Welcome to our plot!

I'm Hazel, and in Nov 2006 my friend Jane and I took on a half plot at Hill Allotments, Sutton Coldfield - we want the satisfaction of growing and eating our own fruit and veg, and to improve our diet (and fitness!).

This is the story of what happened next...........

Monday, October 29, 2007

Harvest Festival!

This week the weather has been cool & bright with a lot of the leaves now off the trees & a real smell of autumn in the air. It was time to turn the clocks back this weekend so now it’s dark about 5pm, which puts paid to visits to the Hill in the week, bar the odd sneak down at lunchtime.

I have had an extremely satisfying weekend at the Hill – & in the kitchen. The main job has been to clear all the ‘summer’ crops, so after picking a carrier bag of various sized & variety of green TOMATOES, all the plants came up, along with the marigold, BUTTERNUT SQUASH (harvested one small one!), PUMPKIN (harvested one pretty big one), nasturtium, bolted lettuce, courgette, slug eaten radish & sweetcorn.

This has left just the indestructible (and, quite frankly, so-hot-it-is-inedible) landcress, a row of pak choi & a row of spinach in plot B. I gave the bed a good old rake over & sowed some 30 short rows of green manure. I also planted up the garlic sets bought at Malvern, & the dianthus plants along the front of the plot for some spring colour.

I also dug up a JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE, out of curiosity, & now have a heap of funny shaped tubers to ‘do’ something with! I rescued the Prize Pumpkin (19lb, 5th place) from the polytunnel, & along with the absolute star of the day – a small but perfect CAULIFLOWER (all the year round) – I went home to deal with the bounty…

So with my pinny on, I cooked up a batch of Green Tomato Chutney from a recipe from the GYO Grapevine – which looks wonderful (& a sneaky taste confirms…) – and I spent a merry hour cursing the density of pumpkin flesh as I hollowed out the smaller of the two pumpkins (weighing in at 13lb). The pumpkin is now all cooked & frozen – & some put aside for soup – & then I had a rather a lot of fun making this chappie for Halloween…

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Looking forward to winter too!

What a difference a couple of weeks makes!

Having been to the Malvern Show at the end of September (& I must just say right now what a fabulously wonderful day it was) – buying onion sets, garlic & some dianthus plants for the front of the plot – I just had time at the Hill to ask Novice-neighbour-Jody to put the Prize Pumpkin in for weighing in the middle of October before disappearing off on holiday for a couple of weeks.

Back home, & the weekend weather has been gorgeous with crisp sunshine bringing the autumn colours out in the trees – but of course that means that the evenings have been very chilly indeed. The courgette, squash & tomatoes seem to be hanging on for the moment, but I must make harvesting the green tomatoes for chutney a priority now.

I can’t wait to have a crack at the chutney, not least because due to a timely birthday & a very thoughtful family, I am now the very proud owner of a shiny new Stellar maslin pan, jam thermometer & a heap of kilner jars all just waiting to be christened!

Despite the neglect & the cool weather, the plot is still looking pretty good – the green manure is all up in neat rows and all the ‘winter’ veg (kale, cabbage, leek & parsnip) look great and are just waiting for their turn to be picked. And better late than never, the sunflowers at the front of the plot are starting to flower & look beautiful – although a dwarf variety for the front of the plot for next time, I think!

I’ve now started to clear the black turtle & barlotti beans for podding & storing in jars and there’s also loads of runner & French bean pods left on the plants which we missed – so I think I’ll try & dry them too – lots of bean casseroles coming up in winter, I think!

So there’s still plentyto keep us busy with lots of clearing & manuring to be done in the next few weeks – & of course with assessing this year & planning already in progress for next …
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