Posts Tagged ‘Peas’

Allotment July 5th 016

I have to admit that, as well as being a keen gardener, one of the factors that finally spurred me on to get an allotment was the idea of teaching our children where their food comes from.  I  thought that if they saw how vegetables were grown, they would be tempted to give them a try.  As the proud owner of the book ‘The art of hiding vegetables’, I was desperate to try anything to get them to eat even one portion of fruit and vegetables per day, let alone five.

Well, to some extent, it has worked.  Many times they have eaten or tried things that I just know they would not have eaten if it weren’t for the fact that they had picked it straight from the plant.  Watching them harvest blackberries and eat them straight from the plant was one of those moments.  The squeals of joy when the first strawberries came through was another.

Yesterday, Jamie came home with a bumper crop of peas in yellow, purple and green.  These had actually been supposed to be mange-tout, but in the week of sweltering temperatures we have had they had actually almost made it to maturity.

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The children just loved getting involved, which meant not only help with the task of podding, but when I served the peas with pasta, carrots and cheese, they declared “Thank you mummy for the best food in the world.”  AND the peas were still visible.

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Allotment June 15 017

Well, just in time for hottest weekend in about 3 years, the smallest member of the Costello family (Fern, 3 years old) has contracted chickenpox.  The poor thing is covered from literally head to toe in sore itchy spots.  None of us have had any sleep for days.

Anyway, a bit of research on the internet revealed that oatmeal baths are good for irritated skin, including chickenpox and sunburn.  I also know from experience that lavender is great for skin disorders, and honey and tea tree oil have anti-bacterial properties, so I made my own recipe for a bath bomb.  On such a long hot weekend, I thought it was worth sharing the bath formula that we are using on her, in case any fellow gardeners get caught out in the sun too long.

Oatmeal and lavender bath bomb

  • 3 handfuls of oatmeal (can be any type – mine is a cheap bag from Lidl)
  • dried or fresh lavender flowers
  • few drops of lavender essential oil
  • 2 tsp honey (runny or set)
  • about 8 inch square muslin, organza, or other porous fabric
  • String for tying
  • tea tree oil (optional)

Allotment June 27 006


Put the oatmeal in the blender and whizz until powdery (optional – I couldn’t be bothered with this bit).  Spread out the muslin square and pour on the oats with the lavender flowers and the essential oils.  Put the honey in the middle and cover with the dry mixture, tying with string at the top.

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Put the bag into the bath as it is running and leave to soak  during bath.  Squeezing it makes more of the white liquid come out.  It is known as ‘colloidal’, whatever that means – something to do with the texture.

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Having tested the recipe on Fern, it really seems to have soothed her itching, so I feel entitled to recommend it.  In fact I can’t wait to try it myself.  Later on, Eden and I got carried away with them and made some more for presents for people.

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Finally, the peas are finally coming through in numbers, so I picked some for dinner tonight.

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I expect many more where these came from:

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What a weekend!   We managed to fit in both allotments, twice, and go to Petersham Nurseries for some inspiration.  The activities culminated in making a batch of blackcurrant cupcakes.

First I must show you the photos I took at Petersham Nurseries.  It is one of my favourite places for inspiration – whoever runs it has got such a good eye for colour, and puts things together beautifully.  I noticed they had a job going and boy am I tempted…..

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The displays really make you want to buy something, but the price tags are breathtaking.  It makes me wonder whether it would be fun if money really was no object.  I think it is more satisfying to get ideas, then try to recreate your own version in a thifty way.

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If you look at the objects, there is nothing inherently special about any of them, but the arrangement together just works somehow.  Having said that, they just seem to have a knack of picking objects that work together.

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There is also a fabulous restaurant there, run by Skye Gyngell and a tea room for those like us on a more limited budget.

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There is usually something interesting there in the way of plants too.  This time of year, they have gigantic dahlias.

Allotment June 15 039We bought one for Jamie for Father’s Day, and brought it back to the plot.  I have to say it looks a lot more modest than the one in the shop, but they do flower continuously from June to October, so there is plenty of time!

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Last year we made redcurrant cupcakes, and they were a great success, so we decided to use some of our bumper crop of blackcurrants to make some more.  The secret was not to add them to the mix, but to press them onto the top just before they go in the oven.

