Sunday, 22 February 2015

Potatoes are here.

I had got an email this week saying that the potato orders had arrived and ready for collection. Rocket are my first early's and Maris Piper are my main crop. I've always had problems with bug damaged potatoes and both Girl on the plot and Margaret suggested I should grow them in bags. So, contrary to what many people think, I do listen, it's just that I don't always act on advice given. But I digress, I found these bags for sale at the nursery I always go to and quite suitable they are too with a picture of potatoes on the side. Even I couldn't mistake what should be growing in them. I know I did buy more than three, but if you'd seen the mess that is my car boot, you'd understand.

With potatoes collected and knowing that I only had a few hours before it rained, I continued with the flower bed for my daughter. This is how I left it two weeks ago. Flowers really aren't my thing, but I do like snowdrops. It's not the best picture, but there are a few snowdrops growing that weren't there a fews weeks ago. These I lifted out and put to one side. Below is now how I've left the flower bed. Not quite finished, but well on it's way. I did get a wheelbarrow full of roots in various forms. I'm not sure if what I've removed had been planted by previous tenants or are weeds, but they were spreading like weeds, so for me that was good enough reason to remove them. With a bit of luck from the weather, I should have it finished soon. 

It wasn't until I got back and made myself a cup of each that I realised how cold it was out there, so it was just as well that I stopped when the rain turned a bit icy. So my potatoes are now chitting and there seems to be two camps on this subject, those that chit and those that don't. I like to think I have a foot in each camp. I'll chit until I get too impatient and then plant them out. To be honest, I'm not sure what the right amount of chit should be. Either way, they've always been bug damaged.

The reason I chose the flat I'm living in now is because of the three window sills it has and the fact that they face the sun from when the it comes up in the morning till it goes down at night. In the first window will I have, from top to bottom, lemon cucumber, sweet peppers, aubergine, basil and tomatoes. Apart from the lemon cucumber, these are some of the plants for Garden Connect. After last years fiasco with the lemon cucumber, I wanted to prove to myself that I could grow them. I'd like to see the bastard slugs get to them now. 

Window sill two has pimientos de Padrón. I'm growing these together with Suffikboi, Sally Harvey, Michelle Stacey and Liam Stanborough. The seeds do take time to germinate, but they do. A few of them are doing OK, but it's early days yet. 

The last widow sill is looking a bit busy. The bottom left is full of lemon cucumber and bottom right is full of more pimientos de Padrón. The top tray has two types of tomatoes, plum and Tomkin's, okra, kohl rabi and cayenne peppers. Again most if what's sown in this tray is for Garden Connect. The cayenne peppers I'm growing for my chilli jam. 

I had a bit of misfortune this week, I had my bike pinched. So when I opened this packet of seeds and two sachets fell out, it felt like life wasn't all that bad. I know one packet of seeds won't replace the bike, in any way whatsoever, but it's nice to know that some things go my way. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Great Parsnip Give Away.

Although I'm told that the parsnips should be OK left in the ground for a while yet, I wanted to dig them up to be ready for spring and I will be giving away many of them to friends and family. It's a good job I have plenty of friends to give them to, because even I couldn't eat this lot before they started going bad and I don't have room in my freezer to save them in any way. Not only that, the local rats have taken a liking for them and it would be a shame to loose them.

The worst rat munched parsnip

But what a haul though, all manner shapes and sizes, no two parsnips are remotely the same in looks or size. None are worthy of the 'Best in Show' table, not even worthy for the supermarket shelf, but they taste far better than Tesco's finest, of that I'm sure. I did think that the box I brought with me would be big enough, clearly I was wrong. I did park as close to the allotment gates as I could, but it was still quite a walk to the car with about 30kg at the very least and to think that I had this lot in my back pocket once, in seed form of course.

Throughout all my time on the plot today, I had the company of two robins flitting backwards and forwards, pecking at the bugs in the soil that I had just turned over and for those of you who have read my last blogpost, no toads or any other animals were harmed in the making of this post. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

What a busy month.

