Posts Tagged ‘Onward peas’

Where, oh where can they be?

July 20, 2011

Lost:

  • One packet of peas seeds (500) Onward variety
  • One pair of gardening gloves (cheap, nasty, pink & yellow [YUK] worn once)
  • One rather jazzy lime green hand fork

As you might have guessed, we have spent a fair bit of time looking for the missing items.  In desperation, we ordered more pea seeds and have given up the gloves and fork as a lost cause.  A big tribute to seed merchants Edwin Tucker, for the speedy delivery of replacement seeds which arrived today.  All we need now is to buy new gloves and another fork … and all will no doubt turn up.

It’s quite challenging to write a regular weekly post when all one does is weed and pick.  But here goes …

Self-seeded viola

Look what I found hiding in the beetroot!

This weekend’s weather was not ideal for allotments.  With a wary eye on the weather forecast, we opted to bunk off work on Friday afternoon in favour of getting some weeding done.  In our defence, we did work over the rainy weekend instead.

Our main objective was to remove the broad beans, consign them to the compost bin and plant the next wave of peas.  Needless to say this went awry when we couldn’t find the peas!  However, the bed has been cleared, the new pea supports installed and is ready to go.

Large broccoli head grown on the allotment

My final broccoli brag

Everything is in full production now up on the allotment.  The courgettes, which were slow to start, are galloping away, and we are now planning some broccoli and blue cheese soup to use up the glut.  Our first cauliflowers are probably about a week from maturity and all the beans are covered in flowers.  I do enjoy this time of year!

While it is fantastic to grow your own veg, I always under-estimate how long it takes to actually harvest the stuff!  The perpetual spinach alone takes around 30 minutes to pick.  This means longer days on the allotment and frequent mid-week trips to keep the WORD-right kitchen supplied with fresh vegetables.

We have been told recently (from two sources) about freezing veg without blanching.  Runner beans, or so we are told, are better being frozen from raw.  I’m not convinced, so have decided to conduct my own experiment.  The runners aren’t ready yet, but I have put one broccoli floret in the freezer ‘au nature’.  I’ll keep you posted about the results.

Coming up soon on the allotment chore list is a new felt covering for the shed roof.  When it rains, it leaks like a sieve and the old kitchen worktop floor is starting to collapse.  Also on the agenda is a sort out of the shed which will no doubt reveal an empty pea seed packet.  If they were left there by mistake, I imagine our mice and voles will have had a midnight feast!  Perhaps that is where they went.  I wonder if they made off with the fork and gloves too?

But as you can see from the picture below, we have the search party on the case!

Helicopter over Chipping Norton allotments

Helicopter over Chipping Norton allotments

A bit of a stink at the allotments this weekend!

July 6, 2011

Hands up who thought I meant trouble was brewing at the William Fowler Allotments in Chipping Norton?  Sorry to disappoint, but the ‘stink’ was of our own making.  With the cabbage white butterflies starting to appear and look longingly at our brassicas, it was time to spray with the noxious rhubarb jollop.  

We’ve made ‘comfrey cordial’ this year for the first time and we were warned it ponged at bit.  Well it is positively aromatic by comparison to the rhubarb leaf solution.  Needless to say it’s a job we do just before leaving, but it is gratifying to see the butterflies circling and quickly changing their minds!

Our allotment experience this weekend was low-key.  The weeds were under control, there was nothing to plant, so we enjoyed some leisurely R & R while pottering in the sunshine.

Onward peas

An abundance of peas

It was a red-letter day on the picking front when we harvested the first of our peas.  I love peas! It’s a family thing as my daughters and granddaughters share my passion.  But this year our peas look good enough and plentiful enough to grace the front of a seed packet.  I’m not sure what we can attribute the results to. Could it be they were planted straight in the ground?  Are the Onward variety more suited to our soil, or are they benefiting from the lashings of organic chicken poo pellets?  I don’t know, but whatever the reason, we have the best crop of peas ever.

When we used to grow a few veggies in our back garden, we never realised what a constant battle growing your own really is.  I don’t know how commercial growers, particularly the organic ones, make a living.  Each time we foil one pest or problem, another comes along to take its place.

This week was the turn of the broccoli (calabrese to be precise).  We have never been successful with broccoli, normally getting one tiny flower which opens and goes to seed before getting any bigger.  In accordance with my zero tolerance policy this year (if it doesn’t work we don’t grow it), it was the broccoli’s last chance.

mouse damage to broccoli

Best broccoli and nibbled broccoli!

Perhaps like the peas, it has enjoyed the poo pellets, but this year we have proper broccoli!  At least we did until something started eating it.  We ruled out birds – even using the netting as a trampoline wouldn’t give them access.  The only answer we can come with is mice and / or voles.  We know they are there in abundance, but for the past three years we’ve rubbed along together.  But perhaps we will need to think about some measure of control … or pick all the broccoli when it’s still too small to matter! On the plus side, we did manage to get at least one decent head which escaped the rodent attack.

