To Sandra at Shropshire Girl for the awards!

 

You can join in as well if you want to, the rules are:-

 1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
3. Nominate at least seven other blogs
4. Add links to those blogs
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Here are my nominees.

  • Codlins and Cream
  • CompostWoman
  • Green Twins Mummy
  • Oakmoon
  • Pony Tales
  • Salena
  • Somerset
  • Kentish Lass
  • Hopefully that has worked!  I’m still quite new to all the fizz bangs that you can play with on blogs!  I haven’t worked out how to get the awards to you guys yet though.  I’ll try later! Sorry.

    Thank you again.  I am chuffed!

    We have had THE most superb time this weekend!

    Started off as usual on Saturday morning, trip to the supermarket for those things we can’t grow or don’t have ready yet, and things we can’t yet make.  THEN it was back home, swift lunch, and then I got going on the baking ready for the Allotment Summer Show on Sunday.

    I’d entered 2 categories, the Fruit Cake – Own Recipe, and 8 Biscuits.  Needless to say, this meant I had to make LOTS of biscuits, in order to obtain 8 perfect ones.  More of that later.

    Saturday evening was spent having dinner with 4 friends, and it was a superb evening.  We ate lovely food, prepared by my friend from work, who is one of THE best cooks I know.  He did us proud for sure, and we all had many and varied conversations and plenty of wine and coffee before finally falling into a taxi, very late, and very happy.

    And so…home to bed at 1AM, knowing that tomorrow was THE big day.  Not only was I entering my cake and biscuits into the show, but Adrian and I were looking after Grandsmall for the WHOLE day as well.  We were both looking forward to it, and HOPING that the show might keep her amused!

    So it was off to the show tent with the goodies, then off to collect Grandsmall and all the ‘stuff’ that is required in minding an almost 2 year old for the day! I have to use their car to take her out, because of the car seat, and poor Son in Law is going to have a job to get his seat back to HIS driving position, I am mightily shorter than he is.

    WE got home, and proceeded to give her her lunch, as she was showing signs of becoming tired.  She wasn’t much interested in the sandwich her Mama had so lovingly prepared, but WAS intently learning to ‘drum’ on the plate with a pen, ably taught by Adrian, who showed infinite patience in helping her to get it right.  I THINK he was having more fun than Grandsmall!  Having had her dessert and a drink, we loaded her into her buggly and set off for the lottie, MY how it’s coming along

     

    The cabbages are almost ready, though some leaves have been munched a tad..

    Beans are going great guns, loads of beans and still lots of floweres as well.  More canning to be done!

    More Tomatoes ripening nicely..

    ANd some super pears.  Hopefully I will get to eat some of these, someone has nicked ALL the plums, not just from our plot either.  Food has gone from several plots, which is something we have been concerned about given the current economic climate.

    It was soon TIME though, so we headed off over to the show marquee to see what was what.  There were lots of entries this year, which is very good, and even better, some new faces.  The show needs that, it can get a bit boring when the same people win everything year in year out, and it’s great to see new alottmenteers beaming over a prize.

    The onions were all beautifully presented.  Some people must have spent HOURS lovingly wrapping each one!

    Enormous Pumpkins, unfortunately, our allotment neighbour couldn’t show his, it was one of the things that was stolen from his plot.

    And the baking..

    The winning cake, and NO it wasn’t mine.  Mine apparently, was ‘slightly sunk’!  As it was perfectly flat, I’m not sure HOW it had sunk, but there you are, that’s the perils of shows for you.

    The biscuits redeemed themselves though..LOOK..

    Yup, that’s a FIrst Prize folks!  I was SO chuffed.  SO excited in fact, that I didn’t notice the second card bearing a First under the plate.  It wasn’t until Adrian came home with the goodies, and the plates, that I realised I had TWO First Prizes, one for the Best Biscuits, and one for the Best Cookery Exhibit!

    Those on the forums I frequent will be able to tell you how stunned and pleased I am.  For the Best Cookery Exhibit, I also win a Silver Salver for the year.  Folks, I have a Trophy!

