Saturday, 23 August 2008

Runner Beans & Shark Fin Melons......

I popped down to the Lotty last night, to water my plot, as the weather forecast for Saturday is "dry & with sunny spells!" so just in case they get it right for a change, I thought that I had better be prepared, like the good Girl Guide that remains in me!
Whilst I was there I noticed a monster RUNNER BEAN - yes - its a whopping 37cm's long
Wow - I couldn't believe it when I saw it and pictured it for you next to a regular lighter, just to give you an idea of it's size.
I picked the other runner beans that had grown to a good size, blanched them and froze them, so the freezer is now stocked with home grown Peas, Brocolli & Runner Beans.

Now here is another WHOPPER - this is a Shark Fin Melon that John grew. John has been suffering from a bad back, so I offered to cut it for him, as it was on the ground, and bending might have put his back out. So I braved the jungle of leaves that you see in the picture and went in with trusty pen knife and did the deed.

As this is a savoury melon, he said that he would like to stuff it, so I told him where to find my Stuffed Marrow Recipe from Malta, and he said he would give it a try!

It will be great to hear how it turned out and if he enjoyed it!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Take a look at this great BLOG

This is just let you all know that the BLOG for the allotments, where I am fortunate enough to be a tenant is now online!
Please take a look
and leave a comment whilst you are there!
It will be updated regularly and will include allotment information, recipes, top veggie tips, and lots more

Sunday, 17 August 2008

A busy busy week !

My first productive visit to the lotty this week found me weeding the Brassica bed. This was a well over due job. I also lifted most of the cut and come again lettuce (a) because it hasn't been salad weather and (b) because it was starting to rot with all the rain we have been having!
The Pumpkin (one of two) is doing well at the edge of the potato plot

The other Pumpkin (2 of 2) has now got alot more room now that the 2nd Earlies have all been dug up

The Peas are fattening nicely - and "yes" I did pick one and eat it all to myself!

It was heavenly - so sweet and lush and more, I want more!

Ah! Finally - the vine tomatoes - Cerise - are finally starting to ripen - I can't wait until they go a deep, deep red - that is if they do???

Heres another picture of the Cerise - you can just see some little ones in the background begining to ripen too - how exciting!

These are the pea plants that I put in last weekend - all doing well & as you can see Derek has been digging for me again - bless his little cotton socks!

Ah - my runner beans - they are finally coming along quite nicely - I will have a batch of beans weeks after everyone elses have finished I think

And last but not least is the Tomato that has grown an arm - it is bigger than a tennis ball now & I can't wait for it to ripen so I can slice it up, drizzle it with a very good extra virgin olive all, add a little freshly crushed sea salt and some fresh basil leaves. Mmmmm. Yummy.

Another reason for my recent lack of postings apart from the weather, is that I have been asked to set up a blog for our Allotments! What an honour. I have dived whole heartly into the task and it's nearly there! Once it is published, which should be in the next day or two (just awaiting approval from the Committee) you can view it here - SRAGS (Stanley Road Allotment Garden Society) I am just grateful that we aren't located in Stanley Lane, otherwise it would have been called SLAGS !! haha.

Till next time, I hope you have enjoyed the latest posting.

Toodle pip for now everyone.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Picalilli Making Evening!

Thanks to Greenforks (again), some kind donations from fellow allotmenteers and a cauliflower that I donated money for at the open day, I have been able to make some Picalilli.

This is very fortunate for me as I love Picalilli and I also find it very hard to buy Gluten Free Picalilli in the shops.

This is a very easy to follow recipe which you can follow for yourself if you click here!

Well, it looks like I won't have to go to the Lotty to water anything today! It hasn't stopped raining all morning.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Open Day Weekend

My weekend started off with some bad news, which my hubby told me about on Friday evening

He had to go into work on Saturday 9th and he was meant to take the weekend off.

This was quite a blow for me as it is our 10th & 4th anniversary this weekend - 10 years since we met (blind date) and 4 years since we married (6 year later but on the same day we met!)

Oh well- that's life!

There was only one thing to do - go down to the Lotty!!

I spent 4 hours + down there that morning and I was amazed at how quickly the time went.
I did a bit of this and a bit of that, but mainly, I dug up all my second Earlie's - Catriona - and look at this haul!

It is and will always will be, one of the best experiences ever - digging up potatoes.

When you think you have got them all - another one appears, and when you start on a new plant it never fails to surprise you with how many spuds are under there.

Spud - this is another name for the humble potato in the UK

The correct meaning of "spud" is that this word for potato comes from the digging of soil/hole prior to planting the potatoes. The word is of unknown origin and was originally (c. 1440) used as a term for a short knife or dagger. It subsequently transferred over to a variety of digging tools. Around 1845 it transferred over to the tuber itself.

One funny story (well I think it's funny) - my mother is Maltese and hadn't been living in the UK for long - heavily pregnant with me. She walked down the road to buy some potatoes (this was in the mid 60's) The chap in the shop told her "Sorry love, no potatoes today, only spuds," so she walked home - empty handed!!

Next on the list of things to do that Saturday, was to bake fairy cakes!

I have never baked before and being gluten free without a sweet tooth, I have not bothered to bake for myself, so this was a new experience for me. After getting covered in flour and licking the icing bowl clean, I managed to produce 24 little cakes.

So these fairy cakes along with 2 homemade jars of chutney were taken down to the Lotty on the Sunday. Donations would be asked for if you wanted a tea, coffee, soft drink, cake or indeed some lovely vegetables and the money donated would go to the Mayors chosen charity which is a great cause -

So, that was pretty much it for Saturday - I was exhausted!
Sunday now, and fingers crossed for the weather. I woke up to find myself quite excited at the prospect of the Open Day.

