Monday 31 December 2012

A happy New Year to all my readers!!!

Well I figured today was as good a day a any to reflect on the passing year. I have to admit though to have been sat at the computer for a while thinking how to start the post and also how to end it.

I awoke this morning to yet more miserable windy weather and not feeling very festive at all. New year isn't a huge thing for us and we don't celebrate as's just another day with one more thing to remember...writing a different number at the end of the date!!

We won't be going out tonight but tomorrow we will spend time with family and have a nice dinner and you do anything special for new year??

So to reflect on the last year...gardening wise was pretty abysmal. Having said that when I look at certain aspects it wasn't as bad as I first thought, even if yields weren't high, they wee there and for that I am grateful. I guess the easiest way is to break things down into lets give it a try.


Fruit bushes did very well for me this year and we had plenty of black, white and red currants along with a good supply of gooseberries and blueberries.

The raspberries were probably my golden crop for 2012 giving me plenty of fruits to experiment different things with. Blackberries were non-existent on the plot and even the usual places I go foraging showed very low crops which meant although we got a few to eat we got no bramble jelly this year.

The trees also didn't do too well this year. No pears apples or apricots for us though we did get quite a few plums. Enough for jams and sorbets to be made along with a few crumbles. I also had a few left to give to friends which lent to me getting some lovely apples in return so it wasn't a total loss in that respect.

Tomatoes were a huge failure this year. A long time starting to fruit outside and none of them turned red. Those in the greenhouse did mange to turn red but weren't as abundant as past years and were a long time turning.


Alliums were a bit of a wash out with the weather. First it was so dry the ground baked and then so wet that many rotted before they even got started. I have a good crop of leeks still going strong in the ground but the onions and garlic were small and of lower yield to normal though what I did get were very tasty and are still lasting us though I'm not sure they will see us through to the next cropping.


Germination rate wasn't so good this year though you can't necessarily put that down to the weather, often it is just the seed. Cropping wasn't so great this year though and many of the plants went from something to nothing so quick with the strange weather patterns that it was hard to keep up with harvesting which meant some of what grew went to waste. The runner beans and the broad beans both produced good healthy crops this year .


Brassicas were a bit stunted. Due to the severe wet conditions a lot of slug and snail damage occurred but I still managed to get a good few cabbages of different varieties. None of my spinach or chard germinated though I was given some ruby chard from friend so it wasn't a total loss. All of my cauliflowers which did start to germinate in the green house soon died off but I have since discovered that this was more likely to be due to a resident mouse...a humane trap will be used next year just in case.
Brussels again have  blown...I don't really know why they do this to me all the time...maybe one year I will actually get some lovely tight buds to harvest!!


The roots were probably my worst overall crop with parsnips being the only thing that did well. I managed to grow 2 carrots and a handful of beetroot. All others, (celeriac, turnips, swede) a total disaster with nothing to harvest.


I grew several new potatoes this year to try different varieties and these did quite well. Some more prolific than others but you expect that. Overall though the New Potatoes cropped well. The main crops potatoes were a different story though. On lifting the first two rows there was very little to harvest, the tubers were small and most had been hollowed out by slugs. I still have some in the ground which I just didn't get chance to dig up..they will be dug and composted in the spring.


I would have though the squash would have thrived in the wetter weather but this only applied to some. I had good crops of marrows and courgettes but the cucumbers and gherkins didn't fare so well. the butternut squash didn't produce good plants at all and the pumpkins only had a few fruits although the plants tried to take over the rest of the allotment!!


The salad crops did okay. Again not as great as previous years and the herbs that I put in just didn't get to any size for cropping but none the less we didn't starve!!

Other bits.

So then it's just the last few bits to talk about. The babycorn did very well this year but the sweetcorn although it finally grew cobs didn't really swell up and those few that did germinate were rarely full cobs.
The chilli peppers did great in the greenhouse and I had my best year ever for bell peppers though I had to harvest them earlier than I wanted to due to the resident mouse.

The Golden Berry Pineapple that I planted in pots in the greenhouse did very well and were prolific fruiters and we enjoyed them very much. The 'pear' plants I planted along with them didn't fruit so well and we weren't keen on the taste so I won't be growing them again this year.


So I think that about sums up the year. I don't think I've missed anything but I'm sure you'll all soon let me know if I have!!

With 2013 just a few hours away I have already started thinking about next year, what I'm going to plant and what I can try for a new feature this year. I have plans I would like to carry out too but that's for another post.

Hope You all Enjoy our New year. xx

Monday 24 December 2012

Mince and Apple Pie. (Recipe)

Well it's Christmas Eve and anything not done now just isn't getting done before Christmas!

In the spirit of Christmas what better to share with you than a mince pie.

Mincemeat and Apple Pie
Mincemeat and Apple Pie

It was made with a savoury pastry using plain flour, lard, water and a pinch of salt.

I didn't blind bake the pastry first but added the filling straight away and then popped it in the oven.

The apples were a lovely dessert apple which came off a friends tree and the mincemeat is one I made can find that recipe here.

Being a large tart the apples added a little more depth and made it not too rich. Lovely!!

I wish all my Readers a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Sunday 23 December 2012

Let's make 'Hot Sauce'! (Recipe)

So my Nephew came round yesterday...He has been in the lounge for a while and I am in the kitchen when he comes in and quite randomly says, 'Tanya let's make Hot Sauce'. My Nephew is 18 and likes to come out with these random things from time to time. Anyway he said he had looked and I have the ingredients handy so I set about looking for a recipe which is simple and quick and I found the perfect one so we set to it.

