The Allotment Wife


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It’s (nearly) Showtime!

There are five days to go (not that we’re counting …) to the big Allotment Show which takes place this coming Friday, so the allotment folks are becoming quietly focused. Or it’s contained panic – but it comes to the same thing, LOL!

As a result, we haven’t taken any flowers for the house today – except for a few sweet peas – as I’m keen to put some flowers into the show so want to see how everything is doing Thursday night. However, I have cut down half of the gaura as they’re starting to be a bit of a nuisance even though the bees love them. They’re trailing through the dahlias so I can’t see what’s going on, and likewise on the other side with the chrysanthemums. NB: Sad to say the chrysanthemums are behind so there won’t be any from us at the show this year. Back to the gaura – I don’t think I’ll grow these again, as though they look nice in vases for about 1 or 2 days, they then kind of explode and the pesky petals and seeds get EVERYWHERE – I’m forever cleaning them up, so it’s really not worth it! I could replant them in the garden but we already have some and there isn’t really any room for more – so it’s the garden waste container for them, I’m afraid.

Gaura

Flowers I do have my eye on for possible show entries are the sunflowers (which came Second in the blooms section last year – in case you’d forgotten!!), the echinacea, the dahlias, the gladioli (if there are any left by then!) and the marigolds:

Sunflowers

Echinacea

Dahlias

Gladioli

Marigolds

I will have to do something creative with oasis this year, as that’s what other people did last time – I was the only one who just plonked them in water, LOL! Shows what I know, eh – absolutely nothing!

Turning to veggie city, the courgettes have morphed into marrows again and are going full-tilt for world domination, go them:

Courgettes to Marrows

Courgette to Marrow family

However, they’re not as rampant as those runner beans – so if it comes to a dust-up between the marrow/courgettes and the beans, my money’s on the beans, every time … I only harvested a few runner beans today – enough for lunch and a couple of other meals this week for sure! – as we’re hoping to enter some of them in the veggie categories at the show, as well as the longest runner bean category.

K. has also dug up the potatoes, but sadly there are no super-large ones this year, probably due to blight, but we might see if we can find three roughly of the same shape and size for Friday. Oh, and the lettuce looks amazing – can’t wait to try some when the leaves are a bit larger! We also planted some new lettuce seeds and sweet william seeds in our spare bed to get another flower/salad crop going. It’s great to have new things at this time of year.

Lettuce

Anyway, here’s the harvest from today (not including the courgettes). I added the autumn raspberries to our apple crumble and very tasty they are too!

Harvest 1

And here are some sweet peas (mostly the perennial ones from home, with some allotment ones – the last of the crop, alas!):

Vase

Have a super Sunday!

Anne Brooke Books

 

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Marrows everywhere!

After another week, the tiny courgettes we left undisturbed last Sunday have turned into monsters! But at least the autumn raspberries are the usual size, LOL

Harvest 1

We’ve not harvested so many runner beans as usual today as the Allotment Show is in a fortnight’s time and we’re planning to enter the Longest Runner Bean comp – go us! Still, we did take a few, plus a couple of beetroots too.

The dahlias are looking amazing at the moment though sadly we’re getting to the last of the gladioli, oh well. Next year, we’ll do a later seasonal planting as well so we might get some for the Allotment Show.

Dahlias

Gladioli

The sunflowers are astonishingly tall so I’ve tied them together with string to give some support and also some flexibility. No point putting canes up as the sunflowers are stronger!

Sunflower

Meanwhile the sweet peas must have heard us say they were for the chop last week as they’ve rallied a little -though still definitely reaching their end.

Sweet peas

Anyway, here is the ultimate harvest, including courgette/marrows, beetroot, runner beans, autumn raspberries, gladioli, echinacea, coreopsis, geums, and dahlias.

Harvest 2

And here are the vases at home – the stock is definitely slowing down now as I only have 3 vases instead of 5. Autumn is on its way …

Vase 1

Vase 2

Vase 3

Have a great Sunday – and Bank Holiday Monday, hurrah!

Anne Brooke 


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The Annual Allotment Show!

Big excitement this week as we all started preparing for the Allotment Show which took place on Friday. K and I went up to the allotment Thursday evening to prepare, and decided to put our golden beetroot, potatoes (for the heaviest potato competition), runner beans (for the novelty veg and longest runner bean competitions) and onions into the show, together with a variety of flowers, including coreopsis, marigolds, dahlias, cosmos and cornflowers.

