Posts Tagged ‘courgettes’

A new shed roof and an impromptu picnic

August 3, 2011
Repairing the allotment shed

Running repairs

The big day finally arrived.  After resembling a leaky sieve for the past two years, the shed roof was finally going to be covered in felt to protect it from the elements.

The shed if you remember, evolved from one of two compost bins and is … an interesting construction.  The roof, which was made from flooring grade chipboard, was in a pretty poor state and badly needed some remedial treatment.  It was, according to David, a job which would take a ‘couple of hours’.

We got an early start and were the first ones on-site before 8.30am.  This was fortunate as we wanted to fill the water tank too – a major operation.  I pottered and weeded while David started his preparations.  Some four hours later, I cut some lettuce and a cabbage (for coleslaw) and set off home to organise an impromptu picnic.  The roof was still a long way from being completed.  My solo arrival and quick turn-around confused the dog no end!

But it was a lovely day for a picnic and our first this year.  I’m pleased to report by 3.30, the roof was complete.  Needless to say, it hasn’t rained since, so it’s integrity has yet to be put to the test!

The courgettes, which have taken a while to get going, have started to go mad.  A blanching and freezing session will put some away for later in the year.  The French beans and runners are doing well and just a few days away from the first picking.

The onions grown from seed are finally starting to look like proper onions, but as you will see from the pictures at the bottom, they have a long way to go to catch up with those grown from the sets.  The jury is still out, but I am coming to close to thinking they really were not worth all the extra work!

Sheep eating lettuce

A tasty snack!

We grow a lot of ‘cut and come again’ lettuce, both at home and on the allotment.  Salad is our staple summer lunchtime fare.  With regular sowings we avoid the need to buy that nasty supermarket stuff until well into the Autumn.  However, the first sowing had finally bolted.  We always grow too much, working on the basis that it won’t get wasted.  What doesn’t get eaten will simply be composted and put back into the ‘system’.

Geese eating lettuce

Sharing the lettuce

This year though, the old lettuce have been put to an even better use.  A local friend The Balloon Lady, has pet sheep which are very partial to some freshly cut salad!  There was so much, her geese also enjoyed a nibble of this delicious fodder.

There is something very satisfying in knowing little goes to waste up on the allotment.  We’ve become masters of ingenuity, finding a use for all manner of useless objects and recycling everything possible … and that’s what it’s all about.

Comparing onions grown from seed to onions grown from sets

Left: onion grown from a set Right: onion grown from seed

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This is what it’s all about …

July 12, 2011

We were allotmenteers on a mission on Saturday.  The broad beans were ready to harvest and as for the peas …

Bunyards Exhibition Broad Bean

The broad bean harvest

With dark skies overhead and dodging the odd shower, most of our allotment visit was spent a-picking and a-harvesting.  During a lull, I did do something I’ve been intending to do for a while now.  I made a video!  So if you fancy a walk round our Chipping Norton allotment, you can see the results on YouTube here.  This is my first attempt, so apologies for my lack of camera skills and the blowing a gale sound effects!

First up were the broad beans.  David set to work with a bucket or two which were quickly filled up.  The plants are still in the ground and there’s a small picking left.  We planted the broad beans in waves in 2009, but didn’t gain from it.  Because they freeze so beautifully, we now plant them all as early as possible and harvest them in one go.  That way, we can free up the bed and get a late crop of something else.  This year, flushed with success, it will be more peas.

Broccoli head

Broccoli triumph

Picking was essential on Saturday as we had a day trip to Portsmouth planned for Sunday.  Needless to say the family expect us to arrive accompanied by a week’s supply of fresh vegetables!

Our little granddaughter is veggie mad, which is a great attribute for a 2 years and 3 month old tot.  They have a small amount of veg in their garden and she is very excited about growing her own.  Much to her delight, their courgette plants produced two courgettes ready to pick … secretly grown here and transported to Portsmouth, and laid on the ground when her attention was diverted!  We are looking forward to their visit next month when she can dig up the potatoes she helped plant in February.  But I digress.

Onward peas

Just a few peas

The biggest mission was of course … the peas.  I know I keep on about them, but we have never had peas like it before.  We always pick the peas last and prepare them as soon as we get home, either cooking them to reheat later or blanching them for the freezer.  After an hour or so, peas start to turn their sugar into starch, so they are best within a short time of picking.  This was a bit optimistic … it took us more than half an hour (and two aching backs) just to pick them all!

Both the French and runner beans are in flower, the courgettes are getting going, and the Greyhound cabbage are fantastic.  We’ve had no more critter attacks on the broccoli and I’m delighted to say, we have given up buying veg now for the duration.

Harvest from allotment

Most of Saturday's harvest!

We won’t mention the two hours of podding and blanching on Saturday, but all in all, it was very satisfying allotment day.  And that’s what it is all about!

22 August – Triumph and Tragedy

August 24, 2009
Cauliflower 'Triomphant'

Cauliflower 'Triomphant'

We’ve finally done it!  After many attempts, at last we’ve grown a proper cauliflower … and it’s perfect in every way.  In 2008, we bought ‘All Year Round’ cauliflower seeds, in the mistaken belief they would actually grow all year round.  Despite successive sowings at different times of the year, they did nothing more than feed the compost bin.  This year we decided to try some other varieties as a last ditch attempt, before giving up cauliflowers as a bad job.

We opted for two varieties: ‘Triomphant’ and the later cropping ‘Patriot’.  The first ‘Triomphant’ are doing very little so far, but they are in the end of a bed close to the hedgerow and we think, struggling for light and nutrients.  The second lot of plants were in a different bed and we found, during a flying mid-week visit to the plot, a perfect cauliflower had appeared!  By Saturday, it was big enough to harvest – after being photographed to death, of course.  The ‘Patriot’ caulis are still very small, having just been in the ground for a few weeks.  We’re hoping they too will reward our patience later in the year.  In the meantime, we’re hoping to have several more cauliflower ‘triomphs’ before the season is finished and ‘Triomphant’ will be firmly on our favourites list.

But our cauliflower euphoria was short lived.  We’ve worked hard to try and attract toads and frogs into our allotment with a tiny pond, a large wood pile, and several ‘wild’ areas to provide a comfortable habitat.  While doing some maintenance, David found a toad which had got tangled in the end of some brassica netting, put up to foil the pigeons.  It had obviously been dead for some time, but our spirits were dampened.  While the net is essential to protect the plants, we’re going to have to review how we use it – our toads are much too precious to suffer such a fate.

Copywriters' Courgettes!

Copywriters' Courgettes!

Time on Chipping Norton’s William Fowler Allotments always seems to fly past.  We leave home saying … we’ll pop up, just for a couple of hours … and before we know it, 4 or 5 hours have elapsed.  At the moment, just picking our produce is a marathon!  With 2 large boxes full of assorted vegetables again this week, our efforts are certainly paying off.  The courgettes as usual are abundant, with 82 picked so far!  We can only hope we (and our friends and neighbours) don’t tire of them just yet, as there are plenty more to come.


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