Saturday, 1 November 2008

My first Jerusalem Artichokes : )

Harvested this morning, along with Butternut Squash, Beetroot, Parsnips, Calabrese, and a random cucumber that I'd missed previously!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Saucy Haw Ketchup

I made this tasty ketchup from a recipe in the River Cottage Preserves book. It turned out a bit too runny, but at least it looks pretty!



Saucy Haw Ketchup

Sunday, 31 August 2008


I didn't mention this before, but a few months ago my greenhouse got vandalised.

My plot is on the very edge of a large allotment site, and although there's a strong metal fence which (mostly) keeps out intruders, it's open to view from the adjoining nature reserve/woods where kids build tree-houses and play at target-practice... well-aimed rocks were to be expected really. Overall I lost perhaps a quarter of the glass : (

I've considered the following plans for repair:

1. Replacing the broken panes with perspex (too expensive).

2. Replacing the broken panes with polythene (too flimsy on the sharp metal frame, no way of attaching it securely without letting too much air in).

3. Replacing the roof with clear corrugated PVC, and re-jiggling the glass to fill the gaps (this plan failed when I couldn't buy the PVC in the right lengths, and couldn't cut it either. It would also have worked out quite expensive).

4. Removing all glass from the North side of the greenhouse, using it to fill the gaps, then replacing the North side with wood (I liked this idea because it'd create a shady area next to the greenhouse where I could rest on hot days. But it'd be hard work).

5. As above, but replacing the North side with multi-coloured translucent sheets of plastic which I can buy from work (they are very thin, but rigid which should make them easy to fit. I can cut them to size with a stanley knife, and best of all they are cheap!)

As you might expect I've chosen the last option. If it works, my greenhouse will have an impressive faux stained-glass window which will look great from the outside when the sun shines through it!

Work commences tomorrow : )

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Dinner, and things...

I think I'm getting better at looking in the fridge to see what's there, and inventing a recipe to fit!

Tonight I had roast veg (potatoes, tomatoes, courgette) with vegetarian "meatballs". I added a crushed clove of garlic and a jalapeno pepper to the roasting tin (both of which I removed before eating - I just wanted a subtle hint of their flavours). On serving I added a dribble of Balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of black pepper. Simple, but most yummy! And I was extra pleased with myself when I realised I'd grown everything apart from the veggieballs : )

Whilst cooking this I dry roasted a few handfuls of foraged Hazelnuts (Claire, I think we're too late - the squirrels seem to have been busy this year), in an attempt to fill up the oven and be more economical with the electricity...

I also saved half a courgette for breadmaking later on. I've done experiments and now I'm sure that courgette helps bread to rise. Anyone know why that might be?

Monday, 25 August 2008


Growing by the River Thames, near Sonning, Berkshire.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Harvest 19/8/08

French beans, calabrese, foraged plums and damsons, tomatoes, courgette, potatoes.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Plastic bottle greenhouse

Instructions here!
: )

Allotment update

I visited the plot this morning after being away for 5 days. I made some quick notes on how everything's doing...

Successes so far: onions, garlic, peas, broad beans, leaf beet, kale, courgettes, french beans, calabrese, various herbs, cos lettuce, chillis, a bit of soft fruit (just establishing)... and 3 beautiful pink plums!

Looking promising: celeriac and parsnips (they like the rain, you see), leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, Beetroot (finally!), runner beans (lots of flowers at last), rhubarb (ready for next year).

Successful but now showing signs of blight: potatoes, tomatoes

Struggling: squash, cucumbers, carrots (because I messed up!)

Monday, 11 August 2008

Poppy seeds

These poppies invited themselves on to my allotment:

When the seed heads had dried, I collected them in a little pot along with a few others I found on some waste land near my flat. I shook the pot - and out from their cases came hundreds and hundreds of teeny black seeds.. They make a welcome addition to my breadmaking supply cupboard : )

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


I think I should post more photos of the food I harvest from my allotment. I normally drop by on the way home from work and collect just enough for my tea. This evening I decided to try digging up a few of my maincrop "King Edward" potatoes - they are huge!

I also collected a small basket of random goodies. The tomatoes are coming thick and fast now - luckily I really love tomatoes! I'm building up a stockpile of courgettes too...

There are loads of wild Blackberries around the edges of the allotment site, and I wasn't the only one picking them!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Cannock Chase

I visited Cannock Chase with friends at the weekend. It was beautiful!

We saw lots of interesting animals and plants, including Lizards, Frog tadpoles, Deer, Dragonflies, various Butterflies, wild Raspberries, Strawberries, Bilberries and Cowberries (or possibly "Cannock Chase Berries" - a rare hybrid Bilberry/Cowberry, apparently!).



I'd never tasted Bilberries before, but they were really sweet and juicy. The Cowberries were more mealy and had less flavour, but were still nice. The wild Strawberries were absolutely gorgeous!

Thursday, 24 July 2008


There is a family of lizards on my allotment : )
Well, I assume it's a family - there are at least 4 baby ones, all about the same size (tiny!). They like to sunbathe on the wooden edges of my raised beds:

Monday, 21 July 2008

Crochet gathering baskets

I'm addicted to wicker/handwoven baskets - they look good (in my opinion!) and they're perfect for bringing home the harvest. I've collected loads over the years from charity shops etc and I've always fancied having a go at making my own.

