Monday, June 27, 2011

Aghh! Henpecked

I returned from my nice relaxing Sunday afternoon and uploaded my photos and previous post.It was such a nice day I had left the hens out in the garden while I was away.
I went out to put them in for the night and was stopped in my tracks!
My lazy housewife beans given to me by matron over on veggies only blog, which had climbed their pole after a slow start were romping away when I put them out yesterday morning, they had grown bushy and green around the top of pot before climbing began.
They have been out every day and the hens paid no attention to them as I had watched carefully, what changed yesterday I do not know.
They could not reach the top growth and I can only hope they recover enough to provide seeds for next year, I had kept them at home not wanting to risk them out on the plot in case of wind damage!
Matron if you are reading this my apologies and I am sure you are nodding sagely and saying I did try to warn you!

This is entirely my own fault as I knew they had a liking for lupins!
I bought this Manhattan Lights lupin when we were at Bloom in Dublin.My sister Kathleen and myself took turns toting it around for the day and minding it!

I knew they liked crocosima (Montbretia) but did not mind as this grows like a weed all over the place

I knew they fancied lupins, these have been denuded of their leaves and I even saw one jumping up to get the higher up leaves!

Remember my mutant beans?
They have been growing well and the sprouted stem had at last turned green and less brittle.They were being hardened off each day before going out to their final resting place on the plot.The hens have not bothered with them before and last night when taking them in I thought there was slug damage to quite a few leaves before the penny dropped it was the hens having a nibble. Maybe I disturbed them when I came home and saved them from further mutilation.

This flower bed stone was a cushion of purple campanula prehens!
They are in now each day while the plants are out and the greenhouse flap is up.When the plants go in the hens come out.
I will have to reorganise their domain and soon.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lazy Sunny Sunday

A beautiful sunny Sunday, much too warm to work.
Kevin trying his hand at digging up some spuds for his Mom.Last night was very heavy & humid and I think our spuds look less green than they did, a few of us are convinced there is a definite yellow tint to the leaves.

Beautiful flower arrangement which Zwena put on the tea room tables which are now outdoor tables in the courtyard while the sunshine lasts.
Everyone who turned up today had brought something to share and we ended up sitting around the courtyard chatting and doing very little else, just taking time to drink the coffee and smell the flowers.

I did remember to bring the camera and caught up on some pics of the plot.
Tomatoes in the greenhouse are way behind what they were this time last year when we ended up with a glut, since moving them to the greenhouse they are beginning to climb but slowly.

Liam's roses tumbling over the fence

Inside the fruit cage the raspberries are ripening daily

I left 3 strawberry plants on the ground in the fruit cage and they have produced nice big berries, though slower to ripen than the ones on the bed.

The Lavender is just beginning to open

Peas (3rd sowing) are starting to climb at last.
Dwarf french beans are still struggling even though the wind break is around the bed

Huge broad beans but very little inside so far.

Sweet corn is taking off and is looking a little healthier each day.

The brassica bed, the calabrese is in the foreground and is setting florets.

Kevin resting from his labours and taking the opportunity to try out the sand & water table while there are no smallies around.
We had a lovely day on the plot with just some light watering to tax the energy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Tasty Harvest

RaspberriesYesterday I visited the allotment to pick some raspberries which are just beginning to ripen.Our Autumn fruiting raspberries are ripening at the same time?!
There is a lot of wind damage with broken twigs bearing fruit but there was still enough to bring home and leave lots to redden fully, although the torrential rain all day today is not helping!
Home Guard potatoes: I dug one tuber last week on the first row of Home Guard which had tiny marble sized potatoes underneath, we have had quite a bit of rain and we watered and gave the first 2 drills a liquid sea weed feed also.
I dug the first tuber on the second row yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find all of these underneath!Much larger than last week maybe due to the attention they got?They went into the pot and tasted more than OK, delicious!
We will leave them now until next week and hopefully this rain will encourage them to grow a little more.
We had a few flowers on our Duke of York's but none on the Home Guard so far even though there are potato blossoms all around the other plots.One of the other plotters said he was digging his even though none of his had flowered either but like ours had gone in on St Patrick's day and the 23rd (Bonfire Night/St John's Eve) would be their picking date.

