Friday, January 15, 2010


the Thaw begins

After a terrible few weeks of bitter cold and heavy frosts and snow, the weather has finally let up a bit, and hopefully this weekend I will be able to go back down and do a bit of work, before it was just impossible, too cold.
But not to be idle, I have attacked the drawing of the plan for spring and summer, of course it will probably change in the details, but those are the rotation plots for 2010. I am going to start bastard trenches (all right compost trenches if you want to be posh) for the bean plot, I am going to try borlotti beans this year and would love for them to work well.
So the plots for 2010...and the winners are....

Friday, January 08, 2010


porridge and other bruises

You are what you eat they say so at the moment I must be looking like a big bowl of porridge. Yes dear reader, I am back on the diet. Those who followed will know that in 2009 I lost some 12 kgs so this is a continuing saga. Well there are still 4 to be lost so I am back on the diet wagon. Without giving a bit of free advertising, I follow a diet called the "Dukan diet" which is highly protein based, and involves several phases. I am in the dieting phase, so eating only lean meats and hams, fish, seafood, eggs, no-fat dairy and veggies. No sugar, no fat, no alcohol, no carbs, no fruit. Boring I agree. But it works, 1kg in a week. And the other 12 I did keep them off.
It also involves...porridge. As such a diet makes you, whisper it, constipated, you need some fibre intake, so you have to eat oat bran and wheat bran every day, and I have found that the best way is either in little pancakes or in porridge. I do cheat, as I make it with half oats and half oat bran, but oats are quite good cereals so I do not feel too guilty.
I think I have found how to make the perfect porridge. I soaked the oat mix overnight: ratio of 1 oat to 0.8 water and a pinch of salt. Next morning I add the remaining 0.2 of milk and bring it to the boil, then simmer slowly for two minutes, stirring continuously. Serve with a splash of milk and sweetener and it is delicious. Really sticks to your ribs, and in this cold weather you need it. Fat free, low in carbs and high in fibre. Oh God I sound like a bloody ad for Special K!!
Anyway I will keep you up to date with the great diet challenge. To tell you that this summer, down the allotment, one fellow came over thinking I was a newbie - he hadn't recognized that the lady gardening was still me. So it apparently is a noticeable weight loss :-)

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010



It's cold as buggery today, frostier than a snowman's privates. Either it will make my newly planted garlic really break into cloves or it will kill it off...
Anyway to warm myself up I was pleased to see a newsletter from Alan Romans in my inbox. I have found their seeds excellent value for money, last year I got some lovely climbing beans off them (Cobra) and it is much cheaper than what you get in the stores here. And no they haven't paid me to say that :-)
So I have been making a little list, planning this year's seed buys. Of course I still have some leftovers from last year but I do like to try some new things and I also want to replant some of the things from 2009 that worked well. The UK seeds seem well suited to this region's cooler maritime climate.
So I will be buying:
some flowers and herbs, as my little herb bed is now looking great and I want to extend it to beds next to the shed.
Black Beauty Aubergines - last year I had aubergines from lidl which started off well but then got destroyed by storms so I ended up buying plants. Still I will try this variety to see.
Beans: Cobra (2nd time), Borlottis (can't wait to try them!) and Tendergreen bush French.
Cylindra beets, beetroot was a big flop last year but I am hoping that the manure will give me a better crop this year, I love my homegrown beetroot.
Cauliflower - never tried before, but the neigbours manage to grow them so I will give it a try too.
Courgettes: I still have yellow Parador seeds which are very reliable but now I will also try Black Beauty and Defender varieties. 2009 gave a very poor crop, let's hope this year they work better, new location and plenty of organic matter.
Corn - Lark which worked well in 2008.
Peas - I found their Early Onward to be good, but on the whole peas were a flop last year so let's hope these give a better crop. I love peas, the best reason for having a garden.
Peppers - last year these were a terrific success so I am going to be bold and try sweet peppers, a European variety called Robertina that is supposed to like cooler conditions...
Pumpkins. I am a sucker for pumpkin, I still have Qld Blue seeds from Australia which gave me some beautiful fruit last year (which I am still eating!) so This year I want to try Butternuts (Ponca variety) and some little ones they have called Hooligan. You have to grow them just for the name, don't you?
Finally the tomatoes. A great crop in 2009. A good variety of flavours, except the cherry tomatoes didn't grow well. So I will have a go at some Gardener's delight for that. More Totem, a great small salad tomato, good cropper. Also this year trying Yellow Brandywine, a big yellow beefsteak. and a smaller salad tom they have called Pannovy. I always also do a bit of Marmande, which don't always work out! I am in two minds about the Italian plum varieties, last year they were diseased... which puts me off somewhat.
So I will be at the keyboard tonight, credit card at the ready and hopefully I will have my lovely little seed package in a couple of weeks.

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Monday, January 04, 2010


Cold and depressing

After quite a bit of absence, I went down the lottie yesterday, it was quite cold but workable with gloves and scarves galore. I was the only one there! Which was a bit disconcerting actually. But the soil was surprisingly flexible. I have started working it out for spring, yesterday I dug over what will be this year's onion patch, covered it with my lovely cow manure then covered it with cardboard and the tarpaulin. This won't completely eliminate weeds but it makes the job a lot easier on planting day! I also started spreading manure over the to-be potato patch. That will be a bit of a job as it has been idle since the onions came up in July.
My other job yesterday was planting the garlic. OK I am hopelessly late, or perhaps optimistically early, but I had to give it a go. They were lovely big cloves, I hope something comes of them...
The allotments looked mournful, full of cut down cabbages, chickweed and a few leek patches here and there. many things have completely frozen (such as my artichoke!) but no doubt they will pop back up in a few weeks.

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