The ingredients were simple;


1 cup of dried peppers
10 cloves of garlic
2 tspns salt
2 tspns cumin powder
1/8 cup of lemon juice.

Luckily I had a good garlic harvest this year so I had this in abundance, I always have some lemon juice handy in the fridge and I always string and dry my peppers at the end of the season so they were ready and waiting to be used.

I don't know which chilli peppers I used as I can't remember what I grew but is knew that they were hot. The Method was very simple.


Put chillis in a saucepan with enough water to cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes then let sit for 1 hour.

Drain chillis and add them along with the cumin powder, salt and garlic to a food processor/blender and blitz. ( I first tried the food processor here but found it didn't grind the seeds at all so then switched to my magic bullet which worked a treat!)
Slowly add lemon juice and continue to blend, add ,ore lemon juice as necessary to reach your required consistency. (I added quite a lot of extra lemon juice, but it is really personal preference).

And that's all there is to it.
This recipe made 220ml of sauce.
Very quick and simple with minimal washing and cleaning up.
The sauce should be kept in the fridge in an airtight container and will keep for months.
Apparently it improves with age.

Now we tried some of this sauce and it isn't to be taken is VERY hot, you could use milder chillis if you wanted to.

We put some sparingly onto our chicken burgers at tea and it tasted great, I also think it would be great added to cooking for a little depth and my nephew thinks it would make a great base for pizzas.

So there you have it. Something quick and simple to add to your Christmas festivities!!

Give it a try!

Saturday 22 December 2012


OK, so it isn't quite Christmas but I finished work yesterday until the New Year so Christmas definitely starts here!!

I realise what a long time it is since I last wrote a post but life has been so hectic over December that by the time evening has come I have just wanted to relax and sitting at the computer hasn't seemed very appealing at all, but now with a break and all the shopping and nearly all the wrapping done I find myself being a little more relaxed and not so rushed at all.

We had a couple of weeks of cold spell with hard frosts and sub zero temperatures but I was quite happy with that, today and for the past week or so the weather has been nasty, and damp and it's looking like a dreary dark Christmas for us weather wise. Having said that at least the house is decorated with pretty sparkly lights and the lounge is cosy with a warm glow.

Warm and cosy fire and lights
Warm and cosy fire and lights

Sparkly Christmas Tree.
Sparkly Christmas Tree.

My Hubby just asked me why I was taking photo's of the tree, I told him for my blog and he said, 'But I thought it was about the allotment??' I told him that it is but the pictures are far nicer of the tree that the dreary weather outside, he replied with, 'But that's real and the tree's not'. I guess he's right in a way but my blog has become more than just about my allotment and has become about the person I am and I like that little personal touch so to him I just say..' :-P '!!

So are you all ready for Christmas?? I think it is one of the busiest times of the year trying to get everything sorted and remember all the little things even busier in a way than the Spring planting as you are so tidied to a deadline on everything there is more pressure to it. I know it's supposed to be a joyous occasion but it certainly has that element of stress that I don't think you can really stop no matter how hard you try. Having said that I do enjoy thinking about what to get people and adding little personal touches to things!. I was really late with a lot of things this year and wonder if my Christmas cards will reach people before the event....if not they will know after Christmas that I have been thinking of them!!

I never did quite get the winter dig finished on the allotment before the cold spell hit with a vengeance , that was mainly due to not being well but I know that I can get it finished early in the springtime. I haven't done any work up the allotment at all but i was up a few times last week as I was looking after someones chickens for a few days. They belong to the Chair of the Committee and his Wife and to be honest I felt quite pleased that they had the trust in me to ask me. Plus they said I could keep any laid eggs so I think we will be having omelette's for lunch today!!

Even though I haven't written for ages I do have lots to tell so will hopefully get caught up on that over the Christmas period, but feel free to ignore my posts if you get to fed up with me!!

Well I guess that will be it for now ...time to go and catch up with all of you and see what has been happening in the big wide world I think.

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas whether you choose to have elaborate busy ones or close relaxed family ones.

Merry Christmas to all my readers. Enjoy the holiday.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Cars, pointlessness and manure!!!

Well I think we should cover everything in the order that it happened!!

Firstly I suppose carts isn't strictly speaking should say driving as my Hubby went out yesterday to take his Driving test. Nice and early in the morning he went and it was an overcast day so visibility was good and as it warmed a little overnight road conditions were good for him with no ice patches.

Whilst he was out on his test I received a phone call from someone else on the committee...yes it's happened again, at least 10 shed were broken into on the allotment mine being one of them so of course I had to go and survey any damage to the shed and find out if there were any losses.

tools outside the shed
The tools were piled outside the shed.
So here is the pointless nit. My shed had been broken into and the tools piled outside the shed...the door was left wide open but nothing was actually stolen. So what was the point?? Someone thinks they may have been disturbed but this wasn't the case with just my shed but all over the allotments. I haven't found one person yet who actually had anything stolen...stuff just piled up outside their sheds and left. I don't think this is the way a thief would work when the sheds were dotted all over the would make it a very long winded job. Of course I can't be sure, what do you think??
Some of the sheds had expensive tooling in them too. It just seems such a pointless waste of time. It was reported to the police so the crime has been logged but obviously we aren't going to get anywhere with that!

Anyway as I was coming back from the plot my Hubby showed up. He is now a fully licensed driver...of course we then had to spend money out on a new battery and dodgy tyre for the car but I am sure he will enjoy not having to bike to work on Monday morning!