We planted carrot seed in the blue bin in the unheated greenhouse back in Spring. I pulled a few of them yesterday which while not very large were long and a good size, more should be ready for picking in a few days.They are ready before the main crop and no sign of the dreaded carrot fly or any disfigurement as they are grown in compost only.

Onions:Some of our onions seem to be giving themselves up!We had a very dry Spring and maybe that has something to do with it.They were put in around Feb, they grew fine for a while but then slowed down and do not look like bulking up too much at this stage as the leaves are beginning to turn yellow.One or two of them are lying on the soil out of the ground every few days?

Artichoke We have had about 7 or 8 good sized ones so far with smaller ones still to come on.I cooked my usual way in boiling salted water and dipped in butter.
I have discovered they make ideal TV snack food, just take the plate on my lap and tear, dip and eat. No worries about table manners!

Dinner yesterday was all home grown veg and the raspberries went into a Raspberry Roulade for dessert. Posh name for a swiss roll with fresh cream and raspberries rolled inside!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Allotment Fare on the Table

Strawberry & Raspberry Pavlova.
This is my first attempt at making a Pavlova even though it is one of my favourite desserts.D.Michelle makes them and my sister Kathleen has made them for years.With eggs freely available from the hens who continue to lay their 4 a day and with the fruit from the plot I decided to have a 'go'!
I Googled for recipes and found one on the BBC Good Food site, I was also informed it is an Australian dessert and originated from Sydney!
Link to recipe hereThe recipe was simple and crisp on the outside and soft in the middle just the way I like (love) Pavlova!

I dug up one tuber of our first early Homeguard but was disappointed to find them very small,sort of large marble size!
We have had weeks of dry windy weather which did not help so I will leave them another two weeks.The rain we are having at the moment may help to swell the crop.
I pulled up one beetroot, the only decent sized one from our first sowing of them.
We have great looking broad beans about 3 ft tall with lots of huge pods but not a lot inside!
I cut the tops off of them not because of greenfly which are noticeably absent this year due to the cold I think.Hopefully they will now put some energy into filling out the pods.
I did'nt waste the small spuds, I cooked them and put them into a salad with the beetroot, broad beans and an onion.I also put in some flowers from the thyme, I used mayonnaise to bind but Olive oil would be nice too.
I blanched the Broad Bean tops the same as Spinach and they were very tasty!
I would use just the leaves for the next lot as the stems were a bit tough. This is another first for me, it was something I had read about but not actually done before.

Broad Bean Tops Update

I used the 4 egg yolks left over from the Pavlova with a drop of milk to make an omelette with more Broad bean Tops.
This time I washed them, pulled the leaves from the stems, chopped roughly and blanched the same as Spinach.Use more than you think you will need as they wilt down quite a lot.I added them to the egg mixture and it all turned out lovely...waste not ,want not!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hydro Farm,Open Day &BBQ

"The relics of Auld Decency"
Our scarecrow got a makeover for the open day!
It was the most successful Open day so far with friends,family and growers from other allotments and some GYO people also came along.The sun shone but there was a gale force wind blowing all day, we were windswept by the time we left to come home!

Young Jack did not like the scarecrow and growled at him each time he passed.

Then Jack discovered strawberries on tap!
Our strawberry bed came in for a lot of interest all day, people were interested in the difference growing them in a raised bed made.

Some of the crowd down the plots, the gentleman in the foreground grows veg down on Hare island off the coast of Baltimore in West Cork and said it would be considered a relatively calm day down there when I said it was very windy today!

