Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Get your woolies on ...

Oh dear, autumn has turned into winter already I think. We have had several frosts here, which have completely seen off the sweetcorn, squashes and pumpkins.

This miserable little thing is all I have to show from around 6 plants - very disappointing. I haven't quite gotten over it. I may consider giving one of them greenhouse space next year to guarantee some butternuts.

butternut copy

These are my outdoor sweetpotatoes, taken a week or so ago. The top growth looks like it has been in a fire. It was the motivation I needed to dig up the tubers:

frostedSweetPotatoes copy

They are certainly not as big or as plentiful as last year, but with hindsight they were definitely in the wrong place. Next year, they shall have a far superior home. The ones in the greenhouse still look OK, so I've given them a watering and will lift them next month. We've not yet sampled them - they didn't last long at all last year, so I'm hoping they make up in taste, what they lack in size. Apparently if you keep them for a little bit and 'cure' them, they become sweeter. The blue tray is about half full now (from around 15 plants)

Sweetpotatoes copy

Here is my most successful aubergine. The variety is Red Egg and the bush now has quite a lot of little fruits hanging off it, but can I bring myself to try them .... NO!!! they look horrible. Have crossed aubergines off my list for next year - someone remind me when I am nurturing my seedlings next spring :)

RedEggAubergines copy

The lemon crystal cucumbers have been very successful - but we have hardly eaten them this season. Again, another thing to cross off my list for next year - although I might just plant one, as they are very refreshing.

LemonCrystalCucumbers copy

I've now cropped all of the big tomatoes and they are sat at home, ripening slowly. The plants were sucumming to mold and the cold.

GreenTomatoes copy

The sweet olive plum tomatoes are on their last legs, but still have plenty of fruit. Most of it is now orangey-red and I'm hoping that they'll ripen over the next week or two. We've been roasting them with olive oil and the resulting sauce is delicious - so much nicer than anything you can buy or make with shop bought tomatoes.

tomatoes copy

I cut down the sunflower heads to dry them and collect the seeds a couple of weeks ago. We took some of the stuff from the move up a couple of days later and discovered huge piles of shells everywhere. As I've disturbed a 'ratty-mouse' and found droppings in the brick greenhouse, I'm pretty convinced they are the culprits ! Little b*****ds. Found another one in the compost heap, it seemed startled, then miffed at being discovered and ran around like a loopey thing for a while, until it realised I could still see it. I shrieked (of course) and did a little jiggy dance (to stop it running up my trousers you understand) whilst watching it scarper into next doors lottie.

sunflowers copy

I've been more than a little stressed for the last couple of weeks - in the same week that I moved house, a muppet crashed into my car. It has finally gone to insurance, but the cost of the repairs are very close to the value of my car, so there is a possibility that it may be written off. It goes to the garage next week, so I'll have an anxious wait until they make a decision. I suffered a bit of whiplash, but was more annoyed at the timing. They say moving house is one of the most stressful times of your life and thats without numpties who don't look where they are going.

MCD car3 copy

I've got so many jobs to do and so little time (renovating my new 'home') at the moment, that I think I'll be overwhelmed soon. I have managed to get my onions in and half of my garlic. There is still a bed of Charlotte and Cara potatoes waiting to be dug up. The green manure needs digging in. The cucumbers, aubergines, tomatoes and remaining pepper plants need to go to the compost heap. Sweetcorn needs chopping up, before adding that to the compost heap too. The greenhouses need cleaning out and sorting / tidying out. I need to have a huge fire with all the bits of hedge and weed piles that are lying around. The beans need to be pulled up and added to the compost. The broad beans need to be planted once the beds are prepared. The Jerusalem Artichokes need digging up. The Globe Artichokes need pruning / moving. The strawberry bed desperately needs attention and then of course there is still the jungle to tackle. Aaaarrrrggggghhh, going for a lie down now, while I think about it all.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

the nights are drawing in ..