The problem with such baskets is that they're too bulky to carry around on the off-chance that I might find something worth collecting. To solve this problem I've desgned some collapsable, crochet baskets that fit in my handbag, *just in case*...

One day (soon!) I'm going to try making cordage from Nettles, and crocheting or weaving a basket from that. I'm also going to experiment with recycled materials. In the mean time, I've made these baskets out of natural garden twine, which is eco friendly and smells like compost : )

Monday, 7 July 2008

Courgette loaf

My breadmaker cost £24 from Argos. I've *easily* saved that much money on bread since I bought it last August. It's simple to use, and it's fun! This loaf was based on a recipe for carrot bread, simply replacing grated carrot with courgette.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Preserving the harvest

A productive lunchbreak has yielded one large tub of wild cherries. I'm thinking Cherry vodka....

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


One thing I learned in my first year of allotment gardening (last year) was to harvest as much as possible while it's still young, tender and tasty - there will always be lots more to come!

Tonight's dinner was quiche (made with homegrown leaf beet), baby new potatoes, broad beans, peas, teeny carrots and salad. Pretty much all of it was my own produce : )

I would have had wild raspberries for pudding, but I scoffed the lot on my way home...

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Pea tendrils

I've been photographing my peas in close-up (rather than weeding!) - they are very beautiful : )

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Gardeners' friend

Click for bigger - look at his little face! : )

Friday, 13 June 2008

Summer harvest begins...

Last night I brought home my first half-decent harvest from the allotment. I got a good handful of broad beans, cornsalad, perpetual spinach, and new potatoes. Yum!
Hopefully, from this point onwards, with a bit of careful planning, I'll have a fairly continuous supply of goodies...

The other day I picked a big bagful (is that a word?) of juicy cherries from a tree in a park just outside town. The park also has a few plum trees - I'm eagerly awaiting the fruit from those as they were very sweet and tasty last year. They were early too - along with some wild cherries they made a fine "June jam".

Monday, 2 June 2008

Mystery plant...

I found this plant growing in some woods near to my allotment, and wondered if it might be some kind of currant or gooseberry. What do you think?

Thursday, 22 May 2008


Today I harvested my first (mini) carrots of the year : )

They were just thinnings really. But they were tasty!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

May Blossom

Last night I went out with a friend collecting May Blossom (Hawthorn) for winemaking. The recipe I have is for a dry white (using white blossom) or a rose (using pink blossom). We really wanted the pink variety, but it only seems to grow in peoples gardens!

Hawthorn is a very useful (and very common) shrub. The young leaves and buds are good in sandwiches. You can make wine with the flowers, and eat them in salads. The Haws (fruit) can also be used for winemaking, and preserved in other interesting ways such as by making fruit leathers (experiments to follow!).

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Yesterday was a really good allotment day.

First thing, I got a text from a workmate, saying "I left glass cutting on your front door" (he meant grass, which I later used to mulch my potatoes).

Then I went to pick up a wheelbarrow from Freecycle, which turned out to be very useful as I spent much of the day transporting woodchips to my plot in order to make paths between my (sort-of) raised beds. I now need a gate - lifting a full wheelbarrow over a fence goes against allotment health and safety regulations. Probably!

I also, recklessly perhaps, bought a push-mower and attempted to mow the "lawn" (space on my plot reserved for barbeques etc). Hmmm...

My last aquisition of the day was an old shelf unit, which I snaffled from the skip to use in my greenhouse : )

Here's a pic of my first early potatoes, which I'm growing in an old water tank thingy (click to view bigger):

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

This is Garlic Mustard (also known as Jack-by-the-hedge and Hedge Garlic). It's VERY common in the UK, and you can find baby leaves from late winter through to late spring.

It has a mild oniony flavour, and is apparently very good with fish or in mint sauce.

These pictures were taken on Sunday at the allotments (click to view bigger).

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Stuff I'm growing...

Spinach (harvesting)
Rocket (harvesting)
Lettuce (harvesting)
Mustardy things (harvesting)
Lemon Balm (must try tea!)
Mint (harvesting)
Rosemary (harvesting)
Thyme (harvesting)
Sage (harvesting)
Chives (harvesting)
Currants (cuttings from wild)
Raspberry (cuttings)
Broad beans (first flower today!)
Plum trees
Teeny Apple tree
Leaf beet
Burdock (?)
Jerusalem Artichokes (no-show after 2 months)
Jalapeno peppers (windowsill)
Tomatoes (windowsill)
Basil (windowsill)
+ various ornamental things!

Tomorrow I plan to sow courgettes, squash, beans and coriander in pots : )

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Hops (Humulus lupulus)

I recently tried hop shoots for the first time. I only had a few (because I was scared!) in an omlette. They were quite pleasant - a bit like nettles maybe, but milder.

On my lunchbreak today I picked a large handful as I wandered by the river. I also took a few pictures (click photo to view bigger).

This evening for dinner I made a quick cheese sauce for pasta, and threw them in to add a few vitamins : ) I would recommend using only the very tops (3 or 4 inches) and cooking them quite well, as they're covered in strange sticky hairs!