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.

 

 

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?

Pick of the week

As Keat’s famous ode goes, autumn is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

After a late breakfast we headed out into those seasonal mists so that Miss MBaF could take her new scooter for a spin. I didn’t even attempt to capture the fairytale atmosphere of the mist underneath the avenues of trees that lined our path. Here’s a snap from Mr MBaF.

Once the mists cleared we had another beautiful day, and I took the chance to head to the allotment for some weeding and picking.

Weeding didn’t happen. My tools have been taken hostage by my toolbox. The padlock is seized shut. I can’t even turn the numbers let alone open the blimin’ thing! Hard labour will have to wait until I get some oil into the thing.

So, I harvested several handfuls of fabulous mangetout, as a crisp accompaniment to the pot roast I’d left in the oven at home.

Then I picked all the remaining beetroot. It’s had a rocky road, with false starts in the cold spring and pesky pigeons giving it a hard time. Many of them were still pretty tiddly, but they look fine – and just like an earthy autumnal root should.

What to do with them? The lovely blog From Plot to Plate has some good ideas, including beetroot crisps (which even Mr MBaF might like!).

Tonight I had two roasted with my beef …and I forgot all about the mangetout!

What’s your Pick of the Week?

Pick of the week

Now then dear readers. Do you remember all those week ago – after a disastrous attempt at growing peas and mange tout at the allotment – I sowed some in guttering?? And then, a few weeks later, I stuck ’em in the allotment??

Well dear reader, I have marvellous news! Despite being far too late in the ground, the mange tout have persevered, enjoyed the late summer/early autumn warmth, and are cropping!! Hoo-bloody-rah!

I’ve had three pickings from them so far, and plenty more coming (until the weather kicks in, I suspect). It feels like such a late-season bonus – the guttering was really an experiment to see if I could evade the allotment nasties that did for my seedlings in the ground. But I kicked it off so late that I wasn’t sure much would come of it.

(And, admittedly, the peas were a disaster; got in the ground and gave up the ghost)

In other news, the wonderful – and long-awaited – sweetcorn harvest was overwhelming us. I didn’t want to waste it and let the cobs overripen, so Miss MBaF and I wheeled up to the plot and picked the lot.
  

I cut them in half, par-boiled them for a couple of minutes, cooled them in iced water and put them in the freezer. Now we don’t have to have them with EVERY meal, just the ones that they go with!

What’s been your Pick of the Week?