I went along at around 10am to help where I was needed. I helped to erect the two gazebo's (good thing I was a girl guide!!) and set up some tables. However I had to leave after 1 hour as we were expecting Hubby's Mum (aka the armchair gardener) and her boyfriend Richard who were travelling up from Ferring as they hadn't seen (but heard alot and are avid followers of this blog) my allotment!

They arrived at 12 and we ate a lovely lunch at 1, and at 2pm we strolled to the Lotty. After a walk around one half of the Lotty, the Mayor & Mayoress arrived.
We all gathered around, and he gave a lovely speech - not too long and not too short-just right ...

And now for the best bit - SURPRISE - Derek Cousins, our very own bramble fairy's name was called out by the Mayor himself!!

We all knew about this, but of course Derek didn't have a clue! He was awarded a signed and framed Arsenal Football Team Shirt for ALL the help that he has given fellow allotmenteers over the years - The look of shock on his face!

The signed Arsenal Shirt

This is Mavis- my plotty neighbour & our "Leader" looking radiant after her morning nerves

The Mayor & Mayoress were then presented with a box of Allotment grown veg - by the look on the Mayors face, the box was quite a weight!!

This is Nigel and me - do you like my "Lotty" T- Shirt?? It makes me look more "knowledgeable" than I actually am!!

And last but not least - The Committee

From left to right - Arthur, Nigel, John, Mavis, Carl, Paul and of course Dr. Doom in the front row.

My thanks, and I am sure the thanks of many others, goes to these wonderful people, who organised such a fantastic day - including the weather!!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

My favourite Lotty Pics.....

My fav lotty pics
Originally uploaded by macalifrog

These are some of my favourite Lotty pics - they all tell a story.....

Starting top left (and then go clockwise) -

The 142 sign in the snow, a cold day that didn't keep me away from the lotty.

This is me digging and preparing my final bed, which is where my potatoes went in, and since then Courgettes, Pumpkins, Buttnernut Squash, Cucumbers & Peas!

Next is the lovely Sunset - enough said.

Next is my Courgette flower, or is it a Pumpkin flower? Anyway it's so nice I use it for my wallpaper on my computer screen as it reminds me of mother nature herself.

Ah, the rickety old shed that I was hoping to restore - just a distant dream.

Carl our site rep, kindly posing with my Twirly that is now protecting his cabbage patch.

This old bucket - discarded and now unloved - how many times was it filled with water to help quench the thirst of the plants, or other items such as freshly picked veggies?

Then it's Daisy & Mo given to me by my lovely Mother in Law.

My wonderful husband Ian, who kindly helped to transport Hilda in his Smart Car to the Lotty - he deserved a cuddle from her after that!

Next is the fantastic Derek and his doggie Laddie - I don't need to say any more about Derek as I am sure you all know him well by now!

This is me with my first potato harvest - a truly monumental moment in Lotty Life!

And last by not least - my reward - green fingers at last !

Finally and to the Centre fo the picture - the centre stage of Plot 142 is dear Tatty Boggie Gump

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

I'm at it again.....

.....Yes, making more chutney!
This time the recipe is thanks to "Greenforks" and you can view and of coursefollow the recipe for yourselves by clicking here
I adapted the recipe slightly. I used a yellow courgette, added a diced kohlrabi and used spring onions instead of normal onions (oh er Mrs.) as these were all the veg that I had to hand. I did use the apples that my husband said were past their best, and I omitted the raisins because (a) I didn't have any and (b) I can't stand them! So it will be interesting to see how it turns out. I did get many a nice comment about the lovely aroma filling the house during cooking, so that's a good sign!
I got 6 small jars worth, following the recipe to the weights stated but swopping ingredients listed to what I had available from my Lotty.

Well, the end results are what I am looking forward to sampling !!

All my chutneys are Gluten Free, Veggie & Vegan!

To make yours Gluten Free, simply swap the Malt Vinegar for White Wine Vinegar.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

It's happened - at last..........

Yes - it's official - I have green fingers at last !

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Chutney is made & Derek strikes again!!

These little jars are the results of my chutney making efforts
Don't they look pretty and quaint?
I have put them in the store room to mature for a few months,
and I have posted a jar to my "virtual" friend Ralph who has a lotty in Notty(Nottingham)
as it's his birthday next weekend, so I hope he is a good boy and doesn't open it straight away!!


As I arrived at the allotment gates this morning I was immediately arrested by the fantastic banner that Kirsty's husband had made to advertise the open day next Sunday 10th

Isn't it just FAB? I love the flowers - so pretty.

On arrival I was greeted with the sound of spade hitting soil - yes, you guessed it, the bramble fairy / digging fairy - the wonderful Derek was on plot 144 again, clearing brambles and digging away for me - bless.

As you can see from the picture below, he dug me enough of a space to not only put in some spring cabbages, which Olga my Russian Lotty neighbour gave to me that very morning, but there is also now enough room to put in the next installment of peas that are still growing happily in my cold frame at home.

I protected the cabbages with some netting

So that the birds and pigeons don't attack them. Do you like the idea of putting up turned bottles into the soil to create a little "roof" for them? Obivously as the plants grow, the bottles will have to go onto canes & fortunately for me - the netting is double the width so as the flowers grow the netting protection can expand! Clever eh?

This is my favourite Tomato so far - it is huge - almost the size of an orange and it's grown a little arm!

George and Perry said it didn't look like an arm to them - what could they mean???? I wonder what it looked like to them????????

Finally - My surprise this visit was the amount that the runner beans had grown - on my last visit on Thursday, they were mostly half way up the canes and now - just look - all the way to the top!