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. 

Pomme pommes

Finally the apples are ripe! 

This is our espaliered Braeburn Apple tree. It’s the third year in our garden, trained against a west-facing fence.    

This is the first season we’ve had a decent crop, of about 20 fruits. A few are tiddlers but most are a really good size, and they’re a beautiful colour. 

 Like shop-bought Braeburns they are really crisp, with a clean and refreshing flavour. Just my kind of apple. 

It hasn’t all been plain-sailing; a few apples fell victim to wasps. But actually, even these are fine beyond the obvious injury. 

 

The opposite side of the garden tells a different tale. Our ironically-named cooking apple ‘Bountiful’ has no fruit! However it’s only year 1 for the Braeburn’s pollination partner, so we won’t panic. 

To be fair, Bountiful did sport a decent-sized apple earlier in the year. It was knocked clean off by a tennis ball thrown with accidental pinpoint accuracy by a neighbour during a evening involving too much wine! He felt terrible, but it was hilarious at the time.

Next year perhaps both Braeburn and Bountiful will be brilliant. 

Seasonal container

One of this summer’s successes in the garden has been the hostas. 

A flexible copper tape around the planter, and moving their container away from the fence behind, has foiled the slimy critters that previously reduced them to green doilies.

They’ve looked near-perfect all season, and have flowered twice, but now they’re dying off and looking a bit manky.  


Last year I popped a few cyclamen and some velvety silver cineraria in gaps between the died-back hostas in their galvanised bath. But it was bit half-hearted, and look as much.
The container sits on top of a raised well in our front garden, so it’s fairly prominent. When it looks good, that’s great, when it’s a mess, it’s a bit of an embarrassment. 

So, when I spotted the plant stall in  town yesterday I was reminded of some pretty winter containers I’d seen in November’s Gardeners World mag. 

I grabbed £12 worth of plants: 6 white violas, 2 white cyclamen, 2 solanum (winter cherry?) and a little vibernum. Good value I think!

At home I topped up one of my old apple crate planters with compost and packed them in. 

 

I’m pretty pleased with the result, I’d like to add a little trailing ivy if I spot one. And when I’ve got Mr MBaF handy I’ll get his help to shift the heavy hostas off their perch and pop this one up there instead.

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!).

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?