Aroma of Vinegar

9th August Harvest

I think I wasted my time this morning lighting a new stick of patchouli and lemon incense. The mornings trip to the lotty resulted in a monstrous glut that could only mean an afternoon spent preparing chutney and a house oozing the homely charm of hot spicy vinegar.

There are a couple of cauliflowers in that shot but I’ve deliberately avoided a close up of them. I think cauliflowers are designed to be picked the moment you spot them, flush with their juvenile tight white heads. I was a little greedy and hoped for huge curds to rival my dads. I chopped a stray outer leaf off to protect from the sun and left for another couple of weeks to swell. Inevitably the severed leaf rotted and formed an ideal pied-a-terre for numerous detritivores which did their best to make me weep.

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I’m not wasting them though, deep cleaning with a tooth brush and a heavy handed shave, left the heads in good enough nick to form the basis of a piccalilli chutney.

I’ve doctored the recipe from Greenforks who made a far more appealing looking sauce than me but then Waitrose had run out of turmeric powder – there has obviously been a run on piccalilli making.

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Maternal Pride

Frog

I was leaning over the pond this evening, trying to reach the juicy alpine strawberries, when I spotted a big adult frog eyeballing me from the comfort of the pool.

I was swelled with pride, as this strange beast had accepted lodgings in my pond. Now my eye was in though, I spotted 3 tiny frogs skittering around on the pond weed and even 1 out on the edge of the pond.

What joy.

Not really sure where these ones have come from, the tadpoles I had been watching, don’t appear to have legs let. I wonder if these are an earlier batch that I missed or perhaps they all develop at different rates.

Anyway, I’m happy. It makes it for the disappointment I felt when I discovered all my replacement cauliflowers had been eaten by the slugs.

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Sacrificial Caullis

My squashes have not done at all well this year and if I don’t find myself buried under a glut of courgettes by mid Summer then I will have to declare myself an allotmenting failure.

I didn’t help myself very much by sowing 7 year old seed as the germination rate has been exceptionally poor. The fresh gherkin seed didn’t do too badly but my little plants were swallowed whole by the slugs and I’ve been forced to start again.

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Last week I planted my single successful courgette plant in amongst the sweetcorn, inter planted with climbing french bean “Blue Lake” in the classic Three Sisters arrangement. Since then it has done nothing but rain so I arrived at the plot this morning, convinced that a silvery trail would be all that was left of my gardening pride.

Thankfully the squash survived the week. I seemed to have provided an unintended decoy when I planted out my cauliflower seedlings on the same day. Every single one of them has been gnawed down to their flimsy little stumps. I had a few more left in the seed bed so these have gone out, along with a scattering of almost the entire packet of blue pellets. Slugs make me very angry.

I removed the earliest row of broad beans today, they were just about finished and I needed the space to plant out my purple sprouting broccoli and other assorted brassicas. I left the roots of the bean in for the nitrogen but the stalks have filled all 3 of my compost bins. I hope they compost down quickly as I’ll be removing the second row in a few weeks time.

Garlic

The garlic next to the beans are looking very sorry for themselves. All the foliage is badly covered in rust and although I must be a couple of months too early I have started to lift some of the bulbs.

They are drying off in the greenhouse now.

Lunch was an al-fresco delight today. I boiled up peas and broad beans on the trangia and tossed them in garlic and olive oil before adding a selection of the plot leaves – rocket, mustard, beetroot, spinach and mixed lettuce.

Finished off with a tonne of strawberries. These particular strawberries are so delicious I’m even prepared to share half with a slug, non will go to waste.

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Community Allotmenting – War or Peace?

One of the plots adjacent to mine is run on a community basis and I find it fascinating to see how well it flourishes. I would expect utter chaos but it’s a very well ordered plot. I haven’t spotted a Gantt chart pinned up on the shed wall with tasks and timelines allocated to individuals and I’ve never seen them huddled round a cuppa holding secretive planning meetings.

Last weekend though, G wandered over to my plot with a half eaten tuber in her hand. She was digging over an empty bed and unearthed what she thought was a Jerusalem artichoke, after rubbing it on her trousers she popped it in her mouth and gnawed off half it. It’s at that point she discovered it wasn’t actually edible so wandered over to seek my help in its identification. Turns out she was trying to enjoy M’s Dahlia collection.

She quickly went back and reburied the tuber and patted down the evidence of the freshly turned over soil but I have an inkling that she’ll be caught out when M gets back from his holidays.

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As you know my parents visited a fortnight ago, after tea on Sunday, Dad and I cycled over to the lotty to see what we could achieve in the last remaining hour of daylight. Working in the same tiny section of the plot (a 4m row), we set off almost shoulder to shoulder, planting our respective crops. Dad stuck in a load of sweetcorn seeds and I popped in 3 tomato plants and just in front of these went the 3 heritage potatoes that we’d saved from lunch (prior to cooking of course).

I marked the spuds with 3 quite impressive hillocks but yesterday while I was down there, I could find no sign of my potato mounds. Instead though, I found a scattering of swede seedlings. Under interrogation my Dad admitted to seeing the potato hillocks but assumed they were just evidence of poor cultivation. He had flattened them out and sown his seed on top!

Dad's Cauliflower

I will forgive him this once as he also put in a row of carrots and these have actually germinated, which is great news as my most expensive carrot in the world appears to have disappeared.

While on the subject of my Dad, I have to sneak in a photo of his rather substantial cauliflower. He dug this up before he came down and it fed 4 of us for 3 days.

That is my kind of vegetable, so I’ve been quick to gets some seeds in.

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