    OOH Almost forgot!  I also have some lovely new-to-me items from the Bric a Brac Stall!  A superb crock pot, MADE for home made soup I think, for 30p.

    And for 5p the two, a couple of Denmead Pottery shallow bowls, deep plates…

    The day ended with a very sleepy and smiley Grandsmall being ferried home to Mama and Papa, a VERY weary Adrian flopping on the sofa have chased, been chased, crawled around, played Grand Prix driving etc all day, and a VERY tired but Smiley Nanna, slumping on the sofa clutching a glass of vino.

    A FABULOUS weekend indeed!

    As in Canning!  We bought ourselves a Pressure Canner from the States, and it arrived this week. So today was canning day, though I’m not really sure why it’s called canning, because you use jars!

    Anyway, the first thing I decided to process, was some home made Baked Beans that I made this morning.  I think I could have frozen them, but as we had the jars and the canner, it seemed logical.  Here is the wonderful canner in all it’s glory, it’s a Mirro Canner, 8qrt, for pressure cooking, 4qrt for canning.

    You can’t see the ‘jiggler’, which is the weight that sits on top of the little spike in the middle of the lid, because I forgot to put it on when I took the pic!  Anyway, it’s called a ‘jiggler’ as that is what it does.  It has 5lb, 10lb and 15lb settings, and you put whichever one you want on the lid, then when it’s at the right pressure, the little weight thingy jiggles about and makes a noise, then you lower the heat, until it only jiggles every 2 or 3 minutes.  You time the canning process from there. Most things seem to take about 20 minutes at 10lb.

    SO….having put the cooked beans in the jars, into the canner they went, I processed them for about 15 minutes, as they were already cooked and I didn’t want them to be mush, and here they are when they were done.

    Don’t they look wonderful?  They taste divine, and I used tomatoes from the allotment rather than the tinned ones the recipe suggested, so all in all, a good use of our harvest I think. I’ll put the recipe for the beans up another time, but it’s dead easy and really good.

    Next on the list, were the several pounds of tomatoes that Adrian brought back from the lottie.  You can do these two different ways, either by peeling them and cooking them, then into the jars and process, or cold packed, which is what I chose to do.  You wash the tomatoes, and then squash them into the jars so the juice comes out, and you have a tightly packed jar.  THAT is so very satisfying, I can’t tell you how much fun it was.  Even if I did end up completely covered in tomatoe juice and pips. LOL

    Result?  Here they are, all that yummy goodness stored up for use in the winter in stews and soups, passatta, all sorts.

    It’s not difficult to can food, but I have a couple of books that are INVALUABLE to us in preserving our produce.  The First one, is Keeping The Harvest, and has recipes for all sorts of things, charts of timings, clear and simple instructions, for freezing, drying, curing in brine, jams etc.  It’s a lovely book, and can be found on the wonderful Amazon.

    The other one is VERY useful as well, and is divided up by fruit and veg types, it’s called How To Store Your Garden Produce, also available from Amzon, and this one also has clear descriptions of how to clamp things, which is basically burying certain veg in the ground to keep it fesh.  There are recipes for jams, and wines as well.  I have had both of these books by my side all day.

    As I write, I have some purple french beans, and some gorgeous Italian Plum tomatoes in the canner, Adrian brought them home about 1/2 and hour ago, and they are happily bubbling away.

    Many of you already know, that Sundays are usually baking days as well.  I TRIED to resisit doing any today, but I couldn’t, some things just HAVE to be done, so here is a pic of the Capuccino Tray Bake I made while the tomatoes were processing.

    I think I also told you we were getting a dehydrator, well that has also arrived, and so far we’ve dried some bananas, which turned out very well and I have them on my brekkie every day, some herbs, Basil, Thyme and sage, and some tomatoes as well.  The toms can be sprayed with water and left to rest then sprayed again, and then you can use them in salads in the winter, just like fresh ones!  HOW fab is that?

    Adrian also brought home a pile of apples from our tree, they are Discovery eating apples and have done very well this year.  Here’s the haul he brought today.

