Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Just the job for a scorching hot day - Not

Went up the allotment late last night to use the smidgeon of water that we have left on the tomatoes. It ended up a longer session than expected, as I had to spend ages picking off the side shoots – which I did before we went away, and also tying them up again further up the stems – again a job which I did less than a week ago. I have had to ‘sacrifice’ my lovely crop of peas in favour of the tomatoes as there was not enough water to save both. The rest of the crops will have to fend for themselves.

It is heartbreaking to see all my hard work withering before my eyes. One of the ‘tractor’ men, the one with all the big boy toys and tools, and with the pickup, was up there with his truck with a big tank on the back which had a tap on it. He just has to drive up and down his allotment with his tank to water his. This year is the first year that they have planted other things except potatoes and broad beans. They have a couple of plots side by side, so leave the bottom half as weeds and have a wide ‘drive way’ between their plots and just drive up and down with every thing they need.

Eat your heart out Allotment Lady!

We do have a hugely successful crop of courgettes growing without water. I asked Pat to pick those that are as big as tennis balls or bigger. He picked the lot – so I have three carrier bags full to tackle. I think that some of them are pumpkins that he picked, but we love roasted pumpkins, and I am sure that we will get more later on in the summer.

Wouldn’t you know it, the night I do not take my camera – three hot air balloons flew over. They looked wonderful. When I lived in Bedfordshire, where it is very hilly, I used to see them every night in the summer in good weather (I lived at the top of a hill overlooking the Chilterns.)

One night last week I saw a hot air balloon too. I must remember to take my camera!

Off to tackle the courgette mountain.

The temperature today is going to reach 39c here today 97f and no rain for the foreseeable future – well the future being as far as they can forecast correctly – ish.

I used the five largest courgettes and they weighed 24lb. I did not peel them as the skin was so soft, I just washed them, scooped out the seeds in the middle – which makes me think that they are pumpkins and not the melon squash gone haywire, cut them into slices and made this….

Lottie’s Ratatouille

Shallots – cut in half if big or leave as they are if not.
Roasted red peppers (one large jar)
Two tins of tomatoes (mine not ripe yet)
One garlic bulb (cut the cloves in half)
Mushrooms - fresh or tinned.

Brown the shallots with the garlic, then add the rest of the ingredients to make the sauce.

Wash slice and deseed if necessary the courgettes or squash.

Wash and cut into wedges the potatoes and parboil them.

The white ones are Colleen - a lovely white first early and the red are Robinta a wonderful red and waxy early. (Obviously the above are straight out of the ground)

In a roasting tin/s lightly oil the bottom and put the potatoes in and just move them about to get coated with oil.

Add the courgettes/squash
Tip in the sauce and toss about a bit.

Cook in a hot oven until potatoes are browning and crispy by which time the courgettes/squash will be soft and browning too.

As this batch is for freezing, it has been cooked until the potatoes are just starting to brown.

The above recipe and others that I do over the summer freeze perfectly,and when defrosted I finish the browning in the oven then serve. They really do cheer up a winter's day.

Eat as a meal in itself with a chunk of home made bread - you could sprinkle grated cheese on the top a few minutes before serving so that it melts.

Great with fish or meat dishes too.

Later I will be making all sorts or variations using different coloured courgettes or squash, Aubergines, peppers, herbs - in fact whatever I have to hand or takes my fancy at the time.


  1. ok now will see if i can comment. your squash is differen than any i have ever seen. the squash bugs are destroying mine. i think it is so hot doesn't make much difference, everthing is going to burn up here. soppose to get 100 degrees today. sorry your crops are going but that is the way things go. we are lucky that we will be able to live. think how it was 100 years ago if the crops failed people starved. i enjoyed your post as usually. hope the chickens are ok.

  2. Hi Allotment Lady ...
    Gosh ... I feel so bad for you having to choose between crops because of lack of water ... couldn’t you ask the man with the water tank if he could fill up your water butt/butts ... I’m guessing you’ve got water butts on your allotment?
    Otherwise, here’s hoping for rain for your allotment soon ...

  3. Patsy - I truly appreciate what is was like for those pioneers years ago, and the same went for farmers here. That is one of the reasons that I grow the same beans that the Cherokee Trail of Tears Indians grew. I thought if they could grow them in any soil and any conditions as they were moved on - then they would work for me - and they do!

    Greenhouse Girl - Nice idea about asking that chap, but it wouldn't work. He fills up his tank from home, and it is just not 'done' to ask. I am philosophical about gardening. It is a fact of life. If you get hot weather and no water, you get crops which like those conditions - if you get lots of rain in the summer - you get other crops that prefer those conditions. A hard lesson, but a good reminder how fragile life is in nature etc.

    Lovely to get your comments. We may just get some rain on Saturday night - might get a storm - but might not!!!

  4. Karen1:04 am

    Here in Switzerland it is unseasonably hot too it has been in the 30's plus for days now, weeks even, like the summer of 2003. I am not self sufficient but in these temperatures it is all we can do ourselves to keep cool. We have water but like the rest of you we too are having a heat wave and our swallowtail caterpillar is still sitting it out. How does a small caterpillar survive in 32 degrees ? Why does he not just frizzle. Makes on realise that nature at the end of the day has the final say. Survival of the fittest.


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