24 March 2013

Risky Business

Apologies for the little break. We have been building an ark. As the stocks of timber were running quite low in a nearby store, I'm assuming others are building an ark too. At least I can take all my seeds on board. Looks like there won't be any other use for them this non-existing spring!

Last Sunday at the allotment was wonderful though. We were digging away, we were raking the beds, we were cutting the fence, we were building raised beds, and we were loving it. All in the lovely warmth of sunshine, which now seems a distant memory. 

The beautiful weather tempted us to start planting our parsnips, first early potatoes and onion sets. However, at the same time it all felt bit risky business for us. The soil drains very well at the allotment but some of the beds have started to become a little waterlogged. Also, one day of sunshine is only one day of sunshine. In the end we followed Old Boy R's advise to wait a while with the onion sets and parsnip seeds as they will most like only rot if they are put in now. However, we took a little risk with our first early potatoes- Pentland Javelin.  Last year we didn't have any first earlies so if they fail this year, we are not going to miss them. And if it all works out, we will have some lovely soft waxy-textured potatoes in June. You have to live at the edge a bit, don't you.

Don't worry, we haven't given up hope. We never will. We will just finish building the ark. And maybe build a polytunnel the size of our allotment. Note to self: We may need permission for that. As said, the keen gardener requires a tolerance of inclement weather. And Plans B and C if the weather doesn't improve.

                                                                                                Mr and Mrs V x

P.S. It all just fell into its place and made sense.. we will have a herbaceous border. But more about that later.

11 March 2013

The Keen Gardener

The Keen Gardener
requires an avid interest in horticulture, some faith and a tolerance of inclement weather.

And this is the tolerance we've been practising this weekend with all the rest of gardeners in UK. While it was too cold and windy to go outside, we decided to take refuge at some nurseries and make few needed purchases for the allotment.

Target for next year
Having finalised our plans for this year, it suddenly hit me on one idle Tuesday- strawberries! Where would we have our strawberries! Last year we had some growing in an old tyre, but this year I wanted more, I wanted a field of strawberries! After looking at the plan from every angle possible, there was only one solution- I had to give up my rest spot at the sunshine for a raised bed. And the materials for a raised bed we got this weekend.

We also got the rest of the seeds we needed- French Beans (Blauhilde and Fasold) and Borlotti Beans (Lingua di Fuoco "Firetongue"- my second favourite vegetable variety name!) and some biodegrable peat pots. With the seed tin about to burst with all our seed packets in it, I think we are ready to rock'n'roll.

Last year's French Beans growing
and some overgrown ones
The last stop was a farm shop. Nothing to do with the allotment really, but we can always appreciate good produce. We picked up some gorgeous Savoy cabbage, delicious venison sausages and tasty sea bass. The rest of the day was spent in kitchen spending good quality time. You gotta love weekends. Even if they are freeezing cold.

Mr & Mrs v x

5 March 2013

Harvest Party

Chirp chirp chirp sang the little bird on my way home from work. Not sure what type of bird, but it clearly means the spring has arrived, and the thermometer showed +11 Celsius degrees during the afternoon! So spring has officially started for me, soon the vegetables will be growing, harvesting the produce will be in full swing and I'm already dreaming of our next harvest party.

In November last year we invited a few like-minded fellow veggie growers to celebrate what we deemed to be a successful first year of growing veggies. I wanted our harvest party to look like the photo below.

Photo: Modern Mindy

In the end I considered finding and moving to a big white farm a little bit too much effort for the party. Also, as a beautiful autumn's day couldn't be guaranteed, I decided to recreate something bit similar at our home instead. And this is what the result looked like:

The menu for the evening consisted of:

Pumpkin Soup served from a Pumpkin
Roasted Free Range Chicken with Spicy Butternut squash, Barley and Spinach 
Raspberry Crumble and Custard
Coffee/Tea with Chocolate

Naturally we used our own produce where we could. The evening was filled with good food and wines, good friends and good conversation. We toasted to the growing season that had passed and to the growing season that was ahead of us.
Mrs V x

3 March 2013

An Allotmenteer's Afternoon

Today we decided to go and brave the cold to the allotment wearing layers on top of layers, a hoodie under a hoodie, and at least 3 pairs of woolly socks. We were thinking that when you dig like a mad man, you won't even notice the freezing wind. However, when we got to the allotment, it soon dawned on us that it really was too cold to spend the whole afternoon there (I know, I sound like a wimp.) As we only have four of our 14 beds still in need of turning over, we weren't too worried of falling behind on our 'digging schedule' as these beds are for courgettes and pumpkins, which won't be planted in any time soon. We decided to potter around for a while though. Mr V was building a raised bed for our new strawberry area and measuring and marking an area for our artichokes while I was setting two pallets free from whatever greedy plants that tried to eat them last year. Mr V's mother also popped to the allotment and she was the only one who ended up showing some action to a shovel. After a cup of tea to keep us warm we decided it was time to call it a day and head home for a hearty winter day's dinner of roasted Spanish chicken. Next weekend will be a proper weekend of some allotment action. Unless if it's freezing cold again. (I know, I sound like a wimp. Again.)

Mission for today: Free the pallets!

By the way, remember when I declared myself to be peony-sort-of-a-girl? I've since found these photos from the archives of the computer and I shall share them with you to compensate for the ugly photo above...

now where shall I have my rose garden?

Mrs V x

(Click to enlarge.)

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