Here are our potatoes, beetroots and onions:

Potatoes, beetroot and onions 3 Sept

And here is our flower harvest:

Show produce 3 Sept

This time, for the flowers, I took kitchen towel and plastic bags – so I could wet the kitchen towel and keep the flowers as fresh as possible. I must say that paid off really well, and none of the dahlias lost their petals on the journey home (shock! Horror!) so I have starting using damp kitchen towel as standard now for getting the flowers home.

Whilst there, we also looked at our lovely sunflowers, and thought: why not? We could get them home somehow and work out how to put them into the show – surely it’s not beyond the wit of allotmenteers! Here they are:

Sunflowers 1 3 Sept Sunflowers in recycling bin 1 3 Sept Sunflowers in recycling bin 2 3 Sept

And yes, once we’d struggled to get them home that night, the only place we could store them was in the recycling bin, which we half filled with water!

Astonishingly the sunflowers survived the night, though sadly our heaviest potato fell out of the bag on the way home and split in half – oooh nooo! Must remember to use stronger bags next year …

That night, K prepared the onions, potato and beetroot, and I spent a fun half hour cleaning and measuring the runner beans. I put the horseshoe shaped one to one side for the novelty veg category. The following day, I found a strong box, filled it with bubble wrap and put all our flower entries (bar the sunflowers) in vases in it for carrying purposes. Makes mental note to get more suitable vases for next year’s show, though I did buy a last minute pair of lovely recycled vases at Tesco which were very cheap and look great, so maybe more of those. I only had one accident with the flower-box preparation and didn’t break the vase, so go me, indeed.

Working out what to do with the sunflowers was fun too – in the end we filled a Brabantia bin with damp kitchen towel and bubble wrap, put more damp kitchen towel round the stems and tied them together in the bin. Getting them into the car was fun, but not as much fun as it was for our fellow allotmenteers when we arrived at the hall, ha! If there was a category for tallest exhibit, I’m sure we would have won it, mind you.

And the show was full of lots of lovely produce, including beetroot, carrots, courgettes, dahlias, flowers, potatoes, marrows, a huge pumpkin, lettuce, runner beans, novelty veg(!), onions, parsnips, soft fruit, squashes, sweetcorn, top fruit (i.e. apples etc) and of course miscellaneous, plus some lovely fluffy sunflowers I was really envious of.

Beetroot, with our Golden Beetroot on the left 4 Sept Carrots 4 Sept Courgettes 4 Sept Dahlias 4 Sept Flowers with ours at the left front 4 Sept Heaviest potato with ours on the right 4 Sept Largest marrow 4 Sept Largest pumpkin 4 Sept Lettuce 4 Sept Longest runner bean with our short one on the left 4 Sept Novelty Veg 4 Sept incl our horseshoe runnerbean Onions with ours at centre back 4 Sept Parsnips 4 Sept Potatoes 4 Sept Runner beans 4 Sept Soft fruit 4 Sept Squashes 4 Sept Sweetcorn and leeks 4 Sept Top fruit and Miscellaneous 4 SeptSunflowers 4 Sept

Here are our entries of dahlias, coreopsis, cosmos, cornflowers, golden beetroot, longest runner bean, marigolds, novelty horseshoe runner bean, onions (on the white plate) and those sunflowers in the bin:

Our coreopsis 4 Sept Our cosmos and cornflowers 4 Sept Our dahlias and coreopsis 4 Sept Our golden beetroot 4 Sept Our long runner bean 4 Sept Our marigolds 4 Sept Our novelty horseshoe runner bean 4 Sept Our onions 4 Sept Our sunflowers 1 4 Sept

And the judging began! We were traumatised so went home for a pizza as we couldn’t take the angst, LOL. When we returned, all of our entries had been totally outclassed by the amazing produce of our fellow allotmenteers (though we have made lovely soup out of the veggies!), but astonishingly, our sunflowers won 2nd PRIZE in the flower category! Honestly, we’ve never been so thrilled in our lives!

2nd prize for sunflowers in flowers comp 4 Sept 2 2nd prize for sunflowers in flowers comp 4 Sept 3 2nd prize for sunflowers in flowers comp 4 Sept 2015 1

And the Best in Show category was deservedly won by R & S for their excellent beetroot:

Best in show beetroot 4 Sept

Definitely a cause for BIG celebrations all round, and the post show party was wonderful too!

