Monday, 20 November 2006

New Greenhouse

The greenhouse frame is finally complete and was a lot easier to put back together than we thought it would be. Its weighted down by bricks whilst I try to decide on its permanent position. Once thats been decided and the ground has been levelled, it'll need glazing - suspect the air will be blue that weekend !

Whilst we were trying to fix the roof in place, the top crossbeam fell and hit me quite hard on the back of my neck - at first I thought the tears were just from shock, but actually it has been quite painful for the last few days - its easing now, but is still very tender to the touch.

One of the jobs for the weekend was to have a fire to get rid of the huge pile of weeds, hedge etc that seem to accumulate at this time of year. The wind has dried everything out and practically with one match it was away. Here is one of my favourite shots - the bindweed burning !!

I had a clearout of the brick greenhouse, which I've not really done anything with yet. Its heavily shaded by the hedge, so I'll have to take my ladders up one weekend and cut it down a bit. We found some suspicious looking sheets and sure enough the man at the tip confirmed that they are pieces of asbestos sheeting - when I contacted the Sheffield Council Allotment department to report it, they insisted it is up to tenants to remove the asbestos themselves.

When I took over the allotment I inherited a home-made potting table, which is really rickety. It satisfied my needs in spring, but was moved to the brick greenhouse during the summer to make way for the tomatoes. Having found a very sturdy table to replace it, its time was up and the fire beckoned. It was so old and rotten that it collapsed as we tried to move it - not a moment too soon.

We met some new lottie people on the same lane as us. They've only had their lottie for a month or so, but are making astounding progress. It's good to have some new people around, I had a good walk round recently and noticed that many of the allotments look abandoned and run down - although unbelievably there is supposed to be a waiting list ??

The apple tree has lost most of its leaves now, so I really need to think about moving it to somewhere more suitable - wonder what on earth possessed the last tenant to plant it next to the path.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Coconut, chilli and pumpkin soup

this soup is absolutely gorgeous, thought I'd share the recipe for all of you who have a glut of pumpkin ! Supposed to serve 8

4 tbsp vegetable oil
4 large shallots
3 cloves garlic
3cm piece of fresh ginger
2 thumb size red chillies
1kg (2lb 4oz) pumpkin (or butternut), peeled & cubed
510ml (18fl oz) vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce (I'm veggie, so miss this bit, and add more vegetable stock)
2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
25g fresh coriander
zest & juice of 2 limes

1. Heat oil in large saucepan. peel & chop the shallots, garlic and ginger, deseed and chop the chillies. Add all these ingredients to the pan with some salt & pepper.
2. Cook gently for 5 mins on medium to high heat, then add pumpkin, stock, fish sauce and coconut milk. Simmer partially covered for 25 mins.
3. Chop coriander and stir into the pan along with the lime zest & juice, then puree the soup in a liquidiser in batches.
4. check seasoning & enjoy !

Sounds a bit faffy, but its really not.

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Finally the courgettes are no more

Thank goodness - the recent frost has decimated the courgette bed, I'm quite relieved as they looked as if they might continue through the winter ... must try really hard to only grow one plant next year, OK, maybe two, but no more.

The Marigolds are having a last gasp, I'm surprised they've survived so long

Found another comparison photo of my very first bed .. I was so proud and excited when I got to this stage - reaching the path was a big deal ! It seems a very long time ago now ...

Planted my broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia) into bed 7 on Saturday. At Nicks recommendation I fleeced the bed to protect them from frost as they pop through the surface and also from the birds. OH mulched beds 2, 3 & 8 with leaves. We had another go at the hedge, but its going to take ages by hand. There appears to be a young-ish oak tree further down the plot, which I think I'll have to take down, to let the winter light in - feel very bad cutting it down, but it really is in the wrong place - will try and keep it as part of the hedge instead ..

We decided to start using the pumpkin this weekend, as it is taking up so much space. We made pumpkin, chilli & coconut soup on Saturday and pumpkin risotto today. The soup has a gorgeous Thai flavour. Risotto is nearly all gone and we've still only used an eight of the pumpkin at most. Thinking of taking some chunks into work to share it out. OH has asked me to make pumpkin pie, but it seems we have different ideas - I though PP was sweet, whereas he believes it is savoury, so I'll have to do some research on the internet.

The allotments were very busy on Sunday evening with fireworks and bonfires, whilst we were desperately trying to put together a greenhouse frame before darkness enveloped us. It is the greenhouse that I was promised back in spring by some friends which has had a few plants growing in it over the summer, the most notable of which has been a very established grapevine, which they have managed to save and plan to train up an arch. The greenhouse was too big for their garden and considered an eye-sore, so I was very happy to give it a new home ! Its huge (well, by my standards anyway). We've almost got the frame back together, but I need to get some more bolts & nuts, as some of them were a little corroded and sheared off when we were dismantling it. It needs a couple of panes of glass replacing, but overall looks pretty good. It comes with some fantastic staging too. So the next few visits to the lottie will be to dig over the ground where it will be sited, make a base and get it glazed / secured for the winter - sounds easy, right ??

I can feel a nervous breakdown coming on ... OH is already adamant that he wants nothing to do with the next stages.

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Now and then

Well I've had my allotment for a year now, so I thought I'd post some comparison photos of how it looks now compared to when I first took it on (click on the photo to enlarge it).

We had to hack our way in and had no idea that there was a path running down the middle of the plot. Hopefully this winter I'll manage to finish digging the rest - under a third to do now.

This is the view from the potting shed looking down the plot. I managed to clear most of this in time to plant my potatoes back in April. The herb path was added in May. I'm planning to cover this bed in leaves to try and improve the soil. The right hand side of the allotment is shaded by the hedge (which I'm in the process of cutting down to 3-4 foot high), so the ground is generally a bit wetter and not as good as the other side.