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.
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.
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!