23 September 2010

What's my apple tree?

Any guesses? The apples are largely red, they were much bigger than this last year, they're not ready yet (late September) and in previous years we've largely cooked with them as they've not tasted so good straight off the tree - but maybe should have left them a bit longer???

And I've got another just like it behind where I was taking the photo from, so I'll be needing to find somewhere to store apples soon! The flash shows that it's getting darker earlier and there's not going to be many evening visits left :>(

19 September 2010

I don't believe it!

It's been a while, so time for a catch up. So where to begin...?

Happy Birthday

In the beginning...
It's now been four years since I first hacked my way on to plot no. 1, encouraged by the mad fools doing the same on the neighbouring plot. It's still not full cleared, the hedge is still a pain in the ar*e and the tree is still there. However, the hedge is under some sort of control thanks to the Association hedge cutters, I'm promised the tree will go in the next month and I've been clearing some old and unproductive blackcurrant bushes, and some of the previously uncleared areas with the Azada - something I wish I'd had when I started! So with all that and the greenhouse to go up, it's looking good for next year. I have new neighbours at the bottom of the plot too, which might encourage me to keep it a bit tidier down that end too!

Harvest Festival
Never ones to miss an excuse for a party our Association decided to have a Harvest Festival on 11 September. Sadly the weather didn't play ball and it threw it down a couple of times, but the people that made it along to the day had a good time - aided by a barrel of beer from one of the local breweries and some friendly competitions. Sadly my impressive display of around 20 different fruits and vegetables didn't cut any ice with the judge we invited along and I didn't even get a place yet alone the coveted allotment trowel!

Mine is the box at the top of the photo, the one at the bottom pipped me to 3rd place.
However, the kids did get joint first in the miniature garden competition, my bramble jam came second in the jam category and Mrs D controversially came 3rd with her chocolate beetroot cake in the cake with a vegetable ingredient category. Controversial as the 2nd place entry was bilberry muffins...

Prize winners with their garden

Still aided by the beer and a barbeque with supplies from one of our local butchers and sweetcorn, peppers and mushrooms from our local fruit and veg shop, the afternoon went very well. The barbeque went so well that it was still going the following afternoon when we went to clear up the remaining stuff, so we just dug out the remaining food and carried on!

The only downer to the weekend was the plot we had the event on (supposedly our community orchard) had been served with a notice to quit just the day beforehand - ironically just before our first major event on it and at a time when it was looking better than it had ever done so! Fortunately our Allotment Officer is a reasonable man and it looks like we might get a reprieve.

Given the choice between accompanying his Mum and sister to a local cafe, no. 1 child decided to come with me to plot no. 2 (sadly without a camera). I had 'hired' the hedge cutters from the Association on the other site to tackle the rapidly getting out of control hedges, which I tackled whilst he wore the safety visor and ear defenders... Once that was finished we moved on to the maincrop potatoes (Romeo and Pink Fir Apple). The few we've had from plot no. 1 have suffered considerably with slug damage - annoyingly most of these being the larger ones. After some discussion as to whether there'd be more or less than 10 on the first plant (he went for less than 10) we dug it up between us and counted 24 potatoes! This set the tone for the 3 rows we dug up (largely romeo, but 3 PFA plants too), which produced a sack and a half of potatoes which don't seem to have suffered from blight, have very little slug damage and are a good size, so all good there then. And we even managed to get them bagged up before it started raining.

Now all I need to do is to find somewhere for these - they're currently in the boot of the car. We have about 5 bags of shallots and onions in the kitchen at the moment (including two bags that Mrs D has crocheted to get them off the floor!). Then there are the pumpkins - only had a couple of Crown Prince but they feel good and are awaiting a suitably grand recipe. The other plants I grew were Gem Store which have proved to be prolific - 24 off just two plants. They are just a bit bigger than a cricket ball so are a great size to use up in one meal, but also have thick skins which should mean they'll keep well. There should be room in the old outhouse for lots of things, but I'm a bit concerned when I start picking apples. They might not be as big as they have been in previous years, but the trees are full of apples...