Archive | July, 2014

Courgettes a plenty

25 Jul

Luckily I didn’t order any courgettes in my grocery shop this week. Last time I was at the plot (Tuesday evening) they looked like they might be ready in a week or so. Today when I went down there with the kids (bribed by the promise of a picnic and an ancient rope swing) I was amazed to see there was one the size of a small marrow and several others of respectable size. I picked four and then a plot neighbour gifted me two yellow ones.

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I wasn’t able to look that gift horse in the mouth, so curious was I about yellow courgettes so I left the plot weighed down with courgettes. I dropped two off at a friend’s door who lives nearby and then started googling courgette recipes. I planted four courgette plants because I expected to lose at least two to slugs. Now that they have all come to fruition I see that we will be eating a lot of courgettes this year. And giving them away, which is lovely, it will be the first time I have had excess veg if that is how it pans out.

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I probably could’ve given the plants themselves a whole lot more room, they are overspilling onto my makeshift path and will be invading my peas any time soon but I don’t mind, something is flourishing after all the slug munched attempts. The cucumbers are coming along too but not at such a great rate and I am not sure what will happen once they outgrow their second cloche.

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The tomatoes are nearly ready as well, when they come in, if they come in I should of course say as blight may yet still take them, I will certainly be eating a lot of tomatoes and courgette gratin. The kids picked one red one each today and we ate them after a quick rinse. Any old plot hand will tell you about anything they grow that you won’t believe the taste compared to shop bought stuff but for tomatoes I have to say it is so true.

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Today I harvested a beetroot that looks a bit like a chicken…

15 Jul

A wee micro post as time is running out. I have 1 and a half non-work days before it’s summer! I used to love the summer holidays, it would be very much me-time, my reason why I teach. I have not worked in August for longer than I care to remember. One summer in a hot Madrid on a battered old second-hand computer, I drafted a whole novel during those glorious two months off.

I still love summer but there is no way that anyone could describe my summer now as me-time. The children take up every moment and I still love summer but there won’t be any novels getting drafted or blog posts getting written or work of any kind getting done. It will be lazy and glorious and very unproductive.

So this week feels a little like headless-chicken time, I flit from one bit of work to the next trying to get all the stuff done I need to before they invade my very being from wake up to their bedtime. I will try to get them down the plot, possibly once a week if I am lucky but already it needs bribery. Often the response to a suggestion of a trip down the plot is a chorus of very loud ‘no’s’!

Today I harvested another bag of broad beans. I plan to do something with mint, broad beans and bacon that I read about in The Guardian this week, hoping the promise of bacon will convert those broad-bean deniers I have in my household. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jul/04/broad-bean-bonus-mary-ellen-mctague-seasonal-recipes

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This is my last batch of beans so after this I can stop being creative and use some normal vegetables to make dinner with. I also picked a strange looking beetroot that looked a little like a pink headless chicken.

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The other two beets were runty to say the least. Luckily I have some beetroot recipes memorised from last year so using them up shouldn’t be too much of a hassle once I have roasted them.

My harvest was subsidised by a kind plot neighbour who gave me an impressive cucumber (my cucumbers are still mere seedlings) and two gem lettuces (my lettuce pot got so riddled with greenfly and slugs the only place for it was the compost) – so once again the kindness of plot neighbours compensates heavily for my lack of skills as a gardener. And cucumber and lettuce – that’s two veg I can happily dispatch with, no googling required.

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Broad Bean Dip

10 Jul

One the hardest things about having an allotment is not keeping the weeds and slugs at bay, although that does take up a considerable amount of time, energy and money. Actually one of the hardest things about having a plot for a supermarket shopping ex-city dwelling slacker like myself is actually remembering to harvest the produce once they have grown and doing something with them.

Lettuce, tomatoes and courgettes are something of a no brainer of course although there was a brief period last summer when, even with our one humble courgette plant, we had so many courgettes I did make a cake or two with them. But you find yourself growing things you would never normally buy, in large quantities, and then find yourself having to do all sorts of imaginative things with unusual root veg. Witness my beetroot pancakes, mash and cake last year. Like the allotment itself it’s all very time consuming and it’s no wonder that so much produce ends up whithering on the vine

So now it’s the humble broad beans turn. I planted my broad beans in October last year. As a crop you couldn’t get more low maintenance than broad beans. I literally planted them, ignored them, noticed they were growing. Have weeded them once, have never fed or watered them and at one point rigged up some cane and string to stop them toppling over and that was it.

It was only the other week I realised I would need to stop ignoring them and actually get my act together and harvest them. From then on the low maintenance of their growing has been swiftly replaced by high maintenance food prep. You have to pick them, shell them and then think of what on earth to do with them. I googled easy broad bean dips and found this one from Jamie Oliver http://www.jamieoliver.com/magazine/recipes-view.php?title=broad-bean-dip

It was fairly simple. I assembled the required ingredients, which sat doing nothing for a while until I could face sitting down to shell the broad beans. This may all sound a bit over the top but I have never been the type of person to make home made humus, why bother when you can buy it from a shop for a quid?

But there I was feeling like a nineteen fifties throw back, shelling broad beans like my granny used to. In fairness I did rope the hubby in to help me and we sat after dinner at the weekend shelling beans and supping wine so it wasn’t so arduous.

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Ingredients ready

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Broad beans shelled

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Blending

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The finished product!

The end result was quite tasty and a wee bit satisfying in a I-made-this-from-scratch kind of way. Not sure I will ever make it again though as of course the kids, even though big fans of humus, turned their noses up at this – it is green after all. And the hubby, being Scottish thought it was all a bit too whole-foody for his palate. So the real task has been eating my way through the huge vat of broad bean dip I was left with.

 

Courgettes and other veg

4 Jul

Continuing on the theme of being too busy to blog, my photos have been accruing and yet no post has appeared which means this short post will have more pictures than words.

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Even though the blogging has paused the growing hasn’t. My courgettes are hanging on in there despite rampant slugs. The pumpkin plant is growing and now seems perhaps to big for the slugs to eat. And there are wee green tomatoes on my tomato plant. A big patch is taken up with potatoes and overall it’s starting to look like a proper plot!

courgettes planted out 6 courgettes planted out 7 courgettes planted out 8

Keeping up with my philosophy of doing one good thing each visit, I recently weeded my overgrown pea patch. I was amazed that some plants had not only survived my wanton neglect but there was actually a pea growing. I picked said pod this week and the kids (I cannot actually believe what I am about to write) not only argued over it’s rather lame bounty (2 peas each) but also wanted to chew the pod! I need more home grown peas clearly to help get them eating more greens!

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I planted out my fruit bushes last week. Pulling out the first dead twig was hard but after that it was easy as I thought about the new bushes that would replace them. I don’t appear to have much luck with fruit bushes as the majority I have planted have died and even of these healthy new ones, 2 now seem to be ailing.

But one undeniable benefit of having a plot is that many of my plot neighbours take me under their wings and give me their excess fruit and veg as compensation for my own crops not quite working out. Last week it was strawberries, the type you couldn’t find in supermarkets, fragrant, juicy, reminiscent of childhood. Funnily enough my daughter turned her nose up at these organic beauties and said they tasted funny!