August 2012

From My Allotment Diary (Mon. Aug. 27th, 2012)

August 27, 2012 by BigGee   Comments (2)

Sitting here writing my Blog on a cold & wet August Bank Holiday Monday. Also nursing a tummy upset. That's what comes of gorging on lottie veg. including runner beans and the rhubarb that went into the crumble for last night's dinner. Result? I've been up & down like a yo-yo for most of the night and sitting on the toilet whilst also suffering from nausea! Good isn't it? Got visitors, on a wet Monday Bank Holiday, with gale force winds & lashing rain.

I'm supposed to pick up my runner-up prize at the local carnival, for the best vegetable patch. I can't go with them to pick it up (now a job for my mate Stephen who got 1st prize or Josie - if she hasn't got soaked through and escaped home before the presentation!) And to cap it all - I've got a jippy tummy. What a disaster! Best laid plans of men & mice etc.!

The visitors we have this weekend are Josie's brother Bryan, and his wife Sue who have braved the elements to come down from Birkenhead. The poor things have gone to Aberaeron Carnival today - minus moi!

imageTheir son Garry is my favourite nephew! Not least because he shares my hobby - veg. gardening! Here's a photo of some of his produce for this year on the left.

I don't actually see him that often, and I'm desperate for him to call for a natter about his new allotment plot.

He waited FIVE YEARS for it! He got it last winter and the poor lad (I say "lad" but he's actually 41!) has witnessed the worst growing season since he was born over forty years ago! Having said that, he's done extremely well. In fact if he can stick out a season like this with some success, he'll manage the rest. He sends me photies of his efforts and I'm extremely proud of him - at least the veg. will get grown for one more generation!

He sent some apple and blackberry jam down with his Mum & Dad for us - that he had made a few days earlier. I don't say it because he's my nephew, but it's gorgeous! It's probably one of the best I've tasted. In fact he could win prizes for it if he entered it in a local show. If he can do that with rain hammered blackberries in 2012, he should sweep the board at any show in a better season.imageimage

To help him along, I'm sending him some rooted cuttings of my Loch Ness variety blackberries. If they take he'll be able to open a jam shop next year!!


Right I'm off to put the kettle on - whilst I take another visit to the "Little Boy's Room" to contemplate the wonders of the universe & to read a book I picked up the other week in a second hand book shop.

It's called A New Holistic Herbal, by David Hoffman. I'm sure there must be a chapter in there on stomach cures for over zealous cooks and their gluttonous husbands!

From My Allotment Diary (Fri. Aug. 17th, 2012)

August 17, 2012 by BigGee   Comments (1)

Another week has quietly slipped into history!

I'm scratching my head to remember what I've done this last week. I know I was "home alone" from last Thursday until yesterday. Josie had gone visiting up in Birkenhead. So my usual schedule goes to pot when I have to care for the cooking, dish-washing and bottle opening on my Tod!

Lottie-wise, the biggest job was cutting the remainder of the haulms off my blight ridden spuds. It came early this year. It's caught everyone at an awkward time. It's usually a problem that we get between the time the earlies have been harvested and before the main-crop gets dug up. The problem with early blight is that if it comes visiting before the earlies are out, then it's a race to get the haulms off and the tubers out of the ground. Trouble is, earlies are not meant to be stored, so it's a problem having loads of early spuds and not enough mouths to dissipate them.

imageMy mate Stephen off Plot 14 won our annual "Aberaeron in Bloom" competition for the best allotment plot, I came second. He thoroughly deserves it though, because he has REALLY put in some hard work. Plus the fact that his crops definitely have the edge on others on the site. His cabbage, runners and peas are doing really well. 

My cabbage patch god flooded out in June and my peas have been sulking all summer! So it's little wonder Stephen got the bragging rights this year. He almost got the better of Dave Amphlett up in King's Norton as well, with his Winston spuds - but the Midlander pipped him with a 1lb 8½ oz whilst our man's biggest was 1lb 8 and one eighth ounce. A close thing!

He tells me he loves Winstons for their size, but won't be growing them next year as his teenage children have been moaning that they don't like the chips they make! Kids.

I also had some Winstons, I have grown them before - many years ago - and I now remember why I left them alone for so long. they're a bit watery - fine for baking, but when it comes to boiling or chipping they're not top of the pops in the taste league. I prefer a waxy or even a floury spud, I don't like watery spuds. Being watery, they also seem to be very blight prone. The Winstons were the worst hit on my plot.

I've started picking my Sungold toms in the poly-tunnel. I get all excited by the Sungolds every year. I honestly think they are the sweetest and most flavoursome cherry toms around. Pity they're F1 hybrids, whose seeds are ridiculously priced. Ah well, you can't have it all ways I suppose. The other varieties that look good are Shirley (an old favourite) and one I haven't tried before called golden Sunrise. They're a medium sized yellow variety (got them free on the cover of a magazine). If they taste as nice as they look they may become a permanent fixture.

The Armstrong runners are not totally out-performing the Polestar. I grow two varieties every year and compare them - it's my little annual  personal trial. Armstrong have earned their keep against all comers for many years. This year though, Polestar is giving them a real run for their money. in fact it's hard to tell one from the other. I have grown Polestar in the past, but not side by side with Armstrong for comparison. Watch this space!

Wonder of wonders, Florence fennel can be iffy in our climate - after all, as their name implies, they originally came from warmer climes. However, I have a little forest of them! Why on earth are they doing so well in such an abysmal season? A real mystery.