Getting the sunflowers home was equally entertaining as getting them there, and they are now in pride of place at the front door:

Sunflowers at front door 1 Sunflowers at front door 2

Happy allotmenteering, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books


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Return to the allotment!

Another 2 weeks off, I’m afraid, with Virus No 2 – which was rather more debilitating and long-lasting than Virus No 1, oh well. Can’t say it’s been a great August all round, hey ho. However, K has kept me updated and definitely kept things going, with various harvests of runner beans, courgettes and lots of cut flowers. What a superhero!

Today, however, I feel well enough to get to the allotment (hurrah!) so have had a good hoe-round and deadheaded various flowers. The sunflowers are amazing and the tallest things on the allotment, goodness me.

Sunflower

They look very grand indeed. The rest of the flowers are doing well too, including the dahlias, crocosmia, asters, cosmos and coreopsis.

Dahlias Crocosmia Cosmos and coreopsis Asters and cosmos

The trouble with the dahlias is that the moment I cut them, the petals start falling off, so I don’t think they’re going to be a great entry into next Friday’s Allotment Show. Will try my best though, and maybe do other flowers as well. We’re also going to enter the Longest Runner Bean competition, and see if we have any decent onions or beetroot to enter as well – so wish us luck! Sadly, my specially bought chrysanthemums are never going to be ready in time for the show, so will just have to enjoy them as cut flowers in the house later in the season.

The autumn raspberries are starting to produce a good crop too.

Autumn raspberries

Here’s hoping the birds don’t take them all! And the peas K planted for next year are now in flower, but surely it’s too late to actually produce a crop at all! Maybe we should cut the flowers off, or wait and see what happens? Will have to decide at some point.

Peas

The leeks we planted earlier look a bit sad, so we have planted some new ones given to us by my stepfather (who also gave us the runner bean seeds) – the new ones definitely look stronger …

Leeks 1 Leeks 2

And here’s this week’s harvest: lots of various flowers, and underneath a handful of runner beans and a couple of courgettes.

Harvest

Have a good – and healthy! – bank holiday weekend.

Anne Brooke Books


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Is my courgette a marrow?!…

A nice, relaxed, pottering week at the allotment this week – which is great for me as work has been fairly nightmarish (is that a word?…) and the days very long, and I just needed to have some me time. So a big thank you to our allotment for being a chill-out zone Big Time.

And it’s proving amazing how quickly things grow. I did a mini-harvest on Thursday and decided the courgettes weren’t worth picking yet, and then on Saturday, here’s what I find:

Veg harvest

You can see the scale of it next to the normal sized courgette in the trug. I’m not even sure if courgettes can turn into marrows (maybe someone out there will enlighten me …) but it’s as near as darn it, that’s for sure. Alongside them, we have more potatoes, runner beans, and the largest of the golden beetroot, whose leaves I’m also saving for salads.

Our runner beans are also going for it – we’ve now stored five or six little bags in the freezer, after blanching them, and will probably have enough to get us through the winter once they stop cropping. I’m going to leave a few of them unharvested though in an attempt to enter the Longest Runner Bean competition at the Allotment Show in September – that should be fun!

Meanwhile the sunflowers are continuing to do their stuff and at the moment are the tallest ones on the allotment, well gosh!

Sunflower 2 Sunflowers 1

The cosmos, coreopsis and dahlias are looking good too:

Cosmos and coreopsis Dahlias

And of course, the bees are loving all these blooms – speaking of which, I was a bit worried as a bee flew into the shed as I was shutting it up, and I couldn’t get it out. But K told me that it would find its own way out in due course, as they’re used to this sort of thing. And as my husband is a secret Bee Whisperer (every time we have a trapped bee, he leans in close to it, whispers “be gone, little bee …” and strangely they always obey!… and, yes, this is true!!), I am reassured …

Here are the harvested flowers – dahlias, sweet peas, coreopsis and cornflowers – and ultimately at home in their vases:

Flower harvest Vases 1 Vases 2

Have a great and relaxing Sunday

Anne Brooke Books


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It’s showtime!…

… or nearly anyway … The date of the Allotment Show is now set for Friday 4 September at 5pm, with judging from 5.45-6.30pm, and then it’s open to all until 7pm. After which we collapse into a heap and consume lots of cheese and wine (sadly none of it grown on the allotments, LOL!).

