Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Weeding peas

Weeding peas is a fiddly job! Peas need plenty of water but of course that encourages the weeds as well. In the gap between rows, hoeing is possible if you are careful but otherwise it is a hands and knees job!
Be very careful, peas at this stage, just flowering and producing the first peas, can be uprooted very easily and peas will often try and use the nearest object, e.g. a weed,  for support instead of all those pea sticks collected over previous months.
I have found that, despite getting dirt up fingernails and on hands, it is better to dispense with gardening gloves in order to pick out the weeds from in amongst the peas.

This year has been cold for them, the earliest pods did survive the frost but went a bit of a funny colour, but now there's plenty of pea flowers and pods forming. CDs on strings have also been used as a defence against sparrows looking for a nice bit of greenery to munch!

Monday, 18 May 2015

What's going on at the allotment - part 2

Despite the slow start, there is quite a lot of activity in the allotment and most of it is under cultivation. Eats at the moment are the very last of the leeks - they are getting a bit tough and the ends are swelling up into bulbs, a small bit of asparagus - picked very sparingly this year so as not to weaken the plant in the 3rd year of growth, some rhubarb and some broccoli.

 These are the overwintered onions and garlic.

Overwintered onions - sometimes called Japanese onions - are planted in September as sets and are hardy enough to stand even the coldest winters we get here.

There are 4 garlic plants among these. I planted a whole bulb's worth of them so I don't know what's happened to the others.......

These will be ready towards the end of June.

One of the garlics will be saved until next year, however you can just go to the supermarket, buy a garlic bulb, break it up, peel the papery skin off and plant! That's what we did when we first got the allotment!

Here are the strawberries, flowering with one or two very small strawberries forming.

In autumn last year, I dug out all the strawberry plants and runners, and gave the bed a really good weed, getting rid of as much of the invasive couch grass as possible. Then, putting in plenty of manure and compost, the best plants and runners (including some from the window box at home) went back in and certainly looking at them now it was worth the effort!

Blackcurrants - these seem to grow more and more currants every year, which is good providing you have an infinite freezer and an lifetime's supply of Kilner Jars!

They are turned into jam (along with the raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, some of the apples and the occasional blueberry!),

 and preserved in vodka!

What's going on at the allotment - part 1

It is now mid May and the weather doesn't seem to have warmed up any!
On my Twitter account
there are followers from various parts of the UK, and it is really quite interesting to see the difference in the growing conditions between such as Dorset and Kent - very much ahead in terms of what is ready, here in North Yorkshire and indeed in the northern parts of Scotland, where frost (and indeed snow a couple of weeks ago) are still a problem!

 Here is a general view of the allotment, with the poor peas that seem to have had everything against them this year, being pecked by sparrows until CDs on strings and mesh were deployed, frost and cold conditions, nearest the camera, with the potato patch next, and in the background the fruit area which has flourishing rhubarb. Beyond the fruit are areas for brassicas and for onions, carrots etc.

Here is a closer view of the potatoes....

 As you can see, I have already made ridges to save a bit of earthing up, the ridges have also meant that only a little covering up with earth was necessary to protect the earliest shoots from frost.

All the potatoes are in now, it has been a bit of struggle finding space due to the overwintering and indeed overrunning broccoli!

 Can't complain though, even at this time in May there's still some really nice purple brocolli to eat. That is, if you like brocolli - my family do but I don't! Really don't.....but I am happy to grow it for others to enjoy!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Eats, shoots and leaves part 2

What is ready to eat just now, sprouting broccoli, rhubarb, peppers in the house, salsify.

Eats, shoots and leaves part 1

Some pictures of the vegetables starting to pop up in the allotment.

First potatoes coming up, leek seedlings, asparagus, carrots.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Household veg and fruit

Although most of the fruit and vegetables are grown in the allotment, some of them are grown in the house or started off in the house.


This tomato plant is an rooted offshoot of the five year old one that finally keeled over at the end of last year after one major fling in late Autumn.

As with it's parent, this one is producing tomatoes at unseasonal times of the year, which is a great show-off really, as we have had home grown tomatoes straight off the plant for the past few years in the middle of winter and at Christmas!

It is right next to a radiator - ironically its predecessor was more active when the heating came back on in the Autumn - and next to the window and gets regular feeds and rainwater.



This is the first home grown pepper of the season, picked around the end of March

Peppers can be grown all the year around indoors, this is a bell pepper but there are chilli pepper plants on the windowledge as well. 
There's a succession of plants to give a steady supply.
Recent pepper seedlings

 Meyer Lemon tree. This tree was given as a present, with about 9 lemons on it.

It has sulked a little since the lemons were taken off but now it is in the sunniest window it is starting to produce flowers again.
Lettuce seedlings. These will be grown in a window box on one of the windowledges but there are others that will be going into the allotment or outside pots. Also (out of shot) are some mini carrots designed for window boxes.

Sunday, 12 April 2015


Recipe for Mexican Tortillas


3 chicken breasts
1/2lb frying steak
3 peppers
1lb mushrooms
2 onions
2 cloves garlic
3 mugs full assorted dried beans (red kidney, butter, blackeye)
1 can plum tomatoes
Tortillas and/or tacos (8-16)
Vegetable oil for frying.
2 chillies or a teaspoon of chilli powder - reduce or increase to taste, can use red, green or jalapeƱo chillies. 

Serves 9 portions, ingredients can be increased as necessary.

Important: Dried beans must be soaked in cold water overnight and then the water changed before boiling for 45 minutes.

 Wash hands thoroughly after handling chillies or wear clean plastic gloves.

While the beans are cooking, wash and slice up the peeled onions, mushrooms and de-seeded peppers and peeled garlic. Core and slice the chillies if using. Place these in a large saucepan with some vegetable oil and start frying up, stirring occasionally.

Whilst frying the vegetables, slice up the steak and the chicken into strips and the put in the pan with the vegetables

Cook until the meat is cooked right through, this is usually 10-15 minutes to be sure, it won't harm if kept stirred and turned over and prevented from sticking with oil.

Add the tomatoes and chilli powder if using. Warm through.

Warm or microwave the tacos or tortillas.

When ready, serve beans and other ingredients inside tortillas/tacos.

Toppings include melted cheese, salsa, iceberg lettuce, chipotle sauce