To end this week’s log – another success story.  Our Autumn Gold raspberries, which don’t know one season from another, are going mad.  Having picked a good couple of pounds of them, it was time for the first jam making of the season.  Now we don’t actually eat jam, but the family are always willing to help us out.

Golden raspberry jam really is delicious, but it’s a bit of a culture shock.  Raspberry jam is of course traditionally red – so having raspberry flavour from something which resembles apricot really doesn’t add up!  I’ve added our seedless raspberry jam recipe to our blog here, so you can try it for yourself.  Enjoy!

Mr Neat & Mr Tidy’s Allotment

June 28, 2011

With hot weather forecast, we were up at our Chipping Norton allotment at 8am on Saturday.  Our uncertain weather conditions meant we were hoping the fog and drizzle would pass, and it certainly did.  By 10am it was sweltering!

David was on strimming duty this week.  The edges of the plot were in dire need of a hair cut.  My mission, as usual for this time of the year, involved the ongoing battle of the weeds.  By the time we went home, our allotment was pristine and did indeed look like an example from a Mr Men storybook.

mange tout

First mange tout of the season

I love this time of year on the allotment.  On the other hand, I don’t enjoy this time of year in the kitchen.  When we’re almost ready to start reaping the benefits, I begrudge having to buy vegetables.  However, soon we will soon be in full production, and this week saw the first of the mange tout arrive on the table.

We are more measured with mange tout sowings than we were before.  Having discovered they are pretty horrible frozen and getting heartily sick of them for breakfast, dinner and tea, we now have successive sowings throughout the season.  Reuzensuiker mange tout are prolific croppers!

Young calabrese

Baby calabrese

Our biggest highlight this weekend was the discovery of baby calabrese heads.  We are not good at calabrese!  They generally get to the size of ping-pong balls and start to go to seed.  Of course we’ve experienced this excitement before (several times), but never fail to be filled with optimism at this time of year.  If you are a calabrese guru, please leave a comment if you have any idea what we might be doing wrong!

The first Bunyard Exhibition broad beans and Onward peas are expected to deliver next weekend, and our Greyhound cabbage are forming hearts.  The perpetual spinach is growing like mad, and we have more lettuce than two people and dog can manage.  And of course, the dog of course isn’t big on salad anyway!  So in a couple of weeks I’m expecting to be allotment and kitchen happy.

Don’t forget the calabrese advice – we badly need it.

Another water crisis averted

April 26, 2011

For all the glorious weather, we didn’t do a lot at the allotment over Easter.  Our mission was to spruce up our back garden which always plays 2nd fiddle to the lotty.  While the garden … allotment central … plays a vital role in our veggie production, it has been somewhat lacking as place of recreation in recent years.

Onward peas

Peas recovering from attack - note the gap!

We did have a couple of short trips up to the plot though to complete the onsite seed planting.  While I sprinkled and sowed, David was charged with strimming the paths for the first time this year.

Watering has been high on our agenda this year, having suffered so badly in last year’s drought.  I was sure the water level in our 1,000ltr tank was very low, but David assured me there was plenty.  Hmmm!  In case you’re wondering why we can’t tell by looking at it, I need to explain the tank is black and raised up about a metre off the ground.  The only way to measure the water involves mountaineering and a long stick.  However, I digress … before we had finished watering on Sunday the tank was as dry as the proverbial …

If you remember our performance from last year, you’ll know filling our 1000ltr tank takes time and a performance involving 3 hose pipes measuring nearly 150mtr in length.  If anyone else is using the water, anywhere on the allotments, the pressure drops to little more than a dribble.  David’s Easter Monday mission was to pop up to the allotment early, accompanied by a good book and a flask of coffee, and relax in the sun while the tank topped up.  I didn’t expect him to rush off at 6am though leaving me to slumber on.

So in the meantime an update … the infernal C-things still have not made an appearance.  But I am NOT going to stress about them this year!  The Onward peas seem to have recovered from their attack, but the more recently planted ones appear to have suffered the same fate.  Obviously then it’s rodents at work – all the netting has ensured the pigeons can’t get a look in.  Back to the paraffin next year!

Honeysuckle on the allotment

Honeysuckle with buds

I was delighted to see our honeysuckle plant has finally got buds.  Three years ago a honeysuckle in our garden self-seeded and we had plants galore.  Many were given away, but a couple found their way up to the allotment.  This will be its first year in flower so we’re looking forward to enjoying the sight and the perfume.

The onions grown from seed, which I planted last week, are not looking happy.  They are still resembling blades of grass and definitely the worse for wear.  On the plus side, the ones in the plant house at home are looking considerably better, but I am quite confused as to how these tiny little plants are ever going to grow into anything more sizeable than a spring onion … but time alone will tell.

Next week, brassica planting is on the agenda.  Last season’s kale and purple sprouting is finished and the perpetual spinach is rapidly going to seed … just as well the new season is underway.


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