So then it was the manure. Many years ago when I was at school I used to look after some children. Those children are all grown up now but their parents parted and Dad re-married and had another child. They have a horse and a conversation with him led to another with his wife and off we went to collect manure. Totally free of charge, bagged and ready to go and we can go and collect on a regular basis. One of the committee members took me up with his trailer and two loads later we had cleared the heap from the stables down to the plot. This will be free for all allotment holders to use and the fact that it's bagged and waiting to be picked up by anyone wanting it means that it won't stink the place out too much or make a huge mess.

So it was certainly an eventful Saturday but today has been much calmer so I managed to catch up with all my blogs and get another post to you as well.

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend!!

Saturday 1 December 2012

Well here's the weather!!!!!

Well here I am. I am well now, not quite 100% but to be honest whoever is at this time of year. I started back at work at the beginning of this week and had lots of stuff to catch up on at home so haven't had time to sit down and I have still been kind of tired in the evenings!!

winter sun
Winter Sun.
The week I was off work and not fit to do much at all had some rain and wind but also had some wonderful sunny days and yet all I could do was longingly look out the window as I knew I would be a very silly person to go to the allotment and get anything done. It was cold but not too cold and the conditions would have been ideal. All I kept thinking about was that little bit of winter digging that I had left to do but I was a very good patient (which doesn't happen very often!) and stayed indoors in the warmer temperatures. Of course this was the 47th week of the year and I realise how fast time is running out for 2012.

heavy frosts
Jack Frost has come to play!
This past week has been much colder and there have been frosts most evenings. Last night as I left work around 6 it was already below freezing...not good temperatures for gardening at all. This morning however when I awoke the sky had clouded over listed the temperatures slightly but it is miserable and damp which often makes it feel colder and we keep getting light rain. I don't particularly like the cold but I would sooner have a cold dry day than a damp one that is just a few degrees warmer yet seeps into your bones. Having said all that it is pretty calm out and we haven't had the rain that a lot of people have had so I am grateful for our calmer elements.

On a positive not however last weekend was the annual dinner for the allotments which I attended for the first time. My Hubby came to though he isn't a gardener. It was a nice evening with good food at the local pub and to make the night extra great not only did I win on the raffle ( I picked shortbread because I love it so much!) but I also won third prize in the best kept allotment competition. This is two up from last year and came with a £15 cash prize which I have already spent on some seed ready for next year. After all next year is going to be THE year for the gardener....well we can all have dreams can't we!!

Well I think that's all for now...plenty to tell you yet but I have to catch up with all my other blogs and also have to go and collect a shipment of manure this morning too...the joys of gardening, lol!

Wednesday 21 November 2012


Well I have been silent again for a while and that's due to all the bugs. Not the ones you find in the garden though but all those that are being harboured by everyone else and finally got the better of me!!

It started last week with a cold and runny nose which was fine and then each day a new element cam over me...cough, razor blades in throat, blocked sinuses...well you get the picture but none the less I carried on getting everything done and turning up for work...then Friday I started to feel so much better and the weekend was nice and sunny and so I even went to the allotment and got some work done.

I didn't spend long down the allotment just a couple of hours each Saturday and Sunday but this gave me time to cut back all the raspberry canes, get the strawberry bed weeded and forked over and looking nice, get the ground dug and prepared and the garlic finally in and get a load more manure spread and a lot more winter digging done.

I only have one row of garlic in this wasn't exactly planned that way it's just that's all I had. I won't get chance to purchase any more now but I may get some to put another plant another row next spring. I can't remember the name of the garlic I have planted but it is one of the common ones that's available in most shops that stock bulbs and seeds.

So there I was feeling a lot better until Sunday night came....then I got bad again. A trip to the doctors on Monday diagnoses me with an acute sinus and chest infection and so 2 hours later I am nearly £40 lighter in my purse on prescriptions and ringing the boss to tell him that on doctors orders I won't be in for the week.

Ever since then I have been meaning to sit and write a post but I just haven't had the energy. Today I am feeling a bit brighter in myself so I hope the antibiotics are doing there job and I won't have to go back to the docs. again. My son is also off college with a chest infection....sometimes I hate this time of year...and I don't do ill very well...I am a seriously bad patient as i like to keep occupied. I guess it's a good job I learnt to knit...something I can do that is practical but not strenuous!

Okay...enough of my whinging...I am sure I'm not the only one that is ill. There is lots going about at the minute, I just hope that I can get rid of it and my immune system back up to top notch to stave anything else off.

The one thing at the allotment I still haven't managed to get done is dig up the main crop potatoes. There are still two and a half rows in the ground. When listening to the farming programme though on Lincs. FM last Sunday I did hear that they can be overwintered in the ground. I guess this is a given considering every year whilst i am digging away to prepare for new crops to be planted I will find perfect potatoes that were overlooked the year before. Not something I would normally do but it does take a little of the pressure off me and also it would be a good experiments...maybe I will leave half a row in just to see?!?!

Well I think that's the update done for now, I was going to take some photos to show you how far I had got but at this time of year the dark creeps up on you so fast. I then thought I may go out today but it's pouring with rain so I think I will give going out in my current state a miss!

Will post some recipes over the week though as I have done some baking which is nice and relaxing...especially with my new stove!

Hope you all have a good day.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Beans are in...and a bit more too!!

Well the weather played nice again for me today but with it being Sunday and us having our nice big Sunday dinner I never get so much time down the allotment, especially this time of year when the sun sets so early.

Oh and dinner was great in the new cooker and I didn't burn anything which was a bonus...can't wait to bake some cakes in it!!

Anyway I did toddle off to the plot about 2:30 after my dinner had settled to get stuck in preparing things a little more for the winter.

I managed to get the rest of one half weeded over and the manure spread in preparation for the winter dig.

