Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I have been getting emails and messages from lovely folks because I have made my allotment/chicken/gardening blog  available by invitation only.

This was not done to exclude anyone - it's just that I am taking a break from blogging.  There's lots going on, and I really don't want the extra pressure of regular blogging.

If I leave the blog up, not updated, unloved, then after time spam messages start appearing, and it gets taken over - so I thought 'suspending' it for a while was the best route to take.

Thank you all for your very many visits, emails and comments - so very much appreciated.

I'll leave this message up for a week, with the 'anybody can view' setting in place - then will revert back to the previous setting, until I have something worthwhile to type about.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Peckinghan Palace summer clean

First thing this morning before Mr L was up, I bagged up all the cooked mixes from yesterday.  I ache after all the work I did up the allotment yesterday and all the food preparations, so intended to sit about and have an easy Sunday.  But it's hard for me to sit still!

 So I decided to give Peckingham Palace a real good clean.  I clean it out every two weeks, and give it a scrub as and when it needs it, but hadn't pressure washed it so far this year - so that's what I did.

Firstly I got Mr L to help me wheel it onto the lawn and off it's paved area.
 Then I dismantled it bit by bit.
 Shovelled up all the hemcore bedding ready for me to pressure wash the slabs later.
 Which I did - they needed to dry off so don't look good in the above photo
 I pressure washed everything, making sure to concentrate on any holes in the mouldings to get rid of any spiders, or creepy crawlies that might be lurking there.  Thank goodness it is made of plastic, including the roosting bars - it makes cleaning so much easier. I left everything out in the sun to dry.

Whilst I pressure washed all the framework, the roosting bars, the plastic tarp - the lot, then put it all back together again.
 The chickens came and inspected my handiwork and gave it their approval, and happily went to bed this evening without any trouble.

I'll be leaving it in this position for a week, then moving it across still on the grass for another week, then returning it back onto the patio the following week.  The reason being that for some of the time in the second week they will need to be 'confined to barracks', and being used to freeranging all day,  I always feel so guilty that they don't have any lawn to play on.  They get fresh cabbages cut from my garden each day, and have plenty of room to run about in - but you can't beat a nice lawn to scratch about in can you.

I know that I am a silly soppy, and you'll be thinking, 'they're only chickens for goodness sake' but at least I know that they'll be happy whilst they are confined to their pen.

They all got a dusting of Diatom - as did Peckingham Palace as usual - and the girls got a drop of liquid louse preventative too - just in case - it's been a really hot summer!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Allotment Diary 2011 Me: 66 hrs He: 60 hrs

Well we managed to go up the allotment before the heavens opened and the day progressed with thunder and hailstones almost all of the day until around 4pm

I was determined just to make a quick visit to pick any runner beans that were ready........but.....
As usual I got distracted and we ended up weeding around the runner beans and squashes

These are the Patty and Pan are really prolific, so I must remember to plant them again next year

 Mainly pumpkins here and yellow and green round courgettes
The climbing beans, which I thought were a failure this year due to the drought - have picked up and despite losing quite a lot, I got almost a bag full today of runners, flat italian, and french beans

 These are some of the Patty Pan, the bigger ones were as big as my hand, but were still soft and tender
Out of sequence - but had to record my cabbages up the lottie - really large and I am pleased with them
I bought one strip of the seedling from Attleborough market - a bargain!

 Courgettes ready to be prepared for the roast mix I made
My first chillies went into the mix too -very very hot!

 My blackberry and boisenberry cross - second picking
These are the veggie mixed ready for the oven.
I used, all the squash and courgettes, 2 jars of Lidl roasted peppers, one whole bulb garlic smashed, three onions, all the chillies, potatoes (odds & ends of new spuds - little ones and damaged ones, the 'free' unplanted ones)   4 tins Lidl tomatoes with basil (fabulous), tube of tomato pesto - cooked for half an hour.   No room for climbing beans this time.

 Chickens queuing up to be let out at breakfast
Fresh little cabbage from garden, a bit holey! 
It tasted really really delicous. we had loads with roasted chicken wing on a breast with chicken seasoning. 

(Looks a lot more tomatoe=y in real life.  Froze 12 x 1lb bags for the freezer

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chicken Fix

Here is a quick chicken 'fix' for those who have contacted me suffering from withdrawal symptoms

I haven't been on the internet much - but have been out and about here there and everywhere - nothing of interest unless you like DIY stores!
It's raining really hard today, but that doesn't stop the girls from having fun 
At the back from L-R you can see Mary, Daisy, Poppy and Maudie.

Daisy and Maudie have been moulting lately so do not look their fluffiest best.
Below them on the right is Bluebell on her own.
Then there is dolly with her back to us, Freckles with a side on portrait posing, and Zola Buddy Bantam
At  the front as always is Gozzie Rosecomb, and Willow - who does a perfect impression of Charlie Chaplain when she walks and runs.

Henrietta on the right, the old English Game bird she's gorgeous

Dolly's decided to face the camera for a change!
Snowy the silver Sebright is in Peckingham Palace laying and egg!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Harvest Time

 At last the tomatoes are ripening - and jolly tasty they are too!

