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...........

Sunday, June 29, 2008

So THIS is why I have an allotment...

…with nothing organised in the house for dinner tonight (baaaad housewife, Hazel!), I went to the Hill and picked BROAD BEANS (barry plot 19), PEAS (kelvedon wonder) and SPRING ONIONS (ishikura) and along with a couple of GARLIC CLOVES (Malvern) made a cracking risotto. I even used up some of the disgusting celery wine in the making of it! Hurrah!

But the work before the grub – I did a really good job of tidying the tomatoes by ‘armpitting’ them (pinching out the side shoots) and tying them to their stakes. Don’t the flowers look gorgeous!

While I had the string handy I turned to the climbing beans, which seem a bit slow to get the knack of twirling round their poles so I’ve shown them the way by tying them up too.

The only beans which didn’t seem to need tying to their poles were the barlotto lingua de fuoco – Jody kindly let me have a dozen or so seeds – and I think I’ve worked out why. I think that they are dwarf beans. D’oh!

Well I have not put poles in for nothing to grow up, so I’ll cram a row of peas in behind and rig some netting up to the poles, I think – live and learn!

I finished off with sowing a row of CARROT (gonsonheimer) & a row of RADISH (saxa3) in plot B (roots) & planting out three different sowing of SPRING ONION (ishikura) all of which looked a bit weedy in their pots. They will have to have some serious ambition to grow to be the size of the ones I bought home today…

Friday, June 27, 2008

Vintners of the World - no need to panic just yet...

Remember the celery wine that I started in February?

If you recall, I thought that it needed to mature somewhat in order to take the harshness out of it - well I opened a bottle this week because I needed white wine to add to a dish that I was cooking, and I hadn't any other, so it seemed like a good opportunity to try it again.


It is vile.

To look on the positive side, however, it is fine to cook with, so I'm now looking for wine based recipes so that I can use up the rest of the bottle.

Good job that the rhubarb wine show rather more promise...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Flaming June...

…is not living up to its name – it’s raining as I type & it’s been virtually gale force winds today & last Sunday, & rain most of Saturday too.

It’s not all bad weather, though – I love the light nights, & most evenings I can find an excuse to just nip over to the Hill’, if only to do a little light weeding…& a bit more light weeding…as Novice Neighbour Jody once remarked, ‘weeding is really addictive, isn’t it – you just can’t stop’ which I do agree with!

There have been quite a number of evenings that I’ve not got home to start cooking dinner till well after 9pm, but I’m making the most of it – after all, there are plenty of dark & inclement months.

I’ve done some direct sowing in the last couple of weeks – a couple of rows of BEETROOT (bolthardy) with which I plan to make pickle, a row of CARROTS (gonsenheimer) & RADISH (saxa3), all of which have sprouted very quickly.
I’ve planted out all of the pot sown climbing & dwarf FRENCH BEANS (with the exception of some POLE BEANS which I had as a seed swap at the Hill allotment shed – these are very slow to get going, so I hope they are ok ) which are all romping away.

This evening I’ve sown some BROAD BEANS (violetta) in pots to plant out for a late crop – I’ll keep a couple of the plants to grow for seed at mum’s where they won’t cross with any other beans. They are an unusual purple seeded variety – the seed arrived through the post some weeks ago most unexpectedly from a very generous member of the GYO Grapevine – thank you, Flum.

Whilst I was ‘in the potting shed’, I put all the brassica seedlings into bigger pots. These will be planted out in plot D (legumes) for eating over winter & include SPROUTS (Bedford filbasket & Falstaff), CABBAGE (red sprouting), CAULIFLOWER (all the year round) & CALABRESE (Waltham).

It’s also the time of year to start to scoff the produce! Hurrah! I’ve had the first mouth-watering POTATOES (lady crystl & orla) as well as the first of the BROAD BEANS (barry plot 19), TURNIPS (snowball), LETTUCE (webbs wonderful & chartwell), RADISH (saxa3), SPINACH (samish f1) & I have enjoyed the incomparable, delightful taste of the first of the PEAS (kelvedon wonder). Yum yum!

Monday, June 23, 2008

May Day, May Day!

…which brings us nicely to the month of May, in which I was mostly studying & taking exams – which is a slight exaggeration, but does excuse the lack of blog updates, perhaps.

I wasn’t slow to spend time at the Hill though, & with warmer weather & enough rain, the sap was definitely rising.

This encouraged me to sow a row of CARROTS (gonsenheimer) in plot B (roots), despite a singular lack of success with the previous two rows sown in mid March – I believe that we have a grand total of three seedlings there.

I popped a row of RADISH (saxa3) in that bed too, before having a marathon indoor sowing session with a few seeds of BROCCOLI (beaumont f1), CALABRESE (waltham), CAULIFLOWER (romanesco), KALE (sutherland), LETTUCE (webbs wonderful), SPINACH (samish f1) SPRING ONION (ishikura) & TURNIP (snowball).

In bigger pots I put in some CLIMBING FRENCH BEANS (barlotti, birds egg, purple giant, & barlotto lingua de fuoco), DWARF FRENCH BEANS (tendergreen, barlotto firetongue & boston) RUNNER BEANS (saved from last year) & some SWEETCORN (extra tender & true f1)

This little lot couldn’t wait to sprout along with last month’s sowings of KOHL RABI, & the potatoes are all roaring away too - and how gorgeous are these crimson flowered BROAD BEANS?

In fact the plot is shaping up really well – I spent a happy evening planting up plot A (misc) with the TOMATOES (harbinger, supersteak, nyagous black, bloody butcher, alicante, broad ripple yellow currant & paul Robeson) & SQUASH (buttercup, pomme d’or red kuri, redmolo & Thelma saunders).

And good news on the harvest front – I had the first of the SPINACH (samish f1) & a perfect LETTUCE (little gem) along with some RADISH (French breakfast).

...and still to come is my favourite month of the year - onwards and upward to flaming June...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Did Spring Spring...?

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words – which is as good a way as any as introducing a catch up to the blog…

So we’ll look at the month of April first – before disappearing off on holiday towards the end of the month, I sowed some KOHL RABI (blusta & delikatess white) in small pots at home along with some FRENCH BEANS (warwick & black turtle) & a couple of SQUASH seeds (buttercup, pomme d’or, red kuri, redmolo & Thelma saunders – all courtesy of a very kind member of the GYO grapevine form the Netherlands).

The CELERY (golden self blanching 3) seeds sprouted in their pots along with the PEAS (robinson) from the Heritage Seed Library, & the latest sowings of SPINACH (samish f1), SWISS CHARD (bright lights) & LETTUCE (webbs wonderful).

Although I had time to plant out the ONION (brunswick), some SPINACH (samish f1), LETTUCE (little gem), PEAS (pilot) & SPRING ONIONS (ishikura) & to prepare the beds for further planting out, everything remains pretty bare & just waiting for Spring….
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