Even on such a cold day that manure was mighty potent so I am hoping it is going to enrich the soil beautifully for next season.

I also got the ground dug and raked and the broad beans in. I like to get them in this time of year as it saves up some time in the spring and any that may die off over the winter get replaced with some I start off in the greenhouse. I think I put about 80 seeds in the ground and now I pray that I get a good germination rate out of them. I have some extra seeds on standby for planting up next year if I need to.

I also started to turn over some of the earth ready for the winter. This is a tedious task but I like the frost to be able to get in to kill off any nasty bugs and weeds that I may have missed. Still plenty to do but I feel like it has been a very good weekend and right now I am feeling pretty pleased with myself.

Still haven't got the garlic in the ground but I am hoping for a few more good days so I will get a bit more time down the allotment this week.

Sorry there aren't any photos today but it was way too dusky to take pictures by the time I left to come home.

Hope you've all had a great weekend too!

Saturday 10 November 2012

Parsnip 9 - Celeriac 0 ( For Mal)

Well although it rained last night the skies had cleared by this morning and the air was calm and warm for November so I go myself down the allotment to get some much needed tidying done.

I started off emptying out the pots round the greenhouse and weeding the cold-frame and lettuce bed before moving onto the main allotment.

I then methodically weeded through the parsnips and celeriac and whilst I was at it thought I may as well dig up a root of each to see if  anything was happening under the ground...this is what I found.

large parsnip root

I dug up a parsnip root and found quite a fine specimen. I held it up so you  could see how big it was against my hand. I think I will roast this root for dinner tomorrow.

celeriac without a root bulb

The celeriac on the other hand again has nothing under the ground. I dug up two of these, one that I had trimmed back and one that I hadn't but both were the same beneath the ground. I am wondering if leaving them longer will improve things? I guess I won't lose anything by it.

So I think Mal is the winner of the celeriac this year...but there is always next year. I haven't given up on them yet!!

I then went on to weed the rest of the roots patch in preparation for the winter dig. Whilst going through I did find a few beetroot which were nice and healthy so brought them home to eother roast or make cake with, haven't decided which yet.

healthy beetroot dug out the ground
Healthy beetroot dug out the ground.   
Also whilst I was digging out the weeds I cam across this fellow,

a healthy looking turnip

Quite a nice looking Turnip and apparently the only one to looks mighty fine in this photo.

healthy yet very tiny turnip

In reality though it was extremely small as you can see in this photo. I think next year I will germinate them in the greenhouse and plant out in the hopes of a few more. No matter how small though it will be savoured in a stew during the week!

I also had three carrot germinate on the allotment but when I dug these up they were roots mangled by slugs and went straight in the bin. There were some weird and wonderful shapes to them but I didn't get any photos!!

So I now have a quarter of the land prepared for the winter dig and my green bin half full with weeds. This was the worst part of the allotment to tackle though which is why I decided to start here...I always like to know that the going is going to get a bit easier.

Still haven't dug the rest of my potatoes up yet. Hopefully I will get that done tomorrow as so far the forecast is good. Also hoping to get those broad beans and garlic in the ground!!

Hope you have had some fine weather too.

Friday 9 November 2012

Friday Forecast...week 45...09/11/12

Autumn leaves and autumn trees
Autumn leaves and autumn trees
Well it's an 'autumny' picture again although there aren't quite this many leaves on the trees now so I think it's the last I will be sharing with you. It's quite a nice photo but nothing compared to the seeing it with your own eyes!!

Over the course of the week the weather has improved for us. The rains seem to have moved away and with them the bitter chill that was in the air so that we have had a week with temperatures mostly in double figures although the winds have still been quite sharp at times.

Yesterday was really nice as was today and would have been perfect to get down the allotment but with needing to shop, attend the dentists, work, have the plumber and the gas-man in and then work again I just didn't get the chance. Although I did manage to find time on Wednesday afternoon to get the front lawns cut before I had to head out to work so that is one less job to do.

I was hoping for the weather to last and get some good work done tomorrow but I have just been to put the cats out for the night and found that it is now raining...oh the joys of the coming winter!!

On the plus side my new stove is all fitted so if I can't get to the allotment I think I will do some baking in my gloriously shiny new oven!!

To be honest though I am hoping to get to the allotment. With everything else that has been going on I still haven't got my garlic and broad beans in the ground. Do you think I'm too late now??

I still have so much that I want to get done before I close down for the winter.

Well I guess that's all for now..what are your plans for the weekend?? Hope you enjoy it no matter what they may be!

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Raspberry Syrup Recipe.

Well I have had a wonderful crops of raspberries this year and so I decided that I would make some syrup for something a little different. It's a very easy method though you do need a thermometer for the temperature as with it being a syrup there is no 'set' test.


The first thing you do is put your raspberries in a large pan/bowl. Give them a mash and then cover and leave to stand for 2-3 days.


straining raspberries in a jelly bag

Strain the raspberries through a jelly bag or some muslin.
strained fresh raspberry juice

Measure the amount of juice you have and for every pint of liquid measure 2lbs of sugar.
risen scum on raspberrie syrup needs spooning off

Put sugar and juice in a pan and heat until sugar has dissolved, (just a few minutes).
Remove pan from the heat and skim the scum off the top.
raspberry syrup returning to the boil

Once you have removed the scum return the pan to the heat and bring back to the boil.
105 degrees and the raspberry syrup is ready

Using a digital thermometer boil until you reach the temperature 105 degrees Celsius/222 degrees Fahrenheit.
rasberry syrup cooling before the lids are sealed

Place in sterile receptacles and cap once cooled. (Keep refrigerated once seal on the bottle is broken.)

