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?


On trend

Today I realised…

It’s not that I prepared poorly, made the wrong decisions, and paid the price with bad harvests. 

It’s that I decided to come bang up to date. Grow like it’s 2015. And join the micro-veg movement!

And indeed, they may not fill you up, but the carrots are super-sweet morsels and the roasted beets (the two that didn’t turn into charcoal) were tiny mouthfuls of joy. 

… if I can scale up and find a local posh restaurant to supply …this time next year I’ll be a millionaire!!!


And we’re off…my 2015 plan

I really wanted roast parsnip with our dinner tonight, but I completely wimped out of the required allotment trip. The freezing winds, sleet and mud just weren’t for me today.

But weather like this is spot-on for one important task. Planning.

So, in the comfort and warmth of the living room I got the pencil, paper, ruler and books out. And this is the plan:

  • Cabbage – under-rated but such a useful veg, cooked and raw, and liked by all our family. Also, our soil seems to grow brassicas extremely well. I guess it must be on the alkaline side (they like that), though I haven’t checked (maybe I’ll get around to that this year). Planning to grow a row each of autumn and winter varieties.
  • Some kind of hardy leaf – undecided whether to grow spinach or some kind of kale. I think spinach is a bit more adaptable as an ingredient, so that might swing it.
  • Early potatoes – I haven’t decided on the variety yet but I’m after something with a the distinctive sweet flavour of a proper new potato. I grew Charlotte last year and they were tricky to cook fresh out the ground (outer disintegrated when the middle was tender) and didn’t have the flavour I’m looking for. I think older varieties like pentland javelin or sharps express might suit me better. I’m not bothering with maincrop this year. They take up a lot of space and I’m unconvinced I could tell the difference between homegrown and shop-bought once roasted or baked.
  • Carrots – I’ve been tentative about committing to carrots! But with some half-hearted effort last year I got promising results, so this year I’m planning to take the plunge with a few rows sown successionally for a long harvest. I think they could be a winner with Miss MBaF too.
  • Beetroot – roasted beetroot was a recent discovery that I’m keen to enjoy much more!
  • Lettuce – I’m really quite crap at growing lettuce. I’ll use some new varieties this year and try to motivate myself to cut and wash it.
  • Peas – love them fresh for the pod. Gotta be grown. One row got hammered by pea weavil last year (no, I’d never heard of it before either), but now I know what to look for and I have a spray to treat the young plants with if necessary.
  • French beans – we’re not keen on runners so I’m going to stick to frenchies this year. And I’m going to grow them on a straight row of supports instead of a wigwam, as the tops got too tangled to pick like that.
  • Sweetcorn – one last try. Last year was a disaster: terrible germination, no crop. I haven’t worked out how to improve the germination yet, will have to read up…or just buy young plants. The plot is very exposed, which really doesn’t help, but I’m planning to shelter them behind the beans (sorry beans!).
  • Flowers – I’ve started a little plot for cut flowers, they’ll need some shelter too I’m sure.
  • Fruit – but I’ve blogged about that plenty.

So that’s it. At some point before too long I’ll have to work out what happens after, when the first crops are lifted and I’m thinking ‘what next’? But for now, I need to start seed shopping.