Saturday, June 30, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 56 hrs He: 47.5.hrs

I hate shopping - food shopping - clothes shopping - anything shopping.  Fortunately Mr Lottie doesn't mind it at all.  If I have to shop - I dash in, go straight to what I need, grab it, pay for it, and dash out - job done.  Whether it be food, clothes, household items - even the microwave and kettle we had to buy recently.  I think that's why I grow, cook, and freeze so much of my own veggies; have a friend who grows chickens for the freezer for me; bulk buy fish from the farm; and bulk buy meat from the village butcher.   Oh and freeze all my surplus eggs after gifting lots to family and friends.

So it'll come as no surprise then, that Mr Lottie went off to get the food shopping and dropped me off at the allotment whereupon I did two and a half hours hard labour - until he came back to fetch me - by which time I was nearly on my knees.   It's good exercise though - well OK you do ache - but it's just the muscles telling you that  you have used different ones than usual.

 So this is the bed that I have been saving for the Jack Be Little pumpkins.
I have been digging it over - several times - it's had wheelbarrow loads of very well rotted horse manure and composted plants etc - and in the few days that we did have rain, it's grown yet more weeds.
 So I dug it over again.  Each pumpkin has a heaped wheelbarrow full of well rotted manure, mounded up, into which the pumpkin is planted and well watered.   
It's got very very windy here, and even more so out in the field where the allotments are with no shelter at all where I am.  So I put these little protectors around them.  I bought them years ago from a lady on a forum that since closed down.  They are a simple design.  Thick plastic which has been 'welded' to form vertical tube like pockets. 
 When in situ over the plant - you stick in some canes to create some stability, then fill the pockets with water.  The least water you put it, makes the top close to create a mini greenhouse in colder weather to protect seedlings - but this time of year it's not cold - I just need wind protection - so I fill them to the brim which allows for watering by me or the heavens - you'll notice the difference in a week - I'll remember to show  you!
I weeded around the climbing beans which are finally taking off - but again the wind is causing havoc.  I added the matting so that I can pick and weed the beans easily.   
The pumpkins will cover the bed completely when they get going.
 I watered yesterday's plantings, and put the last of the pumpkins at the end of the bed in the corner opposite, next to the onion bed.   I also managed to squeeze in a row of parsnip seeds too.
 Back home, exhausted, there is nothing quite like the sight and aroma of lavender to rejuvenate and lift my spirits instantly.
 My poor Alstromeria plants have suffered this year.
The rain has made them twice as tall as they usually are - and the wind has flattened them more than a few times despite my staking them.   I am very tempted to cut some for a flower arrangement - then I might get a second showing later in the year.

Off to cook lunch - well not exactly cook it - I'm opting for a home grown salad, with some of our new potatoes, and some lovely thick ham slices from the butcher.

Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 53.5 hrs He: 47.5.hrs

After a trip to the doctors today to get the blood pressure machine removed - I skiddadled as fast as I could up the allotment.
I transformed the above - with a bit of help from Mr Lottie to shift all the plastic.
And spent ages digging over the plot.
Mr Lottie trundled over well rotted horse manure which I dug in,
 and made into mounds and planted courgettes
and squashes!    And three German cabbages!

It's looking good now!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nostalgic bread pudding from left overs.

I didn't get a chance to go up the allotment yesterday as planned - an appointment for a 24 hour blood pressure test was moved to a later time - and I  can't  be out in the sun in the afternoon - so I pottered about at home.

I made bread pudding - it's been a couple of years since I've done so - but we had some left over bread from the weekend so I quite fancied reviving a long ago recipe.   It's funny how certain 'smells' /actions etc bring back long forgotten memories of bygone days.
 I only made a 'small' pudding with about 8 ounces of stale bread - white and wholemeal.
I added some water and left it to soak for a while before squishing it through my fingers to get this.
As a young 18 year old, my then then mother in law showed me how to make this, remarking at the time that it's really good for cleaning your hands and fingernails!  It was a very very long time ago, and folks were poor - so never wasted a thing - and I have to say that none of us ever suffered from stomach upsets!  So after squishing through your fingers, you leave it to rest for at least an hour or overnight!
 In the 'old day's you added any dried fruit you could spare - usually just currants - but I added what I could spare - currantes, dates, raisins, and later a hand full of mixed fruit meusli as it was still a bit too sloppy.

 You need to add an egg and some milk - about half a pint - it's all guess work, and some sugar too, and a dollop of fat.  Mother in law used to  use dripping or margerine or whatever she had - I used a blob of butter - just a couple of ounces
 Mix it up with a spoon and leave aside for the fruit to absorb the juices and swell.  (I've used fruit juice instead of milk before now - and it was delicious.
Add a couple of tablespoons full of sugar and some mixed spice - hmmm smells like Christmas
Pour into a lined baking tin and cook on a low heat until browned and moist inside.

