Saturday, 22 September 2012


It's happened...

...after sowing 40 and buying 6 baby plants, I have ONE productive plant. 

I have a plant that is producing me some chillies!!! 

I am SO bad at growing chillies so this is an achievement and I am shamelessly proud of myself.

Next year all 40 that I plan to sow will grow and produce mega loads, obviously.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


A few weeks ago John and I ventured off to the land of Exmoor for a weekend wild camp holiday. We packed up the car, got stuck in mega traffic and eventually arrived late afternoon.

John checked out his maps before we left and found a perfect spot for the first night. We would need to park our car up and walk about 1.5km to the beach. When we arrived there was a pub at the bottom of the footpath so we stopped for a sneaky pint of cider/beer and a meal.

We wandering down the beach and were welcomed with this beautiful sight! We sat watching the sunset before making up our beds (sleeping mat, sleeping bag and bivy) and settling down to a glass of wine!

The next morning we got up, had some tea and a breakfast of digestive biscuits (we really do know how to live!) and then packed up our things.

I sat on the beach whilst John went fishing. I had a little go myself but I am frightfully impatient and always seem to catch the hook on seaweed so spend most of the time trying to get it released!

John on the other hand is a master fisherman. Within about half an hour he had this to proudly show me

A delicious, line caught pollock. We had preempted John's fishing success and had brought some home grown garlic and herbs along with some butter and foil. Our initial plan of cooking it over an open fire was foiled when people arrived to the small beach, en mass at lunch time. After a quick hydration stop at the aforementioned pub, we settled on a mini bbq. It was thoroughly enjoyed with a glass of wine.

We then decided on our second night's sleeping spot and headed over. Once again we would need to park up and then walk about 2km to the spot. Once again there was a pub just up from where we parked. Coincidence...I think not.

We spent the afternoon enjoying tasty ciders/beers and chatting in the sunshine. As we didn't pay for accommodation, we felt it was only right to spend a few pennies elsewhere...

We then headed back the car to pick up our things (and had a discussion about whether bringing the Cinnamon Grahams - our camping cereal staple - was the best idea when we needed to pack light, which resulted in a distinct lack of Cinnamon Grahams being taken)

We stopped just next to a lighthouse over looking the Bristol Channel. There was thunder and lightening throughout the night so I kept clawing at John's hand for comfort.

The next morning we got up and headed back very early. The midges got the best of us (and maybe also the slugs) and we walked back to the car.

We spent our final day taking a leisurely meander through Exmoor back to ours, stopping at seaside towns and the obligatory cider farm.

It was so nice to spend a couple of days just chilling out, mostly without phone signal. Due to my 'temporary retirement' at the beginning of the year we hadn't planned any long holidays away and as John is self-employed he can't take a couple of weeks off at short notice. So this was a nice, impromptu weekend away and the weather was perfect (except maybe for the overnight thunder and lightening)

Have you ventured off anywhere nice this summer?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Cucumbers and Gherkins

We are currently in the midst of a cucumber and gherkin glut, life is certainly good!

I have been sweet pickling the gherkins using Self-sufficient in Suburbia's recipe and enjoying plenty of  fresh cucumber in mega salads!

We have 10 cucumber plants and 10 gherkin plants so I am hoping they all fruit heavily before the cold weather sets in.

Do you have any cucumber recipes to help when I have too many for just salad?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Winter/Spring Allotment Plan...

So after such an appalling summer harvest (thanks rain, I'll not miss you too much next year...well, except maybe when hasn't rained in weeks...) I am busy trying to come up with a plan of action that ensure a bountiful winter and spring harvest.

And although I don't particularly want to dwell on the negative, this is a concise list of what went very wrong...

Our brussels were decimated by the slugs; we planted about 35 and have 5 left...

I tried sowing FOUR rows of carrots - about 2 seeds germinated...

The slugs enjoyed our potatoes more than we did...

After my second row of seedling kale got munched, I decided this year was not a kale-growing year for us...

Our fruit trees are not looking very laden...

We haven't had a courgette glut - who doesn't have a courgette glut?!

Very few of our runner bean plants made it...

Mini sweetcorn (except 3) disappeared into thin much hope, lost

No pumpkins for Halloween...

French bean failure...

I haven't tasted lettuce in a while...

We'll not be having swede with our Christmas dinner

Sorry - what are tomatoes?

...yeah not impressed, but got to look onwards and upwards!
Plot A - Beans/Brassica 2012/Roots 2013

Managed to capture the side of the beans that didn't make it!
So now all the beans, except for the runners, are done and pulled up. We only have our first harvest of these tasty treats last week - can you believe it! August...shocking, but they are looking good and the few plants that survived are dripping in tiny beans and flowers.Once these are pulled up the new elephant garlic and 3 rows of other garlic will be planted

I sowed some red and white cabbage in the greenhouse a few weeks ago and these have now been planted out next to the runner beans - we have about 30. I'm hoping the slugs won't notice them...

Next to these I am planning on sowing one row of red and one row of white cabbage to harvest as greens, not whole cabbages.

Moving on I sowed some broccoli in the greenhouse which I will be planting out imminently.

Next we have the failed brussels. The few left standing are smack in the middle.

At the same time as sowing the broccoli I sowed some purple sprouting broccoli which I planted out a couple weekends ago, again hoping the slugs won't notice.