Last year, K and I were very new at the whole thing so we just enjoyed the produce and the company, and loved seeing the lovely H (well done again, H!) walk away with the top prize, hurrah! This year, we’re going to be very brave and try to enter one or two things – maybe some onions, the runner beans, and some flowers if there are any good ones around on the day.

Onions

You may remember that I planted some special show chrysanthemums a while back, but there’s no sign of any buds yet (sob!) so I will have to rely on the dahlias, or possibly a second wind for the coreopsis. I fear there’s not a vase large enough for the sunflowers!…

Anyway, I did pop into the allotment during the week, and harvested some courgettes and absolutely loads of runner beans. There were far too many for the two of us to eat so – with a vague folk memory of my mother blanching things for the freezer many lightyears ago and the help of the trusty Interweb thingy – K and I blanched them and have stored them in the freezer, go us! Basically this means that we put the runner beans into boiling water for 2 minutes, and the thickly chopped courgettes for one minute, and then plunged them into a big bowl of ice cold water. After drying them off, K then put them into portion-sized sandwich bags, and sucked the air out with a straw. Yes, we really are that strange, but it works like a dream!

Back at the allotment today when I did a hoe-round and K did the watering. Nothing to plant at the moment, but I did gather up the dead rhubarb leaves and kick away all the mole hills so I hope I’m doing some good.

The peas K planted last week are doing well, as are the Brussels sprouts.

PeasBrussels sprouts

The Peruvian Ground Apple has recovered too, and is okay as long as we keep it well watered.

Peruvian Ground Apple

Sad to say, the one almost-ripe autumn raspberry of last week has been taken by the birds, but there are more on the way (no doubt to feed the birds again!):

Autumn Raspberries

On the flower front, the gaura are looking good, but they’re not great in vases so I’m leaving them where they are.

Gaura

And the echinacea is very pretty too:

Echinacea

Here is our harvest of potatoes, runner beans, courgettes, sweet peas, coreopsis, dahlias, cornflowers and a geum:

Harvest

And, as you can see, I’ve run out of vases at home, and am having to make do with wine glasses! The buddleia came from the garden as I accidentally cut a branch off when deadheading yesterday.

Vases 2 Vase 3 Vase 1

Have a great weekend!

Anne Brooke Books


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The first of the summer flowers

Very rainy at the allotment today, but we had our raincoats and hats so kept out the worst of the wet. However, I think I should have worn my wellies, as my old walking shoes don’t keep out the rain, sadly. Today, K sorted out the compost section so the slats are now removed and we can use the bins instead. A lot of what is in the old compost appears to be just soil, so we’ll bring the soil sieve down at our next visit and sort it out. It will be easy enough to put the soil back on the allotment – and certainly easier than the 2 days it took us to de-weed and de-bramble our front garden at home!

Anyway, the exciting thing for me is the allotment flowers are on their way for sure now. Today, we have alliums large and small, foxgloves, geums, lilies and Sweet Williams.

Alliums Foxgloves Geum Lilies Sweet Williams

Meanwhile in the veggie area, the rhubarb is growing back apace, hurrah. I’ve not harvested any today as I want to try to make a rhubarb and orange cake next week so I’m saving it for that.

Rhubarb

We’re still letting the asparagus go to seed now, and so far the carrots are surviving against the dreaded carrot fly (fingers crossed, eh!)…

Asparagus bed Carrots

We’re also very pleased with the lettuce, and in addition the runner beans and sunflowers have put a bit of a spurt on.

Lettuce Runner beans with sunflowers

And the soft fruit area is now a veritable forest of hope – we’ll have to net it pretty dang soon though!

Soft fruit 1 Soft fruit 2

Today there is also exciting (well, sort of!) news as I have planted some chrysanthemums that I’m hoping to display at the allotment show in September, if they’re any good, that is. I’ve never done this sort of thing before but it will be nice to have a go if we can, as we did enjoy last year’s show very much. I foolishly forgot to take a pic of them, but I will try to remember next time.

I’ve also planted cornflowers, a scattering of marigolds (Naughty Marietta – we love that name, but sorry, no pic yet!) and more beetroot (which you can compare with the older beetroot next to it below).

CornflowersBeetroot 2 Beetroot 1

Finally, here is the harvest of small alliums, Sweet Williams, lilies foxgloves, lettuce and beetroot, plus the cut flowers in vases at home:

HarvestCut flowers

Have a great Sunday.

Anne Brooke Books