Friday, April 27, 2012


Old winter photos

I emptied one of our digital cameras last night and found loads of photos that I took to post but never did! It's funny - they are photos I took in our big cold snap in February! Funny to think that now the plots are full of baby seedlings, onions, spud plants etc. The flurry of activity! There are some shots of my plot but of other's too. This is what happened to my old compost pile during a big storm. The wood I am ashamed to say is still there protecting it 3 months later! But next time it stops raining, I will remove it, break it up for other usage, remove a little of the ready compost to put in various places, and cover the whole thing in thick paper and black plastic and plant the courgettes, cucumbers and squash through it! The space is big enough for at least 6 plants.
My poor old plot was very empty, only a few Brussels still up and the fruit bushes all twiggy. Today they are full of fresh green leaves and the brussels are long gone into the compost.

This is the view I get if I am standing in the middle of my plot and looking down the site.
The other plots were equally frozen. 
This is always a nice tidy plot. It is next to the nice Turkish couple that don't speak much French but grow lots of peppers!
My neighbour Raymond's pride and joy is his dahlias. This is how he coddles them in winter:
He gave me one of them a couple of weeks ago, hope it works out nicely, his flowers are beautiful. 

Took this over near the fence. The lavender is pretty hardy even in the snow!
My neighbour on the south side. You can see one shed - all that was left standing from a block of 8, that were arsoned. They have been rebuilt now.
And a final funny. This was the garlic bed, you can see a couple are up but not much activity. The whole thing is a bit of a dog's dinner! Full of brassica leaves etc.
And this is how it looked a couple of weeks ago: currently it is really lush, even more so than here - quite a difference!

Monday, April 23, 2012


Back from hols

And the weather was horrible for tourism but quite good for the lottie. After a week of steady rain, the veg has come on no end, especially the spuds, and unfortunately the weeds - the dreaded bindweed is already poking it head through everywhere. It got a good hoeing!
Yesterday between two showers (spent cowering in the shed), I managed to sow more peas, filling in the existing rows so they will be very full (sowed Alderman and Early Onward). I also put in the first in a series of runner bean sowings: some A4A saved seed from Goodlife and some Enorma that I had bought. It is chilly here but night temperatures are very mild, around 9 deg, so I think they will be fine by the time the germinate. I also sowed some swiss chard for autumn, and I planted out a row of All Year Round caulis (and netted them) and some more Little Gem and oakleaf lettuces. It will be nice to be eating our own lettuce soon.
The rocket seedlings are up and I sowed Mizuna, so soon we will have those salad greens too. I have not tried that before but I find it tasty.
I picked some beaut rhubarb, the younger plant is coming on so well, I did have to take off some flowers though, and soon I will be able to pick from the older plant as well. I made apple and rhubarb crumble for Sunday lunch. The second bout of radishes were ready and they were tasty after a wet week. First time I have succeeded so well! (Spring sowing, under fleece - must remember that!). There will be enough for a last picking next weekend. The turnips next to them are growing well, not yet big enough but the roots are starting to develop.
The very wet ground is excellent for weeding, I pulled up loads of dandelion and groundsel, chickweed and bindweed, hoeing everywhere.
The White sprouting broccoli was removed - I felt sad to see it go! The plants were massive, one was at least as thick as my arm and I had trouble getting it out and onto the wheelbarrow. I have gotten my seeds to sow the new batch, next weekend. Funny to think that they have a cycle of almost exactly a year. There is still plenty of broccoli in the freezer though.
The leeks also came out, as on neighbouring plots they were starting to flower. I have a big bunch of about 10 leeks to be cut and washed and frozen (and maybe a ham and leek quiche in there somewhere!). The rhubarb red chard is going to flower soon, but no matter, you can still pick it. I got quite a good bunch yesterday, not sure how to cook it now, sweated with soy sauce? or in a cream sauce?
 Soon there will be some public holidays coming up, and it will be time to do the following jobs:
- Dig over the former compost pile, remove a bit for the new plantations, and cover that area with thick paper and black plastic, ready for sowing the courgettes and cucumbers.
- Dig over the tomato/pepper bed and plant those out in about 10 days time.
- Go fetch some horse stable waste for mulching the new plantations.
- Get up some stakes and sow the cucumbers and the Fat Baby Acocha under cloches.
- Finish digging over the bean bed and make the first French bean sowings.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012



