Monday, June 30, 2014

Me 39 He 30

 (click on photos to enlarge)

We had heavy rain all weekend (luckily after we had  been up the allotment very early Saturday morning. 

Today we made another visit to tackle
 The Comfrey plants.  With all the rain this year they are shoulder height!
 We have just finished the last of last years old potatoes.
I mashed the old spuds that were left a few months ago, 
and put them into containers  and popped them into the freezer.
Instant toppings for Shepherds Pie or Fish Pie, Bubble and squeak
and so much more!   We were unwilling to buy some supermarket potatoes, 
before ours are ready to dig up!   It was then I had a Eureka moment!

 Last year I covered up the big bed at the other end of my plot.
Mr Lottie was too ill, and I didn't have the time or energy to work on it.

I noticed a few weeks ago that the heavy covering had a couple of bulges in it!
So I made a cut and found evidence of a little bit of potato foliage which grew bigger
over the weeks.
I persuaded Mr L to investigate which he did so reluctantly
 Underneath the plastic clean and dry, not even needing to be dug up
 Were two varieties of potatoes
Some big 'jacket' potatoes.  By the time we eat these 
this years crop will be ready to start digging up! 



 I was cutting and composting the comfrey

I am so pleased with the end result - I even mowed the lawn path!

And, and, and, at 6am this morning I did my 3.5 mile walk and did the same walk in reverse tonight!   Anything to get away from the neighbours howling hound!
Have a good week everyone.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Allotment hours worked. Me 37 He 29

Wow - I have had a busy week up the allotment - fruit picking!

I have at least 25-30lb of strawberries in my freezer.  We have eaten pounds - literally over the past few weeks, and I have made lots of pots of strawberry jam for those winter days - you can't beat a thick slice of toast on a winters evening lathered with butter and strawberry jam.

My black currant and red currant harvest at the plot has  been negligible - my fault entirely. This time last year Mr Lottie was so seriously ill and when it came to harvesting my fruit bushes I resorted to cutting off their branches, and bringing them home so that I could pick  them here and look after Mr L. So this year there is almost zero berries -well just a couple of ice cream tubs full.

The strawberries have more than made up for the shortfall though.  I picked and froze another batch of 13 lb of strawberries, and have a couple of ice cream tubs full for desserts in the fridge.

Mixed with other meager pickings of various odd berries here and there I managed to make another four and a half pounds of scrummy mixed berry  jam.  It is made of strawberries, black currants, raspberries, red currants, jostaberries, gooseberries and loganberries.
 All of which the birds would have eaten.
 It tastes so scrummy - yes I do confess to scraping out the jam pan
and eating the 'dregs'.  Well you just have to don't you!

And froze another batch of 12.5 lb of strawberries
I check over each strawberry, clean them etc. Cut the huge ones in half
then open freeze them on large metal trays.  
Once frozen I use a spatula to loosen them off the trays and pack them in 1lb bags.

I have taken the netting off all the remainder of my berries - I just can't keep picking it, so the  birds or whoever can help themselves!

It hammered it down with rain over night and today - so I feel very virtuous at having spent the hours I did this week up the lottie - and makes it all worthwhile!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Me:31 hours He:29 hours

 Whilst getting ready to load my car and go up the allotment
I thought you might like to see the early morning rituals of my 'girls'
 This flower pot outside my back door was filled to the brim with Forget me Nots
Once the flowers died back, the chickens ate the seeds then
decided, if they kicked out the dead plants, that it would make 
the perfect dust bath.  So first thing each morning it is a rush to
see who gets first go at the bath!  It is so funny to see them pile on
top of each other, shoving and pushing for 'pole' position, throwing dusty
potting compost all over their backs, wings, rolling on their side to dust
their tummies and under their wings!  All five of them have a go!
 Almost two hours of picking strawberries
 Eat one, pick three
How could I resist!

But somehow I managed to resist quite a few in fact 12lbs today!

I also picked 17lbs of gooseberries the other day too, and half a pound from my garden yesterday,

I got distracted by a huge Hercules Bomber doing what seemed to be a slow fly past just for me and Mr Lottie
 By the time I dashed to my car to get my camera
It was on its way over the village towards a mystery destination.

It flew over the Mall on the Queens birthday together with lots of other planes
including the famous Red Arrows absolutely awesome
 Meanwhile whilst I was picking stawberries, red currants, and a few stalks of rhubarb
my darling Mr Lottie did what he does best - dug up the remaining weeds.

Another few hours well spent.

Home again to a lunch of home grown salads, and chicken grown for me by my farmer friend, some new home grown potatoes too!

Makes all the hard work worth while!

I bagged up the strawberries and popped them in the freezer.  
Made a strawberry, gooseberry, redcurrant, blackcurrant, rhubarb crumble for Sunday lunch
and flopped down for the rest of the day!

Thank your for visiting

Oh - I forgot to add that I made another 4lbs of strawberry jam too!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday - Me:27 He:24

Yesterday I spent some time 'pottering' around in the garden, and early this morning I did some more work in the fruit cage - this time pruning the currant bushes which I have grown from little stick cuttings.  It looks like that I will be getting a nice crop from them this year.

