Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Thieving B***ards!

I'm sorry there is no photo to liven things up this time, but I can't take a photo of my wheelbarrow because it has been nicked!
Yes that's right, stolen from the allotment. Can only assume it is one of these scrap metal thefts I keep hearing about.
And lo! The Chancellor's Autumn Statement has today announced that the Government will invest £5 million to set up a nationwide taskforce to target metal thieves and scrap metal dealers who illegally trade in stolen metal. How about that for finger-on-the-button save-the-economy thinking!! Must vote Tory next time (not!)
But in the meantime, once I have calmed down this does open up the opportunity to buy a pretty pink plastic wheelbarrow, don't you think? I have been eyeing these for a while but couldn't really justify it. I mean, who needs two wheelbarrows? Now I am barrow-less (if you are reading, Santa) please can I have one of those?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Freezer Roulette: a Family Tradition

In the rush to get produce picked, prepped, and eaten during the summer a number of dishes found their way into the freezer unlabelled. So on Friday night we found ourselves playing roulette of the "is it a chilli or a bolognese?" variety. Cue all sorts of angst from Him Indoors about how to pick an appropriate wine to go with it.

It turned out to be neither: it was actually a dish I had made with the glut of runner beans and tomatoes, livened up with chunks of chorizo.

Such lax freezer management is a bit of a family trait. My Mum used to make fabulous pies of all varieties when I was little: fruit, meat, sweet, savoury, but rarely labelled. She claimed to be able to identify the filling by some mysterious combination of vents in the pastry lid. One for steak and kidney and two for black currant maybe...but I remember at least one occasion when the system failed and the golden pastry crust split to reveal a meat pie where pudding should have been. Delia Smith would not have been impressed.

It is clearly more sensible to label the contents of the freezer than rely on guesswork, but rarely as entertaining.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

For Daffo-Dylan

Today the girls and I planted daffodils together in the garden.

Our lovely first dog Dylan died last spring when the daffs were in full bloom. Through our sadness we talked lots about all our happy memories of him, and how we wanted to remember him. The girls decided that they wanted to remember him by planting daffodils. They talked about it so much they even started referring to him as Daffo-Dylan.

There had been a number of Welsh connections during his life, so this suggestion seemed fitting. Amongst those connections was a dashing Welsh flag neckerchief that he used to wear when he came with us to the pub, although here he is modelling it on the beach. A Welsh beach, naturally.

If the bulbs survive the attentions of our current dog (whose appetite for things in the garden knows no bounds) then we will have lots of daffs to remind us of Dylan next spring.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

More daylight hours urgently required

My time at the allotment is squeezed into whatever is left after the demands of everything else have been met: children, work, walking the dog, social life (if I had one…).  As the evenings get shorter, daylight hours at the weekend become ever more precious. Last Sunday we all went for a lovely walk to enjoy the autumn colour. Unusually, it was a great success. The dog behaved, the kids didn't whine and responded well to bribes of Halloween Horrors gingerbread biscuits (thank you Sainsbury's!) and the weather was kind to us.

As enjoyable as this was, by the time we had completed the walk, eaten lunch, and sorted out whatever else was on the family "must do" list it was already too dark to think about either the garden or the lottie.

I am extra-conscious of time passing at this time of year. All too quickly the opportunity to do things has passed. I never did to sow or buy any spring cabbages, for example, and now I suspect it really is too late (although I would be pleased to hear from anyone who thinks I may still be in with a chance and knows of somewhere that still has plants available).

Other jobs on the seasonal gardening list include:
     Clean the greenhouse
     Check what seeds I have (and are still in date) to make sure I don't buy any I don't need
     Empty remaining pots
     Plant daffs (oh dear – probably should have done that by now…)
     A good tidy up in the front garden – the last of the purple cabbages are looking distinctly tired now, and the courgette plant should have found its way to the compost heap weeks ago.
     Sow broad beans – or maybe I will leave that till after the worst of the weather this year?
     Transplant new growth to create a second row of raspberry canes.

That lot will easily fill whatever spare time I have until at least the end of November, I should think. How on earth some people manage to be talking about Christmas preparations already is beyond me!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Thoughts slowly turn to winter

I've been reading reports that a serious drop in temperature is likely within the next two weeks or so, so I have started to think about protecting or moving anything which is likely to be damaged by severe cold. Last year, although it had done fabulously well earlier in the year the perpetual spinach turned to slime when the really cold weather started, and potatoes stored in the garage also suffered badly.

So I have already started picking the remaining spinach leaves. Last night I made a huge pan of chicken and spinach saag which just kept growing and growing. Very nice and lots for the freezer. Spinach soup will be coming up next as there is still loads to pick. Regarding potatoes, Him Indoors is less than impressed with my plans to bring the remaining stocks inside. This will require a very radical rethink of our limited under-the-stairs storage cupboard which is already packed to the rafters. It will also mean we need to be 100% sure that we don't bring any unwelcome vermin in from the garage with them. However, I can't think where else to store them.
And a brief update on yesterday's post: hats off to Thompson and Morgan for a prompt response to my emailed complaint. They got off to a bit of a false start by promising to send me a new pack of garlic. Garlic? It was the onions which were rotten, not the garlic. Anyhow that little misunderstanding was quickly cleared up and they have promised me that a new batch of onions will be delivered. Not a refund, admittedly, but it was the onions I wanted in the first place. So as long as they turn up (before the snow does) I'll be happy.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Rotten onions

At long last I managed to spend some time at the allotment yesterday to plant my onions and garlic. But alas, all was not well as a significant proportion of the Electric Onions delivered recently were rotten. Many more were already soft and clearly starting to rot. There were just about enough to plant 1 row on the lottie but the rest went straight into the compost bin.
They were part of an order from Thompson and Morgan. I have never had any problems before with any of the orders I have placed with them. I have asked for a refund. Let's see if I get my money back…


Lincolnshire Sky

Lincolnshire Sky