The Annual Broad Bean Giveaway

The beans have been tremendously successful this year which can only mean that the Annual Broad Bean Giveaway will be more challenging than usual.

Broad bean glutThis event sees us sneaking from neighbour to neighbour trying to catch them unawares so we can thrust a carrier bag of un-podded and usually unwelcome beans into their hands.

Typically the neighbours are one step ahead of us and have closed the curtains, plunged the house into darkness and feigned longterm absence.

One may wonder why I grow so many unpopular beans. I don’t much care for them myself actually, but it’s hard to turn your back on the singularly most success crop and besides I do so enjoy the groans when I put them on the teenagers dinner plates.

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A Leek Tragedy

LeeksToday’s trip to the allotment was a disaster of mythical proportions.

A plague of juicy maggots reduced an entire bed of leeks to this pitiful harvest.

I have to confess that I rarely do well with my leeks but I’ve never seen them as bad as this. They are completely peppered with holes, riddled with the maggots and turning to mush below the greenery.

Much wailing prevailed.

Having come back to my computer I have cheered myself up with a trip to soilman who has a whole page dedicated to leek miseries. Also on my web search I found a tip which suggested that you cut the leeks down to soil level and wait for them to re-sprout. Too late for that now but it might have been worth the risk with a few of them, I’ve barely got enough for a leek and potato soup here.

carrot harvestThe same tipster made a point of saying you should burn the diseased trimmings. I’m afraid I didn’t do that, I like to save as much as I can for the compost heap but I’ll regret it if the bugs flourish ready for next year.

I suspect it is the leek moth as I’ve found the perfect description on this site. It’s description of the life-cycle of the leek moth includes the following:

Adult moths overwinter in plant debris. As temperatures rise in the spring, the moths start to become active and egg laying begins in April and May.

Sounds like I’ve created them a home from home in the warm heap of plant debris. I wonder if I’m too late to go back and incinerate the pile of discarded leeks.

I’ll be growing them under enviromesh next year. I had my carrots under enviromesh and for once I can be proud of a carrot harvest.

 

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A Guilty Harvest

It’s been an incredibly productive season. Today we bagged up 3 sacks of assorted spuds and loaded the car boot with beans galore.

It all feels vaguely sinful.

The freezer is bulging, I’ve cooked dishes to last a week, I have beetroot roasting for a delicious chutney and still we have buckets of beans left in the kitchen.

We’ve dropped produce off with a friend and will offload more with the neighbours but it would be nice to pass these beautiful crops to someone who struggles to afford fresh crops and who hasn’t already done their weekly shop.

 

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Garlic, Bugs and Curses Galore

What’s happening with the weather gods? The rain has come too late for a bounteous crop of spuds but is perfectly timed to ruin my garlic bulbs that are desperately in need of a good sun basking.

I had a tricky decision to make this weekend. The ground was sodden and with no respite promised, the bulbs of garlic that had appeared to be drying a fortnight ago were now disintegrating into a white fluff. I decided to pull the lot up and deal with the drying task at home.

We’ve now got close to 100 bulbs of wet fresh garlic, lined up under every radiator in the house, acting as a dubious pomander. I’d put them in the airing cupboard but I don’t think the clothes would maintain their just washed, lenor freshness.

While I was despairing over the bulbs, Lynn was constructing the insect hi-rise. This has been a monster in the making – cutting hundreds of nettle and bracken stems to size has tried our patience but Lynn had the worst of it while trying to bring the whole she-bang together.

As ever with construction tasks, we start off appearing prepared, drill charged, screwdriver to hand, multiple assorted screws and so on but then the facade begins to crumble. Drill bits aplenty but they are all masonry bits, screwdriver does the job until the screw head flies out and disappears in the neighbour’s strawberry patch.

This is when the job really starts and the cursing and sweating begins.

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Dashboard Dehydrator

I got quite carried away last year and came very close to investing in a £100 dehydrator for converting my courgette glut into dried stock granules. As it happens the glut never really arrived so I had a lucky escape and am happy to plough my money back into seeds for next year.

Dashboard Dehydrator

The harvest has been a bit light again apart from the chilli peppers which have gone positively nuts. I don’t have quite enough to go in search of a cheap Stockli but I do have enough to try out my new freebie dashboard dehydrator.

I spotted the idea on lifehacker but it originally came from the tangled nest. Seattle dashboards probably get to higher temperatures but despite pretty overcast conditions for the last few weeks the chillis do appear to be drying out. They also look pretty jazzy.

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Many Hands

Summer holidays have been decidedly child oriented this year, so you have to grab your allotment opportunities when you can.

Despite having two car loads full of soggy and tired teenagers I managed to persuade them that my plot was the perfect stop off before heading on to our barbeque destination.
That’s a tricky sale but they were all remarkably enthused by the whole experience. They rushed around discovering weird bin lid sized squashes, picking rhubarb and scavenging for sweetcorn. I was particularly happy with the potato picking extravaganza. I remember that as a childhood joy and loved sharing it.

Potato Excitement

It’s a shame we had to rush off, I actually had to pull youfs away from weeding my beetroot – what a waste of labour!

We went back this weekend without the gang of helpers and had to pick the remaining spuds alone.

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The King Edwards seemed to do the best, all the others suffered with quite extensive scab. What causes that?

All my tomato plants have been ripped out now, the blight got them really badly but strangely it doesn’t appear to have spread to the spuds. I whipped them out nonetheless, it’s not going to be long.

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Spring Panic

Absolutely stunning spring morning, shamefully wasted away in bed, and then followed by an afternoon trip to the plot, accompanied by a flurry of soggy hail – my favourite.

I’ve slipped into my usual March panic. The year is galloping along and I feel as though I must be behind. Surely I should have seeds bursting from the ground by now. As it is I haven’t even got round to sorting my seed packs into planting order.

If I bothered to check out last years progress I’d probably remind myself that there isn’t really much advantage to be gained from planting early. The carrots never germinate and all late sown seeds come into there own in late April/early May. I’ve still got that white rabbit panic though: “I’m late , I’m late”.

The purple sprouting broccoli has sprouted at last, the pigeon netting did the trick and I managed to pick a whole buckets worth of the delicious treats.

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Amanita Fears

I went to the plot this weekend with the intention of digging over acres of land ready for mammoth spud burying activities on Good Friday but the ground was too soggy for me to bother. I did a bit of shed tidying instead and laid out a load of the bargain seed potatoes that Dad and I bought from B&Q.

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I had to dispose of a load of King Edwards as they were black and soggy with the blight. No wonder they appeared to be such a good bargain.

The shitake mushrooms had ballooned over the past week and had turned a touch slimey. They were splattered with mud from the rain as well so weren’t altogether appealing. Not having tasted them yet I thought I’d overcome my reticence and cook them up with a few sausages.

I didn’t really enjoy them too much. They tasted mushroomy enough but it occurred to me during the cooking process that I didn’t really have a clue what shitakes looked like. They did appear to be growing from one of the dowells that I had inserted but as they were alone it could be possible that a stray variety may have self seeded itself in the log – perhaps a highly poisonous fungus of the deadly variety?

I love mushrooms but this sort of russian roulette with the foraged specimens does really put me off my lunch. I’m not dead yet but them Amanita phalloides takes 6 days to wipe you it, I think I’m on day 3, so watch out for a long delay in blog posting.

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