Friday, August 31, 2007

He may not dig, but he sure does fish!

Last weekend He Who Doesn’t Dig & I went fishing for mackerel from our local beach.
You didn’t really need a rod & line, as you could have waded in with a net, there were so many of them. The water looked like it was boiling as the mackerel fed manically on the smaller whitebait fish.
I was so excited that I took loads of photos, the one above being the best and below is my first attempt at posting a video clip (of the ‘boiling sea’!)

We stopped when we caught 15, gave 2 away,

ate 2 each, there and then and the rest are in the freezer for a forthcoming party & bbq in September, weather permitting!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Food! (Fantastically fresh and free- except for the hard graft & seeds!)

I’m enjoying this time of year the most, as we are now eating produce from the plot. This is how it looked in August last year- just to spur on all you 'newbies' out there!

Venison Wellington stuffed with garlic & shallot duxelle, served with roast potatoes, climbing beans, peas and braised red cabbage. The veg for this meal was all home produced, but can’t take the credit for the carrots, venison or the pastry that made the ‘Wellington’.

All very much enjoyed & appreciated by HWDD and me!

Sadly the beans loose their pretty pink markings when steamed.

The slugs are still attacking most things including the beetroots-Urggggh!

The peas have picked up after a shaky start and a battering by the wind & rain.

These are spuds from just one plant and don’t seem to have been affected by blight. I’ve still got 45 plants still to dig up!

I spotted these little beasts on the sprouts so took off the netting and ‘dispatched’ all I found. Please don’t tell me they are some rare species- I just want sprouts for Christmas dinner!

Whilst on my knees, I noticed that the stems on the curly kale looked so pretty and velvety!

Although I said I wouldn’t grow any sweet peas this year- after last years mammoth effort for our wedding, I relented and sowed seed saved from last years plants. We gave away seed with our ‘thank you’ letters and everyone who has grown them has reported a distinct lack of pink & lilac blooms!

The leeks & parsnips are doing well. Note to self to grow more of these next year!

I’ve now finally got round to hanging up the onions & garlic in the shed in some old (clean) tights kindly sent by mum.

We are now eating the first of the tomatoes from the garden greenhouse- 2x red variety and 2x yellow from friend Karen. Can’t remember the names but they taste much better than shop bought ones!

I’ll finish with some shots of the garden:

This Echinacea plant was bought with 8 others from B&Q as bare roots in spring. The slugs just love them- this is now the only survivor of the nine!

Friday, August 03, 2007

View from my new office.... and catch up.

Things have been rather busy recently, so apologies for not blogging much. I’ve started a new job- an internal secondment for a year and now that I’m based in the town centre I tend to leave my desk for fresh air (a beach walk or retail therapy!) at lunchtime instead of staying at my desk and blogging.

We've also celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary with a trip to Brussels on the Eurostar:
I have to cut myself a bit of slack, as it is only my first full year with an allotment. Will next year be easier?? At least I know what grows well (onions, leeks & garlic) and what doesn’t or is too labour intensive. (Peas & beans)

I have had very encouraging comments from fellow plot holders, who have admired my raised wooden beds and weed controlling pathways. It was worth all the effort last year, but I still find it a chore to strim round the edges!

Here are a few photos of how it’s all looking:

The onions have now all been lifted and are drying up side down on the slats of the staging in the greenhouse at home. They were being devoured by slugs & snails and beginning to get waterlogged stems, but are all a good size and I haven't lost many.

This snail had managed to get right inside the onion leaf!!

The leeks are in and covered with netting to stop the birds pulling them out. I used a broom handle to make holes 8 inches deep to plant them in- both tips suggested by my experienced plot neighbour.
The sprouts have little buds forming, we've started eating the tender leaves of the curly kale, but the peas have struggled against bird & slug attack.

Sadly the lettuces were devoured completely during 5 days of rain when I wasn't able to get to the plot. I think I'll stick to growing them in the garden next year, where they will be closer to hand and easier to keep an eye on.

At least it's looking like the sweetcorn have benefitted from all the rain we've had and have grown massively in a month!

My favourite flowers in bloom in the garden at the moment are:

Calla Lilly (Zantedeschia)

Lilly unknown (from B&Q which has overcome relentless slug attack!)

A special hello to Martin & Marion, fellow plot holders, who stumbled across my blog while searching the web for ladybird houses. (see my post from Sept 2006)