Wednesday, 7 November 2018

OUR ALLOTMENT - Life on the Weald October 2018

OUR ALLOTMENT - Life on the Weald October 2018

October has been a rather short month on the allotment!.  We returned from the US and Canada on 16 October and didn't see the allotment until the 18th.

We had seen the preparations for Halloween in Seattle

Strange fruit - Madison Park, Seattle

no shortage of pumpkins in North America!
and I wondered how my pumpkin was faring.

I was worrying unnecessarily as it finally weighed in at over 10kg

On arrival at The Weald, my priority was to harvest what I could of the beans, cucumbers, courgettes (now giant marrows) and peas.  Some of the beans were far too gone and stringy but we are drying some and saving the seeds for planting next year.

 The peas were excellent and it was obviously a good decision to do a late sowing and we continued to harvest succulent peas until the end of the month.

Some of the courgettes had grown to 2 ft in length - 

- some we have had stuffed and baked, others cubed and baked/roasted with peppers and tomatoes, some have been used for soups and some for jam (marrow and ginger jam is one of our favourites)

The leeks, the kale, cavolo nero and purple sprouting broccoli were all looking good (but rather a lot of whitefly) and we have had several good pickings from the purple kale and cavolo nero.

Leeks 19 October
Purple kale 19 October
Kale, leeks and Purple sprouting broccoli 19 October
Cavolo nero 19 October

Broccoli 19 October
And we also have some Brussels sprouts which hopefully will have matured for Christmas but they look a bit far behind at the moment.  Next month I must get some fleece or netting to protect the broccoli from the marauding pigeons!

At last Halloween has arrived but my pumpkin is too good to waste so I have used only half for a face and scooped off as much flesh as possible, saving the seeds for roasting and the flesh for soups, curries, roasting, and freezing for later use.

My pumpkin

See you next month!

John Austin

Hove, October 2018

OUR ALLOTMENT - Life on the Weald September 2018

Our allotment - Life on the Weald September 2018 

As expected, I did encounter a delay at security at Gatwick airport in August as I had packed one of my oversize courgettes to take to Spain.   Sure enough it caused some queries on the x-ray screening and I had to open my case.  "Oh is that your prize one?" asked the security officer. "No," I said, "the prize one wouldn't fit in the suitcase".  I presume that once we have Brexited; it won't be permissible to take an oversize courgette into Spain and I won't be able to bring more than 2kg of lemons back!

On my first September visit to the allotment on 5th, one of the first things that I noticed was the pumpkin which had more than doubled in size since mid August.

5 September - pumpkin 
It was a plant that I had bought at the allotment holders' sale in Portslade and I'm not sure what variety it is.

I also noticed the plums which looked good, but unfortunately most were diseased and grainy inside.

5 September Plums
The rest of the plot looked fine.  There were several courgettes of reasonable size...

7 September courgettes

...and a plentiful supply of runner beans, French beans and cucumbers.
7 September beans and cucumber
The purple kale was coming along nicely......

7 September kale
...and the leeks looked healthy but in desperate need of hand-weeding!

7 September leeks 
The late peas were also looking very healthy and will possibly be ready for picking at the end of the month or early October.

7 September peas
We avoided growing tomatoes on the allotment in view of past year failures and instead grew several varieties in pots in the garden at home.  It was a very good decision and we have had a very successful crop.

7 September tomatoes

The leeks and the kale certainly looked a lot better after a spot of hand weeding.  It's hard on the knees but hopefully with a bit of hoeing we can keep the annual weeds at bay although we will face the constant battle with couch grass, bindweed and brambles.

9 September kale

9 September, hand weeded leeks 

Spinach and chard are naturals on our patch and love to self seed all over the place. Once they have taken hold I'm reluctant to pull them up so we have a surfeit.  We eat it regularly, we feed family and friends - and we have a freezer full!

10 September Chard

It's almost possible to actually see the pumpkin growing and I hope it doesn't suddenly explode!

10 September
We are still harvesting courgettes and carrots and there are still a couple of cucumbers.

13 September
Always thinking of new things to do with courgettes, I found a recipe for a courgette puree made principally from the skin....
14 September
...which I served with some pan fried fillets of John Dory

14 September
We had a reasonable crop of chilli peppers this year, grown in pots in the garden at home and in the conservatory.
16 September
This is my second crop of chillies and these will go the same way as previous ones - straight into the freezer so they can be used as and when needed (I still have some frozen habaneros from last year which I rarely use as they are too hot for most people).

My son, Damien, seems to have had a better crop than me this year, grown in a pot in his garden in SE London.

Damien's chillies growing in a pot in SE London

Damien's chillies harvested
Not the freezer for Damien.  He's a bit of a purist and has threaded his to hang them up to dry as they do in Spain, southern Europe and South America 

Damien's chillies threaded for drying
A few last minute rushed jobs as we will miss the last weekend of September as we'll be at the Serpentine open water swimming to cheer on Sylvi's nephew, Matt, and then we are off to the States and Canada for three weeks and won't be back until mid-October!

We have tided up the area near the shed where the wormeries are kept and cut back the brambles and it is looking much neater.

We have also emptied the bottom trays of the wormeries into the raised beds where the onions and garlic will go later this year.

contents of the wormery
There were certainly plenty of worms!

I have covered the compost from the wormeries with a layer of grass clippings from the lawn at home and covered that with some riddled soil rescued from the couch grass dug up last month.  I will dig all this in when we get back next month.

I lifted the last  remaining row of the Nicola potatoes and planted a new double row of leeks where they had been.....

Newly planted leeks - 19 September

...tidied up around the pond and then took a last fond look at my pumpkin which I hope will still be there in October! 

Pumpkin 19 September
And headed off to San Francisco.

John Austin

Hove, September 2018