So there you have it. A very quick and tasty syrup. We have had it drizzled over ice-cream. Used it like a cordial, made milkshakes and also raspberry crush with it. If I get chance before it all disappears I may try some in cooking too!

Sunday 4 November 2012

Crafty Critters and confusion?!?!?!

So I went up to the allotment yesterday morning. It started out a nice day as the sun rose over the horizon but by 8:30am it was pouring with rain.

The rain kept easing and then coming down full force then stopping for a while and after a little 'umming and arghing' I decided to bite the bullet and get my but down to the plot.

As was expected really it rained more than it didn't so I though I would get the greenhouse tidied out at least.

In the greenhouse I noticed a tell-tale critter sign again....

mouse or other four legged critter hole
Again the hole has appeared in the compost in the crate in the greenhouse. Mice??
 Again in the tub where I had my bell peppers I noticed a little burrow hole so the critter that I thought wasn't there last time maybe is. At this time I also noticed a few sunflower casing on the floor. So the little devil has been scaling my greenhouse shelving and taking my sunflower seeds which were spread and drying on newspaper in the greenhouse. This has to stop and probably explains what kept happening to my cauliflower seedlings so I decided to get my boots on and take the whole tub outside to empty it out and have a good look.

I keep a set of wellies and thick socks in the greenhouse for dirty/cold work but I always give them a shake just in case spiders have set up home. I shake the first one out and put it and the sock on my foot...then I turn to the second and guess what.....

tha mouse eaten sock
The little devil has nibbled my sock and turned it into a Sunday sock! has definitely been in my boot too. Fortunately it wasn't too damaged and was still wearable...this of course is the point I dubiously look into my wellie...and what do you think I find??

mosuse winter store
A wonderful mouse pantry.

That's was full of sunflower seeds, the cheeky little devil had obviously decided to store some up in it's own little pantry for the winter to come. I removed them carefully but no mouse was inside so after putting on my second sock and boot I took the tub outside to start emptying it out.

Whilst going slowly through the tub and carefully emptying it out I found plenty of tell-tale signs.

dinner left overs from a mouse
Can you see all the empty sunflower seed casings?
There were plenty of little burrow marks in the compost and as I slowly emptied out I found a lot of empty sunflower casings. Either my little visitor has been very busy or he's been inviting friends round for parties.

Problem is I got to the VERY bottom of the tub and still no actual sign of the mouse...veryu confusing and also frustrating.

I disposed of the compost in the compost bin and then checked the rest of the greenhouse. No signs of entry anywhere signs of droppings at all. So what am I to believe. I have never known such a crafty critter. The only evidence is that in the photos aboe...even the paper and fleece were untouched.

I am going to see about getting some humane traps but I don't hold old much hope of ever getting my hands on this devious little devil. Anyone got any tips that will help me catch him?? Or do you think it could be something else entirely?? I really am at a loss here.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Cooker success and a funny story!!

So I had someone come out yesterday to survey my present stove situation and also discuss fitting a new one. Turns out in all the years we've lived in our home anyone who put us a stove in has been totally against regulations so work has to be carried out in order for my new stove to be connected.

Anyway the gas man who came is going to sort it all out for me, have the old stove and packaging from the new one taken away and for half the price of what i was going to be charged just for a standard install. So in a way i am actually saving money. Sigh on my part and very happy...the new stove will be re-delivered tomorrow and then I just have to arrange with the gas fitter when he can come....I am so excited!!!!

Now on to something 'allotmenty', and a little bit funny.....and yet a little of annoyance at myself too.

Do you remember this?

Spaghetti Squash...A.K.A. a marrow?!?!
Spaghetti Squash...A.K.A. a marrow?!?!
This is a pair of marrows I entered in the show back in September. Peculiar colour and I thought at the time it was supposed to be a pumpkin. They got auctioned off after the show, I didn't buy them or ask for them back as I had plenty of marrows to be eating.

Anyway as i was doing some ground clearing over the last two weeks i found the heart of this plant and also it's label. You guessed it, this is not in fact a marrow or a pumpkin but my spaghetti squash that I planted.

Of course the major annoyance is the mis-identification on my part and the fact that the plant only produced one more fruit so I only have the one to try...on the plus side though, at least I do have one to try.

The funny side is, I wonder what the people opening those 'Marrows' thought?

I haven't tried this yet but will hopefully be giving it a go in the next week now that I know it's not just a marrow I can think up something great to make. Have any of you ever grown spaghetti squash?? If so I would love to hear how you cooked yours.

It's a cold and frosty morning...but I am hoping to keep warm getting some clearing done on the allotment today...fingers crossed!

Friday 2 November 2012

Friday Forecast...week 44...2/11/12

autumn colous
Pretty Autumn colours on a dreary day.
Well again it has been a while since I posted.

The weather has been a mixture of dry, drizzly or torrential rain.
With some dense fog and drizzly mist thrown into the mix.
Light and strong winds have come and gone throughout the fortnight too.

Days have been cold enough at times for heavy coats, hats and gloves and yet at other times mild enough to go without a jumper.

Yet with all that has been thrown at us I am grateful for what we have and my heart goes out to the devastation that has befallen America by the hands of 'Superstorm Sandy'  and I know that I have no cause to complain about the turning seasons.

The clocks went back an hour last weekend though I have to admit that I turned them the wrong way initially so we were up rather early last Sunday morning!!

I have been very busy over the last two weeks and also not feeling 100% which has added to my silence on my blog. School holiday have been with us but the weather hasn't been very welcoming on visiting the allotment so I have busied myself decorating and getting the kitchen sorted after the recent sluice pipe disaster. Now there are no holes in the walls and it looks lovely once again.

