Monday 21 October 2019

OUR ALLOTMENT - Life on The Weald, August 2019

OUR ALLOTMENT - Life on The Weald, August 2019

After our break in Ireland we were pleasantly surprised on our return to see that all was well on the plot and in our garden at home.  August has been a month for weeding, watering and picking but again there have been distractions that have kept us away.

The supply of first early potatoes came to an end last month and we began to lift some Charlotte. We almost completed lifting them last month and have started on the Nicola.  We have also had a good crop of runner beans which are now past their best but still edible. The early sown dwarf French beans are now finished but the late sown ones are producing a prolific crop. Hopefully the late sown Kelvedon Wonder peas will be ready to harvest next month.

Crown Prince squashes are among the most tasty and they also store well. They grow to about 2 - 3 kg. I had two growing very close together on the same stem and were just touching so I picked one, which weighed 1.6kg , leaving the other to grow on.

Crown Prince Squash 2 August
The tromboncinos were doing well...

Tromboncino 2 August

.....and at home we had a good crop of golden cherry tomatoes

golden cherry tomatoes 2 August

On the plot the pumpkins were growing to a good size and I had reduced their number to two

Pumpkin 2 August 
We picked some runner beans at the beginning of the month which were very tender and not at all stringy.
Runner beans 2 August
The courgettes, however, had achieved giant proportions

My courgette and my no.9 (43) shoe! 3 August
But then came another distraction! It was time to Ride London - watching not riding! but it did take up the whole weekend.  Saturday was a great day for the public - all the roads in the City of London traffic free - except for cyclists - and there was a massive turnout of all ages.

Ride London 3 August

warming up for the women's classique

Ready for the start - Women's Classique 3 August
Sunday was the big race - the Surrey/London 100 - and this year there was a change to the course with 5 climbs of Box Hill.

After a weekend in London it was back to nature.  My aubergine in a pot in the garden had one small fruit that had set and was producing more flowers.

Aubergine grown outdoors 7 August

Aubergine grown outdoors 7 August

home grown tomatoes 9 August

a good truss of home grown tomatoes 9 August
My brother had given me the pack of seeds about 18 months previously. Clearly a bargain!

today's picking 10 August
We were picking a bowlful of tomatoes almost every day.

Back on the allotment there were lots of green vegetables to be had.  The cavolo nero was excellent - it's a magnificent cut and come again vegetable.

Cavolo nero 13 August
We had a plentiful supply of French beans from our late sowing and they were plump tender pods.
French beans 13 August
We managed to harvest a few plums which had not been infected by brown rot, but sadly lost most.  But we had a plentiful supply of courgettes and cucumbers as well as the beans, squashes and greens. I also picked some of the leaves from the purple sprouting broccoli.
a good haul 13 August

Tromboncinos climbing at last 13 August

purple curly kale 13 August

runner beans - slightly past their best 13 August

a selection of squashes - tromboncino and patty pan 13 August
The white silver chard was also doing well. The stems can be cooked as a vegetable in their own right and the leaves can be used as spinach - or for a change stuffed as a substitute for vine leaves

....and our squashes lend themselves to all sorts of stuffings - vegetarian, cheese or meat

squashes, baked with a cheese and herb stuffing in a tomato sauce

squashes, baked with a cheese and herb stuffing in a tomato sauce

tromboncino and courgettes (or marrow!) 17 August

tromboncino, patty pan and courgette 23 August
Another distraction was my 75th birthday.  Not only were we entertaining seventy plus family and friends, but 13 were actually staying in our house.  But even the birthday party had an allotment theme.  My daughter-in-law, Nicole, had created an allotment on my cake, complete with raised beds and vegetables - all edible except for the bean-poles!

Nicole's creation 24 August
Needless to say but a lot of the cards had a horticultural theme (the rest seemed to be about wine!)  But one card stands out - it was another allotment, but this time hand embroidered by my nephew's wife, Sue.

Sue's creation 24 August
The weekend had coincided with the 40th anniversary of the release of the film Quadrophenia, commemorating the mods v rockers battles in Brighton in the 60s and we came across these as we left the party venue in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Outside The Gather Inn, Hove 25 August
 I had been busy in the kitchen over the birthday week-end as in addition to a party on the Saturday night we were organising a barbecue and buffet at home on the Sunday.  I was planning to roast a whole salmon and most of the cook-books and chefs describe cooking a 2.5kg - 3kg fish.  I knew what I was doing but just checked with them for oven temperature and timing.   When I ordered the fish, my local fishmonger said they did not usually have salmon that small and that their smallest was usually about 4 kg.  So I ordered one, but on the day, the smallest they had was over 5kg and I had a mild panic as to whether it would fit on the oven.

My 5kg salmon 24 August
One solution would have been to cut it in half, a head end and a tail end, cook them separately and put it back together after cooking.  But in the end I was able to bend it to just about fit my largest roasting tray.  And it worked!

We had also been given a Turk's Turban squash by my embroidering niece (who has her own allotment in Pagham).

Sue's Turk's turban 25 August

With my Crown Prince and tromboncinos,

Crown Prince

Crown Prince 25 August
....spicy barbecued squash was on the menu

And we had plenty of fiery cayenne peppers to liven things up

Cayenne peppers from the garden
Most of our chilli peppers are growing in pots in the garden or the conservatory but I have planted some out on the allotment and hopefully they will ripen next month.

For the last few days of August we were still entertaining family members but did manage a last trip to the allotment to harvest some veg. The month was drawing to a close and summer almost over but there was a plentiful supply and we will be harvesting fresh green vegetables well into the autumn and then it will be time for the winter leeks.

Chard, kale and cucumbers 27 August

French beans 30 August
It has been a very productive and enjoyable month.

John Austin

Hove, August 2019

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