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.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Celeriac is coming on well at the moment, the bulbous roots are starting to form now and are about an inch across. I am giving them a feed every day with comfrey tea as well as giving them a good watering most days. The leeks in the next row are also getting the same treatment with the comfrey tea and watering daily.

The alternative name of "turnip rooted celery does not really do justice to to Celeriac which in my opinion is a wonderful vegetable. One of my favourite uses of Celeriac is to grate it raw and mix it with plain yoghurt or quark to serve with a salad. I also use it grated into currys and casseroles to add body and flavour. I have also seen it served in boiled chunks like turnip but that is probably the most boring use of it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Reclamation Continues

Now here is a family that really intend to get to grips with their allotment. Laid out in four beds after stripping off the top with a mechanical digger, edging the plot with wood and laying hardcore for the paths. Do you get the feeling there is a lanscape gardener at work here? You would be right.

Some of the other plots have not fared so well in their reclamation.

Black sheeting has been laid here and left to kill off the weeds underneath. The persistence of thistles probably was not bargained for . Along the joint of two strips of the black polythene thistles have lifted the overlap to let in the light and the thistles have grown on fairly strongly. However, it is better progress than the patch where the thistles have been left to take over again.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A harvest of fruits

One advantage of the wild patch in the allotments is the presence of brambles (blackberry) which have fruited in a prolific manner this year. I have done a couple of pickings and made about ten pounds of jam so far. The aroma of bramble jam in our kitchen has been wonderful. The wild patch has also provided refuge for a variety of birds. There is a family of goldfinch and I often see four or five of them at once. Also in evidence down there are blackbirds, thrush, greefinch, sparrows and although we have heard a woodpecker tapping nobody has yet seen the bird.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Difficulties after heavy rain

After a warm April the weather turned really nasty with heavy rain day after day. Most plot holders have some problems with waterlogged soil to some extent. Our own allotment was not too severely hit as we have built up the level of the plot by applying large quantities of horse stable manure which contains a large volume of wood shavings. The one problem that we did have was to lose a few potatoes and to have to clean up, cook and freeze some of our potatoes. Others have lost all their potatoes and the allotment secretary Robin has lost everything as the whole of his plot was under several inches of water. Picture shows what is left of Robin's cabbage plants after severe water damage to the roots.
Bill behind us lost all of his potatoes as his allotment is about nine inches lower than ours. He has got stuck in and barrowed in loads of horse manure to raise up the affected area and has rotovated it. Now he has got that done I don't think that he feels quite so despondant. My own feeling is that he could probably have done with adding in about twice as much manure to get the level up even further.

Our own allotment fared reasonably well and is now fairly tidy. Early in the year the plum tree had masses of blossom and everyone was saying what a bumper crop we would have if we didn't get a frost and sure enough we have a bumper crop. They should be ripe any day now.

Other fruits are also looking good with brambles ripening with luscious black gloss you get with ripe fruit. The cut and come again lettuce has performed well this year providing us with lettuce whenever we wanted to cut some. It has regrown from the centre at an incredible pace, maybe down to the amount of rain we have had!