Friday, 30 October 2009

Scarecrow Witch and other chitchat

It's been a funny sort of day, the kind where I have been on the go all day, but don't seem to have achieved much, but on reflection I have tidied bedrooms, done the laundry, did the food shopping, collected leaves (for leaf mould) and did an hour at the allotment, then came home and cooked a meal. So I guess I did achieve something after all.!!

I decided to get into the spirit of Halloween by dressing 'Rosie' the scarecrow up as a witch. She is seen from the road as my plot is at the front of the allotment site. Lot's of people notice her especially children, so I thought it would be fun to dress her up a bit. Next year I'll make more of an effort and get some glow in the dark stuff, that should cause a stir - spooky !!! at night.

These 'Art Shade' calendulas are still flowering on even after the couple of frosts we have had and look so cheerful on the plot, there are even a couple of sunflowers still going strong behind them, and together they look stunning.

At last I have a new lottie neighbour to take over the long neglected plot next to mine. The plot should really have been split into two smaller plots, even our warden mentioned this to the council official who came to look at it. All of us plot holders think this too as we have seen people struggle to maintain this very large plot.
But in their wisdom ??? they still gave it out to this poor man to work on his own. He has said it is too big for him, but didn't want to turn it down as he's been on the waiting list for a long time. I have to say he is amazing, he dug all you can see in this photo in a week and only a few hours here and there each time he came up.

I planted these cabbages ages ago, in fact just days away from the last planting time recommended on the packet. They don't seem to want to grow. I am going to let them take their chances out in the big world and plant them outside under cover and hopefully I will be eating them come next spring. They are 'April' and 'Wheelers Imperial' both tasty cabbages with good solid hearts.


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Pumpkin and Ginger Curd - made at last !

Well I got around to making the curd at last. I made the pumpkin puree yesterday and put it in the fridge and then made the curd today.

I used two medium squashes to make the puree, the recipe calls for butternut squash, but says any pumpkin or squash can be used. I cut the squashes into halves, removed the seeds and surrounding seed flesh then put the halves cut side down on the tray and baked them for
35-40 Min's until the flesh was soft. I then let them cool enough to handle and scooped the flesh out , put it in a blender and pureed it until thick and smooth. I made enough to make the curd and have some to make a pumpkin pie as well.

The finished Puree

The bottled Pumpkin and Ginger Curd
( it looks a bit like 'piccalilli' doesn't it ? )

I didn't like the texture of the curd, it has a curdled look, but it could be that you have to add the zest of a whole lemon and a whole orange and I may not have grated it finely enough, so maybe that's what has caused the texture.

However, I thought I had better taste and test it before posting details of it, and I have to say it is lovely. I added it to some plain yogurt and the ginger and the citrus flavours went really well with it.

When mixed with the yogurt it took on a custard colour, Mmmmm


Small chillies which are very hot, that I grew lot's of and I'm now drying them. They are very small that's a small saucer they are on, just to give you an idea of the size.

Chillies (Pyramid) hot little devils !

This photo is of the Delphinium in my garden it has amazingly decided to grow and flower again after I had cut it right back to the ground a month or so ago, it's a lot smaller than it was earlier in the year, but still a welcome sight. It just shows how mild the weather is at the moment.

Delphinium defying the weather.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

NeiNei's Blog

I want to share a blog link with you. I came across this blog by 'bloghopping' as I'm sure we all do at times. Nei (short for Stephanie) is a young woman who has survived a near fatal plane crash and has gone through major surgery and has been left with terrible scarring to her face and body. I think her beauty still shines through and she is a remarkable young woman who makes me feel humble and ashamed of ever moaning about trivial things (not that it ever stops us moaning , it's human nature I suppose !) Even more amazing is that Nei's blog is a happy bog and her humour comes through her writing instead of 'why me' she is glad to be alive to see her family grow.

There is a button on my side bar with NeiNei's name on it, ( Blue button saying 'I read NeiNei' underneath the Renee award) click and you will go straight there. She has some awesome photo's of her life and family.
On another note I managed to dodge the rain today and get a fair amount of work done on the allotment, with Austin's help ! he collected two large pop up gardening bags of leaves for me, whilst I lugged cow poo in wheelbarrow loads to mulch around my lovely raspberries, which incidentally I am still harvesting albeit small amounts now, all going in the freezer to add to the big bag in there for my raspberry curd. Yum !