Sunday was my first trip to the lottie for a couple of weeks - we had a lovely weekend in Whitby, visiting my folks and delivering birthday presents. We went to Scarborough for a day and walked the North Bay - the weather was fantastic and gloriously warm. I think the sunshine may have gotten to my mum however, as she is convinced that she saw a penguin being attacked and eaten by a mink ... there wasn't much to say after that LOL. This is Scarborough from Oliver's Mount:

Scarborough copy

We didn't have time to visit the castle, but perhaps next time.

I had a great day on Sunday and got loads done. The cauliflowers are now potted on and in the greenhouse to grow on a bit. The cold has seen off three of the turks turban plants so I harvested three squashes (the fourth, which was very small, has succumed to the cold) and dug over the bed. Only one of the squashes will store, the others will need to be eaten as soon as possible. I left the remaining plant in the bed as it is still healthy (it is protected by the jerusalem artichokes at the end of the bed) and planted up the remainder of the bed with my overwintering onion. This season I'm trying Red Electric ... they can't do much worse than last winter.

Electric onions copy

The jerusalem artichokes have developed flower buds, so I guess it is nearly time to dig them up. I have never eaten them before so am curious to taste then - although I've heard lots of stories about their effect on the human body !!

I've also bought some garlic - Cristo and something else (its pink) and decided to plant them in the second potato bed. As I lifted the final spade of potatoes I got to thinking about what I'd planted there the season before ... oh yes, onions. So total waste of time digging up the potatoes after all. So now I'll need to dig up the cabbages instead ! The potatoes I dug up were Cara and Pink Fir Apple. It's my first season with both and I'm really pleased. The Cara are quite small, especially compared to the Rocket, but the tops had died off by the end of July, so I guess they didn't have long to grow. I got a brilliant crop from the PFA and experienced a bit of a thrill digging them up, they are so quirky. Potato bed no. 3 is still waiting to be dug up (more Cara and Charlotte). Am running out of storage space for them.

The weather has definitely grown colder, so I decided to take my remaining melons home. I was furious when I picked them up and realised that bloody slugs have been munching the underneath. On the plus side the smell was divine, so I cut off the munched bits - I'm so at one with nature ;) - and we enjoyed them on Monday evening. I asked OH what he thought of them and he said he thought they tasted 'very meloney' ... so err, I guess that can be classed a success then. The Edonis is really having a growth spurt and has started flowering again. I don't imagine it will last much longer in the cold, but I haven't the heart to dig it up just yet, so I've tucked it up and given it some protection. I dug over the rest of the brick bed. About three weeks ago I sowed some carrots seeds where the Temptation melon had been, surprisingly they have germinated and look pretty good. I've covered them with a fleece cloche and we'll see how they do:

Carrots copy

Here are my musselborough leeks, they are starting to fill out nicely. I've only got 20-30 and nearly fell off my chair when one of my work colleagues informed me that they have planted 200 !!!

Leeks copy

My tomato plants are still going well and some even have flowers on again. There are lots of green tomatoes on the plants in the potting shed, but something is eating the ripe tomatoes in situ - at least whatever it is, is eating full fruits, not just having a bite here and there. The red egg aubergines are now orangey/red and still as unappealing as ever. Next year I am only growing one aubergine - it will be the calliope as I had more success with it than the others. The peppers are looking great - I've given OH four of the tasty red grill / yellow grill to make stuffed peppers ... they are still green though, I think they need a lot more sunshine to change colour.

A cat appeared in the allotment on Sunday. It gave me a rather dismissive glance and then continued its leisurely prowl into the long grasses and weeds and disappeared from sight. A little while later it popped up on top of the compost heap, looking very interested. Worried about my little vole family I went to investigate - as the cat disappeared into next doors lottie, I saw some huge red fruits in the hedge. I've never noticed them before and think they may be tayberries - they are double the size of raspberries. Here they are, along with raspberries (bottom left) and alpine strawberries (bottom right) ... which are now inside my tummy after being baked in muffins :)

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