    They will be cored and put in the dryer to dry overnight, and voila, dried apple slices!  It is SO good to be storing all this food.  Previously we’ve had to use it, freeze it or mostly sell or give it away it because we couldn’t keep it fresh for too long. NOW we can keep virtually everything for at least a year, marvellous isn’t it?  AND we don’t have to rely on just the freezer either, which is always a biot worrying should the electrcity fail for any length of time.

    So that was my day today, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy doing these simple things, but all too soon the weekend is over, and it’s back to the office tomorrow.  Still, I can spend ALL week looking forward to next weekends joys can’t I?  Meanwhile, of for tea, Bacon, eggs (from our hens), Sausages (made by us last week) tomatoes, (from the lottie) and bread and butter, also home made! DEEP JOY.

    I have TREASURE, something that Adrian found that is UTTERLY priceless!  Now I have friends who are lucky enough to have Tips nearby, where people can buy some of the things that people have ‘Thrown away’.  We all know that there is NO such place as ‘Away’, everything ends up somewhere, normally landfill, so by recycling the more useful things, we are all helping the planet a bit. Not only that, but my friends have quite often found real bargains, Le Creuset saucepans, oil lamps, all manner of useful things.

    Did MY treasure come from the tip?  NO, our local one doesn’t do what my friends does, once it’s gone around here, that’s it, incinerated or landfilled, end of!  MY treasure WAS rescued from the rubbish though, as Adrian is a bin man, and couldn’t bring himself to put THIS in the back of the lorry.

    Yup, it’s a battered old photo album, but not just ANY old photo album.  THIS one is just choc FULL of…Old REcipes!  Some are beautifully hand written, some are cut out from old magazines and papers.  There is a veritable FEAST of things in there, including a huge wall chart of Herbs and Spices, what you can use them for and with, 2 pages of Christmas things to bake, even a brine mix to cure bacon.

    This is just the first page of all things Christmassy!  There are some lovely things to make here, and I SHALL be trying some of them in a few months.  Christmas Hampers as presents is something I always like to do, and they are always well received.  I now have many more things I can add.  Isn’t it JUST wonderful?

    As you can see, there were many recipes that simply wouldn’t fit in the album.  There are 2 sheets of recipes for Venison and Hare, and on the back of one of them, is a letter from a daughter to her Mum.  I found this very poignant, as it’s pretty certain, that the owner of this book had passed away, and the book was thrown out when her home was cleared.  I hope that she’s looking down from somewhere, happy that her book will continue to be of use, and loved.

    Every single page is stuffed with recipes.  Some of the hand written ones are the best, with little notes etc about the ingredients, names such as ‘Patricias Lemon Cake’, that you just KNOW came word of mouth from one friend to another. Doesn’t happen these days, most people are too busy to cook this way any more, or sadly, just don’t know how to.  Books like this are SUCH a valuable resource, and frankly, I see them as being an important part of our Social History as well.

    I have a similar collection of recipes from my late Uncle, and that little collection of loose pages, tied together with bits of string, is one of my most valued possessions.  Not just because of the family connection, but because of the wealth of knowledge that it contains.  Why people can’t see the value in these things is beyond me.  To think, that every single day, one or more books like this finds it’s way into the incinerator or landfill, makes me sad.  SO much lost, and we can never get it back.

    I am so glad to have this book, and so pleased that, like me, Adrian saw the value hidden within it, and saved it from it’s fate.

    MMM I hear you say, what on earth is she waffling about now.

    I shall tell you Dear Reader, I am living the right style of life for me (almost) but in entirely the WRONG place! The way I TRY to live, and the way I WANT to live simply do NOT fit in with city living!  At best, Adrian and I are seen as being mildly eccentric, others see us as completely barking, but those that know us well, are actually ENVIOUS!

    I shall attempt to explain.  You already know about my beloved chooks, one of whom is actually under threat as she is apparently, making too much noise for one neighbour. You also know about our allotments, real little food producers this year, everything, touch wood, is doing very well indeed.  So, for fruit, veg and eggs, we ARE self sufficient, when it’s in season, and we are trying to extend that season this year, by making far more use of the poly tunnel.

