Thursday, October 11, 2007

South African Suga Beans - Update

Now that we are getting to the back end of the growing season some of the pods on the Suga beans have turned a bright red and are starting to dry out. So, I have collected the ones that have turned red and started shelling them. I will save some beans for next year and try growing them again and then use the rest in some sort of bean casserole. There is probably a similar quantity as seen in the photo still on the plants maturing.

The runner beans are also producing some large pods for seed collection although they are still flowering and setting fresh pods and we are getting the occasional picking off for a meal.

I totally ignored the planting instructions on the coriander (cilantro) that suggested mid July as the latest planting date and planted several rows during the second week of August. These sowings have been providing us with loads of fresh succulent tasty coriander that we have used as additions to salad and also in a few bhuna curries. It has been well worth doing the late sowing. My attitude to the late sowing was that if came up and was quickly frosted I would just dig it in as the seed was fairly old I did not expect such good results. I am not sure whether it will survive through the winter months and set seed next year but I am hopeful that it will.

I also ignored the planting times for beetroot as well putting some in during the second week of August. It has made quite a bit of leaf and the roots are starting to bulb up and we should get a good crop of baby beets in the next week or two at the point the leaves get hit by frost.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Allotment Diggin Day (2) - Pictures from Tom's Mum

Tom's mum Alison took some pictures that tell a very similar tale to those shown in my blog yesterday but also capture some of the fun and friendly spirit of the day with photos of Tom with various people including myself. It is not often I am in a photo as I am more often than not behind the camera.

Note : All photos in this article were taken by Alison Cowen and are her copyright. For permission to use any of her photos you may contact Alison via me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tom Phil and Peter's Diggin Allotment Day

For a larger view of any of the photos click on the photo, this will take you to the Picasa web photo album of my photos taken today.

About a week ago an invite popped through the door inviting us to a barbecue and digging allotment day with a request to bring tools, a bottle or can if we wished and something for the barbecue if we wished. So a number of us rolled up to the allotment at ten thirty Sunday morning armed with tools and drinks.

OK so we are all together but where are we going start?

Well a good place to get started would be to put the tea tent up!

Well everybody seems to have to set themselves some tasks to do and are getting stuck in.

Well, the pile of weeds is getting bigger at the back and there are still plenty more weeds to be dug up.

Peter and his mum and dad have made a start on Peter's section of the allotment and have discovered some red cabbage plants.

There is a lot of activity going on here, Bill has rough dug an area full of wicks and rough grass whilst others have got the beds around the beetroot and broccoli cleared.

Nobody seems to be ready yet for a cup of tea!

Holly is engrossed in some close combat with the weeds in and around the broccoli, and the pile at the back has grown sideways.

Time for tea break and a chat.

Still tea break.

Firing up the barbecue.

Soon be time to eat!

Peter multitasking, eating an apple whilst raking soil.

Nose bags on, dinner is served!

Lunchtime progress report, it is looking good.

Brambles cleared from the sheeted area where the orchard is planned.

Lunch still in progress.

Back to work and time to fork over the patch Bill dug and get the bindweed and wicks out.

The weed pile on Peter's patch must ne about fouur feet tall.

The pile at the back of Tom's plot is fairly big as well. Most folks have gone home now and the plot is looking a lot tidier. Everybody enjoyed the day and felt that it had been worthwhile in many ways having made new friends and felt the pleasure of working together for a common goal. Part of the funding for the day came from "Inclusion North" for "Small Sparks" funding for this wonderful "Diggin Day"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Autumn coming in

Autumn is definitely creeping up on us. Air te,peratures have dropped a good few degrees and it is time to get the winter woolies out. Bill has made a start on the area that was flooded earlier on this summer after having finished building his shed. Everybody has had their fill of runner beans and are now leaving some pods to swell and collect seeds for drying to use during the winter or for planting again next year.

With the cold summer squashes do not seem to have done too well they are still fairly small about two and half inches long. It will probably not be long before the leaves get frosted and the plants die off. I don't know if the fruits will be worth eating. Despite the squashes not doing that well the courgettes have romped away this summer as have the cucumbers. It will soon be time to get down to some winter digging and Tom and Phil have organised a barbecue on Sunday for anyone willing to help them with a bit of digging.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

National Memorial Arboretum

No work at the allotment yesterday as we went to the National Memorial Arboretum yesterday. It is situated just off the A38 and A513 near to Alrewas in Staffordshire. It is a very moving place to visit and I will let the photographs below speak for themselves.

View Larger Map

Photographs - Click on images for a larger view.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I couldn't resist taking a photo of these leek flower heads on a plot that has been left unattended this year. They seemed to have a slight fluorescent glow in the light of the setting sun. The plot was paid for and the holder moved to Oxford and has only paid a few visits to it this year to collect some fruit.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


These are not my onions, some of mine were big but not as big as these grown by Brian. He bought some Japanese Onion sets this spring from leftover stock and put them in. They are six to eight inches across. I grew some overwintering onions that I purchased in Switzerland which did fairly well but I didn't lift them quickly enough after they matured and the rains came. Some had bolted and formed thick necks anyway so would have needed eating fairly quickly. I ended up having to clean up quite drastically removing outer layers and then I fried what was left, bagged them up and froze them for use in curries.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

South African Suga Beans

Whilst I was working in Switzerland I was friendly with a South African who now lives in Weymouth. From time to time he goes home to South Africa and brings back South African items with him. One time he brought me back a Kilo packet of dried Suga Beans. I was curious as to what the plant looked like and how it grew so I took a dozen beans and germinated them in thumb pots with a general compost. Ten germinated OK and were transferred to two and half inch pots to grow on. They were planted out at the start of June just before all the cold wet weather started. They seemed to be holding on OK and producing flowers but not doing much in the way of producing beans whilst the runner beans were producing bucketfuls.

In habit the plants looked very much like French bean plants but I wasn't sure whether they were a runner or a dwarf plant so I planted them next to bean poles to climb up. They are only just producing growth that looks as though it might start to run up the poles. There are white flowers and some beans have grown, just enough for a meal. They taste OK raw but I prefer the taste of runner beans raw. The pods are about the length of a marker pen and seem to me to be very much like French Beans. I'll try some again next year and see if I get similar results.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Spinach has been a bumper crop this year with massive juicy leaves. We have fed some nearly every day to the guinea pigs and now whenever they hear me in the vicinity of the cage they start whistling, hoping that I have brought them something green. In our own cooking we have done several Sag Aloo curries (Spinach and Potato) and used the spinach in stir fries. In both cases we we just wash and chop the spinach toss it into the dish and when it has wilted a little the dish is taken to be ready.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bumper Crop of Beans on The Way

The runner beans are doing well with masses of flowers we have had a good crop of runners from an earlier planting elsewhere on the plot. I have also planted some South African Suga Beans given to me by a friend after he had been home to SA for a visit. The plants have grown well and seem to be flowering well now but so far only one bean on the plants. As I didn't know whether they were of a climbing or a dwarf nature I planted them next to runner beans so they could run up them if needed. So far they seem to have a dwarf nature and have not climbed at all.