Monday, October 29, 2007

Planting raspberries

Ooh me back! I've just had a hot bath and I'm still almost bent double!

I took out the runner beans, dismantled the poles and dumped all the greenery onto the compost (leaving the roots in the soil to fix nitrogen). Then I dug it all over and added masses of compost before digging three trenches for my new raspberry canes. I really, really hope they take. I've had bad luck with my summer raspberries so I'm hoping these autumn ones will be more resistant to diseases and bugs. We all love raspberries and they are always dreadfully expensive in the shops so I wouldn't buy them if I didn't grow them. This year we hardly had any.

So, here's hoping....
Happy gardening

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Autumn recipe

Well, I know this is a really rubbish photo but I took it myself, holding the camera in one hand and hoping I'd got my whole head in the shot along with the butternut squash. As you can see, it grew enough to be harvested (and for me to be ridiculously pleased with myself) so I had to put it into the blog, even though the photo's so fuzzy that my own mother wouldn't recognise me. Probably just as well!

We eat lots of these in the winter months along with various other squashes and small pumpkins and a particular favourite recipe with my family is this one.
Take a squash, halve it and scoop out the seeds and fill the hollows with lumps of butter and loads of chopped garlic and microwave it until it's a bit soft. Then fill it with a pre-cooked mixture made of:
chopped onion
diced carrots
diced parsnips
diced sweet potatoes (lots of dicing going on here)
red lentils and enough water to cook them
a few small tomatoes
tomato puree
salt, pepper, a teeny bit of tabasco, fresh oregano's good too
a teaspoon of the mystery ingredient (ok, it's marmite)
anything else that seems like a good idea at the time

Then I put grated cheese on everybody's bit except mine because I don't eat cheese and it goes in a medium hot oven for half an hour or so
It's very, very yummy - real comfort food which for some reason the boys have always called Mr Grumblebum and if you think it's because it has an unfortunate side effect, it's not. When they were little we had a small pumpkin sitting on the kitchen table for a week or so and the kids gave it a name. Honest.

Well, time to go but I've been given some bare rooted autumn raspberries so whatever the weather chucks at me tomorrow I shall make time to go up and get them into the ground. I've wrapped them in wet newspaper for tonight so they should be ok
Happy gardening (and comfort cooking)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pond Clearing

It's my favourite sort of weather today, the sort of crispness in the air that makes you think of frost, steam rising up from the wet long grass as the sun's heat gets going for the day and a perfect blue sky. It won't be long before there really is frost. The garlic should go in before it gets cold, it's better for it to be in the ground by then, it seems to give it a kick start. I don't think there's anything else that could be seen as urgent though, I mean, there are always jobs to do, but nothing that can't wait a day or two.

Actually, something that shouldn't wait much longer is paying the allotment bill! I've had it these last three weeks and I keep forgetting to bring my card up to the office so that I can pay online. In theory it should be so much quicker than sending a cheque but that's only if I actually get round to doing it! This weekend, honest!

This morning I took my washing up gloves with me as well as my camera and got to grips with the very overgrown pond. I've hardly been able to see the water all summer, the plants had burgeoned massively this year. So, I've thinned (hacked at) the yellow flag irises and marsh marigolds and also some other stuff that had become so rampant that it was climbing out of the pond altogether and I don't even think I put it there in the first place. I've no idea what it was but there's considerably less of it now! Then I took my chair and my flask and set them where I could admire my work and enjoyed my coffee break with a couple of frogs staring at me all boggly eyed. I don't think they minded really, they always look like that!

As I left for home, I put my old yellow bucket on the wall with the salvaged flag irises. I can't bring myself to just shove them in the compost. I hope somebody will take them. I've left a note so hopefully the bucket won't go too. It's not much use really (no handle). My other bucket has a handle but it's also got a big split in the bottom! And before you suggest, the handle won't detach and then go on the yellow one. I'd already thought of that! Time to go I think..
Happy gardening (with boggly eyed frogs)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Butternut squash ok?

Whew, what a scorcher! Fabulous weather, endless blue sky and vest and shorts temperature again, particularly when you're digging. I alternated between digging, clearing up and sitting under the tree drinking green tea with lemon. Lots of people were there today, I think Friday must be a popular day to have off work.

Today I've pulled the sugar snap peas out and stacked the canes away, dug up some madly seeding salad leaves that had been far too peppery for me to bother saving them, I've taken the netting off the strawberries and rolled it up into a bundle and stowed it carefully in the hut. Next spring, when I go looking for a nice clean piece of netting I know that it will have turned into a knotted, tortuous bit of unravelling knitting and I won't have the patience to untangle it so I'll have to buy some more! That's what usually happens anyway!

I had another look at the butternut squashes. The plants are amazingly prolific with fronds escaping all over the path in several different directions. What I had been going to say about them last time was that the little butternuts don't seem to be doing very well. There are lots of them but when they get to about two inches long, they go yellow and drop, I was complaining about their lack of progress to a friend when we spotted that three of them have got bigger and bigger and finally look as though they'll grow into big butternuts! I'm really pleased. They looked so promising it would be a shame to end up composting the lot without some successful produce.

Last time I wrote my diary entry I was chased off the computer by a desperately hungry cat, this time it's J, just arrived home from work and still in his cycling gear but hovering anxiously over me because it's really his computer! I know my place.
Happy gardening.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lazy gardener

Several seasons in one day today. There was a proper autumn mist this morning as J and the boys set off for work and school. It had all gone by the time I'd fried my brain with too many hours of computer use and decided I needed some fresh air. By then it was summer again and I had to take off all the extra layers I'd been wearing!

I did a bit of idle picking (some runner beans, more courgettes and artichokes) but mostly I just wandered around admiring other people's plots and then sat in the sun with my eyes shut. I'm a bit tired today so I decided not to start on digging the top bed, my next job. The ground is still very soggy after the recent rain so I didn't do anything about planting the daffodils under the old tree either. I took some photos of the burnt tree, mostly dead, but the branches stood out in a really interesting pattern against the blue sky. An artistic one I think! The other one's a mistake - it was supposed to be a butternut squash plant but I pasted the wrong one in. Silly me. Now I can't make it go away! I think you'll have to put up with it because it's time for me to go and start on dinner, feed the cat and generally turn into superwoman for the next hour or two. You know the sort of thing.
In fact I'm getting filthy looks from the cat right now!
Happy cat feeding.