The Allotment Wife


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Winding Down for Winter

Not much happening at the allotment this week, and there’s sadly no flowers to pick for home, so definitely the end of the season. It’s lovely to potter about though.

Still, we did manage to dig up all the gaura and compost it – it’s not good as a cut flower (too much stuff drops off and makes a mess) and we’ve got more than enough at home so there’s no need to replant it. However, I did dig up the crocosmias and replanted them at home – though they’re not a great cut flower, they do look beautiful in the garden.

However, the good news is that the Brussels sprouts are doing well and we’re looking forward to having those for Christmas:

brussels-sprouts

And, of course, the lettuce is still going for the burn and there’s definitely enough to see us through this week!

lettuce

So, here’s the harvest – which is basically the lettuce and the crocosmias, LOL:

harvest

Have a great Sunday!

Anne Brooke Books


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Lettuces and daffodils

Not too much hoeing to do at the allotment today as we’re now into autumn which is lovely news, even though that means no more summer flowers, sob! Still the autumn flowers are doing well. Here are the dahlias, still going strong:

dahlias

And our first chrysanthemum is now in bloom, with more to come:

chrysanthemum

We also have an assortment of flowers coming up, such as dianthus and asters and something else I’m not sure about but it looks as if it will be good, LOL!

allotment-flowers

allotment-shrub

I also planted some more daffodils for spring, but there are more left to plant, so will try to find a space for them next week.

daffodil-bulbs

While we were there, K took down the sweet peas, and I also need to think about removing the gaura and crocosmia at some point – which I hope to find space for in the garden at home – somewhere!

The plot has also gone lettuce-crazy with three separate crops really going for it, hurrah!

lettuce-1

lettuce-2

lettuce-3

Here is this week’s harvest, which includes autumn raspberries (all of which I have just used to make raspberry & chocolate brownies, yum!), courgettes, beetroot, onions, coreopsis, dahlias, asters, echinacea and marigolds.

harvest

We’ve taken a few courgettes, beetroot and onions to the URC this morning as it’s their harvest festival tomorrow. so all in a good cause, hurrah.

Here are the vases at home:

vase-1

vase-2

And tomorrow it’s the allotment working party & bbq, so I hope everyone has a great time at that! K will be going but I’m working at the university tomorrow helping new students arriving on campus – welcome to all! It’s that time of year again – hasn’t it gone quickly …!

Have a great weekend.

Anne Brooke Books

 

 


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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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Gladioli Gold

This week, the gladioli just keep on flowering and do look stunning in vases so I’m definitely going to get more of the same next year. I’ve recently discovered the trick of snipping the last few flowers off at the top when I pick them (as they won’t come out anyway) and that definitely makes them last longer and helps the rest of the buds come into bloom too.

Talking of buds, now that the dahlias have recovered from the dreaded blackfly, I can pick a harvest of them twice a week and still have huge numbers of buds remaining, waiting to come into bloom:

Dahlia buds

Meanwhile the autumn raspberries are doing well, and we are beginning to get the beginning of a small harvest, even though it’s not ‘officially’ autumn yet – though actually there’s a change in the weather that is definitely autumnal to my mind, plus we had the first of the large autumn spiders (yuk!) in the house this week so that doesn’t look good for the rest of the spider season, oh dear me …

Autumn raspberries

And the runner beans continue to do their thing in great abundance – we have now filled the freezer with them to see us over the winter, and there’s no sign of them stopping yet! Maybe we’ll try to enter the longest runner bean competition in the Allotment Show next month and see how we do, LOL!

Runner beans

Anyway, here are the two harvests of this week, which include courgettes, runner beans, autumn raspberries, gladioli, gaura, penstemons, sweet peas (now reaching the end of their season, alas …), crocosmia, coreopsis, dahlias, marigolds, geums and echinacea.