Italian Sundried Tomato bread
This was made in the bread machine then baked in the oven.
400g flour: it was a mix of bread flour and some Lidl Ciabatta bread mix!
230ml water and milk mixed
1 teas salt
1 heaped tab of sourdough starter + 1/2 teas dried yeast
1 tab oil added to liquid in bowl

This was put in the bread machine on dough cycle. Then I took out the dough, rolled it into flattish shape and spread some sundried tomato paste on it and put feta cheese in the middle, rolled it up and on the top was more sundried tomato paste and some parmesan.
I wasn't going to cook it till the next day so I put it in the fridge. the result was amazing:

It was ready to bake! I left it on the counter to warm a little while the oven heated, then in it went, at 200 degC with a tin of water in the bottom.
And the result, after about 25-30 minutes (it was a touch too brown):

Froze and reheated excellently too. I should have put more stuffing in it, but it was delicious with cheese and a salad.

Challah Bread

This is an Israeli sweet bread - I was lazy and made it in the bread machine but it should really have been proved more. It was still very good.
1 egg
160ml milk
30g sugar
2 tabs olive oil
350g white bread flour
1 teas salt
1 heaped tab of sourdough starter + 1/2 teas dried yeast

This went in on sweet bread cycle and came out very well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Rain at last!

The Easter weekend was fairly overcast and blustery and today, Tuesday, the clouds have finally burst. Just as well as the rain barrels were getting low, the soil dusty and the radishes pretty much too peppery to eat!
I did surprisingly do a little work this weekend, despite the bad weather. I planted a redcurrant bush (thx Caroline for that gift from your garden!), sowed rocket, and more leeks, and planted out a few lettuces under cover and the Chinese Cabbage which were big enough it seemed, Hopefully planted out they will develop more quickly. My bulbs arrived so I planted out the dahlias and 2 arums, hopefully they will look pretty in the summer. My neighbour had dug up a big clump of dahlia, and he gave me a couple of tubers off it. Truth be told, I don't really have room but it was kind so I shoved a few extras in where I had planned the dahlia bed.
Weeded the garlic and onions again, picked probably the last of the sprouting broccoli and looked at the leeks wishfully (they really need to come out, be washed and frozen) but it started to rain so I packed up shop. Next week I am on holidays and away so don't know what it will all look like when I get back!
Next jobs will be to dig over the old compost area, remove a little compost for the new plants (sweet peppers like a little compost in their planting holes) and cover it in paper and black plastic ready for planting the courgettes and cucumbers there. There is well over a sq metre so there will be room for, I hope, 3 courgettes and 2 or 3 cucumbers. Then time to sow the beans and during my May holidays plant out the summer plants (tomato, peppers, aubergine, squash).

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Monday, April 02, 2012


Lazy Sunday

After hours of watching a capoeira festival (my daughter plays this sport), there was just time for a quick mooch around the lotty on Sunday afternoon. Glorious weather continues, sunny although there is a cool nip in the breeze.
My neighbour Christine kindly gave me some willow branches, several of which I have put to good use as wigwams for the runner beans. They have been put up, tied in, a cross branch wired on and ready for the first sowings in a couple of weeks' time. There are loads of small branches which I am going to use in the peas, to help them grow tall.
The first peas are a couple of centimetres high and looking good. I will fill in the gaps next week which is what I did last year, very successful technique.
I pottered, watered as it is pretty dry here, and started to earth up the first few spud leaves poking through the ground.

The peppers and aubergines indoors are doing exceptionally well. I need to prick out the tomatoes this week, they are starting to look crowded and a little leggy.

Last bit of info, as I realised that I had missed out on a few things, I have ordered a few more seeds (the last ones, honest!): brussel sprouts (Montgomery) which need to be started very soon, some winter cabbage, some white sprouting broccoli as I am so pleased with the one I have in bloom now, Pak Choy for autumn and for now if I can get it in before it heats up too much, some mizuna for salad leaves (a first try at that one), and some Swiss chard for winter too. I realised that once again I failed to get late crops working so I want to try again this year, as we did have a lack of veg in the winter.

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