And finally, we have row of spinach

Plot B - Onions and Potatoes 2012/Beans and Brassicas 2013

This is currently under cover. I need to get some manure on there in the next few weeks, but the fact it's under cover is SO exciting - no weeding!

Plot C - Roots 2012/Onions and Misc 2013

Elephant garlic is first up - as this needs two years before harvesting it is the 'wrong' plot for 2013, but it's not doing too much harm

One row of spring onions which are being harvested and enjoyed as we speak. I sowed another row which should be ready for harvesting in a few weeks.

I'm planning on sowing some pak choi  here for late autumn.

Next up is a single row of beetroot which we're harvesting at the moment

Two rows of parsnips which were sown a few weeks ago are looking fabulous! Because (almost all) the mini sweetcorn AND pumpkins were destroyed by slugs I made the executive decision to sow another two rows of parsnips (you can never have too many right?!) to help with the winter/spring plan a couple of weeks ago. They have just appeared so fingers crossed they get to a decent size before the slugs decide they want to munch.

The rest of the plot will soon be under cover once John has picked up some logs to hold it down in place...although I may, just may, plant another couple of rows of parsnips as they've done alright this year (taking anything I get!)

Back Garden

We have sweetcorn which I doubt will do anything - they are still small plants and it is getting into late summer.

The squash are enjoying the chicken poo that was put in the ground all last winter/spring. They are trailing all over the place. I have given up trying to manage them and figured I'll just let them go wherever they wish and harvest the goods!

The 20 cucumber plants are producing lots of fruit but they are still only about an inch big. 10 are gherkins and as John only likes teeny tiny gherkins I'll be harvesting when they are still small (a couple of inches big) and storing them in a sweet pickle. The other 10 are full blown cucumber plants, so keeping my fingers crossed they get to a decent size before the cold sets in.

We have three courgette plants which are doing everything except giving us a glut. Lots of flowers on 'sticks'; basically not attached to a courgette. We've had only a handful - I was fully expecting to be in a glut at this point.

Busy keeping our fingers crossed there is enough for some cider making...

The fruit bushes and strawberries are all over until next year, but thanks for all the fruit! I may have been indulging in a banana and raspberry smoothie for breakfast...

I am looking to go harvest loads and loads of blackberries in the next few weeks. They are still not quite ready to harvest! I need plenty for smoothies and summer fruit muffin.

Over the bank holiday weekend I harvest a few plums from our neighbour's tree. They trees are sparse, but that have a ridiculous amount of trees so they still have lots to be harvested!

Have you come up with a fighting-back plan of action for winter and spring?

Friday, 24 August 2012


This year's white onion harvest has done really well - we've had significantly more large onions than in previous years!

The same cannot be said for the red onions. They are quite small, but still great for chopping up into salads for lunch. I'm also planning on making some sweet red onion chutney over the weekend - yummmmmm....

We've harvested both the potatoes and onions the bed has been covered with black plastic sheeting which I picked up on ebay for super cheap. We got the highest 25 meters of high grade, commercial black sheeting; unfortunately, it's about 5 meters short for the plot (not including the greenhouse space!) so we'll need to grab a little more.

This is the first year we've covered our plots - we always intended to, but never quite got round to it. When I saw it being laid over Plot B I have to be honest, I was ECSTATIC! All I could see was a weed free plot and no more wasted time spent weeding an empty plot - it is going to make such a difference, especially to my moral. I mean, weeds and the allotment not looking great always makes me feel a little rubbish inside - you always want the effort you put in to be reflected on the allotment. Weeds have a funny way of growing 6ft in between visits! We all want beautiful and weed-free plots - plus I don't think I've met anyone who actually enjoys weeding!

I've been doing a little research into overwinter onions as it's not something I've tried before. After such an appalling summer harvest ('summer' harvest is looking more like an 'autumn' harvest this year) I am desperately trying to make up for it elsewhere and overwintering onions would ensure some tasty early onions next year!

Do you overwinter onions? Any tried and tested varieties I should try out?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Which is Better?

My Mum and I have been arguing debating which version is best.

So, we need your help - which do you think is better...

Bob Dylan's

The Animals 

...personally I think Dylan wins, hands down!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


We did it...we actually had a successful garlic harvest! I know, I mentioned this in my previous post but it totally deserves a post of it's own! We've probably got about 50 bulbs as we gave a few to the guy who lets us use his garden.

After I actually remembered to buy and plant it in Autumn, I am so so so happy we got a decent harvest. I will definitely make sure that I always remember to plant it in Autumn...speaking of which, it's not too far away now!

I have planned to plant this year's garlic where the runner beans are currently residing as the 2012 brassica/bean plot will become the 2013 roots plot.

Now these have all been harvested we are drying them in a lean to on our drive way. Once they are completely dry we can plait them.

One of the things I am desperately looking forward to having in our future home is a cool, dark and not damp larder. Our current house is, unfortunately very damp so we have to be very careful with the storage of foods, which is why we have left them outside under the lean to. 

We'll need to leave our elephant garlic in until next year as this year it won't have developed any bulbs - apparently it is closely related to the leek so in it's first year, if you pull it up it looks like a leek! Crazy stuff!

Does anybody have any suggestions on which type of garlic to plant? Any particularly tasty ones or good success rate ones?

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