bit smaller so they can stay a while longer.
Because I had a pepper plant in one of my grow beds in the home greenhouse and wanted to use it for something else I harvested the fruit. I have never seen such misshapen peppers before and I haven’t tasted them to see if they are hot or sweet.
They all grew on the same plant and by the looks of the ‘normal’ ones I guess they’ll be hot.
Work goes on on the allotment, everything is thriving. I have been moving the seedlings from my big greenhouse in the back garden and planting them where I could find some space. Yesterday I have cleared the weeds from my little orchard in front of the shed – yet again! It feels like painting the Forth bridge – I finish the job and could start all over again. I had just enough space to plant my butternut squash seedlings between the trees, also some pale green courgettes and bush courgettes beside my latest apple tree. Saturday morning myself and Dave went to Bedworth to get some more horse muck – you can’t have enough of this stuff – so I was able to put it in every hole I got ready, it is perfectly well rotted down.
I was leaving my plot when I noticed a swarm of bees hanging on my little apple tree. We’ve had a number of them recently and I’m always amazed how beautiful it looks. The bees were just sitting there, all I heard was a quiet humming noise.
I phoned Wayne but didn’t wait for him, he can get to our site through his little gate and pick them up.
Everything on the allotment is doing well and as the weather is nice ( the forecast is good for the next number of days) I decided to plant out my sunflower plants. These are the Johnson competition sunflowers, they were in flowerpots on the veranda so they were ready to go out. I gained a strip of ground between two of my greenhouses, they will be sheltered there and it should be a bit warmer too.
I also dug some rich compost in before planting three sunflowers, supported with a cane.
I had more plants, they were not so big and I just placed them randomly here and there, it’ll brighten the plot, all 12 of them.
The strawberries are flowering very well, I even saw some fruit on the plants and I’m sure the birds have spotted it as well. That meant my next job was to cover all the raised beds. I have got the nets for the job, the biggest problem is to remember which net goes where. The beds are not all the same size but I think I have managed.
I will have a little break now as the next vegetables will be all kinds of climbing beans and courgettes and squashes. These are now in seed trays and are already sprouting. There is also sweetcorn – first of all I thought I’d wait for the weather to warm up even more and sow them in the ground directly but there was the possibility of mice eating the seed. Better be safe, there was room in the big greenhouse in the back garden.
I thought that my tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouses on the allotment have finished. Not so. After a rainy day I finally managed to go down the ‘farm’ and see if we suffered any damage. I’m delighted to say that the only casualty was a multi-headed sunflower, only because the squirrel wanted to nibble the seeds and the whole thing just came crushing to the floor. No problem there, I have saved the biggest face and took it home before the squirrel found it. I harvested a good number of perfect cucumbers and there will be many more.
For the first time I managed to grow basil in the greenhouse. Before now I was carefully sowing the seeds in small pots and then hoping to transplant them and it never worked. This time I simply scattered the seeds in the grow bed and a lot germinated. I harvested so much basil I was able to make a lot of pesto. I’m freezing portions of it ready to serve with some tasty pasta.
The squashes are ready to harvest too, these are my ‘mashed potato’ squashes. I never grew them before but I will again next year. The reason for the name is simple – you cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and roast them in the oven cut side up. When cooked, the flesh is scooped out and it is like a mashed potato, with only a fraction of the calories of spuds.
I thought I would get a few parsnips and some butternut squashes today. The parsnips are not quite straight but the taste is fantastic. It doesn’t matter that they are crooked, they’ll be peeled and cut up anyway.
The butternut squashes looked ready, the leaves and stem of the plant were quite dry so I started to cut them and will bring them home, each day a few. They are surprisingly heavy.
One of them will be for our lunch tomorrow, roasted with some spices and Halloumi cheese. I have also found a very interesting breakfast recipe, we shall try it tomorrow and either it will be just delicious or ….
This was supposed to be a squash called Candy roaster. I grew it last year and saved the seeds. It was shaped like a boat, only a fraction of this one. I’ve no idea what happened, must’ve been cross pollinated. I don’t mind, that way I get more of a tasty squash.
Today was another lovely day, there was work to be done so I had an early start.Yesterday I managed to pollard the ancient willow – well, three of the stumps and there were another three waiting. Also I had a very useful find in the very back of the plot where it just looked like another compost heap. The two guys who had the plot before me were equally untidy and instead of taking their plastic pots and bits of netting home to throw away they just dumped it there and covered with soil. Amongst all this lot I discovered a ladder – one of the old-fashioned ones, a wooden one and that came very handy yesterday and especially today. I was able to climb high up and trim one more of the stumps and then Frank came to help and finished it all.
Not only the tree is done but also I gained another growing area. There was so much good soil along the fence that I took a number of wheelbarrows off and put in on another part of the plot where the soil is a bit heavy. This has left a nice border, one end has got a palette to keep the soil in and along the path is a low fence. I shall grow squashes and a pumpkin there next year, they’ll have enough room to run.
I shall dig it over to find more rubbish and some unwanted nettle roots but otherwise it is ready.