I had a new cooker delivered yesterday which the fitters then said they couldn't fit as it doesn't pass regulations so now I have to get in touch with someone else as I had the last one fitted by a corgi registered person and they said it passed specs. Apparently new specs have not been brought in over the past 20 years so it is a wait and see moment for us.

The only other thing to be left done is have the faulty drippy tap sorted and the plumber is booked for next Friday....I hope I can get the cooker sorted by then too!!

Today has dawned fine and bright and I am undecided whether to get the garden tidied up or go to the allotment. The front lawns desperately need another cut before I put the mower away for the winter and the debris from the recent winds makes everywhere look a mess....decisions, decisions!!

On a plus note I have started another knitting project and I am going to try my hardest to get back to posting regularly and also want to catch up with all my favourite blogs too.

Oh we also visited a place called 'Little Jacks Farm' last week. It was it's first opening and so free entry for the weekend. They had some lovely fresh produce for sale and some nice bit in the garden centre, I bought myself some lemon grass to go in the garden...hope it's hardy enough to get through the winter as it's not something I've ever had before. Anyone have any knowledge on this?

Well that's all for know.

Will have more for you tomorrow.

Saturday 20 October 2012


This is my 400th post and I don't think there is anything more worthy of taking this mementos post up than our bees!!

I was sent this link from a friend and quickly signed the petition and I am hoping that all of my readers will help in this plight the world over.

We need bees to carry on living...they supply us with a great majority of the food that we eat. If you want to learn a little more about this then check out the links below.

5 animal we need to survive.

Why we need bees.

Having read all this please go over and sign the petition to help protect the bees.

This is something very close to my heart, not just for the bees but also the future of mankind.

Thanks for taking the time to look...I really hope you sign.

Save our bees petition...SIGN HERE.

Friday 19 October 2012

Friday Forecast...week 42....19/10/12. Where did all that time go???

Well I can't believe it's been two weeks since I last sat and wrote a post...and I can't even say it's because I had nothing to write as there has been plenty going on...I guess maybe a little too much which means come the evenings I have been that exhausted the last thing on my mind has been sitting in front of the computer. I think I need less

So the weather is now very autumnal and the leaves are rap[idly turning and falling form the trees.

The temperatures have took a nose dive and most of the time are in single figures which means the heating has gone on in the Walton household..much to the delight of the children!

We've had a few bright days which I have loved, I don't think you can beat that smell of a crisp autumn morning but as of yet no frosts to speak of, one day last weekend there was a light sprinkling of white on the shed roof but it hadn't covered the ground at all.

Having said that there have been some strong winds at times and quite a bit of heavy rain but this week the rain has mainly been in the evenings after dark and has cleared away before the sun has finished rising in the mornings so that's a blessing.

I have been getting some cleaning up done down the allotment preparing for the winter but as of yet no digging has started though I am still hopeful to get it done before November.

I have also been getting plenty of cooking done and I am waiting patiently for my pumpkins to finish ripening so I can roast the seeds and make some pies and soup. Anybody got any other ideas on what to make with pumpkins?? Besides Jack o' Lanterns that is.

This could be an immensely lengthy post but I think I will keep it short for now and try and figure a little bit of time each day to catch you up gradually.

Here's hoping the weekend is a nice one so I can get some more clearing up done!!

Friday 5 October 2012

Friday Forecast...week 40...5/10/12

Well we have hit week 40 and the months have become double figures...somewhere along the way we were supposed to get a summer but I don't think it really happened this year!!

The weather has been a little up and down this week but although there have been the heavy bouts of rain and dull skies at times there has also been that glorious blue sky and the air has had that crisp autumn feel to it.

Still hasn't been cold enough to put the heating on indoors but I have taken the time to look out my scarf and gloves. Realised i need a new winter hat too!!

It seems to get dark so early now and on an overcast day the street lamps are lighting up by 6pm and of course the mornings are pitch black when I wake.

Autumn is quite nice with all the wonderful colours but i don't relish the thought of winter!!

Here's hoping we get some decent weather over the weekend so I can get some more done down the allotment ...think it might even be time to get those squash plants up!!

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday 2 October 2012

Guest Post from Love The Garden

 A couple of days ago I was sent an email from Love the Garden.It was a lovely email and I have pasted it below.

Hope this message finds you well. My name is Maria and I’m a Spanish girl working at Arena Media in London. I came across your blog, and I thought that you and your readers might be interested in an infographic we just launched about chilli peppers.The infographic “Hotter than the sun” includes tips about how to grow your own chillies and how to put out the fire when a chilli turns out to be hotter than expected. It also represents the heat of 15 types of chilli peppers and answers many other questions about them.

It was such a nice e-mail that I went over to check it out and wanted to share it with all of you so after checking it was OK I went ahead and published it here too. I hope you enjoy it...there is also a link below so you can have a look through the rest of the site if you would like.

Hotter than the Sun
Visit for more gardening tips!

Sunday 30 September 2012

Pesky pests and running water.

Well I'm not usually one to complain much but I figure I have a right to with the week I've had and then things were just topped off today so i though I would tell you all about it!

It started a couple of weeks ago when I noticed that the water wasn't draining away properly down the drains in the back garden.

I made a call to Anglian water and they very promptly sent someone round to check, they guy asked me if I had any problems with the toilet flushing and I said 'No, but I have heard water trickling which is unusual. Anyway an investigation by him proved a blocked sewage system which he promptly sorted, said everything was well and them went away. However the trickling sound didn't go with it.