    No one we know thinks that is barking, well, except about the chooks, we are seen as an oddity for keeping backyard hens in a city!  they are ex battery hens, and have SO much more space here than they used to have, they scratch in the dirt, sunbathe, play and run around.  THAT is definitely an improvement on their previous home, where, when they reach the age of 18 months or so, they are sent to be Mechanically recovered Meat, IF the Battery Hen Welfare Trust can’t get to them first.

    It seems to be the other things we do that bring raised eyebrows. We make jams and chutneys, and sell them to friends and colleagues, won’t make us rich, but puts money back for seeds and compost, jars, fuel etc. I spend my time outside of work, doing this, and making cakes and biscuits, yoghurt, and bread.  This also saves us a great deal of money, but peole often ask, “Do you EVER have a PROPER day off?”? Well, NO, I don’t, I LIKE doing what I do.  I have had the past 3 days off from my full time job, and during that time I have made the Blackcurrant Jelly, Tomato Sauce, baked a Bakewell Tart, Prepared a really good meal for us both, form scratch and taking my time over it, a luxury when you work I can tell you.

    Today I already have a cake baking, am going to make a loaf and some more yoghurt, IF I have time, I shall also make some Mars Bar Muffins for work tomorrow. Many people at work actually say to me that I don’t really have time to work, and it’s true, I don’t. I LOVE this time I spend in my kitchen, it ISN’T the kitchen I dream of, that will come, but for now, it does all I ask of it. The solid fuel Rayburn is waiting for me somewhere, and it WILL be mine.

    On top of all those domestic type things, we also keep a weekly watch on our units of Gas and Electricity. This is for two reasons, one, so that we can keep an eye on what we are using and what we are being charged for, and two, to challenge ourselves to use less of each!

    To that end, we have unplugged all items from the wall when not in use, with the exception of the TV as that supplies the broadband etc and is a SWINE to reboot! We restrict washing up to one big lot rather than lots of small batches, washing is done no more than twice a week, and we have a super machine that can take a whole 7.5kg load, so we do as much at once as we can. 

    With the latest increase in gas/electricity, we have also gone one step further with regards to lighting. we already have energy saving lilghtbulbs everywhere, turn lights off when no one is in the room, and only turn the light on when we can’t actually see.  However we have now purchased a couple of old oil lamps, in good working order, and we now use those in the lounge in the evening.  We shall continue to do so, we cannot afford to use any more electricity than possible in the current economic climate. At present we are using 4 units of gas a week, and have got the electricity down to 47.5.  Not bad, but I’m SURE we could get better, AND we shall have to be very careful with the gas in the winter now as well.

    It seems more and more, that although we are at present, having to live in the city, we are returning more and more to a way of life that our Grandparents and great grandparents would have recognised. I for one relish the time when we can be EVEN more like it. YES I like 21st century comfort, heating, broadband etc, but I don’t believe it is the be all and end all.  IF I could only have broadband for 2 hours a day, that would be fine, I don’t think I could do without it, it’s the only way I have contact with a fair few people, but then, there would always be letter writing!  As a learning tool though, it has stood me in good stead, and I’d hate to lose that resource. TV I could live without, I have many books waiting to be read!

    As for heating, I’d be QUITE happy with that Rayburn pumping out the heat and hot water, EVEN if I had to look after it and tend to it regularly, it will be my friend!  I would have no qualms in washing by hand and using a mangle either, though the wshing machine has a fair few years in it yet. My oil lamp collection WILL grow, and it’s a lovely light to sit in as well.

    YES, life will be harder for us, we will be working harder, looking after animals, tending food crops, producing things to sell/barter, in all weathers at all times of year. Our days will be measured by the rising and setting of the sun, our planting etc by the turning of the seasons and the weather. I CANNOT wait, 22 months and counting!

