The Allotment Wife


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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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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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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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A bumper crop of fruit and flowers

Ah now, this is what happens when I don’t go to the allotment for over a week because I’ve been sick – there’s a bumper crop! Thank goodness I’m well again, indeed. As you can see, everything is doing very well. We have cleome, dahlias, courgettes, coreopsis, echinacea, runner beans, sunflowers, sweet peas and a second flush of sweet williams, well gosh.

Cleome and Dahlias Cleome Coreopsis and courgettes Dahlias 1 Dahlias 2 Echinacea 1 Echinacea 2 Runner beans Sunflowers and runner beans Sunflowers Sweet peas Sweet Williams

In fact the runner beans are getting too big and stringy, so I harvested the smaller ones and put the others in the compost pile. I really HATE beans with strings in them – yuck! It’s very hard to spot the darn things too as they hide themselves within the leaves very cunningly. Meanwhile, the sunflowers are getting very tall, and I had to tie them in to the stakes at the top. The flowers are forming nicely, but no colour yet.

We have also harvested the blackcurrant bushes, which was great fun (with the juice all over my hands I looked like I might have killed someone!) and left the netting off so the birds can have the ones we’ve left. All in all, we’ve harvested 1.5 kilos (gosh!). Tonight, K has strained the juices so we can save them, and will make ice cream later, hurrah. We’ve also made ourselves a special kir royale with a bottle of white wine we had in the fridge (as you do …) and very nice it was as well. Definitely summer drinking.

Blackcurrants

On the left of the trug above you can also see some of the young perpetual spinach which is still coming back in the brassica beds – so that’s salad sorted!

Anyway, as I’ve been absent for a bit, the flowers have built up and I’ve managed to make seven vases (seven!) of today’s harvest. If I had to pay for seven vases of flowers, it would cost a fortune, so hurrah for the allotment flowers.

Seven vases 1 Seven Vases 2

And here’s the rest of our harvest, which includes potatoes, courgettes, onions and that lovely golden beetroot which is just fantastic – and so much easier to cook than the red beetroot:

Harvest 1 Harvest 2Golden beetroot

It’s great to be back at the allotment! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Anne Brooke


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Carrot Fly Chaos and Runner Bean Delight

Oh dear me, I fear the dreaded carrot fly has laid waste to our carefully tended crop of carrots, alas and alack. K brought back some carrots last week and they are poor stunted little things, though still quite tasty. We’ll gather the rest of the crop at some stage and see what can be made of them. It’s such a nuisance that you can’t tell when the carrot fly has visited as the foliage still looks fine. If we try for carrots again, then we’ll have to put some fleece round them as a barrier as the carrot fly can’t fly more than a couple of feet above the ground – so that might work.

In terms of other vegetables, there are exciting developments with the runner beans, which now have actual beans on them – though too small to harvest yet.

Runner beans 1 Runner beans 2

The courgette is also growing apace, so I’ve moved the marrow further away – I hope it survives the trip. This leaves the courgette still fairly near the coreopsis, but that might be okay. Its leaves have patches of white on them, but I don’t really know if that’s a bad or a good thing – will have to look this up at some point. We also have an unknown squash growing through our potato patch, so will wait with interest to see what it turns into!

Courgette Unknown squash

Turning to flowers, the cerinthe is coming along, and the coreopsis is totally abundant, hurrah:

Cerinthe Coreopsis

We also have a couple of dahlias, freesias and the red geum (Mrs Bradshaw) – though some of the dahlias are crawling with black flies so I have sprayed them to within an inch of their lives and will hope for the best.

Dahlia 1 Freesias Geums

The last of the lilies are looking good, the penstemon is coming along, and the sweet peas we abandoned near the compost are refusing to be lost (hurrah!) and are doing their own thing entirely, so we’re letting them do it … Good for them is what I say!

Lilies 1 Penstemon Sweet peas 1

So, this week I’ve been clever and brought my trug from home for the harvest, which has been: sweet peas, lilies, cornflowers, coreopsis, freesias, a dahlia and a few sweet williams (not so many of those now). I also took some of the spinach seedlings (at least I think that’s what they are …) from what is now the brassica bed and have potted them up, as you can see. It appears to be the case that everlasting spinach never ever dies, LOL … The veggie harvest is beetroot (including our golden beetroot), potatoes and the biggest lettuce in history. That should do us for the week then.

Harvest 1 Harvest 2 Harvest 3

At home, I’ve allocated the flowers to vases in the best way I could think of, and the house looks lovely with them in it.

Vase 1 Vase 3 Vases 2

Have a lovely weekend!

Anne Brooke Books