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