Friday, 12 December 2008

Well, its that time of year - quiet !!

Not much happening at the lottie, err, not that I'd know as I've not been for ummm, 3 weeks I think, maybe even 4. Gosh, I really should go and check out what is happening. Last time I was there the onions looked as though they were starting to green up, but there was no sign of the garlic or peas ... oh well, in the meantime here are some photos from my surprise day out to the Donna Nook Seal Colony;

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I think they were all grey seals, but their coats were all very different - they were so cute I wanted to take them home. The white ones are the babies (apparently they weigh 30lb when they are born !) they are only suckled for 18 days and then have to fend for themselves.

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For most of the year the seals are at sea or on sandbanks, but during November & December they come to breed near the dunes on the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve at Donna Nook, which is actually part of the RAF bombing range !!! There are lots of notices up telling you not to stray when the flags are flying as you at risk of death !!!! There were amazing planes flying overhead making tonnes of racket, but the seal cubs didn't bat an eyelid.

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They were very noisy - in fact if you'd strayed down there one night, you'd probably think you'd accidentally stumbled across a 'decay' of zombies having a party. One little fella kept blowing raspberries, he was very funny.

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Cute huh. Bloody cold though :)

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Sunday, 2 November 2008

Brrr ...

Winter is well in its way and we are having regular frosts (although no sign of the snow that fell in some parts of the UK - the first for 70 years in October !) Of course the clocks went back last weekend too, so the days are feeling even shorter and very gloomy.

My visits to the lottie are getting more infrequent, but I had a lovely day there yesterday and the threatened rain didn't appear. Uusally Jonathan Ross keeps me company at the lottie, but I had to make do with Radio 4 for a change yesterday.

I know its now November, but I've only just been able to get some onion sets (thanks mum). I can't tell if they were in short supply this year or whether shelves are being cleared super early for Christmas tat, but I must make a note to start looking for them in August next year I think. I cleared the last of Ken's swedes and finally cut down the leek flowers (crikey they take an enormously long time to produce seeds) and dug over the bed ready for my onions. I've made raised tracks to try and help them catch as much sun as possible, although I noticed that the enormous budlia next door is shading about 4 beds .. hmm, think I may have to nip over the fence and accidentally chop it down :) I haven't had much luck with onions to date and after the horrendously wet summer a couple of seasons ago, I didn't even bother with them last year. I'm hoping that these little fellas make me proud next summer. The variety is Senshyu Yellow.

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I also managed to plant my garlic. I had an excellent crop last year and saved some of the biggest blubs to plant again. I've got a bed of Cristal and a slightly smaller bed of Germidor. I hope they do as well this season.

The sweetcorn was looking pretty miserable, so I've removed all of the cobs and pulled up the plants - they need chopping up and adding to the compost during my next visit. Most of the cobs have not developed properly, I don't know if its a lack of fertilisation or lack of sun.

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I might make some sweetcorn soup with them and maybe some sweetcorn fritters, which are gorgeous with Chelly (chilli flavoured jelly).
[edit: and here they are :)]
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The beans were looking past their best after the recent frosts and having stripped the last of the pods the plants are now adorning the compost heap.

Even the Jerusalem Artichokes, which have been towering all autumn are starting to look past their best. I've dug up about a quarter of them and have some lovely long tubers. I suggested to OH that we have some JA chips for tea last night, but I think he was confused, 'cos we got potato chips (not that I complained, they were lovely). I remember making some rather nice soup last year that didn't have any of the, err, memorable side effects. We had lunch at Fortnum & Mason in September (special family birthday) and I'm sure we had some roast artichokes with the main course - I must get googling and see what I can find.

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With the cold creeping into my bones, the last job of the day was to sow my Meteor Peas. I haven't tried overwintering ones before.

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As the meeces are patrolling I decided to cover them with plastic tunnels - this seems to work in the spring and keep the germinating peas safe from their little noses. Once they've germinated, I'll remove the tunnels and get some supports in place.

I see the peas I sowed at the end of the season have lots of flowers and a few pods on them, so I may get a few peas in the coming weeks.

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I was quite pleased looking around, I think another 4-5 days and the lottie will be ready for spring again. Jobs for next time are to clear the greenhouse, sow my broadbeans, sow my sweetpeas, clear the courgette bed, clear the second lot of sweetcorn which didn't get chance to mature, dig up the last of the potatoes and dig over the rest of the beds. Then I need to turn my attention to that last quarter that is still a jungle. I also want to thin and redo the strawberry beds before spring.

Of course Dandelions are the one thing on my plot with a neverending season !
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Sunday, 5 October 2008

Crikey, OH came for a (brief) visit to the lottie yesterday - I know !!! I almost fell over with shock as well ... We were on a mission - raspberries for Delia's delicious rice pudding and potatoes for Crank's Homity Pie (both of which are now safely inside my tummy ... yum)

OH's photos are particularly lovely so I thought I would share them with you - they make the lottie look a lot more magical than it is at the moment (it is looking decidely dishevelled as the first frost appears to have visited last week). Enjoy !













Monday, 29 September 2008

I don't believe it !!!

After months of growing the dratted stuff, followed by weeks of drying the dratted stuff, the dratted ratties have raided the dratted brick greenhouse and EATEN all of the dratted rye. Grrrr. Oh well, I guess I've still got some straw for my strawberries next year.

