Pick of the Week

We’ve had bits and bobs from the plot this week. Harvest continues to be disappointing and it’s Really. Peeing. Me. Off. 

However, my Webbs Wonderful lettuce are crisp and fresh and lovely. I thought the leaves looked a bit pigeon-pecked, but they’re just frilly-edged. 

Eaten tonight with the last of the new pots, the first handful of French beans and some chorizo and feta. 

  

I’m hoping to investigate the first carrots this week, so maybe I’ll have a little carroty morsel to report next week.

What’s your pick of the week been?? 

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Pick of the Week

I write this sitting on Miss MBaF’s sickbed (sofa). She’s curled up in her cosy little nest of cushions and blanket, sleeping off a horrid sicky-achey virus, while her restorative film of choice (Finding Nemo) plays at low-volume.

Hopefully her recovery will be as speedy as it set in. On Friday afternoon she was full of beans, asking if we could go to the allotment and pick blackcurrants! This is a job that needed to get done, so I jumped at the suggestion.

My special helper

After digging up and ditching one bush this winter, due to evidence of ‘big bud’, we’re left with two well-established blackcurrant bushes. The tallest branches have flopped over this year, which Mum suggested may be due to lack of water. This could make sense as they’re surrounded by weedproof matting now, and I wonder if they’re not getting as much of the rainfall as before.

An aside: Mr MBaF asked if I’d put the matting the right way up. I have no idea! Are they ‘one-way’? I need to investigate this further.

Anyway, we lost a couple of branches – which shrivelled up and died, fruit and all – but the rest were heavy with shiny black jewels, and they’d got super-ripe.

It seems I could add blackcurrant harvesting to my miniseries of Toddler-Friendly Allotment Jobs. Dressed in dark colours and non-best items, Miss MBaF got stuck in – and was suitably gentle with the easily-squished overripe fruit. She really seemed to enjoy it, even though she couldn’t enjoy the rewards straight away – unlike during the strawberry harvest!

Dog on cat watch. Toddler getting stuck in.

In total, over two pickings and two bushes, the yield was about 6.5 lbs. And some of the currants were the largest I’ve ever seen. I wonder if this is due to the fact that we started watering the bushes at their base when we noticed them flopping??

Washed and bagged-up for the freezer

I’ve frozen 2.5lbs for later inspiration and used 2lbs in a batch of jam. One of my proudest horticultural/culinary moments was winning a rosette (yellow, for 3rd place) for my blackcurrant jam at the village show a couple of years ago. I’m not tempted to enter this year though, the fruit was so ripe that it was difficult to keep any intact during the jam-making process.

I’ve also made two batches (2x 1lb of fruit) of blackcurrant ice cream, using an easy and delicious recipe my Mum sent me. Miss MBaF tried it for the first time recently, when we went to stay with the grandparentals. I’m guessing that explains her enthusiasm to get picking!

The first tempting batch of blackcurrant ice cream

What’s been good on your plot? Join in with Pick of the Week by adding a comment about your best/favourite harvest since last weekend, or a link to your PoTW blog post.

Pick of the Week(s)

Where has it all gone wrong?? My plot seems to have so much bare earth on it still. I’m not really sure how that’s happened. I think I’m going to blame poor spring weather, over-cautious planting and a lack of potatoes to make the plot look lush!

It feels like there’s nowhere near enough time left to make this a bumper year, so I suppose I shall have to be thankful for small mercies/harvests.

I’ve also shirked on my blogging – having missed a couple of PotWs and not having nearly enough time on the allotment to have anything much to write about.

Oh woe is me!

…so to catch-up. My Picks for the past two weeks have to include potatoes. I planted only first earlies this year – Arran Pilot and Sharpe’s Express. The yield has been poor – just a few per plant – but I think that’s my fault for not manuring them at planting time…I know, I know. However, when I manage not to overcook them they are delicious, with a knob of butter melted over. Mmmmmmmm.

Today, in a quick and rainy dash up to the plot to grab a few spuds for my dinner tonight (the above picture is NOT tonight’s individual portion!!) I spied that my something-like-cavolo-nero-kale-donated-by-a-neighbour looked ready for its first harvest.

You can almost smell the health-givingness of these plants, and the intense deep dark green just screams VITAMINS! at you.

The flavour of this cut-and-come-again brassica is strong and earthy. I had it simply steamed with a few Sharpe’s and a pan-fried fillet of salmon, but these leaves could take strong flavours – I’m thinking garlic, strong cheese, or chorizo.

Next week’s Pick has absolutely got to be blackcurrants – they’re all ripe on the bushes, just looking at me accusingly like “you never have time for us anymore!”. I just need the rain to stop, and a couple of spare hours…. pleeeease

Peas in the pipeline

For the second year running my peas and mangetout have been chomped by bugs. My plot seems to have pea weevils, at least I’m pretty sure that’s the cause, though none of my neighbours seem to suffer the same fate. 

Last year I carefully sprayed them with a pesticide quite successfully, but it was just too windy whenever I tried this year and I didn’t keep on top of it. 

So a couple of weeks ago I called it quits and hoed the whole row – I’d had it with peas. 

…and then I changed my mind and had a cunning plan – one that I’d heard about and seen fellow bloggers trying. 

I called for help on our amazing village Facebook page (snippet below with names removed to protect the innocent)

  
 

Amazing! Seriously I could write a whole blog on how brilliant and helpful this page is!

So, two lengths of guttering acquired, I filled them with a compost/soil mix and sowed one with peas and one with mangetout. The gutters are in the front garden, away from the little pea-munching blighters and close-at-hand for watering. I’m using netting to stop the blackbirds digging about. 
  
It’s a bit late for sowing peas, but I’ll keep my eye on them and – if they manage to grow into strong little plants  – I’ll slide them into a row at the allotment. 

Strong plants should withstand a weevil attack. We’ll see how it goes. 

In a Vase on a Monday

Well actually, this was a Friday vase, which was deconstructed and transported 150-odd miles as a bunch of blooms for my Mum during our weekend visit.

But you didn’t need to know that.

It’s pinks and greens this week, as my container-grown Achillea was ready to pick, along with the first of my Sweetpeas from the allotment and Astrantia from the border. I’ve added some deep green in the form of unripe Allium seedheads.

I deliberately chose some highly-fragranced sweetpeas to add to my plot this year (Painted Lady and Spanish Dancer) and they really do smell fab. The Achillea has a nice scent too, and it’s much more intensely coloured than the photo on the garden centre tag gave it credit for.

The ‘scent’ from the Astrantia, however, is absolutely rancid! Is this one of those smells that is sensed differently according to your genetics? Do some people like it?? For me, it’s definitely not a flower to use too much of indoors, and probably needs to be outgunned by strongly scented choices.

My cut flower patch has almost been exhausted by this weekly feature. I’ll have to add more varieties next year if I want to keep taking part.

In a Vase on a Monday is run by lovely blogger Rambling in the Garden. Join in!