Blackcurrant cupcakes

375g Self raising flour
115g butter
200g caster sugar
2 very large eggs (or 3 medium)
1/4 vanilla pod
1 tsp vanilla extract
175ml milk
Some blackcurrants – a few handfuls

Beat together butter and sugar till fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Split vanilla pod, scrape out seeds and add to mixture.  Fold in the flour, then when mixed, add and mix in the milk.  Spoon the mixture into muffin cases, then add blackcurrants to the top as shown below.  Then pressed in the blackcurrants into the mixture, but so they were still on top.

Allotment June 15 172Put into a preheated oven at 180degrees C, and leave for 20 mins or until golden on top.

Allotment June 15 068I know it is a cliche, and one I use very often, but the tartness of the blackcurrants against the fluffy sweetness of the vanilla cakes turns a childlike treat into something more interesting for adults.

Finally, one more photo from 8pm this evening – the peas flowering.  I picked a handful of yellow podded peas, just in case I can’t get back to them for a couple of days.  It looks as though there will be a lot more where they came from!

Allotment June 15 024

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Well into May, and lots to do.  The patches needed weeding, and a lot of sowing and transplanting to do.   Mind you, it’s not just weeds growing, the crops are coming on nicely:

Potatoes growing well

Potatoes growing well

The potatoes are looking great, the peas are growing steadily, and the tomatoes seem to have benefitted from their early season cloches and are well advanced.

Tomato plants with a chilli in the foreground

Tomato plants with a chilli in the foreground

Next step, planting more seeds.  It is now perfect soil for direct sowing.  We put in some parsnip, carrot and sweetcorn seeds, which should provide a late summer crop after the peas and beans have finished.

Peas and beans

Peas and beans

Another pleasant surprise each year is always how well the flowers do.  This year we got our first peonies, and Eden’s rose is doing really well too:

Eden's rose

Eden's rose

All the Dahlias were lost in the frosts, so we have put some more in, along with some lilies for late summer perfume.

Lastly a bit of maintenance was needed.  The tarragon looked as if it might bolt, so we trimmed it right back.   Incomplete harvesting has led to a profusion of ‘volunteer’ potatoes (that’s what you call potatoes left in the ground from the previous year that sprout in unexpected places).  These had to come out but left us with a handful of mini potatoes which will be an intriguing addition to a salad.

Tarragon destined for the freezer...

Tarragon destined for the freezer...

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Jamie has worked so hard since we got the improvement notices, and I think the results will speak for themselves. I didn’t think the plot was particuarly untidy anyway, but I feel as if we are entering some sort of gardening competition within the next 28 days.

Apple blossom in the girls' plot

Apple blossom in the girls' plot


Potatoes have already gone into Stanley Road (Picasso). We chose this type because Paul gave us some of his crop last year and they really did roast well as described. He had got the tip from Doug, and so we guessed they would work well on our soil as well. They were a nice balance between a floury and waxy potato – not too extreme in either direction.

The Perry and George system in action

The Perry and George system in action

Jamie has put them in using the ‘Perry and George’ tried and tested potato planting system. They dig a trench and a mound, ready for earthing up the potatoes. Once the initial plants show through, you just heap the soil over the plants. Apparently this leads to a better crop, and it keeps the frost off the small plants.


The second annual planting of the year went in – the pea and bean beds. This year is going to be a rainbow of colour, as I have saved last year’s seed and have bought some new ones to try. There are purple-podded peas and French beans, a rare yellow-podded pea from the Real Seed Company, as well as the green Sugar Snap Pea ‘Cascadia’. As well as the purple peas, I have acquired some interesting French beans, again recommended by the Real Seed Company. These have the rather fascinating name of ‘Cherokee Trail of Tears’ and are an old Native American heritage variety.

Not much to see yet really....

Not much to see yet really....

Sweet Pea ‘Fragrantissima, grown for flowers, finishes off my legume beds. I just can’t wait the month or so till they start to flower. Although I am leaving it quite late this year, I can’t say I am sorry after the spring we have had. I am sure any plants that had gone in earlier would have died or been stunted with the combination of cold and rainy weather we have had.

All that remains tomorrow is to put in some catch crops of salad and beetroot to make the most of the bare soil. Jamie’s tomatoes and peppers are doing brilliantly under cloches. The only worry is whether they will outgrow the cloches before the frosts are over….

Tender plants under cover - is this too early for them to be outside?????

Tender plants under cover - is this too early for them to be outside?????

Planting plan 2009:spring-20091

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