Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The state of play June09

It's been a while since I did a plan of the plot, so here goes. It's not really quite to scale methinks but it gives an idea of what is where.

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Orgasmic alliums

That got your attention didn't it? I admit to being a bit crazy about alliums, onions garlic etc.
And this year's crop promises to be a good one.
I harvested my garlic. It is definitely an improvment on the year before's crop. And yet I used supermarket garlic! A Spanish variety! They are not mega bulbs but they are bigger than last year's and they smell wonderful! I got about 20 good bulbs, I am thrilled. (please note the photos here are not mine, worse luck, but I just felt like being decorative).

I love onions, there is something wonderful about a crop that keeps for so long. I have just been flattening my onions, hoping for better bulbs, like the ones on the pic below (again not mine but the variety is similar).

When they start poking through the ground, it's very satisfying. I have already tasted some red onions that were starting to bolt, they are sweet and tasty (I planted Red Baron and they have been not too bad, although on the whole they are not as good as the yellows.)

But the ones that fascinate me the most are the shallots/echalotes. I planted two varieties this year, some round red ones and some Jermor, "chicken leg" ones, which gives the nice elongated shallots with an excellent flavor.
I love the way the shallots divide and end up like a little crown, pushing outwards as they grow. I have pulled up a couple that were a little damaged and they were delicious, in a plain green salad, chopped finely.

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growth spurt

There has been a noticeable growth spurt this week, after quite a bit of rain and now a bright sunny period. The courgettes are coming on splendidly, and flowers are starting to form on most of them. The corn and beans too have really come on, the garden is green all over. I love this summer lushness.
Today I went and tied up some of the feistier looking tomatoes, and plucked off the unnecessary shoots (they are called "gourmands" in French, meaning greedy things, which is quite a good description). They are not all quite as lush as I would like but some are getting flowers and the others are developing stronger vines and good top growth so I will be patient. I was really late with them this year.
The peppers and eggplants/aubergines have amazed me. They got so storm damaged at one point and now they are looking great. I hope they will give some fruit! I mulched all round them with manure this weekend, I am hoping that everytime I water some goodness will get down to them.
I dug up some of the early spuds this weekend, they are delicious. My neighbour kept saying "oh they are sick" because the foliage started dying off but I have come to the conclusion that this is bollocks in fact. the yield is not terrific, about 3 or 4 spuds per plant but, hey that means I get back 4 times what I planted. Not too bad when you think about it like that.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009



For once I have actually managed to grow some lettuce, from scratch! It was delicious too, shame it's bolting now. I have green cut and come again (which I cut so maybe it will come again) and some butterhead, very tasty. Now I know I must sow in situ. I am going to make a seed box next season, like my neighbours, for my lettuces, cabbages etc. This is the big resolution! :-)
I finally planted all the tomatoes. The first ones that were looking a bit pale have now got firm green tops on them and look as if they are putting on a real spurt so I am very pleased.
I have started harvesting the early spuds, and it's a mixed bunch, some plants have lots of spuds, some only two?? SO I will ditch that variety (Anoe) for next year and try something else. Although I can't knock the flavour, they are firm and nutty with fine skins and lovely to cook with.
Most things are doing well, beetroot will need thinning soon, I got some lovely peas on Sunday and we ate the last artichokes which were brilliant. The prize crop this year is the onions, they are big, and starting to ripen, so if I repeat the same method, it will be to manure well at least 2 weeks before planting. keep them well weeded and well watered in April and May. Also they were planted in the old tomato patch, which also had been well fertilized the previous season...must keep that rotation in place too!

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Friday, June 12, 2009


Rain and strawbs

I discovered that rain and strawberries don't necessarily mix. I went and picked a crop yesterday, after several days of heavy rain. Many of the strawberries were blemished and others were...well...chewed. I am guessing snails or maybe hungry birds? Last year big bird death rate in my nets put me off putting them on again this year so I guess I will have to just put up with it.
The lettuces are also bolting from the rain.
Still, can't complain, the onions seem to be getting massive and the late potato crop is looking very lush. I have had a terrific germination rate for the parsnips and beetroot too, so as I have learnt in 3 years of gardening, one thing that doesn't work is balanced out by something that does extra-well, like the 4 lovely artichokes I picked.
And I can't wait for the raspberries because they are chock full of tiny white berry buds. I am envisaging jars of raspberry sauce lined up in the cupboard... slurp slurp

RECIPE: Strawberry sauce
Just right for rain damaged strawbs!
Put 750g of strawberries in a saucepan, cover with 4 tabs of sugar and a little vanilla (essence or vanilla sugar) and wait for the juice to leak.
Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 10-15minutes to reduce the juice.
Puree it with a hand blender and use within 3 days (it's great on plain ice cream or cheesecake!)

Same goes for rasperries although I tend to mash them with a fork when cooked, as they are so much softer than strawberries. Ignore the pips, they are part of the charm. To can, bring it back to the boil, pour into sterile jars and boil the filled jars till you see the mixture inside bubbling (about a 15-minute boil). These will last for months.

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Friday, June 05, 2009


Strawberry jam!

Mmmm I got such a wonderful crop of strawberries this week, over two kilos! Enough to freeze a tray of fruit and make 5 pots of jam! yum yum. The fruit is the pride of place in the garden.
I also dug up some of the early spuds and once again I was quite disappointed, as the yield is not great, just a couple of potatoes per plant :-( However they are smooth, fair sized and healthy and the taste is good (this is "Anoe" variety). I am hoping that the Charlottes will be better? The late spuds have loads of foliage, maybe they will give a better yield. In the meantime there is plenty for potato salads at least!
Another harvest this week was some lettuce, which for once I successfully grew from seed. Does anyone know though how I can stop it wilting the minute I pick it?
My rhubarb seems sick! The stems are small and the leaves seem to be getting attacked by something! I will have to look up some ideas on diseases that attack rhubarb. I am awfully disappointed as this year it is hitting its cruising speed and I already had several tasty stems.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Off to a sprint

I am quite pleased with the allotment just now, I hope I can keep up the same regularity over the summer, as it is relatively clean and tidy and regular visits will help keep it that way.
I got a lovely crop of strawberries on the weekend. about a kilo. And there is about the same amount waiting to be picked, I shall pop down in the morning and do that. So I think I will be making more jam and freezing some fruit too.
This morning I went down to water as we have had 2 quite hot sunny days, and as I hoed around a bit, I realised that underneath the ground is actually quite cool and fresh. So everything is thriving.
I will soon have a crop of peas and the second pea sowing is just peeking up its head. The onions are doing well and I have the first flower on the courgettes! I am so pleased as I was very late with them this year but they have gotten off to a good start. The beans are poking through, the only thing that seems to have let me down is the sweetcorn. Which got storm damaged it seems. I wonder if it is too late to re-sow some??
I came away this morning with 3 lovely artichokes, big ones, about the size of a large orange. I am looking forward to those! We all love them.

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