A look back from a hot November

The allotment has been hard work this autumn. The combination of warmth and wet has really benefitted the weeds and the slugs. Other problems have included the dreaded Onion fly which caused my lovingly grown leeks to ‘melt’ . I managed to save the white tips and have stir -fried these and frozen for later use.

Leeks damaged by onion fly larvae

An onion fly larva about 8mm long

Mid October gave me a chance to plant my garlic,  sprouts and asian walking onions ( grown from seeds) into the allotment. It took until mid November for me to find the time to plant the onion sets ( by which time some had started to sprout). Does ‘chitting’ onions help or hinder the final crop?

Halloween brough the best crop of pumpkins and squash I have ever had , most are in store and being slowly used for soup. I like to roast them in segments with olive oil and dry chilli flakes  then scrape out the flesh into some softened onions, add stock or water and this year I am adding the borlotti and french beans that have been podded and boiled until tender.  Really hearty and tasty.

One of the many great pumpkins

Another wonderful squash - Turban squash

The beans – about 5kg were harvested from the last of the bean pods

Borlotti and french beans- for beefing up the soup

The largest pumpkin was selected by my son for Halloween creative carving  many visiting ghouls and witches were impressed!

Home grown Halloween pumpkin

While all this spooky work was going on my new sprout plants were devastated by slugs  and so we will have to have cabbage for Christmas.

Buckingham Nurseries have kindly replaced the Medlar tree which died last year so I have planted this out, carefully following the instructions and hope that it can establish itself as well as the quince tree has done.   Otter Farm has sent through my Szechuan pepper  tree. I am looking forward to seeing it seed over the next few years.

For reference here are the plans for the allotment in 2011 20a sits next to 20b to make a nice rectangular patch with a path down the middle.

Plot 20 A plan 2011

Plot 20B plan 2011

Now on with the weeding……

Puffballs

Since last winter I have been on the lookout for the puffball season. In early spring I found evidence of a great number of puffballs which were by then rotten and had I hoped spread their spores far and wide. The puffball season has been around late September but this year ( 2011) it arrived early. Luckily I have been keeping an eye out for these football sized fungi for a few weeks. Walking the dog is a good excuse for a bit of fungi hunting and on 4th September I saw hidden under the hedge the tell-tale white shapes. There were 20 or 30 fresh puffballs. I took three. They have been sliced and fried in butter or olive oil with salt and pepper and frozen for the future. I will stir-fry with garlic and chilli and serve with pasta, or just have with my occasional egg and bacon breakfast.

Fresh puffballs ready for cooking

Next on my list are parasol mushrooms and the less easy to identify horse and field mushrooms. Take care and double check anything you find. If in doubt don’t eat it.

Allotment catch up

Overwintered onions coming good in the warm dry spring

Since I last posted the weather has turned from fairly unrelenting heat and wind to unrelenting rain and wind. There was hardly a day from March to the end of May when we had any rain .  This meant all my plants needed watering every day and even then the climbing beans  planted out a bit early ( in April)  suffered from being battered by the wind and will take a lot of catching up. 

The allotment at the end of April 2011

After consulting with my Twitter chums, I finally planted my early potatoes in the first week of April, the variety is Epicure.

Epicure early potatoes, looking good in mid May

There was no frost from then on and they have grown well. However the warm damp weather since June has caused an outbreak of blight on the allotment and I am busy digging up the tubers to save them.

Epicure early potatoes not looking so great after the hot damp weather

The main crop  was planted on 25 April  and although they are not badly affected yet but it is only a matter of time.

Peas and more onions/shallots were planted in early April and are doing well. We have been eating the peas as mangetout  for a couple of week. They are wonderful stir fried with garlic in olive oil. I usually slice them first so the are about a cm wide each and all cook at the same time.

Courgettes nice striped zucchini were planted at the same time as the main crop but under polyethylene cloches and have done well. The first few were harvested  on 25th of May and we have been eating them pretty much each night since.

Also planted around the same time  were Corn on the Cob plants, some donated and other sprouted by me,  salad mix ( again under a fleece cover).

In early june I have planted more courgettes, squashes, cucumbers and aubergine plants.

Wonderful courgettes

I finally finished the path and the fruit is flourishing. Strawberries, tayberries, red, white and black currents have all come at once.

June fruit from the allotment

The salads are also doing well, enough mixed leaves for a good salad each night and some full lettuces ready for picking.

TheTelegraph and a Radio 4 Food Program were featuring perennial food. I have since put in Jerusalem Artichokes to complement the Globe artichoke and am growing some Egyptian walking onions from seed. The rhubarb has been extended with another variety and I hope to try a Szechuan pepper tree and Oca next year  from Otter Farm. I have also planted day lilies which apparently make good eating. I gather some people may be allergic and that normal lilies are poisonous so do take care.

Lastly, some sad news, my Medlar tree failed to establish and sprout, the nice people from Buckingham Nurseries have agreed to replace it. The Quince is doing very well.

The failed Medlar

 

Mid June in the allotment