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.

Friday 14 September 2012

Friday Forecast...week 37....14/09/12

Misty morning over the fields
This photo was taken last Saturday morning just before the glorious weather hit us. This was a lovely thing to watch as the sun rose above the horizon out the front of my house.

 Well after a beautiful weekend the weather turned...crummy!!

That's as polite as I can put it.

I have to get up in the dark and go to bed in the dark!!

The winds like to spend time howling round the house...the skies are more grey than blu and rain has been off and on again.

The temperatures have gone decreased by about 10 degrees celsius and although 15 is really sold you certainly feel it when they plummet 10 degrees overnight.

I feel the seasons really are about to change and so I need to get my butt into gear and get the allotment prepared for winter...hopefully I can start this weekend.

Praying for some sun and warmth!!

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Victoria Plum Sorbet.(Recipe)

I LOVE sorbet of any description so when I found out I could make one using plums of which again we have plenty this year I was very happy!! I have used Victoria plums in this recipe but you can use any variety.

It's a simple and easy sorbet to make so here is the process.....

Plums (about 2lb is enough to extract a pint of juice)
Sugar syrup.

victoria plums.halved stoned and simmering on the stove top
First pick out the plums you are going to use and halve them.( I choose to take the stones out at this point as I find it easier but if you don't want to you can either remove them from the pan as they rise or in the next step.) put them in a pan with just enough water to cover them and bring to the boil. Simmer gently until soft.
Once they are cooked then pass them through a sieve to remove skin (and stones if you haven't already) to leave you with just the pulpy juice of the plums.

sugar syrup
Next measure your quantity of plum juice and then take equal quantities of either sugar syrup or concentrated apple juice (I used sugar syrup as I had no apple juice, apple juice may produce a 'tarter' taste). 

plum juice and syrup ready to become plum sorbet
At this point you can either churn the mixture for an hour in an ice cream maker if you have one, I don't so I simply put it in the freezer. If you have no ice cream maker once it has nearly frozen all the way through you need to take it out and beat it...if you forget or have to go out then you can take it out at a later date and let it defrost slightly and then beat it which is what I did with my sorbet (I used an electric hand whisk to beat it as it's much quicker but it can be done by hand). Obviously the length of time to freeze will be dependant on how much you make.

Once all of that is done you simply return your sorbet to the freezer and then put into bowls as and when you wish to eat some....

Victoria plum sorbet ready to eat.
Above is the finished you can see it's a much lighter colour once you have broken all those ice crystals down and has a wonderful clean taste to it. My children love it...even those that don't like the plums.

So there it is...a quick easy treat full of goodness. Just one thing to remember though...once the sorbet has been 'beaten' it will take up more room than when you first freeze it so don't more than half fill your containers. Also the first picture with all the plums is not the amount I used to make this sorbet...I was making other things at the same time.

Hope you like the sound of this and give it a try!!

Sunday 9 September 2012

Plodding on at the plot.

Well it's been a beautiful sunny weekend and I spent Saturday down the allotment. I didn't get as much done as I hoped as whoever was supposed to be running the shop didn't turn up so I helped out with that but I didn't mind too much as it's nice to get the chance to have a breather...and besides which cake was involved and I never say no to cake!!

So besides helping out at the shop for  a couple of hours I did get my raspberry canes thinned out and plenty of raspberries harvested. In the process of doing this I found two enormous pumpkins which made me very happy. I also harvested some way too big gherkins which have gone straight in the compost bin as I couldn't find anywhere that I could do anything with them. I haven't been very successful with my gherkins so far as I keep missing them but thankfully there are still plenty forming on the plants...I will have pickled gherkins before the season is out!!

I harvested some babycorn which has been stripped and put in the fridge and will be used later in the week. I am keeping a beady eye on it this year as last year I let the cobs get too big and they started to pop which then makes them in-edible.

It finally looks like my sweetcorn is starting to cob up..YAY!! I of course harvested plenty more courgettes and marrows. I am going to make many things with the courgettes but the marrows I think I will just store as we do love our stuffed marrow.

Still not many tomatoes have turned, a few red cherry ones and that's it...I'm so glad I bought that lovely bag of plum tomatoes at the auction last week, at least I can make a few jars of pasta sauce!!

gherkins, babycorn, tomatoes, marrow, courgette, chilli
The weekend harvest

Golden Berry 'Pineapple' Physalis peruviana
These are lovely and sweet if left  for a while in the greenhouse!

French beans, beetroot,
Lovely beans
I also harvested some runner beans and some lettuce. The lettuce wasn't very big but still delicious!! The plum tree has now just about been stripped of plums, there were actually more than we first thought so I was able to let a friend have some too.I have spent the day today in the kitchen preserving and making things but I won't tell you exactly what I have been up to here...I will leave it for a 'tasters' post as I haven't done one in a while. Now I am off to get the lawns cut whilst they're nice and dry. Hope you've all had a great weekend too.

Friday 7 September 2012

Friday Forecast..week 36...07/09/12...and what I won!!

Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier in the week about the show and auction but it's been busy, busy, busy here with starting back to work, college enrolments, appointments and re-arrangements around new schedules...oh and a bit of plum produce to but more about that next week!!

So do you want the weather first or the show???

Lets go with the weather!!

Well September arrived with some lovely sun and some nice warmth too.

The evenings are darkening before 9pm now but that light throughout the day is helping me cope.

It has been quite breezy at times and due to to the time of year they have been quite cool but when the breeze has died down we have seen temperatures of up to 21 degrees Celsius....I think there may be hope for my corn yet!!

Not a drop of rain in sight!

The plan is to spend the day down the allotment tomorrow and get some harvesting and clearing done in earnest!!

Now for the show.......

flower and vegetable show prize cards
flower and vegetable show prize cards.
 As you can see from above I did get win in some of my categories. I got first prize in, plums, mince pies, fruit cake, country scene photography and animal photography. I got second prize in action photography and jam. 

I don't think the fruit cake and mince pies categories really count though as I was the only one who entered!!

Not bad though for the first time I have entered.

The auction wasn't attended by a lot of people but those who were there were a really good bunch and it was an enjoyable evening. I will definitely enter next year and now I know how things work I may even try to grow something different as although I got lots of certificates to show for my entries none of these were in my vegetables!

So all in all not a bad event...hopefully next year we can publicize a bit more and get more people to show up.

I am told by another plot holder that I should put my certificates up on my shed wall...what do you think??

Saturday 1 September 2012

Sneak peak at my Allotment show entries

Well as I told you all it is the Barrowby Gardeners Association Annual Vegetable and Flower Show today and here are some photos of my entries.

Picaso main crop potatoes
White spuds

runner beans
courgette and ginger jam
Mince pies with home-made mincemeat
Mince pies.
victoria plums
Golden Berry pineapple
Grandma's tealoaf fruit cake
Fruit cake

Nephew playing beach ball in 'action'
Tipsy the cat in photography 'animal'

Grantham canal one day whilst fishing in 'scenery'
So that's it..the judging has already taken place and the auction is this evening so I will find out then whether or not I have been successful in any of my categories.