Each year we raise money for a charity and this year it was for Bernardo's Children's Charity.The marquee was set up with a mouthwatering array of home made cakes,tea & coffee and people made donations.

Some more of the wall paintings


My contribution was painting an old door to look like half door opening out to a field!

Scott in the play area I made at the back of the shed.

View down the new plots

More plots which had all been brought up to show standard for the day

One of the lambs trying to chew the leaves from an apple tree through the fence!

Some of the plotters settling in for the BBQ

Children toasting marshmallows on the fire, no getting them home before that.

Perfect end to a perfect day, a rainbow over the allotments!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting ready for the Open Day

Our allotments Open day is on Sat 18th and everybody has been putting in hours each day getting their plots in perfect order as it is the day when family & friends come out to see what we have been up to on all those days spent out there.
Lots of painting going on and the courtyard is looking colourful and bright as well as gates and pots, anything that stood still got a coat of paint!
I took some photos on the first day and will post more of the finished work on the Open Day.

Hydro Farm Allotments ‘Open Day’

Theme: Fun & Formal Gardening.
Date: Saturday 18th. June 2011. Time: 2pm. till 6pm. See the allotments with our ‘Plotters’ to show you around and answer your questions.
We have a Recycle stand where you can see how to use common articles for your garden including a portable strawberry bed and a herb garden on wheels.We also have vegetables and fruit from other countries including, Australia, Italy, China, USA, & France Tea, Coffee and Home made Goodies will be served, Yummy!
Directions: Go from Blarney towards Tower. Just after the first Pedestrian Traffic lights after Blarney, turn right, go up the hill with the yellow & white cottage at the bottom. It is Sign posted from there.
Everybody is welcome to visit
Call 087 2333183.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Things to do with Strawberries!

Our glut of strawberries continues and we still have not resorted to jam making to use them up.D.Aisling got a recipe for Grown up Strawberry Jelly in a book 'The Farmer's Market cook book.A friend loaned it to her as small son Jack (2 in July) is a committed vegetarian for months,just try to get anything tasting of meat past his lips and he spits it out!Aisling was looking for recipes to vary his diet a little.
The grown up jelly can be made with any combination of soft fruit, I just used strawberries this time, make up the jelly with half the quantity of water and half of sparkling wine. I used Rose bought in Aldi's for 1.75e, the bubbles stay in the jelly for some reason. I don't have a jelly mould so used these supermarket cartons, the ridges on the bottom make a nice design when turned out.If being used for a party etc, cream could be piped around the edges and decorate with strawberries and a few mint leaves.
The rhubarb shortcake (recipe here)with strawberries added, I should have cut up the berries a little more to have a smooth top on the shortbread but it made no difference to the taste.
Meringue nest with cream, kiwi and strawberries, the nest was a little too small to accommodate the fruit!
We are working flat out to get ready for our Open day next Sat 18th June, coming in late each evening so the computer has hardly been turned on.
The kids have been doing loads of painting and I will post them during the week.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Blooming Great Day Out! 2

More pics of Bloom in the park 2011
Lots of photos but short on the prose!
Above, poppies blooming in the walled garden
Myself and sis Kathleen ,legless in the walled garden.
Even in the best of gardens the carrot fly is feared!
The Alice in Wonderland garden ,easily the best for me.
Giant teacups
All is not what it seems when you go through the looking glass,all the greenery is artificial!
Playing cards
Mad hatter
The Barbershop singers wandered around entertaining
Workshops for the kiddies
Edible landscape, allotment type garden
Keelings were pouring out freshly squeezed orange Juice
New Irish cream liquer, we had to sample!
Veg grown in rows of military precision, more artificial looking than Alice's garden
Just one of the lunchtime queues, the one I was in!
Kiddie garden inspired booties
Potting bench, remember those strawberry punnets?!
Wheelbarrow of veg.
Kids getting their hands into compost in the Growise stand
Another queue, this time for the courtesy buses back to the station

All shopped out and waiting for a lift home.