January 2013

From My Allotment Diary (Sun. Jan. 20th, 2013)

January 20, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (1)

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This time of the year gives you an insight into what "marching time" & "treading water" means.

It's just over a week since I had my op. A good time to have it, Sod's Law usually means that when you have to have something done that will lay you up for a while, then invariably they ask you to go in just when you don't want to be too far from your allotment plot - like the middle of March or April! This time it may have been timed just right (says he in hope).

The operation went fine, but I did come down with a "flue like" bug as soon as I came out. Quite nasty, I haven't had a bad temperature and felt so crook for a long time, but thankfully it didn't last too long.

I've been revamping my produce recipes section on the Aeron Vale Allotment Society web-site. I came up with one of those "ping" enlightenment moments whilst I was holed up this last week, & realised that the headache of how to index recipes on the web-site needed to be tackled with a bit of lateral thinking. I'd been hogging the traditional method that's used by cookery book authors to index recipes - only to find that what's needed on an allotment produce recipe section of a web-site dedicated to fruit & veg growing is an index of produce that someone needs to find a recipe for.

The process of growing food is a seasonal one, you don't normally come home with apples and spring cabbage. You don't normally think up or look up a good recipe and then toddle off to the allotment to fetch the ingredients. Chances are you wouldn't find what you wanted at all times of the year anyway.

In reality what happens is the allotment grower (someone like moi) turns up in the kitchen - after a hard day's slog on the plot - with a big trug full of what's ready to be harvested and eaten at that specific time (often in gluts). The poor cook/wife/partner (Josie in my case - or her counterpart across the world) is left scratching the head about what do do with all this lovely fresh produce!

Then it dawned! What's needed is a list of recipes for specific produce. So when the grower turns up - whether it's with beetroot or broad beans, what the cook needs is a recipe that can be easily found that uses those ingredients either separately or together.

SO my recipes section is being revamped. Watch this space!

I've also been trawling around making up this year's wish-list when it comes to what's to be grown this coming season. The actual produce doesn't change that much from year to year, but I'm always keen to try new varieties. Some get labelled "never again" others get labelled "must always grow this one"!

The exciting one for me this year is the purple podded "sport" that popped up in the middle of my Polestar runner beans last season. So after trying the beans and finding they were superior to their green podded brothers & sisters I meticulously set them aside and harvested all the beans from that plant at the end of last summer. If they grow true, then I may have inadvertently come up with a new strain - if so they'll be christened as "Aeron Purple Star". If they revert back to green pods so be it, if not, then it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to come up with something new.

Excited at my discovery, I sent Dave 20 of the "new" beans for his birthday present last week - you take good care of them Dave, and don't forget to report back!

Every year I get my seed potatoes from Iain Barbour at JBA up at Annan, in Dumfries and Galloway (originally started by Iain's great granddad & uncles - the Jamieson Brothers Annan - hence JBA). In return I advertise his company on the Aeron Vale Allotments site & here in The Gardener's Chat Shed. Imagine my surprise when I went on JBA's web-site last week & discovered they are completely sold out and have no stock! This I assume is tied up to the disastrous season that seed potato producers encountered in 2012. The aftermath of last season's disaster due to the weather may come to haunt us with shortages this year. I hope he's put a few bags away to one side for me! A bit of a worry there!

Well the snow arrived - at least in most parts of the country. I just chatted to Dave up in King's Norton (who's been slaving with his snow shovel today) and he tells me it's been snowing again for over four hours in the Midlands Thankfully we have a bit of a warm micro climate here in Aberaeron on the west Wales coast, so we never get ravaged too badly when it comes to the white stuff, unlike our neighbours up north, south and just five miles inland of us. Having said that, whilst we tend to have less rain, snow & ice we didn't escape the wet last year - but who did? It's mighty cold here at the moment though, with the central heating boiler munching it's way through my pennies!

My brain is signalling that my caffeine level has reached a critical low level again . . . . . kettle time!



From My Diary (Thurs. Jan. 10th, 2013)

January 10, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (2)

A day of surprises today. I went to our local hospital today, for a pre operative check-up. They do these things before an operation and you then get tossed back on the waiting list until they're ready for you (that usually means anything up to 3 months around here!).

Anyway, surprise, surprise, whilst I was there they got a cancellation. The nurse nonchalantly asked if I would like a short notice admission. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to get the surgery out of the way before the spring and the next round of seasonal slog on the allotment, I eagerly said "yes". Then came the bombshell she said "OK can you please come in at 7.30 TOMORROW morning"! Well you could have knocked me over with a feather!

So it's been a rush home to clear all the pressing things on my desk and to pack my bag before an early bed ready for the morning.

How long I'll be out of circulation for I don't know yet - I hope it's shorter rather than longer. So it's bye bye Chat-Shed for a little while. I'm leaving you all in the capable hands of the deputy (Dave) whilst the sheriff is out of town

Catch you all when I'm well enough to tap keys on my keyboard again!



From My Diary (Sat. Jan. 5th, 2013)

January 5, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (3)

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Here we are - the twelfth day of Christmas & it's my birthday. My Dad always said I was born on this day because my mother had a jippy tummy and finished off the dregs of a bottle of Gin from Christmas to ease it, and I arrived! They didn't have  a very PC view of alcohol & tobacco in those days. My mother - love her - only had a sip at Christmas, and then it was very limited, so perhaps my Dad had a point, seeing as she wasn't used to the stuff! She didn't smoke either.

A few cards dropped through the letter-box this morning, Dave & Samantha's amongst them. They win this year's prize for the nicest card. My mother wins the prize for the nicest surprise - a crispy £10.00 note cellotaped to the inside of her card.

Two of my sons are coming to visit me today (No. 3 & No. 4 - Nos 1 & 2 seem to have had a dose of collective amnesia). Never mind, I'm not immune to forgetting birthdays myself. No.4 who's now living in his own flat, phoned me this morning, to ask if I could transfer £10.00 into his account on line, so that he could catch a bus home to give me a present he's bought for me! Doesn't that take the biscuit?! So there goes my mother's tenner c'est la vie! I'm also looking forward to seeing our 4 year old grandson Cai. He's a bit like a London bus - you wait for ages for it to appear and then it turns up twice in quick succession!

"Her indoors" took off this morning for the south - to pick up a new TV for our bedroom. She doesn't send birthday cards - it's to do with her religion. It IS a pagan tradition by all accounts (tied up with astrology), so she's technically correct - if you're religious that is, so I don't moan about it. Mind you, her timing for the telly is spot-on. I'll quietly pretend it's my birthday present & who can argue as it's arriving today? I don't think she saw that coming - or did she I wonder? Perhaps she's cunningly out-manoeuvred me here without losing face! I'll have to remember to refer to it as OUR telly and not mine in front of her.

A bit of high pressure is hovering over us at last, but only for a few days apparently. It'll take weeks to start drying up, but perhaps with high calf wellies I might get down the lottie in the next day or so, I've got leeks and parsnips that are begging to be dug up - before normal service is resumed once more!


Happy New Year!

January 1, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (4)

As an old (wet) one ends (here in the UK), another new one STARTS!

I hope it's a thoroughly happy one for you all with barrowfulls of produce!




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