Secret Stash

At Work

We decided to show mercy to our remaining forks by building raised beds in the concrete zone and filling them with the soft crumbly mound of compost piled high in the Clampett’s yard section of the plot.

Lynn spent the best part of two days trying to clear this area of unmentionable cruddiness. Hundreds of decaying carrier bags billowed up like a detritus confetti shower when the grim piles of stained carpet were hauled away.

The strawberries were collected from around the plot, pretty much the only surviving plants from the previous tenant. They are temporarily in situ, awaiting arrival of the fruit trees and weed suppressant fabric when they will go back in for good.

Hidden Stash

The whole nasty little job brightened our lives somewhat when the second depressing mound was cleared to reveal this stash of treats. We’ve got Victorian edging stones and classy looking paving slabs just waiting to transform our plot into something very special. What a find!

I’ve already gone mad with my seed catalogues and can see my completely frivolous purchase of three assorted crowns of rhubarb sitting quite at home in a geometric bed of terracotta tiles.

Vene, Vidi, Vici

I’ve started digging in the second bed and it was considerably easier than expected. It was clumpy clay soil but at least I could get my fork in and out without requiring a trip to Homebase with my receipt.

Two rows of garlic have gone in and maybe the broad beans will join them next week.

The results of 3 weekends labouring are mapped out on the images below, top row showing the view from the bottom of the plot and the bottom row shows the top down view:New Plot - Week 3 Progress

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Fork Graveyard

Sheepish Grin

It was our first weekend on the plot.

As I arrived I plunged my fork into the ground, Scott of the Antarctic stylee. It twanged as it hit the surface, bounced back 2 metres and propagated an agonising wave up my arm. I started hopping around, whining about stress fractures and the general impossibleness of our situation.

Fortunately Lynn is less easily broken. As I was banished to the bottom of the plot, swoe in hand, Lynn started on the concrete zone. Less than 20 mins later she came towards me looking rather sheepish, holding two bits of my favourite fork in her hands.

Play was suspended for the morning.

Having revitalised ourselves with a chip butty and the purchase of another fork (this time with a 10 year guarantee) we returned and laboured hard into the afternoon.

Rubbish Heap Grows

Day 2 saw us back on the plot bright and early, trying to catch the attention of the committee members. With a growing pile of debris and a no bombfire rule, we needed insider assistance on the best route to dispose of it all. Thankfully after yesterdays hard labour we had both received gold stars and were welcomed back by the site bigwigs. Once a year they host a mammoth sitewide fire and our plot could provide the bulk of the fuel.

Duff Fork No 2

A little more digging around the bramble roots put paid to fork number 2. I’ll be having a battle at Homebase tomorrow as I try to claim on that 10 year guarantee.

Digging with bent tines is quite unsatisfactory. I imagine it’s like eating an apple with only one front tooth, a wobbly one at that.

We’re going to try a spade next weekend, in the hope that it will cope with the solid conditions better than the fork, we just can’t continue to go through tools at this rate.

Overall the results were quite satisfying for one weekends work. Most of the clearance has been superficial as we haven’t been able to breach below the 1 cm layer. Hopefully it will rain soon and we may be able to start proper digging.

Dig Day 2 - Progress

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Mother-in-law’s Ruin and the Marrow Jam Off

There’s been some degree of performance anxiety in the house since the great marrow jam disaster of August 09.

We made a minor error of judgement when we told the whole, sorry, sloppy tale to the mother in law. Having triggered a nostalgic memory for jams of old she’s been threatening ever since to pull down her preserving pot and demonstrate culinary majesty over the humble squash.

mrs beeton

Of course I am just too stubborn to roll over and admit that I’m plain useless in the conserve department. Instead of looking forward to a xmas present of beautifully presented preserves, I’ve been hoarding marrows for a future jam off. Not wanting to play my cards too early, they’ve been sitting in the veg rack going musky while I’ve been researching alternative routes to beautifully set jam, courtesy of Mrs Beeton.

Today we got to find out how the mother in law did with her entry into the challenge.

Courgettes are obviously quite popular in her house. By the time she came to prepare them, most had already been roasted and stuffed and the recipe needed to be halved. By the time the peeling, chopping and reckoning had been done it needed to be halved yet again.

Sugar, courgetteĀ  and lemon were left to marinade overnight just as I had done a couple of months earlier. The veg was then boiled and potted and left overnight.

Having just disposed of our runny mass of lumpy syrup, Lynn knew to cut straight to the chase with her line of questioning: “Did it set?”

Did it set?
It was like flipping concrete.

Apparently Sheila (said mother in law) couldn’t make an impact on the concrete and unable to remove it from the jar she ended up throwing the whole thing away. The pan took her 2 days to scrub clean and that was after spending the previous 3 days trying to rub away the remains of burnt beetroot.

Maybe now I can relax and consign the flaccid marrow to the compost bin, pride intact.

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