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My beans have been(!) great following their difficult start earlier in the year and I have decided to grow more borlotti and canneloni next year. I'm not going to bother with Scarlet Emperor again, they seem to just be feeding the compost heap.

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I made some lovely soup at with Ken's swede, a red onion (from Morrison's, not Michelle's lottie unfortunately), sweetcorn, borlotti beans, canneloni beans, garlic, courgette, veggie stock and potatoes.

I'm wondering whether to make Borscht with my lovely beetroots. I harvested 750g at the weekend - I've still got about a third of the original crop left in the ground, but they are still quite small. I'll leave them be for a bit and see if they do anything. Perhaps I'll fleece them, although from memory they don't mind colder weather.

The nights are drawing in and the temperature is dropping, but here is my valient Avalon Squash. It is now as big as my hand and is very plump. I'm starting to nervously watch the weather forecast for any hints of frost. I'm in two minds as to whether to cover it in fleece (but don't want to deprive it of what little sunshine, albeit weak, is left). I'm already making plans for it and as I only have the one it has a lot to live up to ...

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A little mouse has moved into the greenhouse - obviously preparing for winter. He has been doing some major excavation work and helping himself to a few tomatoes. Finally, I've got a decent harvest of tomatoes and am thinking of making some tomato soup. I seem to recall that Jamie has a nice recipe.

I lost patience with the sweetcorn and decided to try some at the weekend. For some reason the cobs have only half matured - I think someone said that this is because they haven't been pollinated properly. It was very yummy and sweet in the soup. My second variety are much smaller, but the cobs feel fuller. I hope the meeces and ratties don't find them.

The Jerusalem Artichokes are just about to flower .... some of them are now twice as tall as me. I have a great recipe for soup somewhere, I must try and find it. For some reason the side effects are reduced when they are eaten in soup. We celebrated a special family birthday last weekend in London at Fortnum & Mason's St James Restaurant - not only was it absolutely fabulous, but OH & I had a gorgeous artichoke risotto. Ironically OH had dandelion leaves for his starter - I wonder if they need a regular supplier :)

My salad is growing surprisingly well and looking very pretty as some of it is in flower again. The leaves are quite sharp and lemony in flavour. I've forgotten totally what they are:

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The blueberry bush has gone a gorgeous colour, I guess its heralding the arrival of autumn:

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The autumn rapberries are in full swing, but they are half the size of the summer ones. I really must try and find out what variety they are and get some more - I think one of my work colleagues gave the summers ones to me when I first got my lottie. I managed to harvest enough to make raspberry & chocolate muffins ... yum :-P

No sign of any baby frogs hopping around the pond, although I'm sure I'll find lots once I start my winter dig. The iris seed heads have finally burst open.

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oh, remember my cute little kitten ? Here he is now, at 7 months old - he is enormous:

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Sunday, 14 September 2008

another week gone by ...

The courgettes are slowing down, probably because its been so dark for the last week - I don't think we had any sunshine at all. It would be great the courgettes only ever grew this big.

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Looks like a few more will be arriving before too long. I've not yet plucked up courage to try the flowers .. .maybe next year

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My squash is now hand sized .. I have my fingers crossed that it is going to ripen in time. Ive noticed another couple of babies on the other vines, but its way too late for them I fear.

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Here are my Scarlet Emerald, OH is not keen on them, so I don't think we'll bother with those next year

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These are my borlotti beans - they are very vibrant ... I've not tried them yet. I was thinking of drying the beans and adding to soup, but I read recently that they are far better eaten fresh. Just need a recipe now ..

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My parsnips (all 4 of them) are looking good so far:

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I need to turn the compost, as its getting a little compacted and horrid. At the moment it seems to be full of tiny flies too. Oh, I've just realised I didn't cover it back over ... oh well ...

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There has been a lot of activity in the allotment next to Ken and a month or so ago some chickens moved in. I went round to introduce myself and have a little look at the chooks. There are about 6, some brown ones and whitey-grey ones (technical term LOL). The guy who has taken over the lottie (Rozzo, Rizzo ??) said he's getting between 4 - 6 eggs a day, so he's selling them: 6 for £1.00. I might have to sample some. If you look (very) hard in the photo below you can just make out one of the brown ones.

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Apparently the foxes are very brazen and saunter up to the chicken run and have a good look (chhosing dinner no doubt) before strutting off. I have to say that the cage doesn't look terribly strong, but he has kept chickens before, so I'm assuming he knows what he is doing.

I think the swede is ready to try ... pity I didn't get any carrots this season. I think they'll go in the greenhouse next year. I'll save one for halloween, as I've not got any pumpkins to carve.

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Hmm, something has been burrowing in the alfalfa bed. The adjacent bed in Nick's lottie had an even bigger hole - right under his raspberries. Presumably its a rabbit.

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At least the flowering bindweed is providing late season food for the bees

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The autumn rapsberries are appearing, but they are not a patch on the summer ones ... still there might just be enough for chocolate brownie cakes before the end of the season.

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I've noticed lots of dead bumble bees over the last couple of months, varying sizes, but all looking remarkably healthy .. apart from being dead obviously :-)

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The gladioli's are slowly appearing, they are very delicate and far too pretty for the allotment.
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The nastursiums are really vibrant, I have a mix of bright orange and burnt orange:
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