    As mentioned in a previous post, we have 2 allotments, one each.  Yesterday Adrian tottled down to see to them for a few hours, and came back with a huge haul of lovely Blackcurrants.  The bushes have done SO well this year, we already have several jars of Blackcurrants in syrup stored. We are determined this year, to try and preserve as much produce as we can, and waste nothing if we can help it.

    So, I didn’t really want to bottle any more, and having searched around my many cookery books and random bits of paper (I’m NOT very organised!) I found a super recipe for Blackcurrant Jelly. I haven’t tried this before, but it looked simple enough so I set to.

    First you have to simmer the Blackcurrants until they are soft, then mash them to a pulp and strain through a jelly bag, muslin is fine for this.  Sounds easy doesn’t it?  Trust me, trying to crush little squishy blackcurrants with a spud masher makes for a slippery job!

    It’s messy, very messy, so be prepared to have blackcurrant stained hands for a while! At the end of all this processing, mine looked like I’d spent a good couple of hours down a coal mine!  The juice looks beautiful though, sparkling clear and smells divine. Here’s my Heath Robinsonesque straining apparatus at work!

    You have to repeat this process with the pulp left in the bag, so that you manage to extract as much of the precious juice as possible.  This time you have to leave the bag to drip for at least an hour before moving on to the next bit. Whilst this is happening, I would suggest retiring to the bathroom and scrubbing your purple hands to TRY and regain some of the original colour!  Failing that, read a book, write a letter, or just have  a long coffee break.

    Having squeezed all the liquid out of the pulp, you will once again have bepurpled hands!  You then mix all the juice with the required amount of sugar (800gs per litre of juice), and boil it until it reaches setting point.  I ended up with 3 litres of liquid from 2 litres of water and just under 2 Kg of currants.  Then it’s into sterilised jars, and there you have it.

    Scrub everything down, especially if like me, you have light coloured worktops. Leaving this job for even a few minutes WILL result in that wonderful chic, splattered worktop look.  IF you have managed to drip any of the juice on the floor as well, your kitchen may actually resemble a scene from the Texas Chain Saw massacre.  Mine did, but just LOOK at the result, well worth it!

    More of Mother Natures’ bounty, stored away to bring a little summer sunshine to Winter tea times!

    As we have just celebrated Lughnasad, I thought I’d tell you about my special Summer solstice trip to Glastonbury.

    It all started out with an innocent comment on a forum, that I and a friend were thinking of going to Glastonbury for the Solstice.  A very good friend invited us to camp out in his garden, and spend the weekend with him and his family.  THEN another friend from the forum said she would join us as well, and so the scene was set.

    As it turned out, the friend who was originally coming with me, couldn’t make it, so there was just the 2 of us plus Billy and his family.  WHAT fun we had though.

    I arrived complete with the West Wing of Wren Towers, and had some lunch, then the Lovely Jelly B arrived from Madchester.  The West Wing was soon erected, causing much excitement with the 2 delightful children of the family.

    Unfortunately, we were on a bit of a slope, causing some of the copious rain we had, to enter under the edge of the tent, and leave various articles of clothing somewhat damp!

    The kids had a whale of a time playing at camping in there, and were in and out like mad things.

    The weekend was always destined to involve much in the way of celebrations, well, it was the Solstice after all.  This is a picture of the morning after the night before.  It was in fact the first night of the stay, and we managed to get through an obscene amount of alkeyhole between the four of us, well 3 actually, as Mrs R was working till fairly late and only joined us at the end of the celebrations.

    The original plan was that we would all head off in the early hours of the Saturday morning to walk up the Tor and celebrate at Sunrise.  MMM well the good old British Weather had other plans.  Heavy rain was forecast, so the decision was made that we would take advantage of a weather window between 5pm and 7pm on the friday evening instead. 

    YEAH RIGHT!  Weather window?  It rained and rained, that sort of heavy Mizzle that gets you totally soaked, but looks like hardly any rain at all!  BUT, it was glorious, the views were as ever, stunning.

