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!