Toms, Toilet Rolls & Tickling
We’ve been making the most of the lovely warm, dry weather by being in the garden today. Our Tomato seeds have all come through and before their roots got too long and entangled, we set about potting them on.
Much to J’s annoyance, I’ve been collecting the empty toilet rolls for a while so I could fold part of them over to make a base and make them into little pots. They aren’t very stable just folding them (but they’re less likely to collapse when they need planting) so having them close to each other and standing them inside a recycled biscuit box helps to keep them upright. It’s also watertight so I can put it on our windowsill inside without worrying. I don’t think my family members realise how useful a little Christmas present of a box of biscuits is!
Potting on toms
We also potted on E’s Broad Bean experiments, which he now reckons look like dinosaur plants. Let’s hope they grow big for him!
As we’d re-potted so quickly (and we weren’t cold) we planted some Sweetcorn seeds. I’ve found Sweetcorn seems to like our allotment, so this year I’m planning on growing more plants and for the first time I’ll be trying to grow normal sized Early Extra Sweet F1 as well as Minipop. E loves Sweetcorn of all types and really likes planting (AKA tickling) the seeds, as they are a larger size and his little thumb is the perfect size to use as a dibber for them.
Tickling Sweetcorn seeds
January/February are hard times to garden with a toddler. Going up to the allotment means getting cold, squashing the air out of the mud up there and trying to get him back in the car, whilst removing muddy layers and wellies. Not easy on your ears or anything else. Add to it a toddler who’s got a cold and it’s a nightmare. So this year I’m seriously thinking I might try the ‘no-dig’ method.
So yesterday I started our gardening for the year – inside. I decided to give the old primary school method of growing Broad Beans a try, so that E could watch them grow and know what the seeds he ‘tickles’ get up to before they appear above ground. So out came some glass jars and (because we don’t have any sugar paper in the house) some dampened kitchen roll and voila – the perfect way for E to grow some of the Broad Bean Aquadulce seeds we had left! Already after less than one day two of the seeds had ‘split their coats’ as E told Grandma, so here’s hoping they keep him updated with news on a daily basis, or else they’ll get one of his stern talks.
With my back feeling OK today and the weather being nice, we decided to start some other seeds off today as well. The fact J & I had watched a programme on TV last night pointing out Tomatoes should be started in February, just added to my enthusiasm to get cracking. So, after taking E to a singing & reading session this morning, I found myself in the local DIY store to buy some compost (as none of mine is ready) with E leading the way. We were quite in luck as the compost was knocked down to a third of its price & meant I could buy it and a triple pack of men’s gardening gloves for J, which were also in the sale. He’s been moaning for ages that he needed some new gauntlets for pruning, after losing one of the pair, so it’ll make his day.
E helped to fill the pots,
Pots at the ready
‘tickle’ the seeds in,
write & put craft foam markers in and cover them over,
Covered & Tagged
before giving them a really good watering in.
As you might make out from some of the photos, we planted Basil, Sage, Rosemary, Little Gem Lettuce (all ‘green stuff’ according to E in his explanation to Grandma) in pots and Jalapenos Chillies & Tomatoes (both Black Cherry & Alicante) in trays. All of which are now nicely warm on the windowsill.
Nothing going on….
Despite the howling winds and freezing cold weather, the rose in the garden is still in bloom.
It almost seems like a little bit of nature giving me hope that things will get better, as I’ve fell and hurt all my hands and bruised my right-hand side – just after getting the signing off from the physio for my slipped disc.
We haven’t been up to the allotment recently, as not a lot can be done with the claggy soil and the council are cutting down some of the trees up there, so warned us not to do any work in January as it might be lost. Fingers crossed that having a middle plot will save the veg that are still up there and the planted Broad Beans under the fleece, eh?
Deck the halls with muddy boots
I took E up to the allotment today after popping into town to pick up some soap flakes to make his day tomorrow (as according to E, it always snows on Christmas Day). We went to pick up the Carrots for Santa’s reindeer and the Parsnips & Leeks for Christmas dinner. E was in charge of pulling the Carrots (and replanting any tiny ones that came up by accident)
Cushy job Carrots
whilst I was told to dig up the Leeks and Parsnips, as they were in a very claggy part of the plot – management material already m’fears.
Muddy Parsnips and that’s after a clean up!
We were both surprised to see one of the Raspberry stems sending out a shoot at this time of year, even though we shouldn’t have been as the summer rose and magnolia bush at home are flowering.
Wrong season Raspberry
Anyhow, we hope you all have a Merry Christmas and have a wonderful New Year to come.
Bean up to the Plot at last
I’ve not had a great month for gardening due to a suspected slipped disc keeping me from doing anything for most of the month, so there haven’t been any visits to the allotment until today and quite a lot of the garden is taken up with scaffolding from the free solar panels being put up (which has still not been collected after over 3 weeks) and the back problem means I’m in no shape to try playing twister to get to anything other than the empty patio.