Last Tuesday I noticed a mark on my kitchen wall and when I lent over to have a look I lent on the wall and found it wet through. Closer inspection showed some ominous dark spots appearing near the joins of the wallpaper. Another call to Anglian Water and then a transfer through to Homeserve had me waiting for a man who came and knocked holes in my kitchen wall to fix a sluice pipe.

Then today I say to my Hubby, 'I thin we need to call someone as I can here something in the roof over the bathroom.'. At this point he tells me he has heard it too, apparently so had all the children and yet none of them thought to say anything.

Anyway I was on the phone to the pest control people and we were discussing what the noises could possibly be, you know the usual suspects...Rats, mince, birds, squirrels when I happened to look up and see things swarming around the top of the of the cheeky blighter's even had the nerve to come into the conservatory....

Hornet or wasp or bee

So these are definitely in the roof but the pest control guy doesn't think these would make a noise so maybe there is something else up there too. Anyway they are coming tomorrow so I guess that's when we find out the whole story.

They say these things always come in three's, what I want to know is does the looming hole in the wall and the plaster replacement count as the second and this is the third or is there another surprise waiting around the corner for me?? I really hope that's it!!

Saturday 29 September 2012

Wind and critter damage.

Well I managed to get down the allotment today. My plan was to go yesterday and get a bit of work done initially but the sky darkened and the rains came and I just didn't fancy getting wet through so I figured I would wait to see what the weekend brought us.

Anyway the day dawned bright and I was up at the allotment bright and early to dig some potatoes and have a bit of a tidy up before helping out at the shop.

The potatoes have quite a lot of slug damage so I dug far more than I really wanted to but a row has given me a bucket full and it's really my fault for leaving them in the ground so long so I won't complain too much about it.

I have grown Picasso this year as a main crop, not one I've tried before so I will let you know on the taste later in the week as I will be using them for dinner tomorrow. I also have some 'melody' in the ground which were free so I will do a comparison of the two. In past years I have grown Desiree and King Edwards so I guess I could do a tester for you as I did for the new potatoes.

wind blown sweetcorn

Here is my sweetcorn looking a little the worse for wear after the winds earlier in the week. I think I will just have to take this down and hope that some of the cobs are ready.
wind blown tomatoes

The tomatoes still show no sign of ripening so these are also something I am going to harvest and pull up before they just end up with slug damage...I may try to ripen some indoors, the rest I will use green .
babycorn standing tall

 Amazingly even though it was on the east of the sweetcorn and should have took the brunt of the wind the baby-corn plants are still standing proud!

the brassica bed

 I never did get my brassicas netted this year but to be honest I ma quite pleased with them...

 caterpillar infected cabbage

As you can see from this specimen a few have fallen pray to caterpillars but the damage isn't so bad that it has damaged the heart of the cabbage and this one has grown quite large.

Lovely hearted cabbage ready for harvest

Then some other remain untouched and have grown into very proud specimens which I am looking forward to eating very soon!

A few blown over plants was the only damage from the winds which is a good thing although to be honest they weren't that strong anyway...however they did blow a lot of leaves off the trees leaving a lot of garden debris littered around the bottom of fences and gathered at curb sides.

And as for the critter...well what do you make of this????

a hole in the bell pepper pot

Above is the tub in which my bell peppers are in, in my greenhouse. I'm not sure if you can really see but there, just to the left of the centre of the picture is a little hole, also the soil has been dug bag quite vigorously. Thankfully the plants seem to be OK at the moment but I have no idea as to what could have done this. I can't really investigate beneath the soil without disturbing the plants. My greenhouse door has been shut all the time too. Any ideas as to what might be lurking beneath the surface?? Do I even want to find out??

Well that's about all for now. Not the most productive of days but it did start to get quite chilly. I'm hoping for a dry day tomorrow too so that I can get some more stuff done at the allotment and in the garden.

Oh I was also very good and got the ironing done...and boy do I hate ironing!!


Friday 28 September 2012

Friday Forecast...week 39....28/09/12

Well it's Friday again already which means we are back to another weather report.

Things have been somewhat unsettled this last week.

Saturday bloomed bright and cheery with the sun soon warming everywhere up and only a light breeze so there wasn't even that much of a chill to the air.
Then Sunday came and by the afternoon it was bleak out with drizzly rain and grey sky which occasionally gave big burst of rain.

This continued into Monday when according to the weather men a change in air currents saw us receiving the tail end of a hurricane which brought LOTS more rain and cold strong winds for the day and the evening. Even I had to relent that day and put the heating on for half an hour to take the chill off the house.

Tuesday was still windy but with intermittent rain

Wednesday the rains were more constant with a few bright spells in between but the rain did die down to just a breeze so I got some much needed hedge cutting done!

Thursday was Sunny most of the day and the winds were light so quite a nice day.

Today has dawned bright...A little windy and a chill to the air but nothing you wouldn't expect of September.

Temperatures have been quite mild for the time of year staying in double figures most of the time but the winds have made it seem much cooler.

Daily temperatures between 9 and 15 degrees Celsius. Night-time temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius.

Here's hoping  we will get a dry weekend.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Plum Crumble Cake.(Recipe)


(feel free to click on images to enlarge ingredients and method.)

plum crumble cake ingredients



plum crumble cake method


Finished Cake...


finished plum crumble cake

Now I will just say here that I used ground almonds in the crumble and not chopped, also I used more plums than stated in the recipe and the type I used was Victoria plums but any type is fine. Once cooked the cake was still quite 'gooey' in the middle but we rather enjoyed it this way...however if you want a firm cake right to the middle you may want to cook it a little longer than stated. It was delicious and one I will make again...maybe next time with some different fruit and variations in the crumble too. We had it warm...myself with fresh double cream and my kids with ice-cream.