Harvest veg & fruit

Harvest 1

Harvest 2

Here are the flowers at home in their vases:

Vases 1

Vase 2

Vase 3

Vase 4

Vase 5

Vase 6

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books


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Mildew Misery

O me miserum, as they would say in Rome many years ago – our mangetouts and peas have succumbed to the dreaded mildew and we’ve taken them out:

Mildewed mangetouts

Oh dear me. Not only that but my three lovely cosmos plants have died and there’s just no saving them – no idea why, sob! – so I’ve dug them up too …

Dead cosmos

However, it’s not all weeping and gnashing of teeth on the allotment front – the sunflowers are doing okay and getting taller by the second:

Sunflowers

The sweet peas and dahlias are also going strong, and the dahlias are now all but free from the dreaded blackfly, hurrah:

Sweet peasDahlias

Turning to the veggie mountain, the courgettes are growing apace and if you turn your back on them for more than a second, they become marrows, so we have to keep picking them. I do find courgettes funny as they’re ever so slightly prickly on the stems, leaves and even on the veg itself – not so much to be painful, but you’re aware of them when you’re scrabbling about for produce.

And I’m sure the lettuces are a tiny bit bigger this week though that might be just my wishful thinking, LOL!

Here are the two harvests of this week, which include beetroot, courgettes, mangetouts, peas, runner beans, blackcurrants (though not as many as last week as the birds have grabbed their share now), gladioli, dahlias, sweet peas, sweet williams, geums, echinacea and gaura.

And here are the vases at home – I particularly love the structure of the gladioli – such a gorgeous plant!

 

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Anne Brooke Books


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The Gladioli are here!

Great news at the allotment – some of the gladioli are finally in bloom and are a gorgeous colour! They’re mixed, but I hope there are some more of these amongst the crop:

Gladioli

Just so beautiful – whoever thinks gladioli are unfashionable and tacky is an idiot to my mind! The dahlias seem a bit cheerier today, and I think I might be on the way to beating off the blackfly hurrah – here they are with the gauras:

 

The cosmos are also doing well, and the sunflowers are definitely getting taller but no blooms yet …

Cosmos

Sunflowers

I’m also getting to the last of the lilies now (sob!) but the sweet peas have got a second wind, I think – and the smell is wonderful:

Lilies

Sweet peas

There’s also a lovely little flower that’s just bloomed that we were given by a kind person on the allotment, but for the life of me I can’t remember exactly what it is. Still very beautiful though!

Flowers

In terms of the veg, the beetroot are going great guns and the crop is growing very large indeed!

Beetroot

However, in the potato bed, it’s a game of two halves – the tasty potatoes now all have the blight, and the tasteless Sarpo potatoes don’t, hey ho. We might be able to rescue some potatoes which taste of something, but it looks like on the whole we’re doomed with Sarpo again, LOL!

Potatoes

Elsewhere, the runner beans are running away, and the soft fruit’s enthusiasm knows no bounds:

Runner beans

Soft fruit

Here’s this week’s harvest, which includes golden beetroot, runner beans, peas, mangetouts, sweet peas, cosmos, echinacea (not brilliant but it’s there …), some of the dahlias, coreopsis, gaura, lilies and a geum. Oh, and there’s a pot of blackcurrants too!

Harvest

And here are the flowers in the vases at home:

 

Have a great Sunday!

Anne Brooke Books


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Flowers on their way

I’ve had a look back at last year’s allotment diary and I think it’s true to say that everything is actually about a month behind – and a couple of people I’ve spoken to confirm this. Last May/June, I was harvesting lilies, sweet williams and geums galore, but right now most of these are only really on their way and are still going for growth.

The sweet williams are definitely in bloom though:

Sweet Williams

There are still no flowers on the lilies though, but the growth is pretty good:

Lilies

Other greenery going strong with no blooms are the dahlias, the chrysanthemums and the gaura.

Dahlias

We’ve also planted our other chrysanthemums in that space now, as you can see, plus the Little Carlow aster:

Aster Little Carlow

Still, there are cosmos flowers (if small) plus sunflower seedlings, hurrah:

Over in the veggie area, the beetroot are growing apace:

Beetroot

Plus the mangetouts and the potatoes are flourishing:

I have also pruned the spinach to stimulate new fresh growth as the smaller leaves are just so much nicer than the big ones.