Anyhow, after a week away to celebrate J’s big, scary birthday (in which I was able to have time to do lots of physio and swam every day, I got use of my legs and the pain wasn’t too bad) I chanced trying going up there, along with J & E - my 2 lovely helpers, who were fab. Unfortunately my heart sank as we approached & I saw that someone had broken both the window and door lock on my dilapidated (but much loved) shed. They’d only taken one small multi-tool which had sentimental value and ignored the rest (which wasn’t much as the tools are old, bent & battered and we try and re-use household items so as it’s economical and ecological) but it’s having to repair what obviously is not a treasure trove to anyone but ourselves that irks.
With the ground being soft, but not claggy it was easy to break up the ground with J weeding (thank goodness). E was brilliant at digging holes for the toilet roll tubes to go in; popping a couple of Aquadulce Broad Beans in each; and filling them in. I’ve heard that the percentage of wintering beans that germinate are low, hence the doubling up of seeds. I’m not a fan of Broad Beans (due to the overcooked, hard cased nightmares from childhood) but decided to give them a go again as they might be better home-grown, E may like them and they can go in the ground when nothing else will.
I had a bit of a cowboy saloon moment when I announced to E we had to water them in with some diluted worm wee and to hold his nose. The two young brothers who were with their Dad across from us seemed to think that was quite interesting; stopped dead in their tracks and one even wandered over to the water tap to try and catch a whiff. Amazing how smells and bodily functions can appeal to young children.
Once watered, we covered them up with fleece as our plot is in the middle of the allotments, so most likely to get frosts/snow on a regular basis. I’d show you a photo, but me being me, I forgot the camera. Maybe an upgrade to a phone with a camera is starting to make sense.
At home, the Borlotti Beans have dried nicely and now packed in jars, which double as a musical instrument for E. E also loves to watch ‘his’ chillies change colour. Each morning the Chilli Watch is checking out how far the red ripening has gotten on the chillies we cut off and brought in, so that he can report to Daddy on his return from work at night. Lord help any that decide to have a rest day when those two are on their case lol.
Two tone Chillies
I don’t think J will approve
I went to the allotment on my own yesterday as we decided it was better for E to stop at home than turn into a mud covered toddler with all the heavy downpours we’ve been having the last few days so J babysat him & B. It was a bit of a shock as the autumn winds & weight of the Beans & Sunflowers had pulled the posts and washing line support down and they were all over the floor. It meant that I had to chop them all back and take off the Bean pods with no chance of leaving any up at the plot. I left the smaller Sunflower top up there for the birds to snack on and brought the other back home. As you can see I’ve installed it in the parasol hole in between the seats on the patio, so E can watch the birds snacking from the house this winter. We’ve really been impressed with the Giant Sunflowers as all the seeds E planted have produced huge flowers and made E a very happy little boy.
- Giant Sunflower installation
I’d got a bucketful of Bolotti Beans from the plot and whilst J is out today, I’ve been trying to think where to put them all for drying in our house (as the freezer is full, so it’s the only option for preserving) as the airing cupboard is now full. I’ve ended up using the windowsills above radiators, although I’m not too sure J will be happy with all the photos and ornaments being moved. The poor man puts up with a lot for my gardening and wine-making hobbies and is very particular about where things live, so if you hear cries of “NO!!!” from over this way, you’ll know why
Bolotti Bean Takeover
Whole lot going on
17/10/2013, 8:55 am
Filed under: Bolotti Beans
The weather has definitely turned over here with the rain hitting hard today and making J & myself contemplate finishing drying the Borlotti Beans in the airing cupboard. I’ve even gone as far as buying some of those vac bags for the towels etc so we’ve got enough room for them to dry.
I have to admit that the Tomatoes were a complete waste of space this year in the greenhouse – we didn’t even get 2 that were edible. Even though we’d started them on time, the weather earlier in the year seems to have affected them and most were only just putting out tiny green tomatoes when they started to die off, so we’re thinking of having a rest next year from them. Bizarrely the Chilli plants, which have also had the same upbringing, have a second lot of fruits on them so I think we’ve got enough dried chillis for all the sausage casserole and home-made curry pastes I can make until next growing season.
Chillis not feeling the cold
At the allotment the Courgettes and Borage are bizarrely still going strong, as are the Mini Sweetcorn, which are providing a third load of corns. E’s Sunflowers are massive and starting to lose their petals so he should be able to watch the birds eating the seeds soon (that should give me a rest from having to share my gardening tools with him). I think the Rhubarb is done now after I took 5kg from them the other day and prepared & in the freezer waiting for a free demi-john or three. One of my jobs still to do there is cut the Raspberries back to the ground for the winter. The Raspberries are still putting berries out, but most are going off before they even ripen properly, so it’s better they get chopped than get diseased.
