Monday, July 21, 2008


Just a quick posting because I want to use this photo of one of my allotment neighbours. He was leaving with a great barrow load of currants, red, white and black and it was just such a fantastic display of home grown produce that I asked him to turn his barrow round the other way so I could take his picture. The turning round was because I didn't think it would come out very well facing into the sun. Shame I didn't spot the lamppost growing out of his head!

I've always though of him as "fruit tree man"but he's really Martin. J and I often have odd little names for people and on the allotment it's easy to label people that we don't know very well with stunningly obvious things like "rotovator man" (Chris) or "pond woman" (Pat). I don't think I'd better tell you grumpy man's real name!! Martin and his wife have put in some new fruit trees over the past few years and J and I had a good look at how they'd been planted before we put in our own. I think we must have named them "fruit tree man and fruit tree woman" at about the same time.

Our currants (just red and black) are coming along nicely too, but it looks like we'll have more redcurrants than blackcurrants this year. No matter, they're all good.

Happy gardening
Hey, - I wonder what they all call us?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


A hotchpotch really, today. We've been a bit busy so although I've been to the allotment regularly and done things that I would normally have put into the blog, life has got in the way. J's got in the way as well really - he's been working away quite a bit recently and when he comes back he welds himself to the computer so I don't get a look in. I've had to wait for him to go away again!

During the silence I've planted out my cauliflowers and cabbages and completely filled the patch I had earmarked for brassicas. There's about twenty little purple sprouting broccoli plants that haven't got a home. I'm hoping I can just look after them at home until the runner beans come out because I really have run out of space. I may try re-potting them because they're in those teeny little plastic plugs that come in sixes. I've got hundreds of those so I re-use them for starting seeds off. They don't usually have to wait all year to go in the ground!

The redcurrants are ready. We've picked lots, unearthed the juicer from the back of the cupboard, made a pint of incredibly bitter juice that I plan to use to make a sort of cassis with a hastily purchased bottle of cheapo vodka, taken apart and cleaned the juicer, cleaned it again - tried to put it back together again, remembered why we never use the bloody thing in the first place and re-buried it even further back in the same cupboard.

The big question is, do we cook the juice first? I would have thought raw juice might make it go off even though the vodka acts as a preservative. I've done sloe gin before and of course that's raw but this is a bit different because I've only got the juice now. Does anyone know how we should go about it?

I've also cleaned up all those onions. They won't keep long because of the thick neck stalks that I have to cut out of each one before cooking, but for the moment they are on and under the piano. Where else? The piano is technically for sale because we don't use it now (except as a shelf for storing vegetables) but I keep forgetting to take the advert down to the shops when I go out. Mostly I forget we have a piano these days. Poor thing, I feel sorry for it.

Enough of these ramblings.
Happy gardening

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A visit to Daggs Allotments

An absolute treat today was to visit the fantastic Daggs Allotments in Thornbury, open today under the NGS open gardens scheme. We only just made it owing to a clash of engagements - you know how there's never anything happening for weeks and then there's three things all at once on the same day! We made it to two of them anyway.

These allotments were really impressive. The tenants were so proud of their history - allotment land since 1546! They had every right to be proud of their own work too. I don't think I've ever seen such well kept plots in the same place. J and I had a lovely time taking photos of odd things like the way netting had been rolled up and different fruit cage constructions because there were some really innovative ideas out there that we want to try for ourselves.

There's even a website so you can see their gallery of photos online. AND their soil is lovely rich, dark, crumbly stuff that you could just eat! They made it all look so easy. Sigh.

Back to the heavy clay of Bristol then. Hmm.

Happy gardening

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A teenage diet

Some people's teenagers only eat junk food. Some people's teenagers don't eat vegetables.
Here is the living proof that occasionally teenagers happily chomp their way through gigantic artichokes. Roo (on the left) prefers his plain and Ed (on the right) has opted for a splosh of balsamic vinegar. I had vinegar with mine too.

Note to self. For goodness' sake woman - clear the piles of papers off the table before you take photos another time.

At the moment, we are producing lots of these along with lots of courgettes and lettuces. Everything else is just pottering along in small quantities. Ah. there's also the six trays of stalky onions that we've already lifted. They now form an interesting feature all along the passage. I had to climb past them to get into the office just now. Pongy too.

Happy gardening

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Good food and bad news

Results of the little burst of cooking for the allotment social evening were: - courgette and basil quiche, redcurrant and apple tart (not our apples) and scones with last year's bramble jelly. In the end, I only took the quiche with me because by the time we left to go to the venue for the party, we'd already eaten and I felt like I'd overdone the catering!

It was a lovely event anyway, despite a downpour and there was a lovely big gazebo thingy to shelter under.


Now, since the allotment party, we've been away for a week (in the camper, on Dartmoor) and our boys have been watering the allotment for us along with looking after the house, cat and plants in the garden. Everything has survived by the looks of it but the weeds have grown and the grass needs cutting again....

The really rotten thing is that yesterday I went up in the morning I found that all the shed doors were swinging open because we'd had yet another allotment break-in. Nothing of mine seems to have gone this time as I only keep rubbishy old stuff in the shed, but one neighbour has lost a strimmer and another, a calor gas stove. I think by now this is probably my 4th shed burglary. Because of the state of the shed, I don't lock the door, it's just propped shut with a pole. I do worry that if anyone gave a big yank on the door, the whole shed would fall over, so after the last but one burglary we didn't bother to replace the padlock when it got prised off. My concern is for the shed's survival here, not the fate of a squashed burglar! Our site has high, metal fencing all round the perimeter, locked gates and razor wire (!!) on the gates. This was all put in when the new school was built a couple of years ago and I've always though it was unnecessary, the school children are hardly likely to break in at night looking for power tools and it seems that anyone determined enough can get in anyway.

Anyway, the moral of this story is :- Don't leave expensive power tools in your shed!

Happy gardening (with a hand fork and an elderly spade)