I usually sprinkle on brown sugar before cooking - but as we have to watch our calorie intake these days I left it off - but it looks so much better with the sugar on top!

It stays moist inside for a week  - if you can manage to make it last that long.  It's great with custard or icecream  or just a chunk eaten with your fingers

If you need a precise recipe, I'll look it up - but it's really a way of using up leftovers etc.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2012 Allotment Diary - Me: 51 hrs He: 45.hrs 2012...

I was desperate to get up the allotment and see how things were - and I also wanted to sow some more parsnip seeds, and plant a few cabbages.

It turned out to be an exceedingly hot morning, and I was utterly exhausted after spending three hours working flat out up there.
 It's only been a week since we worked our socks off up there, but the grass was high - this is after I did the mowing.  The weeds were long.....
 But I soon sorted those out between the potato rows
 The broad beans are thriving and doing better having been sown straight into the ground than those I cosseted in pots. 
 The parsnips are up - yes truly - amongst the weeds - which I will hand weed very carefully when I can.
The lovely lime green leaves are the parsnips.
 My comfrey 'hedge' crop needs cutting and composting
 I dug up my first, first early potatoes and got a few pounds
Redcurrants are ripening - just
 The blackcurrants need more sunshine
 The 'odd' potatoes are doing well - and the flipping weeds are grow AGAIN after we weeded all this a week ago!   Flipping annuals.
 You can see how much rain there was whilst we were away for five days.  The lovely soil which I dug over has now turn to a hard flat crust - which is what has happened in the photos above and below too.

It's so soul destroying at times.
But when I look at the mowed lawn, and the fruit bed I weeded, and the gooseberry bush which too me an hour to harvest - it makes it all worthwhile.

My plan was to back up the plot today, after I've been to the doctor's to get a blood pressure thingie fitted to my arm.  For some reason my low blood pressure has shot up and has been like that for several months so they want a 24 hour check on it.  It'll not be a typical day of readings as usually I am very active, walking around the village, lots of gardening or working up the allotment - but with the rain falling, I'll just be top and tailing the gooseberries, baking, and being confined to barracks!

Best get my skates on - got to the appointment soon

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Honey I'm home

Well we have been away for a holiday to Lincolnshire this past week - and had a lovely break and change of scenery - I haven't uploaded those photos yet so more of that another day.  The chooks spent the time we were away on the lawn.   Once to get them used to being 'shut in' the run instead of freeranging from early morning until dusk - so that they would get used to it whilst we were away.  Then I moved them to a fresh patch of lawn last week.

 Before I moved the chooks back onto their paving slabs yesterday, I took the opportunity to trim back all the grass.
 It's amazing how much more room there is now that I have done it.  I did also weed the other slabs at the side and give them a good wash too!  Where all my energy came from I do not know!
 This is where Peckingham Palace has been whilst we were away.  Doesn't it look a mess - especially as the chooks are moulting too!
Dolly has turned broody whilst we were away, and was sound asleep in her box.
I moved her all around the garden and she didn't wake up!
 Now that I have mown the lawn a couple of times, it doesn't look too bad does it - and it soon recovers.  There is a patch to the left where the chooks home and run was on the grass for 10 days, and it's almost back to normal after a week!
 Peckingham Palace all washed and filled with a deep bed of Hemcore
 Chooks rushed in to scratch around - and even Dolly deemed to join in!
 A few photos around the garden.  The sage bush  has flopped over with all the rain, but it's a magnet for the bees at the moment so I won't trim it back yet.
 The early flowering pink lupins have gone to seed - I'll let them ripen and save the seeds.
The delphiniums are just coming into flower so look stunning
 The fruit cage has 'gone wild' in a week too.
 The rose and honeysuckle smell divine!
The woodland bed in front of my studio is bursting with colour too.
 The clematis flowers are bigger than dinner plates, and the roses are just heavenly  - again perfumed.
 We raided the salad bed before we went away, but it's still packed with goodies!
The alstromerias have taken a battering with the high winds and rain - but still flowering - and they compliment the purple rose which has velvet leaves and the most heavenly perfume - it's called
Cardinal Richelieu
In the late summer of last year I created a flower bed around the garden room called 'Kath's Garden' named after a very dear friend of mine.
 In the winter the penstemons flowered - even with the snow!
 And spring time it was as so pretty with the bulbs, and alpines
Now the lavender is in bloom, the penstemons are flowering again after I prumed them, pretty annuals are emerging, and lots of summer surprises.

This view fills me with joy every morning as it's outside my back door and garden room doors, and the lavender aroma is my absolute favourite of all the summer blooms.

I've not had a chance to get up the allotment - tomorrow hopefully.