Whilst in there, I noticed that some of my squash/pumpkin plants were now a healthy size to transfer up the allotment, so I dashed off up there before the rain set in and set to work.

This bed has been deep rotorvated, and weeded and dug over by me twice already - I forgot to take a proper 'before' photo - this is all that is left of the deep rooted thistles.  It is just astonishing how they sprout up so quickly despite my digging down deep to get all the roots out!  It's quite soul destroying at times - which is one of the reasons why I have reduced dramatically how much of my plot I keep covered (about a third of it) plus areas of this veggie bed covered up until I need them too!  - But I ran out of plastic so had to leave a couple of areas exposed.
It took me ages to deep dig this bed again
 Remove all the weeds -(wheel barrow full)
 I had to get my skates on - the skies clouded
 And it became quite dark and ominous - I was the only person up there in the entire field!
 I used six wheel barrows full of well rotted horse manure which I had to weed first 

 It was as black as coal and very wet and heavy so I am suffering the consequences now with a bad back!
It was made worse as the rain hammered down whilst I was doing it!
I also managed to do a bit more weeding of the bed that Mr Lottie was working on last week, and it produced some new potatoes which we had for lunch!
The heavens opened, the rain hammered down and I got drenched to the skin, looking like a drowned rat.

The plot is looking pretty good!

And I am sitting here - having showered, had lunch, a bit of a rest, and a choc ice!

Not a bad way to spend a day huh?

How did I ever manage to work full time.

It's not all bad being old!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Allotment hours: Me 25 He:24

A trip up the allotment was a must after our little break in York. 
(Well two trips actually)

As usual it was a bit of a shock at the amount of weeds that had grown in just one week!
  Feel free to click photos to enlarge
The first thing we had to tackle was the rampant growth of the fruit bushes on the left hand side and more weeds - which was a mammoth task and took us 2 hours to accomplish.
 The blackcurrant, redcurrant and loganberry bed has been weeded, and harshly trimmed so that they all fitted comfortable back under their netted framework - the birds had already started on the redcurrants!
I have weeded yet again the now tidy strawberry bed, and picked the remaining rhubarb at the back - so whilst not looking the perfect of cages - at least it is secure from marauding birds (and other 'night time' visitors of the human variety!)  It's too much trouble to pull up the stakes and get under the netting to pick my crop - at least I hope that this year it will be!

I have already picked almost 5lb of strawberries - eaten most of them with ice cream or yoghurt, but last night whilst Mr Lottie was out bowling I made...........
Five pounds of strawberry jam.  And yes, I know, the  bottom left jar has a little bit of the 'froth' in it - but actually it seems a waste to wash it down the sink, as it tastes lovely just like the strawberries and does not in the least detract from the flavour of the jam - in fact when spread on crusty bread and  butter, you can't even notice any difference from the rest of the jam!.

Mr Lottie was working hard weeding this bed

After - although I didn't give him quite enough time to finish it as I have a strict allotted time that I can stay out in the sun - with everything covered up and prescribed factor 50 sunscreen on my face which is so thick and white I look like a clown! Yes really!
Some surprises amongst the weeds were some lovely little new potatoes - grown from any tiny ones that missed the harvest last year!  We had some today with home grown salad and boy were they buttery and delicious!
 The squash were in dire need of a drink
 So we soaked them
Admired the new potatoes  and........
I picked the remainder of the gooseberries off one of my two bushes
(I had already picked some before we went away, before someone else did)
In just a week they had gone from small to.......,
4lbs of very large gooseberries - now topped and tailed and in the freezer.

A very busy four hours over two days - but very rewarding.
 Off to have some home grown fruit salad with lashings of thick yoghurt!


                                                         Thank you for visiting

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A sneak peak of my garden today

Since my last post I have been very busy working in the garden at home which is looking really lovely this year.  It's great to have got on top of things and having got everything under control again.

This time last year, Mr Lottie was very very seriously ill, and awaiting a life saving operation - so gardening and the allotment didn't feature too highly on my list of things 'to do'.   It was all that I could manage to do the basics.

The lawns are looking good (I did some weeding and feeding which has improved them) and of course the chooks work hard fertilising them eating the bugs!

I bought some wire edging fencing for around most of the beds, and much to the chooks disgust, it has so far foiled all their plans to use the beds as dust baths.
 Just a glimpse of some of the many flowering plants this week
 The Alstromeria are doing well this year
 I have different shades of yellows and other colours dotted around
 I have a couple of urns of succulents which are, at last, growing this year
 We went away to York for 5 days and whilst we were away the Phormium sprouted two flower stalks!
 Just on of several clematis flowering their hearts out
 One side of 'Kath's Garden' flowering alongside the garden room
lots more to flower yet too
 Pretty pink cranesbill geraniums
Just a glimpse of my blue border

I have been working hard up the allotment today so that's all for tonight.
More catching up to do tomorrow.

We escaped our nasty neighbour's howling dog for a few days in York - such bliss!
Back to the howling today though - such stress

(click on photos to enlarge)

Thank you so much for visiting