We bagged up 90lbs of potatoes.  I grade them into sizes, small, medium, large, and 'jacket' potato size.  The 'rejects' tiny one, ones accidentally stabbed when  digging up go into the fridge drawers to be used first.  Nothing gets wasted
 Four bags of mixed beans (these are bit dusty) got topped and tailed sliced and washed.
 The pumpkins were getting far too big, so I picked some to ripen at home.
 Marrows and courgettes - will be turned into roasted veggie mixes
 I have now blanched and frozen 8 lbs of mixed beans - some of which are above, packed 8oz to a bag.

And finally this week, I picked 2lbs of luscious blackberries now washed and frozen.

We'll have lots of fabulous food for the winter months.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Allotment Diary 2011 Me: 64.5 hrs He: 59.5hrs

 We spent four and a half hours up the allotment this week, and areas we had weeded  just two weeks ago, looked as though they hadn't been done at all
I decided to get serious, so not only dug up all the weeds, 

I dug up everything, onions, potatoes, even a stray comfrey plant.

I harvested courgettes, marrows, pumpkins, Italian beans, runner beans, French beans, borlotti beans

Everything has gone crazy - in a good way (well apart from the weeds)

The mulching with grass cuttings I did between the rows of these potatoes worked well, and we made a start on digging up the 2nd early spuds.

I have some fine looking huge cabbages waiting to be harvested.

O.K.  I know this 'after' photo looks ugly, but trust me, I have tried all sorts of organic methods with mustard, and other mulching plants - and they have all been unsuccessful in keeping the weeds at bay after harvesting.  We get docks and thistles, and bindweed as well and the annual weeds, and it is just too much work for me to keep up with.  So part of my 250ft x 33ft plot just has to be covered when the crops are in.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Enjoying the fruits of our labour............

We have been working up the allotment and have also had lots of visitors, so no time at the present to write about our efforts.

But I am making time for this quick post to whet  your appetites

A very quick and easy tasty meal with veggie produce from our allotment.
Salmon fillets from a local fish farm diced up into chunks.
Fresh runner beans, and tomatoes.

 Drizzle over rapeseed oil or olive oil and toss gently  to coat.
Heat oven to 22c fan oven or 425f or Gas 7
Cooking time approx 15 minutes
All the flavours mix and it sure tastes yummy

In fact it was so yummy scrumptious that I made a similar concoction yesterday to slow cook whilst we were up the allotment.

Using runner beans, tomatoes, onions, freshly dug, and washed potatoes with skins on cut into cubes, and chicken cut into cubes/diced.
Chicken seasoning, a little bit of black pepper, and oils as before.
This time I lined the tin with non stick paper,  and made a sealed parcel of all the goodies.
I cooked in for 2 hours on 170f in my little oven that's also the grill.

It was really tasty, the potatoes had soaked up the all juices and we soft and juicy with a roasted texture.  

No photos sadly as we were ravenous and shattered after the 3 hours hard labour  - more of that tomorrow hopefully

Monday, August 15, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

 ++++++Firstly 'Patsy of Arkansas'  thanks for your lovely comments, please can you write your blog address in the comment box so that I can return the compliment and visit your blog.  I don't know why blogger won't recognise you and that you have to log in as anonymous - very strange. +++++++++

I know that I have neglected my blogs - but truly I have been so busy with workmen here and  getting things straight.'

The garden room is now finished, and I have tidied up around the outside of it - creating  'Kath's' garden, of perennial plants which will fill out and create a lovely English Country garden show of flowers.

The wooden edging is a temporary measure until the plants fill out.  I sawed up lengths from the old gazebo we took down a while ago.
This front bed has Munstead lavender bushes, Saxifrage inbetween, and either end sunshine yellow chrysanthemums which will be a picture in September until the frosts

The lavender has just started flowering - I know the bushes look small at the moment, but they'll really take off next year.  The saxifrage will flower in the spring, and I intend to put grape hyacinth bulbs in too.

It won't be until September that I can seed the bare patches, then by next spring I'll have a lawn and it will look great.

Kath's garden looks a bit sparse at the moment with the newly planted perennials but come next year this too will be a deep bed and you won't see the wall.  There's a sea shell I popped in as Kath lives near the coast.
 I took these photos early this morning, this bed has been planted up a week or so and the plants have taken root and are beginning to put on more leaf and have flower buds.
The heleniums will form big bushy plants and have wonderful yellow and copper flowers.  They are such lovely 'happy' plants and remind me of the colours of bumble bees - which are attracted to them. 
I have the big Lobellia plants - this one is just about to flower, penstemones in all soft hues, lupins in reds, and pinks, and yellows, - this bed will look stunning next summer.
A few more views from early this morning.  The crocosmia and ice plant popped up to show me that they survived being flattened by paving slabs, bricks, and shovels full of soil - plants really are a miracle aren't they.

The photos are just a record for me to look back on next year and see the difference with a lawn!

And this was what all the 'fuss'  has been about.

Being able to sit in my garden room early in the morning 

Soon after the sun comes up - or at any time of the day
being able to just look out and relax and enjoy the views, the chickens, out of the sunshine

Talking of sunshine - here's a little gift the birds left me - she's grown into a lovely little lady. In the wrong place of course, but I didn't want to move her - and she has a huge sunny face, but is of small stature - which is perfect.