So you're wondering, if I've been so busy, why so few posts in January? The fact of the matter is that it's lots of little things, not really worthy of a blogpost individually. I've waited to put them all in one. Also I've had a bit of a writers block, not that I consider myself a writer as such.

First of all, I've always wanted to grow Pimientos de Padrón. They originate from north west Spain in the region of Galicia. They are a chilli pepper, also known as Russia roulette peppers because you will get one every now and then that is a bit hot. My mum has sent me, from Spain, a few packets of seed, which I in turn have sent to a few friends of mine that I met in Suffolk in November last year, Suffickboi, Michelle Stacey and Sally Harvey. Sally has a head start on all of us. Not only has she sown them before anyone else, she also has a heated greenhouse. Mine are one week behind on my windowsill. Michelle is one week behind me and also on a windowsill. Soffikboi is studying for exams and is yet to start, but I must say, it's not a competion, although one member seems to think so. I'll keep you posted on our progress. 

Next, I am now a proud owner of a trug. I've seen them on twitter and on Instagram and thought that it would be nice for my daughter to use. I think I may using it more than she will though. They are made by Liam Stanborough of Loldean Timber Products. They are sturdy and very well made. They have to be with the size of the parsnips this year. He's not asked me to talk about them, but I'm so pleased with it, I thought it was worth a mention. They are reasonably priced and I didn't have to wait long for it to arrive. On his eBay site you'll find, as well as trugs, planters in all shapes and sizes. The lad's worth a go, so check him out.

 I've been meaning to clear my things from the end of the garden and take them to the allotment and I chose the best day to do it. Yes it was cold, but in the space of three hours, I had the sun on my back, rain on my face and driving the car in a snow blizzard. I've got most of it done, but there comes a point when your love for the allotment isn't enough. It just got too cold.

If it wasn't for the cold, working on the plot could be even more enjoyable. At the moment I'm working on six smaller beds and a flower bed for my youngest daughter to grow what ever she would like. The only trouble is, the areas I'm clearing are perfect spots for hibernating animals. Can you imagine my surprise, no, shock, when pulling my fork up and found a toad impailed. As quickly as I could, I removed it and watched the poor little creature, wondering if I should put it out of it's misery. Then it started to move, slowly it walked off and headed for the shelter of the brambles. The photo below shows the toads injury, but you do have to zoom in a bit on his right shoulder. I hope it survives, I need all the slug busting help I can get.

The last business of the day is that the planting scheme for Garden Connect 2015 has been announced. Matt Hiemstra  is the founder of the project. If you've not heard of it, click on the link to find out more and if you're still interested, please sign up . There are a few things I've never heard of, a few I've never grown and one which I know I won't eat. So this is the plan. I have had a look through my seed box and there are only three I don't have. For the YOUR CHOICE space, I'm thinking of planting spring onions. Not that I've given it much thought other than that's what I would like to grow somewhere on the plot, so why not there.

Well that's it for this blogpost. If you've read to the bitter end, you've done better than me. It has been three days in the making and I've been easily distracted. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Spicy Parsnip soup.

If you didn't already know, I've done quite well this year on the parsnip front. So much so that I have a bit of a glut going on. Last week, on instagram, Sarah Lizzy posted a picture of her spicy parsnip soup and was kind enough to share the recipe. It is with her permission that I'd like to share it with you. This is what you'll need.

  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 onions
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 green chillies
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon of Garam Masala
  1. Chop your onions and chillies into small pieces and soften them off in olive oil.
  2. Peel and chop the parsnips and leeks, add them to the pan along with the Garam Masala and allow them to sweat down for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Peel and chop the potatoes, add them to the pan with the vegetable stock and allow them to simmer until all the vegetables are cooked.
  4. Blitz with a hand blender and serve.

As with all recipes they are just a guide. The quantities I have given are the quantities I've used this time around. For my own taste, I could quite easily add more chillies and Garam Masala, but for the record, the one I've made today had an after kick to it that didn't over power the flavour of the soup. Sarah also added garlic with the onions. I didn't for the simple reason that garlic doesn't like me, let's leave it at that shall we. I'd like to thank Sarah again for sharing her recipe with me. You can find her on Instagram @sarah_Lizzy. Till next time and thanks for reading.