    I will admit to not being able to keep up with Jelly B and Billy, and so I sent them off on their own, and quietly and slowly made my way up the slippery steps.  I only got half way, it was quite treacherous, and with no one to grab hold of, I didn’t feel very safe.  So I came down and settled under the trees at the bottom to wait for the other two.

    They soon hove into view, looking red faced and very wet indeed, but were both still smiling and had obviously enjoyed their trip.

    We all set off back home and as we got just to the Chalice Well tap to fill up on the water from the Well, it stopped raining!  Typical!

    The Solstice morning dawned grey and mizzly, as predicted, but cleared up a little. Long enough for a shopping trip to the High Street.  WONDERFUL, but NOT to be undertaken if you have credit cards, SOOO many lovely things are on offer you could easily spend a small fortune.  I have in the past, done just that, but I am more restrained these days.

    The Sunday saw Jelly B and I head off to the Chalice Well Gardens, we took the  kids with us, and gave Billy and Mrs R a break, they deserved it after all.  There were still signs of the previous nights celebrations around, and the gardens were very peaceful and positively glowing with health and energy.  Here is a picture of the Flow form, with the coloured lamps still in place, it looked glorious.

    Sadly this was the Lovely Jelly B’s last day, and just before 4 pm, she had to head off back to Madchester.  My wonderful visit came to an end the following morning, when I set off on the drive back to Portsmouth.

    I had a super super time, even though I WAS a tad homesick as I was away from Adrian.  I was also reminded of what a special place Glastonbury has in my heart and soul, and that I really was HOME there.

    We’ll be going back for more visits no doubt, and one day, soon we hope, we’ll be there for ever.

    Here we go then!  Having swopped over to WordPress, lets see if I can manage to get some words AND pics on here!

    Today was sausage making day.  I hope you can see the pics, I haven’t yet worked out how to get them anywhere other than where they are though!

    We made barbecue pork sausages today, and the smell as we were making them was divine!

    SO you say, how did you do that then?  First you weight out your meat, and cut it into reasonably sized chunks.  I then mix the flavourings and rusk with the chunks.  At the moment we are using bought flavourings, until we get a bit more proficient at it all.

    Having done that, I mix in the water, and let it sit for about 10 minutes before I set to with the mincer.  The instructions on the flavouring pack say to mince twice, but we only do it once, as we like the filling to be a bit chunkier.

    Then comes the REALLY fun bit, washing out the casings!  We use hog casings that I bought from Ascotts Smallholders supplies.  They come in a nice sealed pot, preserved in salt, and STINK to high heaven when you take the llid off.

    They have to be washed, and left in a bowl of water for a while, then I run some water through them to sluice them out as well.  This can look very rude and make you giggle, depending on your sense of humour.  You can see the casings having a little swim in the bowl, they DO look like some sort of deep sea life form at this stage.

    Next I put the nifty sausage stuffer attachment on the mincer, rope DH in to help, and we stuff the skins.  This can also look a bit rude and make you giggle!

    Finally, once all the filling is in the casings, I tie the end, and pinch and twist the long sausage into smaller ones.

     

    Very simple really. They taste FAR better than the ones bought from the supermarket, they cook fabulously and we always know exactly what is in them.

     

     

     

    Here are the ones we made last week, all sizzling nicely in the pan, don’t they look fab?

     

     

    I have been naughty and not updated for AGES. Time runs away here at the mo, but I shall try and rectify things over the next few days.

    One problem I have is that not much actually happens round here, and endless posts of ” I got up and went to work, came home and ate dinner and then relaxed for a bit” DO NOT make for good reading! I also seem to have trouble downloading pics, but will persevere over the weekend!

    I do have some interesting times coming up though. Briefly, I have joined a Druid Order and am busily studying the course material, I have to say it is a relief to find something that REally ‘fits’ with me at last. I’m enjoying it and will post bits here now and again on how things are going.

    I have bought a harp which I am planning to learn to play, if not well, at least well enough for me. It’s something I have always wanted to do, and I intend to get to grips with it!