The Spinach is really going for it and I’m struggling to keep up with it in recipes (especially as E & J are not really fans of the stuff due to flavour and it’s habit of sticking to your mouth/teeth). I think at this rate it’s going to be relegated to pureed soups and pasta sauces :( Either that or I’m going to have to start veggie juicing…..
Had fun last week with the Cabbages. I picked 4 of the largest and brought them home and shredded them, only to cut open my thumb when I was cleaning the mandolin slicer :( It was not fun the next day trying to desalt and finish the pickling process, even if the gloves kept it dry it was still painful to have anything touch it – including the glove. Anyhows, I did it and now have enough pickled Red Cabbage to keep E going until Christmas.
I’ve been busy making the late glut of Courgettes into large amounts of Bread & Butter Pickle, which (if not eaten by J, whose a big fan of it) is marked to be little presents for friends & family. I accidently ordered some small jars last year when I needed kilner sized jars, so they are just right for smaller amounts of chutney or pickles, which is great for smaller households.
I’ve got to say thanks to vegetableseeds.net for the voucher for writing my blog. It’s come in really handy as I’ve ordered a flower collection for a Christmas present and some seeds for myself with it one morning and the next day my seeds arrived. Brilliant
Not yet Autumn
The last few days have been like a heat wave again over here so B, E & I have been down to the plot to keep it watered and keep picking the produce. E is now the only person who’s allowed to use the ‘spray gun’ (‘hosepipe’ to those of you that are a bit rusty in Toddler).
The one & only spraygunslinger on the plot
I had a light bulb moment the other day and explained that stems are like straws, so you have to water the floor for the plants to suck up the water, rather than each and every leaf and it worked!
The beans have been coming up lovely and at last we are starting to see the lovely Borlotti Bean stripes and E’s Sunflowers are absolutely huge, the smallest must be 10ft tall! Needless to say, E is very proud of them and we’ve had to send a photo to Cbeebies of one for their growing a Sunflower feature. Think he’ll burst with excitement if they ever show it……
The Raspberries are amazing me with how many berries you can get off so few plants. Honestly, I would recommend growing them, as a few cheap canes have kept us in berries for so long and at least a couple of pound in weight every week. Considering how expensive they are in the shops, we’ve easily made the plot worthwhile, just from them alone (can’t you tell J’s economising skills are affecting me). E’s loves being able to pick his own and, as he goes through the fussy eating stage, I’m glad to say he never says no to picking and wolfing down a handful of Raspberries or two
All about the Courgettes
This morning has been filled with Courgette preserving recipes (apart from the hour that B took to have a bath after she decided to jump in a ditch, which only ever happens when I have a busy schedule). So Chocolate Courgette Cake and Bread & Butter Pickle was the call of the day (as I’d sliced the Courgettes, Peppers and Onions last night and set them aside salting). E wanted to help, but was relegated to his Fun Pod as an observer after he couldn’t get the hang of cracking the few eggs we had into the dish for the Cake (he is still 2 years’ old after all) and only hot work was to be done on the Pickle. He still liked watching and I had my very own commentator for every process.
Pickle ‘n Cake
E was a lot more help the other day when we made our very first baked Cheesecake with the Raspberries from the allotment (yes, he really did allow a punnet-full to come home on the basis he was going to bake with them). I felt very much the sous chef as all I was needed for was to read the instructions and the digital scales, prepare the melted butter and to manoeuvre the cake in and out of the oven. I think I may have to put him forward for the next series of The Great British Bake Off at this rate if he can manage to crack his own eggs……
E’s Baked Raspberry Cheesecake
As you can tell, we are quite pleased with the results of our kitchen escapades of the last few days and E loves showing off to J the results as soon as J comes home from work. Along with the Pickled Beetroot, I’m starting to run out of space in the cupboards, so I might need to convince J that I need to take over his action shed fully when it comes to pickling the Cabbage and bottling the first lot of wine. I wonder how many Raspberry Cheesecakes that will take……
Nice time at the allotment
10/08/2013, 5:06 pm
Filed under: Beetroot
We spent a good couple of hours at the allotment today – weeding and picking produce. Shame our camera has given up the ghost, or else we could have taken piccies . The Beetroots I picked were huge (as you can see in the photo taken with our new camera ) and I was amazed E allowed any of the Mini Sweetcorn and Raspberries off the plot, but taking a picnic with us helped to slow him down to a couple of handfuls of each. Also, being distracted by the shy Common Toad we found amongst the Cabbages helped (hope he stops as he’s got loads of meals on our plot ).
Our produce from the plot (minus E’s Raspberries)
J did a fab job digging up the Garlic & Potatoes and clearing up the Turnips’ and Radishes’ patches, whilst I mainly weeded the Cabbages and Beans, after picking the Raspberries too high up for E to reach; Sweetcorn; Beans and Beetroots.
The Beans are doing well, as are E’s Sunflowers [one of which now has a full flower on it – much to the delight of E] to the extent that the washing line helping to hold up the Bamboo poles broke under their weight. Here’s hoping we get good sized Borlotti Beans then .