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, September 15, 2008

Potatoes, Picnics and Pickles

An industrious weekend at the Hill – with the rain falling for most of last week, I really made the most of the welcome dry spell.

The first job on Saturday was to finish digging up the remaining POTATOES (pentland dell) – I left them on the top of the soil for the skins to harden before filling the big tub to take them home. I weighed them later at home – these alone were nearly 30kg – so a good year for potatoes!

I chatted to secretary Haydn, & to teacher Barry (who suggested lifted the rest of the RED ONIONS (Brunswick) before they begin to sprout) then I picked some SWEETCORN (tender & true), TOMATOES (bloody butcher & alicante) & CARROTS (gonsonheimer) which I ate as a picnic lunch.

I picked a dozen or so of the riper-looking FRENCH BEANS (early warwick) to take home for drying, did a little light weeding then went up to chat to cheery Brian & Pauline. Their plot is looking good – they are using bark for some of their paths. Perhaps this is the answer to our pathways too? I’m happy with the four-beds-split-longways-in-two layout, although the plastic weed suppressant pathways are pretty lethal in wet weather, so there’s not a lot to stop my biting the bullet & knocking in some pegs & boards. Must check bark prices & make a decision!

Brian & Pauline gave me a lettuce, & kindly said that I was to help myself to raspberries – I had planned to make some jam (as actually making a few jars is the only way I will improve on the various rock hard/runs off the knife stuff that I have managed so far), however, what with the raspberry container being on the front seat as I drove home, & then on the work top in convenient ‘dipping’ distance all evening, there weren’t enough left to make it worthwhile!

I wasn’t idle on the culinary front, though, as I picked a big bag of RUNNER BEANS (reg-next-plot) in order to make spiced runner bean pickle which was rather a hit last year.

On Sunday I went to the Hill via the garden centre in order to buy autumn sown onion sets, & was rather taken by the ‘all seeds for 50p’ sign – hurrah! Once at the Hill, I planted the ONION SETS (electric & senshyu yellow), & sowed the rest of plot c (potatoes as was) with green manure. I had a sweetcorn/carrot/tomato picnic lunch again, & bought home carrots & runner beans for tea.

I made the pickle (er – it’s rather sloppy & I’m not sure that it will thicken as it matures) & bottled the redcurrant wine which has been on the go for the last couple of months. It is a fantastic colour, & tastes mighty fine too! I’ve squirreled it away to mature – but must give Julie (2nd best plot) a bottle to say ‘thank you’ for the redcurrants.

Given that the batch of wine only came to 4 and a half bottles in total, I wonder if the ‘thank you’ bottle to Julie can also double as a ‘prepayment’ for redcurrants for next year…?


  1. Wow, busy girl!

    I suppose you could add a little cornflour to your pickle and re-heat it, to cook the cornflour till it thickens? You then have to re-wash and sterilise all the jars though, but at least it will be thick! Cheat? Moi? Hmmm.

  2. I've never heard of runner bean chutney...but sounds good..must try and make some when our summer comes around over here ..

  3. You can get free bark from the park both at the visitors centre and at Blackroot Pool (opposite the cafe) All you need is a large bag and a shovel

  4. I did wonder about thickening the pickle with cornflour, Flum - or about simmering it until it reduces - I'll consider further and decide at the weekend!

    It does taste very good, Dinzie - it's a Delia Smith recipe and great for when you are sick and tired of runner beans and the freezer's full!

    And knock-me-down-with-a-feather! Free bark at the park!! Thanks for the tip, Bri - it's made my mind up for me! Just got to scrounge some planks now, and I'm away!

  5. Hazel, Hazel, Hazel long time no see!

    As a valued and highly thought of member of the Hill plotholders community I have been asked to approach you about the possibility of you maybe becoming a member of the committee this year???????

    We are aware that you are busy but frankly dont give a dam! at last nights committee meeting your name was mentioned several times in regards to the show and enthusiasm etc etc etc (all the oldies love you!). The committee said how wonderful it would be to have someone just like yourself on the board and have asked me, being your nice friendly novice neighbour to pose the question... Would you be interested? to be honest its not much work, the occasional meeting and get involved in anything that takes your fancy. Ive rarely been involved in much myself due to studying so its really not a big deal.
    So how about it neighbour?

    See you downt plot very soon.


    PS: watched a gr8 film the other night called Grow Your Own. British film about allotment life, lots of famous faces and a real good view. I recommend highly. If you want to borrow it let me know.

  6. Hmm. Not sure. Will have to know EXACTLY what is involved (i.e. number of meetings, how long they last, what else is involved). No flannel now!

    Will talk to you about this on Sat morning if you are around.

  7. Im not around this weekend I have an assignment that has to be in and as usual Im leaving it to the last minute! Try Haydn (or Ted 2 down) they might give you an idea. Its pretty easy really we only meet once a month at 7.45 for a couple of hours at most. You get yr own key to the store and if your on site someone might ask you to sell em something. buts thats about it, unless you want to be more involved.

    The outcomes of the meetings generally fall to those who dont have to work for a living like us!


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