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Archive for the ‘weeds’ Category

After all the snow, illness and Christmas in December, it’s no surprise to be starting January with a renewed vigour and energy.  This has been helped by the brighter, less frozen weather.  We went to the Stanley Road plot today, and what a wonderful sight.

Firstly and unusually for us, the shed was still in the same place on our plot, instead of half-way across the site crushing someone else’s plot.  Secondly the site looked lovely bathed in cool winter sunlight, showing to best effect how much effort has been put in on the part of many plot holders.

Finally, we managed to get loads of digging done before the whingeing started.  Maybe the novelty effect was at work, or it could have been the picnic lunch that kept the girls going for longer?

Tonight it’ll be time to get out the crop rotation plans from previous years, and work out the plan for this year.

Current thoughts are that we will dig out even more of the couch grass paths.  The stuff is relentless, and never stops spreading either by invasive roots, overhead suckers or seed.  Once dug, the size of the beds shrinks every couple of months under constant pressure from the sides.

It’s also decision time for the strawberry patch.  It was such a disappointment last year, the crops were so puny and it now takes up almost half of the main growing area.  One option would be to dig them all up and go for something else.  Alternatively we could dig them up completely, pick the very best looking plants, manure the bed, cover it with weed membrane, replant the best along with some new vigorous ones and hope for a better year.  Not sure which one we will do at present.  Tempting to give it up as a bad job.

Other ideas are to use the beds for a Sarah Raven type “Cutting Garden”,  or to give annual crops another go.  One lesson I have learned is that I need a proper dedicated annual bed, with no perennials or shrubs which just make weeding too difficult.  Time to get those seed catalogues!

Decisions, decisions.

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I have a confession to make.  It is at least a month since I have even got to either allotment – I have just been too busy, too ill or too lazy.  I have spent the summer gallivanting around and have loved every minute of shirking my duties.   Jamie has been running there as part of his evening run to keep it ticking over, and he had reassured me that they looked okay (ish).

Today I got the shock of my life when I revisited them both.  All the crops that I had carefully sown have gone to seed or been overgrown, and generally looked very neglected.  This cabbage sums up the damage:

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The plot now needs some serious weeding and replanting for next year.

Despite the complete wasteland that the allotment seemed, I was still able to bring home some great picks of the day,which I have rinsed ready to put in the pot later:

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I am going to put the mix of sweetcorn, potatoes, carrots, peppers, chilli and borlotti beans into a huge cooking pot over a bonfire, along with some braising steak, onions, beef stock and some fresh tarragon picked today.

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This is all going into a dutch oven on the fire.  Watch this space, I will post the results tomorrow, if they were worth a look.

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I am going to eat my stew with oven roasted tomato and parmesan bread that I made earlier:

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This was made using the tomatoes from the plot a few weeks ago, which had been overnight-roasted according to the recipe on Make Grow Gather.  This created the perfect addition to home made bread:

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So, two hours later, here we are with food cooking on the fire:

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I haven’t tasted it yet, but I can’t wait:

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It looks a lot better and browner after a few hours of cooking.  Here was the final result.  It actually seemed like a real Ray Mears kind of meal, with lots of whole veg and a bit of spice.

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Granted, it still looks pretty grim with the flash on the camera, but it tasted amazing, with a Central American accent, with sweetcorn, Cherokee Trail of Tears beans, chillis, peppers and potatoes.

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A plea for help.  This thing grew on our plot.  To our knowledge it is nothing we planted, although it did spring up like a bulb in early spring.  It has only just “flowered” and produced this thing.  I have no idea what it is, so if anyone has any ideas I would be thrilled to hear from them.

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It’s just so weird.  It also had a spirally looking leaf.  The head has got what look like tiny bulblets all over it.  We were intrigued and then I cut it for the vase because I thought it looked quite nice with my bolted leek flowers (seen also in the background).  As Jamie rightly pointed out, we now don’t know what it would have turned into (cringe).  I should have thought really.

I’m sure it is an allium of some sort….

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