Spinach pruned

And we have gooseberries, hurrah – though I hope the birds don’t get them:

Gooseberries

Meanwhile, one of our lovely allotment neighbours has kindly donated a spare lupin and some zinnias to our cutting garden (thank you, L!):

Lupin and zinnias

As you can see above, we’ve taken out all the old daffodils and tulips, so now have space for other stuff, which is great news. I’m adding to the daffodils to the collection in the shed for planting next year, but I’ll take the tulips home for adding to the garden in November.

Here are the two harvests of this week, which include sweet williams, geums, cosmos, forget-me-nots, spinach, rhubarb, mangetouts, asparagus and those pots of tulip bulbs for taking home:

Here are the forget-me-nots, sweet williams, cosmos and geums in the vases at home:

Have a great 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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Cleome claws and odd apples

We found a Yacon (or Peruvian ground apple) in the garden centre this week – it’s a type of squash which is apparently tasty and low in calories, so we’ve planted it and we’ll see how it goes. It’s certainly a statement plant, though what exactly it’s trying to say is anyone’s guess.

Peruvian ground apple or yacon

This week, we’ve also composted more green garden waste, which the compost bin is eating away nicely, and I’ve done my usual hoe round to keep the weeds down. Earlier in the week, K brought back some potatoes, the first of the runner beans (hurrah!) and the rest of the stunted carrots.

Potatoes, carrots and runner beans

He also picked the first of the blackcurrants, and has made ice-cream, which is utterly fantastic, I must say. It’s odd how we’d never buy blackcurrant ice-cream in the supermarket (because it tastes so bland …) but the home-made stuff is just brilliant.

Blackcurrants

Meanwhile the courgette is coming along nicely, though I didn’t bother picking any more rhubarb as it started to rain quite heavily.

Courgette

On the flower front, we have sweet peas and cornflowers doing well, plus a good harvest of cleome – which has thorns!! Who knew?!? – gaura, astilbe, scabious and coreopsis.

Sweet peasCornflowersHarvest

Here are the flowers at home in their final places. I didn’t bother with the dahlias this time as they only last one day, tops, so there’s no point picking them!

Vase 2 Vase 3 Vases 1

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Anne Brooke


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A very early potato and a handful of lettuce

Popped down to the allotment after church this morning, and I planted up some cleome, coreopsis and gaura for the cutting garden:

Cleome, coreopsis and gaura

That means I’ve got about 2 or 3 more rows left empty in that bed – which is in front of the shed – so am planning to put more cutting flowers there later on. Yesterday, our show chrysanthemums (gosh!) turned up, so it might well be them. I can never resist a big, blowsy, sock-it-to-em flower.

Meanwhile, K dug out the daffodils to give the potatoes more of a chance to spread out. We washed the best of the bulbs and put them in a bucket to dry off

Daffodil bulbsPotatoes

After that, I’ll store them in the shed ready for planting for next year. I put the ones that didn’t survive on the compost heap. Talking of which, we now have not one but two compost bins at the allotment which we plan to use instead of the fenced off compost area. We think this will be easier to contain and sort out. K had planned to dismantle the fencing today, but we need a different kind of screwdriver, so will have to do this later in the week.

Meanwhile, we have a harvest – of sorts! Whilst digging out the daffodils, K disturbed a very early potato – which we cut in half and shared at lunch today – and added two beetroots and a good handful of lettuce to the collection. We’ve also had the beetroot leaves with lunch and they were delicious – tastier than spinach certainly, and such a pretty colour too with that red stripe to them. We’ll use the actual beetroot and lettuce later in the week, but I have to say the smell of the freshly-cut lettuce is simply amazing! I never really knew lettuce has a smell, but actually it does.

Harvest

Have a great bank holiday.

Anne Brooke Books