We are off to play with the grandchildren tomorrow for a few days, so that's it for gardening and allotment's !! until next week , I have to plant my garlic yet and dig and manure a trench ready to plant my asparagus in for next year.

Have a lovely week-end.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Lovely Free leaf mould.

Well the weather here wasn't too bad today, we had some drizzly rainy spells but they didn't last long so I was able to get up to the allotment to do a couple of jobs .

I looked on our local 'Freecycle' website and someone was offering 30 box plants that they had pulled up from their front garden which once formed a hedge. I went along and collected only six as they were larger than I imagined, some up to 2 feet wide and 2-3 feet high. We (Austin helped me) planted them along our boundary border on the allotment, so I now have a full grown box hedge, some parts are a bit bare but hopefully will grown again. The roots are very good and I added blood, fish and bone, plus manure to the planting holes, which should help them settle in and grow in their new home.

We then emptied the leaf mould bins that we had put all the leaves in from last Autumn and it was the most amazing lovely black crumbly stuff you have ever seen. It has made an enormous green garden bag of the lovely leaf mould. It should have been watered a bit more often during the summer, as there were some leaves that hadn't rotted enough nearer to the top, so I will leave it all in the bag for a bit longer. I also have two sackfuls at home in the garden which are doing well.

I collected two more bagfuls of leaves the other day and intend to collect more over then next few weeks. There are masses of leaves all over to housing estate which the allotment backs onto, lovely free leaf compost.

It's hard to imagine that this pile of leaves will turn into the lovely stuff below.

Lovely free leaf mould.

The curd that never got made !!
I was very disappointed this evening as I had gathered everything I needed to make some pumpkin and ginger curd, but although the pumpkin (pictured) looks ripe enough and sounded hollow when tapped (supposedly a sure sign it's ripe !!) when I cut it open to roast it it was quite green looking near the skin. I de-seeded it and got the pumpkin cut into quarters anyway, and proceeded to bake it until the flesh was soft, but it really didn't look good and had a greenish tinge, SO into the bin it went and no curd got made today. I'm hoping the other pumpkins are ripe enough. I would love to know why this one wasn't.

Some chillies have dried for winter use. I have lots more drying, they look so colourful.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Rain Rain go away

It's been a terrible day weather wise here. It's rained all day and I had lofty plans to dig up some of my dahlia's and store the tubers and spread some more manure on the allotment beds, but all my good intentions went out of the window.

I don't mind the rain, in fact it makes the soil easier to work,( when the rain stops of course!) but the dark and dreary skies I hate, they put me in a bad mood because I can't do what I really want to do.

I did some photo printing instead. I love using my digital SLR camera, I never thought I would ever say that as I was a real Film enthusiast and swore never to go digital. Anyway I love digital now, but, hate that I have all the photo's ( hundreds) on my external hard-drive and hardly ever have any proper copies around like in the good old days of FILM. So today I was printing some of my favourite photo's of the family to put into a large cream frame I bought from Ikea recently. It's a big enough frame to get quite a few in, a kind of rogues gallery of the family ! I never got it finished though, I was in that kind of mood where I couldn't finish any one job, and kept flitting from one thing to another. Ah well there's always tomorrow and hopefully some more sunshine.

Remember the poppy seeds 'fruit punch' I mentioned in a recent post ? I planted the seeds, all 50 (average 50 seeds the packet said) about 3 weeks ago, and only about 17 have germinated. I don't think that's a very good average, and I didn't expect them all to germinate, but I thought perhaps over half! anyway I have e-mailed Thompson & Morgan about it and I'm awaiting a reply.

That's about it for today. One last thing before I finish this post ! if you like nice handmade crafts (and who doesn't ?) have a peek at Pam's (from Hortensia) new blog and where she is going to sell her 'wares' from here is the link : Pam has only just set it up, so more things will be added later on.

Have you visited Kella's Jewellery and craft blog ? she has some lovely things as well.:-

Did you watch Doc Martin this week ?

