Down at the plot: April

April’s always a busy month for gardeners. I had so much to do this month, but unfortunately I’ve fallen behind and only managed to plant 4 rows of potatoes. I haven’t even cleared an entire bed yet! It’s definitely coming along, though. There’s only this much left to go.

Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about how much I’ve done this month. I’m not sure it’s been that much, but it certainly feels like it.

I have a couple more rows of potatoes to get in as soon as possible, and planting peas is also on the immediate horizon. The trouble is that it’s been so dry digging is an absolute nightmare/nearly impossible! I suspect we will have at least one late potato harvest as a result. It’s lucky potatoes are so resilient.

Beans and cauliflower have also been sowed in a mini greenhouse I bought to keep in our backyard. Unfortunately the wind blew it over the other week, and the flats got demolished. 😦 I did manage to scrape up a few, but I will definitely need to replant some of the beans at the very least. Also, the labels fell out and I was growing two kinds of beans. I’m going to have a surprise at harvest finding out which were purple and which were yellow! Not what I planned at all, but actually I think it may be kind of fun.

 

Down at the plot February/March

I haven’t been feeling particularly well, so I’ve not been at the plot as much as I would like this year. I’ve tried to go for a few hours a weekend, but unfortunately that doesn’t equate to the weeding that needs to be done.

Happily, the plum tree needs no attention & is budding all on its own. This is definitely the best part of fruit trees.

The same is true of this jostaberry.

Alas, there is still a lot to do. This is where the beans will be planted this year.

I did manage to get one part of it dug over. I’ve planted 2 rows of early Rocket potatoes. The plan is to add a few rows each of Desiree (a red-skinned variety) and Kestrel potatoes. It’s nice that at least one part looks tidy!

I will soon be planting out beets & carrots, and I’ve got a mini greenhouse in my yard where I’ll be sowing beans, peas, leeks, and onions. I feel like I’ve left something off that list, but I can’t remember what. I’d love to know what you’ve already planted.

 

Down at the plot: Starting over

Last year I didn’t blog about my allotment at all. To be honest, it’s because the poor plot was completely neglected. With me going on holiday for 2 weeks in April, and my friend going on holiday for a week in June, the allotment was effectively abandoned at crucial times in the planting calendar. And then the weeds got on top of us, and the couch grass spread, and it all just got kind of overwhelming. We still got leeks, potatoes, beets, carrots, radishes, raspberries, and a very few beans, but it really didn’t feel like we got much out of the allotment this year. I guess it’s true when they say you get out what you put in.

So in the interest of motivating myself, I’m going to try to share a bit more about what I’m doing on here. I want to be able to share pretty pictures! At the moment, though, this is what it looks like. Someone please tell me theirs looks the same so I don’t feel so bad…

p1070292p1070291p1070294p1070348p1070349

I have plans to buy a mini greenhouse from Wilkos so I can sow things at home and plant them out this year, something I didn’t get around doing last year. I think I may also invest in more exciting seeds this year as an added motivation. I bought some purple french bean seeds at the market in Stroud yesterday, and I have added dates to my diary for sowing red cabbage and cauliflower so I can harvest them in time for Thanksgiving. I also roped my mom into pruning our plum tree while she was visiting, ha. 🙂 Here’s hoping I stay motivated  this year! Are you growing anything this year, or have you had success in the past? Any tips?

Down at the plot: winter=damp

P1040205.JPGIt’s hard for me to think about the allotment in the winter, though judging by the tidy state of our neighbors’ plots, not everyone has the same problem. It has been a particularly awful winter for the allotment. Our shed blew over just before the beginning of the year, and was beyond repair. We’re still sourcing a new one. Luckily it’s not a huge problem now that we both live nearby, but it is annoying enough that persuading myself to go, drag tools, etc, isn’t easy.P1040199.JPG

Today I finally managed to do some allotment-related work. I walked to a nearby garden center & bought some Kestrel potatoes (we grew them last year & they were very tasty) and Golden Sunrise tomatoes (because yellow tomatoes are delicious). I then headed down to the allotment to prune our raspberries and grapevine. I wish I could just get rid of the grapevine, but I think it’s too well-established by now.P1040212.JPG

We really need to dig over the final third of our allotment if we have any hope of planting in it this year, but the soil is far too wet right now. It has been for weeks. I am not surprised; it was the same last year, but its still a huge disappointment. Maybe we’ll finally have some luck next week. At least it looks like things are still alive & growing.P1040211.JPGP1040218.JPG

Thanksgiving prep

P1030725

This sums it up well, though my laptop should probably be in it as well. Here’s the menu so far:

Turkey

Leek & white bean galette

Roasted Brussels sprouts

Parsnips coated in Gran Padano

Mashed potatoes

Red cabbage

Sweet potato fries

Roasted butternut squash

Succotash soup

Cornbread

Cranberry, maple syrup and pecan almond cake

Excessive, maybe. The right choices, yes. 🙂

Here are some of the contributions from the allotment:

P1030728

Isn’t that red cabbage gorgeous?! Some things in this photo are going to be decorations.

How do you get inspiration for your Thanksgiving menu? Or is it traditional all the way for you?

Down at the plot: a closer look

As the weeds slowly take over our plot, we are realising we should have planted a lot more veg this year. There is just too much surface available to them now that our crops are slowing down. At the moment we are winning our battles against weeds, though the war is clearly going to continue for a long time! 1/3 of our plot is still a wilderness that we’re going to tame over this fall and winter.

Yesterday I planted spring cabbages and cauliflower, so that part of the plot looks beautifully fresh & tidy. I’m being lazy & not going back today, though a benefit of working part time is that I’ll get to go tomorrow when most people are at work.

While I’m waiting for those to get going, I thought I’d share some pretty pictures because, in spite of the mess, it is still a lovely place to visit. I love it, especially the wild patch. There are always bees and interesting things on that side of the plot.

P1030202

Carrot. As you can see, we did have a little carrotfly, but not too much.

P1030205

Red cabbage. If this isn’t ready for Thanksgiving, I’m going to be very upset.

P1030208

Big red onion.

P1030209

Wild patch under our plum tree.

P1030210

Courgette.

P1030216

P1030225

 

P1030233

Baby Swiss chard, Rainbow Lights. Ignore the weeds. 🙂

 

Courgette & beet greens risotto

Growing my own food is still very exciting at the moment. This week I didn’t have to buy any veg, and what I did eat was delicious. I really enjoyed finding ways to use as much of it as possible. I only learned about a year ago that you could eat the greens on beets (though, no, I can’t tell you why it took me that long to work it out). Using them with the massive courgette in a risotto seemed like a great idea. As you may be able to tell, I had it with salmon (though as you can also tell, I am not good at cooking fish!).

P1030061

I started the risotto as usual, sauteeing the uncooked rice for a couple of minutes before adding a little bit of white wine and vegetable stock. In the meantime, I chopped up the courgette into quarters.

P1030054

I also washed the beet leaves, then roughly chopped them.

P1030055

I added the courgette first, because I know beet leaves taste a bit like spinach and, for me, don’t taste brilliant if they’re cooked for a long time.

P1030059

When the rice was nearly cooked, I added the beet leaves. I then finished cooking the rice as per a normal risotto, then removed it from heat and added a little bit of shredded cheese.

All in all it was pretty tasty & I would recommend it!

Have you been doing any creative cooking lately?