29 June 2010

Or maybe this?

Strawberry cheesecake, tonights pudding. And possibly supper too!

Edit: I should add, I was going to do some fancy design with the strawberries, until my youngest turned up. The control freak under my was reluctant to let go, but after a stern look from her mother I relented. She did a good job as well, just a shame she doesn't like strawberries.

28 June 2010

101 Things to do with strawberries

Can you have a glut of strawberries? Well possibly...

picked these this lunchtime, then another punnet tonight. Looks like I could be making more of this:

or more ice cream. Or possibly marinated with a bit of balsamic vinegar and sugar. Or into a strawberry smoothie. Or more likely just on their own. Or maybe all of them. To be honest it's a nice problem to have!

27 June 2010

Cracked it!

The ghost of last year's strawberry jam has been excised!

After trying a much simpler recipe this year (none of that fancy, over complicated rubbish) and continual stirring to ensure no sticking, the strawberry jam has set, and the HFW preserving book is off to the charity shop. I'm all the more chuffed as this year it was with my own strawberries, so the pressure was on not to ruin them.

Five jars in total from 1kg of strawberries. The fruit has risen to the top of the jars which is all the wife's fault as she worried me by telling me it would continue to cook in the pan so it could burn still. As a result I put it in the jars far too soon, but to be honest I don't care and I don't anticipate the jars lasting too long anyway!

First jam of the year too, bit slow getting going with it this year, but I always think of my grandmother when I make jam. I was given the preserving pan after she died - this one used to be my Mum's and she kept her Mum's, so it was a kinda inheritance. I like to think my grandmother would be pleased with the result, maybe not up to her standard yet, but I'm sure she'd be smiling at the thought of me making jam though!

23 June 2010


Despite the plants being 4 years old, it's fair to say this years' harvest is the best ever. The chicken wire defence is doing its job very well this year and picked over half a kilo of strawberries this morning. And very nice they were too!

In a rare departure from the plots I thought it was worth showing a few pictures from the garden. Firstly after a slow start (cold winter followed by late pruning) the roses are just beginning to come out:

First up is Evelyn, tucked away in the top corner of the garden where no-one can get to it - much to Mrs D's disgust.

Secondly, Gertrude Jekyll. It's a great rose for the garden it's absolutely prolific, survives my harsh (and late) pruning and loves being next to the compost bin.

Also in the garden are this years tomatoes after the loss of the greenhouse on the plot. This one (Aurora) has been outside for some time and is thriving in the sun at the moment. If these actually get to the stage where they ripen it will be my most successful year with tomatoes!

Finally, the window box is a complete sun trap and after many attempts to grown things in there and failing, this year we're trying strawberries. They're plants from the runners from plot no. 1 and didn't go in 'til quite late. Really I should have taken the flowers off this year to allow the plants to establish a bit more, but where's the fun in that!

You can never have too many strawberries!

20 June 2010

Not everyone likes the new path!

Today I received a letter from the allotment officer 'kindly requesting' I sort out the state of my plot (plot no 2), officially a 'part cultivation' letter. The shame of it!

Maybe I should spent a bit more time weeding rather than working on the path.To be honest looking at certain parts of it, I can see where he's coming from but Mrs D was not so happy. She was of the opinion that it's obvious that I have been working the plot and with so many plots not being worked at all... But rules is rules I guess, even if they are a little vague, and I've got 28 days before I get send a more serious letter!

Suitably admonished I took the camera up there to record the shamefully scene, only after taking the photos and taking the camera home I realised there was no CF card in it... Wasn't all bad news I did at least start on the tidying up. Realising first impressions count, I figured the patch on the left at the front of the plot should probably be first on the list.

Earlier this year the plan was to give this spot to the kids to grow some stuff themselves, but a distinct lack of enthusiasm on their part combined with my tendancy to throw all of the weeds and rubbish on this part of the plot meant it was in no condition to do anything with. Most of this space does seem to be covered in old carpet I've 'harvested' from elsewhere in the plot which is a little frustrating as I'll need to get it off site somehow - as seen below once camera and CF card were reunited - and this is after I'd made a start on it!

A couple of very hot and sweaty hours later, it's looking slightly better at the front of the plot and the main path is a step nearer to completion. There's a big pile of weeds - that I'm officially referring to as a compost heap for now! - in a contained area, an equally large pile of old carpet (have I ever mentioned how much I hate carpet on allotments...?), and several miles of old hose pipe...

Further up the plot...

There's an apple tree in there somewhere!

After a few more hours, it's looking a whole lot better, most of the front corner has been cleared and I'll get that planted up with either salad leaves, herbs or green manure once I've given it a proper dig over. The 'compost heap' is growing ever larger, the hedge on the right hand side has been largely tamed (together with the neighbours), much of the grown elder and weeds further up the plot have been cut down, but large amounts of comfrey remain. The previous plot holder was obvious a big fan. The stuff is everywhere, I obviously have the invasive type. Whilst I do use some of it I usually end up leaving it to go to flower which the bees adore, but it does tend to look a bit unsightly all over the place - and probably isn't the best idea if it's the invasive type! The problem is I'm loathed to cut it down when it's covered in bees, sounds like a job for when it's raining.

In amongst all the plot tidying...

Unfortunately I'd let the radish go 'too far' and it was hollow inside. The coriander is self seeded from last year and the strawberries are just beginning to take off - the defences against the wildlife are a bit OTT this year - it took me half an hour to pick those few!