If you did watch this weeks episode of Doc Martin, you may recall him diagnosing a woman of having Lyme Disease from a tic bite. You are probably wandering where this is all leading too ! Well it's because Joanne, from Joanne's Cottage Garden has been campaigning to enlighten the general public about Lyme Disease, having contracted it herself and being very ill for many years before being properly diagnosed with it. So I was delighted for her that it was in the plot of this weeks episode, I only hope she managed to see it. For more info, visit Joanne's blog.

I had never heard of Lyme's before reading about it on Joanne's blog. I now think it's really important that the public are aware of the dangers of a tic bite, especially dog owners, ( and walkers) as walking the dog in the countryside and through fields is one of the common places to get a tic bite. If more people know about it and the symptoms there will be less people that will have to suffer as Joanne and thousands like her do because their doctor doesn't pick up on it. Doc Martin has a huge following so that is quite a few people going to be aware of it now.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Good friends are a blessing. And also very handy !!

I had help on the plot today from a very good friend David (thanks David) I have been desperate to empty two VERY large builders bags that we filled with all sorts of rubbish when we first took on the plot in February 2008. We had put earth, weeds, grass, in fact almost everything we dug up as we were clearing the plot. I fully intended that it would one day go to the council tip, but a month or so ago we opened the bags and couldn't believe out luck! all the rubbish had rotted down into lovely crumbly soil. So with the help of David (Austin was out of action with a very sore arm having had a flu jab yesterday) we set to and emptied the two very large bags shoveling the soil onto the beds, making sure it was all really weed free.

We then levelled the area were the bags had been and put our two compost bins there. The area is now tidy and the compost bins are at the far end of the plot, instead of dotted around and are now less unsightly. David is the sort of friend everyone needs, he sorts out my PC problems as well if I can't sort it and in return we have him over for dinner and share a bottle of wine, my way of saying thank you, and I love cooking for friends.

I also had a delivery of a HUGE mountain of cow manure, a full truck load which I am sharing with my daughter and another plot holder. Oh and I almost forgot to mention that David also dug me a trench to bed five breeze blocks into, so I could level out a very sloping large area, so we worked very hard, lost track of time completely and only stopped for one cup of tea.

David in action, I caught him unaware I had my camera with me. I did however tell him and said I would post the photo here.

These tiny little plants (below) are Oriental Poppy seedlings 'Fruit Punch' . The packet says it contains a delicious mixture of Vibrant shades of red, hot pinks, bright oranges and the often elusive plum shades. Knowing my luck the plum shades wont show up in my packet !!! They can be sown either Feb-June or September - October, so I decided to sow them now as I will have too many other seeds to sow in the New Year. When they are big enough to pot on I have to overwinter them in a cold frame or in my case a cold greenhouse. I can't wait to see them grow. The macro setting has made the compost look like Boulder's.

My creative mood has stayed with me and I have made some more cards including a start on the Christmas ones. All very simple and uncomplicated, but it's a start on my return to my 'Other hobbies' all abandoned when I took on allotment life.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Pumpkin weigh in

I finally got around to weighing my Pumpkin today and here is the result :-

2 stone 2 lbs
29. 8 lbs
13. 5 Kilos

I set the scales in stones, then lbs and also kilo's, just to cover every ones method of weight.
It is much bigger than last years pumpkin.

The Pumpkin and Squashes are now all stored in the garage, and I will be using them for soups and pumpkin pie soon. I also have a recipe for pumpkin and ginger curd which sound lovely.

I have some Ivy growing up and along a fence in the garden and it is covered in the blossom that Ivies get around this time of year and it was covered in bees, wasps and butterflies today. The noise of them all buzzing was really loud, just as well I am not bothered by wasps and bees as it would have been quite scary

We went up to the allotment today, it was such a lovely day and there was quite a few jobs to be done. I removed the netting from the purple sprouting broccoli and weeded the bed, took off the lower leaves that had been munched by caterpillars, although I only found one. I added some blood, fish and bone to the area and some of the compost from our own compost bin and covered it all with netting again, it all looks good. The brussel sprouts are coming on, I can see the tiny sprouts forming up the stems.

