Monday, September 26, 2011



A spate of bad weather and busy-ness kept me mostly away from the allotment for the last 2 weeks, except for a few brief harvsting spurts. We are still eating lots of greenery - coriander, lettuce, parsley, rocket, mint - and also french beans, sweet peppers (good harvest of those this year), raspberries and strawberries and obviously the spuds and onions and garlic already harvested, and now we have started eating the kale and the first Brussel Sprouts!!! yes already. still waiting for carrots to be big enough to eat.
The pumpkins are ripening nicely, yesterday my hubby, for once, was at the allotment and was rather alarmed by them. Firstly he said they are growing onto the path, which is against his world view, and then he counted them and said what are we going to do with all of them!? (Eat them , you fool!).

The spud patch is now completely dug over, there is a box of red Desirees in the cellar and another in the pantry so plenty of spuds for a while. In its place I put in winter spinach and lamb's lettuce.

Another thing we have been doing lately is foraging. This year the big thing is apples. A friend was cheerfully throwing away all the apples on her tree, which was heaving with hundreds of apples. She said they tended to have worms... oO
Complete shock horror to me, who went and harvested them and I now have 3 boxes of apples in the cellar and another big bag in the pantry of the slightly damaged ones, which I am slowly turning into pies and applesauce. They are some kind of wild Reinette and I think rather tasty.
I also found, with a good tipoff, several apple trees hidden on a pathway on our local common. Unfortunetly I only had a wee bag and realised that the scale of the operation was way over that! there were still dozens of apples on the trees. I need to take a ladder down and a few boxes and pick them before they all turn into windfall.

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Monday, September 12, 2011


Black death

Thy name is tomato blight. I pulled up the last plants yesterday with a bitter taste in my mouth, the stems actively rotting, the decomposing fruit lying mournfully on the ground. even if the plot looks tidier for it, it was a sad moment.
On Saturday I reaped the benefits of the recent rainy weather. I picked a whole carrier bag full of green beans, a little young lettuce, handfuls of spicy rocket, chives, parsley, thyme and mint for drying, wonderful leaf coriander which is now packed in ice cubes for winter stews and curries. It was a beautiful green bundle that I brought home.

I always feel that one of the greatest benefits of an allotment is all these extras. Herbs, flowers, salad greens, all things that bring such flavour to food. And which usually cost a fortune in the shops to buy!

The pumpkins are ripening nicely. I ate the first Turk's Turban over the weekend. I was apprehensive as many people had told me that it was just a decorative pumpkin and not nice to eat. But I found it fabulous! Quite a dry dense flesh, but wonderful mashed, and the second half I roasted in foil in the oven, with the seeds scooped out and milk poured into the hole. Salt, pepper and mash the milk into the cooked flesh. I bet that it makes great soup too. The other pumpkins are looking great. I have a very grey Qld Blue that is now over 40 cm across and a huge Atlantic Giant, that must weigh several kilos. There are at least 6 Black Fujutsu (Is that the name) with their dark dark green flesh. They are not quite ripe as the vine is still very green.
A good autumn predicted!

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11 September 2011

On this commemorative weekend, we spare a moment to think of those that can no longer feel the grass under their feet, that can no longer cut the roses and tulips and honeysuckle from their gardens, that can no longer pluck ripe tomatoes from the vines in their backyards and give them to their children to devour, that can no longer feel the warm September sun on their backs as they dig the good earth. Those who became dust roaring through the streets of Manhattan, those who became disbelief and horror in the form of a pile of rubble of cataclysmic proportions, those for whom horror continues in wars that have, despite patriotism, failed to rid our world of terror and led to even more destruction.
May we plant seeds for them.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011



I had the chance during my holidays to discover some new types of plants. One that intrigued me was a plant that was highly common in the Toulouse region, which was a bushy shrub with large pointy leaves, spiny fruit about the size of plum, and delicate white trumpet shaped flowers. It looked most peculiar, I had quite a close look but somehow my instinct told me not to get too close.
My instinct was right, the plant was a Datura:

Also known as the Devil's Trumpet or a stinkweed, it is highly poisonous and has hallucinogenic effects. A most striking plant despite its deadly nature.

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Monday, September 05, 2011


I'm back!

After a well earned holiday. During which I saved lots of nice tomato seeds for next season. Just as well as this year's crop has now been destroyed by late blight. Still, I got several jars of tomato sauce and we have been eating nice tomatoes for a couple of weeks. Have to be more vigilant next year.
Lots of work in the allotment - cutting down lots of grass for one! And weeding, about 5 wwheelbarrows full. It's now looking grand, with lettuce and swiss chard planted in the former tomato bed, pumpkins spread all over the place ripening, Brussels and scarlet kale looking good for winter. Beetroot has been severely nibbled by voles...
But I have been harvesting cucumbers, and loads of green beans, as well as rocket, parsley, purslane, coriander and baby lettuce for salad and mint, lemon verbena, lavender, sage, thyme, rosemary to dry for winter. There are still plenty of raspberries on the bushes and the courgettes are giving a new push. I even picked a few stems of rhubarb which has come back in dramatic fashion, huge thick stems. The sweet peppers are good this year, plenty of fruit. Eggplant is disappointing though, just a few small fruit, although the RedEgg variety is in flower - can't wait to see if it fruits...
All in all, an excellent crop this year. But still no joy with carrots! They are tiny... even months after sowing. So if the late sowings are just as bad I will definitely call it a day on those, as they just do not work on my plot.

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