From My Allotment Diary (Sun. Aug. 5th, 2012)

August 5, 2012 by BigGee   Comments (4)

imageIt's either the Met Office having a giggle, God feeling sorry for me & deciding I've had enough rain or something is radically wrong with modern technology! I've had about six Met Office Yellow Alerts for rain across our part of the world for this weekend. Basically that usually means batten down the hatches it's more than just a shower, and if you're prone to it you might get a bit of flooding.

So in abeyance I've made arrangements to busy myself doing something other than getting wet on the lottie this weekend - as Josie has - instead of putting washing out. And the weather? IT'S BEEN GLORIOUS SUNSHINE & HOT!! Sure we've had the odd sharp shower, but nothing more than 15 minutes and it instantly dries up when the sun comes back out. I give up. I know you can't trust weathermen 100% but this is silly.

imageIsn't it funny? Some years one gardener gets awful results whilst another has the opposite. Last year your potatoes were fantastic Dave, but your onions had the kiss of death from white onion rot. Last year my root crops were "OK" but not fantastic however my onions (and all other alliums) were brilliant.

imageThis year it seems you have a problem in the legume department (not unusual across the country apparently), whilst my beans (runner & broad) are as good as anything in recent years - especially the broad beans. Mind you most of the beans on our our site are abysmal, with the exception of my mate Stephen Parry on Plot 14 & myself.

imageI don't wish to appear as if I'm having a gloat - I'm not - but here are a few pics I took yesterday of the beans (sorry about the quality - taken on an impulse with my phone camera & not my proper camera - I don't like Micky Mouse phone cameras - especially when they're set on lower resolutions!)

I've also included one of my lettuce & Florence fennel (other rare "growers" this season) and my sunflowers, who are sulking because of too much water and lack of sun! So they've decided to flower early and have stopped growing high just for spite!

imageFrench beans are not so good - yet, but that's expected they're a tad more delicate & fussy than the old runners. Peas a total disaster - I'm still sowing in the hope of getting SOMETHING before autumn. Courgettes and pumpkins more disasters (couldn't get anything to germinate). Tomatoes inside are slowly perking up - but WAY behind as are the cucs & the solitary melon (all the others failed to germinate). I won't even mention outdoor toms! And my cabbage are months behind because the area allocated for my cabbage patch this year has been under eighteen inches of flood water three or four times last month!! Docks & Co. seem to be having a whale of a time though - as you can probably see from some of these pics!!!

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From My Allotment Diary (Thurs. Aug. 2nd, 2012)

August 2, 2012 by BigGee   Comments (2)

Back to April weather today, (sunshine and showers I mean), and Boy has it rained when those showers appear! We actually had a few peals of thunder here today - not surprised - because when the rain came it was THUNDERY! Followed by intense heat - I'm not sure how the plants liked it, very confusing for a poor gardener who's in and out of his polytunnel like a demented cuckoo in a clock! Tonight I got yet another severe weather warning for our area via e-mail from the Met Office. A yellow alert for between midnight on Saturday to eleven PM on the same day! Could someone please tell the Spirit in The Sky that the joke is not funny anymore!

imageI picked my first runners this week. Lovely! I'd picked my first broad beans a couple of days ago - forgot to take pics. I got reminded about that when I saw Dave's Blog on here. How does Homer Simpson go again? Oh yes - DOH! They'd disappeared into a broad bean risotto before I could salvage them for the camera!

I hate those conversations that people have when they go on and on about some meal or other they had - don't you? It's almost as bad as the way the media's gone on about England winning the World Cup in '66 - it just goes on endlessly, after everyone else has finished listening! Thank goodness the UK won't top the medal table in the Olympics- if we did I'd have to emigrate out of earshot. HOWEVER getting back to the beans, (before I digress too far), the broad bean risotto recipe that Josie has is something else - it's gorgeous. I'll leave it there now - for fear of being labelled a hypocrite. When I have a minute I'll post the recipe on-line.

If the broad beans were nice the runner beans were something else. We had them this evening. There's nothing quite like the first of the season, by the end of the month we'll be starting to get sick of the sight of them. They are the Daddy of all veg. when it comes to gluts, with the possible exception of courgettes.

The beginning of August for the first runner beans of the season is unheard of. It typifies this odd season we've had. Normally, by now, the picking would be every other day and becoming a chore, but not this year. We're STILL about six weeks behind by my calculations. Eerie! Even the way the weather is acting on the soil is eerie. First unprecedented floods for about six weeks, so you'd think the ground would be sodden for weeks - not so. When the sun came out it baked everything until it was bone dry within a day or two. In fact it was such a drastic drying process that some of us had to water some vulnerable crops! THEN it starts to rain again and even after days of heavy downpours - guess what? The soil is still dry a couple of inches down. Very strange indeed.

I also lifted some more Charlotte & a few Pink Fir Apples tonight. They're "haulmless" now - because of the blight (talk about the plagues of Egypt - we've got our very own small catalogue of plagues going on in this little neck of the woods on the west coast).

Right that's it for tonight - got to go to Aberystwyth in the morning. If it brightens up in the afternoon I might show my face down on the lottie. Trouble is I'm running out of little jobs in the polytunnel, outside there's a myriad of things to do, not least the weeding. It seems that they don't care what the weather throws at them - they just thrive! As do the slugs in this wet summer weather.

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