I planted two box shrubs along my boundary and have taken lots of cuttings (which have taken root successfully) to add to the border next year as I want a box hedge to border my boundary on one side. I also dug a new flower bed on the other side of the plot.

This evening I made some Blackberry Curd with some berries that were in the freezer for months and I didn't want to waste them. The Raspberry Curd was such a success that I thought I would give other fruits a go as well. Mmmm next year Blueberry Curd, Red Gooseberry curd. I am really into Curds ( can you tell ? ) especially stirred into plain yogurt, delicious.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Art's and Craft's

Although this blog is mainly about my allotment and garden, I do have lot's of craft hobbies as well, and making cards is one of them. I have been making greetings cards for many years now, which range from artifacts made of clay that are baked in the oven (designed and made by me) and then I hand paint and mount it onto either ribbons or unusual handmade paper (not made by me) and then onto the card, time consuming but very satisfying.

Then some are rubber stamped, hand painted and glitzed and sometimes Lacquered, some are hand drawn and water coloured by me, others are decoupaged, I could go on and on (but I wont!) I make one offs that take ages and I never repeat, and then I also do special orders for people who want something you can't buy anywhere else and that is personal.

It's a very rewarding hobby, but one that I have neglected since taking on the allotment. I do have a large stock though so always have something that someone needs. In fact all these photo's were taken today and that is only half of the cards I have.

I am going to get back into my 'crafty' ways again over the coming months as I think I need to do this, perhaps I have been neglecting this part of me . I also mount my photography onto cards but that's much easier than actually designing and crafting cards.


They are all in clear cellophane pockets so there is a bit of a shine on some of them from the flash.


Clay imprinted then baked, finished in silver and bronze with small beads added, then mounted on ribbon



Always popular







I thought I would share something a bit different today. It was actually great getting the cards out of the cupboard and taking the photo's, just doing that got my creative thoughts and ideas flowing again.

Monday, 5 October 2009

A long overdue update

It's over a week since I last did a post and seeing as I spent part of today working on the allotment, I thought I would share some photo's of the plot. Austin helped me dig over my two largest beds, one where the pumpkin and squashes were growing and in the other bed the french and runner beans were. As we cleared the beds and weeded, we covered the ground with black plastic to smother any weeds that had any thoughts of sneaking up on me over the winter.

I have to say I lose interest at this time of year, it happened last year around this time as well, but come the spring my enthusiasm will return. I still have the following growing : curly Kale, perpetual spinach, parsnips, beetroots, Florence fennel (which are swelling nicely) and a couple of cabbages. Oh and purple sprouting broccoli and brussel sprouts, but they have to grow through the winter and hopefully we will have some sprouts for Christmas.

The best thing I ever did was grow so many flowers up there because it's so colourful and many flowers still have lots of buds to open for a while yet. I have stored all the squashes and the pumpkin in the greenhouse, where I also have more little chillies growing, in fact lot's of little chillies !

I must get that Pumpkin weighed ! it was very heavy.

The 'Pink Giraffe' Dahlia is still a lovely sight, I have three up on the plot.

Dahlias and Echinacea, grown from seed this year and still looking lovely

Covering the beds for winter.

Clearing the beds, and planning for next year.

Not so tidy, but still lots of colour.

Florence Fennel, almost ready to harvest.


My hydrangea from the garden. faded and looking delicate and so pretty

The colour from the front, such delicate colours as they age and fade.

Colours from behind, a nice minty green, I like this better.

I have actually been spending more time working on the garden than the allotment just recently. I have widened a couple of my borders so I can plant more annual flowers such as Cosmos, I bought a packet of seeds recently that are double flowering and they look stunning, so can't wait to sow them next year. The borders already have lot's of perennials, so I thought it would be nice to add some annuals as well, especially cornflowers which looked really nice with the colours of the Cosmos this year. We also cut down a couple of large shrubs which were old and very woody, we now have to try and get the roots out.
That's about all for this update. I hope you are all enjoying your gardens and allotments and getting on with the preparations for the winter months. The best thing is the planning for next year, and looking through the seed catalogues deciding what to grow next.