Digging and planting early potatoes

First day of ‘heavy lifting’ in the allotment today. And it was a lovely day for it. 

I’m sharing the hire of a rotavator in mid-April, but I didn’t think my well-chitted first early potatoes (Lady Cristl and Anya) could wait that long to get in the ground. 

Three hours of weeding, digging, raking, furrowing and planting and I am a WRECK! Aching, stiff and exhausted. 

Before – the designated spud patch

After – two rows of Lady Cristl and two of Anya, ready for their muddy blankets

Though my body is crying, I’m dead pleased to have got that job done for another year!

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The four-month old cabbage

One of autumn’s little savoy cabbages (Traviata) has stood, ignored, since Halloween. 

I assumed it was half eaten by slugs by now. 
We’re having rump steak and blue cheese sauce tonight – doesn’t everyone on a Monday?! – so Savoy cabbage seemed the perfect accompaniment. 

“I’ll just check that one at the allotment, on the off chance…” I said, on the way to the shops. 

  
Bingo! What a little trooper!  

 

A light February flurry

…of gardening, at last!

It sure has been a quiet winter on the MBaF front. I’m a fair-season gardener for sure, and even my Gardener’s World magazines festered largely untouched some months.

But for a few hours, on a couple of recent days, the feeling of spring’s approach has begun to cajole these green fingers to flex.

Today has been one of those days, and it happened to coincide with no work and Miss MBaF at nursery. I couldn’t deny it any longer. Seeds. Were. Sown.

Hello 2016, and in Delia Smith’s immortal words: Let’s be avenue!

 

Pea Douche Provence sown. Over-wintered Nigella potted on.

 

 

No more nasturtiums

If only this title were true. Instead I fear they’ll be haunting the allotment for many years to come…

I took advantage of a day off and the dry-before-the-storm (storm ‘Barny’, no less) this morning to continue to clear away the jungle of nasturtiums around the plot. 

But as I hauled in their long branches, and wrestled the wet and unpleasantly odorous plants into my pop-up garden bin, I noticed that they were leaving seed pods EVERYWHERE. 

Nasturtiums are master self-seeders. In fact, the ones I was clearing today were self-seeded from last year.

Immediately after the clearance job I wanted to spread some muck over. But the thought of covering the hundreds of seeds with a warm and nutritious winter blanket seemed crazy. I really don’t want bloody nasturtiums everywhere – I don’t even like them very much!

The only thing for it was to pick up as many by hand as possible. 

  
This was a totally boring job, of which I soon tired. After 3 big handfuls I gave up and hid the rest from view…under that warm and nutritious blanket they’d so been looking forward to!

Next year I must be vigilant and pull out the seedlings as quick as they appear, and avoid nasturtiums taking over and swallowing the plot whole. 

Bringing home the harvest 

Ok OK, this one’s a bit old. OK OK I found it in my drafts, unfinished, from way back when.

But hey, sweetcorn was one of my few successes this year so I’m not missing the chance to post about them, no matter how late.

Back in mid-September Miss MBaF and I pootled off to the plot. Well, I pootled, pushing her in her favourite ride, the wheelbarrow.

We’d already had a few sweetcorny meals, but some were poorly conceived – corn on the cob does not, I discovered, go with everything. So I decided to pick and freeze the rest of the harvest, quickly, before it got overripe.

Almost all of the 20 plants in my sweetcorn square had at least one usable cob (though some we’d eaten already). The second cobs on lots of plants were a bit skinny, and when I peeled back the husk it was clear they weren’t worth bothering with. But it was a good haul and, chuffed with our efforts, back we strolled…and rolled.


 I halved the cobs, blanched them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, plunged them into iced water to stop cooking, and drained them thoroughly, before freezing.Boiled straight from frozen for 5-6 minutes they’re a sweet taste of the summer in autumn. It’s true that there’s nothing like sweetcorn cooked fresh from picking, but these are the next best thing.

Pick of the week

The opportunities for POTW posts are going to dry up very soon! Once again my succession planting plans have gone to pot, and currently there’s little in the ground to keep picking in the cold months. 

So I better enjoy what’s left of the summer planting. And this week – as I did a long-awaited tidy up around the plot – I realised the Savoy cabbage were hearting-up nicely. 

Learning a lesson from my winter cabbage earlier this year – when I left them in the ground too long and the slugs liquidised them – I decided to start cutting now.   

Left in the ground, this lovely crisp Savoy may’ve have grown larger. But a modest size is fine for us. We’re not a big family, and I don’t want half a cabbage festering in the fridge for weeks!

I love cabbage, and apart from the difficulty in washing the ridged and pitted texture of Savoy, it’s a lovely lovely thing. 

What was your Pick of the Week?

Lumpy-legs

I’m heavier than I’d like at the moment, but I’d like to think my legs don’t look quite this bad in tights!

The lumpy-legs were the starting point for two scarecrows created by me and Miss MBaF (mainly me!) as part of our village’s 2nd annual scarecrow trail. Masterminded by probably the busiest woman I’ve ever known, it’s a lovely village event that I predict will grow and grow – in number and ambition of scarecrows!

Ours was entitled ‘Grow your own’ and consisted of scarecrow versions of myself and my daughter, sitting on the bench at the allotments, with a ‘trug’ of straw-and-fabric veggies next to us.

A terrible accident?!

Miss MBaF’s self portrait

And here they are! I was dead chuffed with how they turned out – and the mild weather during the week of the trail was very kind to them. The bench also lent itself very nicely to having photographs with families who were walking the trail (including us!).