    I am also in the throes of preserving as much food as possible, and trying to ensure that IF everything should go horribly wrong with the world, and there is no electricity or whatever for a while, we will manage.

    To that end, we now have a sizeable stash of mason type preserving jars, a Pressure Canner is winging it’s way from USA so that I can preserve all the veg safely, I have purchased a dehydrator as well. Next on the list is a smoker, we are looking into making one, but it MIGHT take up too much room, so we may just have to go with a small one for the time being.

    I have finally cracked bread making, each loaf just gets better and better, and with prices soaring, THAT is a good thing. The chooks are back to normal egg production having been off lay for a while, and my yoghurt making has improved in leaps and bounds as well.

    All in all, our drive to be as self sufficient as possible is going very well, and in 22 mionths time, we should be in a positio to leave the city and head Soouth West, hopefully where we can have enough land to be able to do a little more, such as have a couple of pigs to grow on, but we’ll have to see on that one!

    SO, thta’s all for now, I’ll try and get some pics on over the weekend, I have some of our homemade sausages to show you, they turned out VERY well indeed.

    Well, I have been busily making jam and baking today, so haven’t got down to the allotment. I’m hoping to get there on weds if the weather plays ball of course!

    Adrian has gone off down there though, he’s planting up some more of our tomatoes, and some peppers and a couple more aubergine plants. These will be going in the poly tunnel, which you haven’t seen yet..here it is…

    It’s not huge, 8 X 15, but it does us at the moment. I have salad crops doing nicely in there, apart from the slugs nicking the tops of my Lollo Rosso! Good job it’s cut and come again lettuce or we’d be stuck. I have Spring onions in there, just about ready as well, Iceberg lettuce and various tomato plants, aubergines and peppers. Adrian has some leek seedlings starting off in there and they seem to like that environment and are doing well.

    I’m hoping that the tunnel will really come into it’s own this year, we have grown a fair amount in there up to now, but this year I really want to try and keep the season going for as long as possible. It will be SO nice if I can have fresh picked tomatoes from the allotment in November.

    The plant you can see in the foreground, is a grapevine, and we do get grapes from it. Trouble is, we never seem to get to eat any, I think the birds get more than we do. Anyhow, it takes up a a fair bit of room when it gets going, so it might be on the way to the compost, we shall have to see.

    This is another view of the allotment as it is at the moment, thanks to the lovely Yarrow for taking the pics.

    The broad beans are doing fabulously, and although some have been flattened by the rain, the pods are a good size and the beans are JUST yummy. WE like to have them raw with our slalds, and we freeze what we have over. Several work colleagues also take advantage of the abundance from the plot, and many now will only eat the veg I take into work from the plot.

    We don’t just have veg, there is a fair bit of fruit coming along nicely as well. We have 3 Rhubarb crowns that are producing at an alarming rate, and it’s VERY nice rhubarb as well. Then there are Blackcurrant, white currants, gooseberries, tayberries, apples, cherries, plums, pears, apricot, nectarine, peach, almonds, strawberries and my Baby, a Kiwi plant. We had fruit on there last year, but unfortunately the weather turned at the wrong moment and stopped them getting to a decent size. I’m hoping things will be better this year.

    So far all the cabbages, sprouts and caulis are looking good, the first early spuds should be ready to lift before much longer, the peas are flowering and I REALLY hope to get a good crop from them. We have failed With peas every year before, as ants seem to like eating the roots. This year I put in more established plants, in a place that seemed to be ant free, and so far, so good.

    There is an abundance of swedes and turnips coming along, and the beetroot, as usual are off and running. We also have lots of different squashes coming into flower. I THINK I may need a few more veggie recipes before much longer. It really does look as though we will be fine for veg for at least 2/3 of the year, if not longer. I really hope so, it will be SO good not to have to rely on shop bought, that taste so bland compared to food from the plot, and of course, the cost will increase as the price of petrol and diesel keeps rising.

    SO fingers crossed for a bumper harvest from the lottie, there will be gluts, there always are, but courgettes are extremely useful, and if all else fails, the chickens will eat them.

    July 2017
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