Monday 24 September 2012

Lets talk New Potaotes.

OK so I know the time for new potatoes have passed so you are probably wondering where this post came from  right out of the blue like this. Well if you remember I have whined a bit about taste and textures of potatoes I have grown in the past so this year I grew a selection in order to try and find 'My' perfect new potatoes and in this post I will give you my findings.

Taste and texture preferences come down to each individual and I don't think I can describe the taste I like but I love a waxy texture with a yellow/white skin and flesh.

I like my new potatoes to taste great boiled either hot or cold and I also like to be able to slice them once cooked and yet they still hold together nicely so as to make potato salads or even have the luxury of frying them.

Also when growing potatoes soil is a huge factor. I have quite a high clay content soil which holds the moisture quite well...I have no idea of the lime or ph content though as I have never done these sorts of tests.

Basically what I am trying to tell you here is that my findings are based on my soil and my tastes so although you may want to give them a try from my findings you may not get the same results!!

I broke the scoring system down into four categories, yield, taste, texture and size. Each of these were marked out of 5 so the overall score is out of 20.

Anya new potaotes

Yield                    3
Texture               4
Taste                   3
Size                     4

Overall score    14

charlotte new poatoes

Yield                         4
Texture                    3
Taste                        3
Size                           3

Overall score          13
nicola new potatoes

Yield                         4
Texture                    5
Taste                        5
Size                           4

Overall score         18
Pentland Javelin new potatoes

Yield                       2
Texture                  1
Taste                      2
Size                         3

Overall score         8
pink fir apple new potatoes

 Yield                    4
Texture                4
Taste                    4
Size                      4

Overall score      16
swift new potatoes

Yield                       2
Texture                  4
Taste                      5
Size                        4

Overall score      15

So there you have my findings. There were a three varieties that we really liked the taste of but the best for texture was fortunately also the one that had the best yield. This wasn't just my decision...I got input form all of the family as although I grow them I am not the only one that eats them so I wanted a good all rounder that everybody was happy with.

I am also happy in the fact that I did not find any pests on the highest scoring and so net year the only potatoes I will grow will be the Nicola. 

The most uncanny thing it this isn't even a potato that I bought but 5 tubers I got as a freebie from T&M!!

So which are you favourites new potatoes?? Whether you have grown them yourself or bought them in store I would love to know which ones you go for !!

Friday 21 September 2012

Friday Forecast..week 38...21/09/12

Well it's been a long busy week so this is just a quick post as I'm ready to get settled down and for the weekend to start.

The seasons certainly seem to be changing this week and the temperatures have dipped considerably, barely getting into double figures.

No heating on in the house yet but the winter coats have surfaced.

Days have often been overcast and grey with cold misty rain....guess we need to get used to it.

Right now though the rain has stopped and the skies have cleared to reveal some wonderful stars...hopefully that bodes well for the weekend.

Will post more tomorrow...have a good evening!!

Sunday 16 September 2012

Allotment harvest and garden work.

Didn't really know how to title this post..maybe I should have just called it, 'What a wonderful weekend'..because it really has been!!

Saturday dawned bright and clear and the chill to the air soon was chased away by the shining sun so I went down the allotment to get some much needed work done. Well that was the plan but in actual fact I spent my time up there harvesting produce and at times having a chat with a few allotment neighbours and sharing produce and tips.

I think this is one of the pro's of having an allotment..the fact that there are people around with whom to chat tactics and swap veggies so that you can try something you haven't grown yourself.

The shop was also open and I bought a big bag of plum tomatoes so I  can make some soup as mine haven't been great this year and I still have no ripe tomatoes outside...thank god for those on the plot with poly tunnels!!

So here's a few pictures of my harvest.....

ruby chard

 I harvested some ruby chard..these plants were given to me by someone down the allotments and they have done quite well though I had let these leaves get a little too big.

baby carrots, rhubarb

My carrots were planted in a tub and have done can't beat the smell of freshly dug carrots, these will be savoured as those sown in the ground didn't germinate..the rhubarb is growing again!!
runner beans...big and small

 The runners beans are still producing well and I am still hoping to get plenty before the plants die off...I still have flowers growing too but I think that is probably being a little too optimistic!!
peppers, french beans, courgettes, marrows, cucmbers, potaotes

This is a great collection and I feel like I really got a decent harvest today for the first time this season. Don't get me wrong I have been bringing things home weekly now but never in abundance until yesterday!

As well as all this I harvest some more baby-corn and plenty of raspberries. I am finding the baby-corn a little restricting in the cooking department and struggling to come up with ideas other than stir fries and that sort of thing so if any of you have done something else with it I'd love to know.

Today was spent in the kitchen and in the garden...Sunday lunch was extra nice with so much home grown produce on the plates but there was also a bit of a kitchen disaster which I will tell you about later in the week.

I was hoping to get down the allotment to do a bit of hoeing but sat and rested for an hour with my book before going into the garden this afternoon to give it some much needed T.L.C. My bird table had started to rot away so it was sawn up and replaced with a new one and I got the lawns cut, tamed a few bushes and pulled up  plenty of weeds and the mesembryanthemums which had past there best. I know I have moaned about the dark nights coming but I'm kind of glad of it tonight...there is so much still to be done that if the light hadn't waned as the sun started to set I think I would still be out there now getting things sorted...I guess the changing of the seasons does have some good points after all!!

Hope you've all had a great weekend too.