Thursday, 4 October 2012

Ripening Fruit, and Ripe Cheese in the Shed

In the sun, yesterday.
With it having been about a week since we'd been down the plot, it was great to get down yesterday on a day off to get some bits and bobs done. Having to go to work every day really cuts down your allotment time! There is a very autumnal feel on the plot now, with so many things having been harvested, and others, such as courgettes, coming to the end of their tenure. We've got quite a few empty spaces now. Those that haven't been treated to any manure since we've been on the plot are, when clear, going to get a good dose of rotted turd before being covered for the winter. Lucky them.

Our shared shed, and the space around it, has suddenly become a tomato plant-free zone as our allotment buddy Toni has harvested. Despite the vast majority of them being still green, I guess it's better to pick them now than have them turn to mush, or get buggered by the first frosts. Do bananas really help things ripen? I guess we'll find out as Toni has bunged a few in with her toms, which now share some greenhouse space with one of our pumpkins.

Talking of pumpkins, we decided it was time to harvest these guys, despite them not having fully ripened either. Kasia has lavished some serious attention of these, so it would be a crime if they were to be shafted by an early blast of frost. From three plants we've come out with 6 good sized pumpkins which seems like a fair return. We've now got two ripening on a window ledge at home, one with the toms in the mini-greenhouse, and the back three here in the shed (front ones are Toni's). 

What charming pumpkins!
We'll see which ones ripen first. Ooh the tension! My money is on the ones ripening at home, I'm guessing the heat from a nearby radiator will sort them out. Getting the pumpkins out of the elements gave Kasia a chance to get on with her favourite pastime; composting. The contents of the first of our compost bins is looking good and friable, while we're now filling up the second. It's amazing how little compost you get though once everything has really composted down.
Pumpkin plant, prepare to be composted.
I planted out a couple of rows of winter hardy lettuces and spinach. It felt odd to be planting salad out on a fairly chilly and claggy October day so I'm looking forward to seeing if these get going ok. 
Neat rows of unlikely contenders

I'd started these off in modules a few weeks back and was waiting for a non-rainy day to get them out. They went into a patch where I had previously directly planted some mustard, rocket and the same lettuce to absolutely no avail.
Which brings me on to something of a quandary we've had; with only a couple of exceptions - some chard and some Spanish black radishes - almost nothing we have planted directly into the soil has germinated, or having germinated, come to anything. I'd love to know why this is. We have fairly claggy, heavy soil I think, the weather this year has largely been awful, or maybe it's down to something else completely. It's super-frustrating when you spend an age preparing a bed really finely only for nowt to happen! Any tips advice here would be much appreciated.

When we first got the allotment, one of the first things we planted, in a border, was a couple of lumps of horseradish that we were given. They've just been trucking on by themselves but I fancied seeing what had come of them. One had somehow managed to pop up on the other side of the paving stone from where they'd been planted, so I lifted the slab and hoiked up a fair amount of horseradish root. The smell of earth and fresh horseradish together is amazing.
Get out the ground, now!
Other news in brief: 
Our second batch of leeks are starting to look a bit more sturdy which is great. I like leeks, they're so undemanding. They just sit there, for ages and ages, slowly doing their thing.

One of our Romanesco caulis is looking great. We've harvested a few already when they've started to bolt, but this one looks like it'll go the distance.

Finally, a note on cheese. The weather was a bit patchy yesterday, causing us to scuttle for the shed at various times to wait for showers to subside. This was no chore at all due to the fact of us having some absolutely premium cheese - Epoisses - and some sourdough bread from @mmm_newcastle. If you like strong cheeses, especially squidgy ones, but haven't tried Epoisses, then seek it out. It stinks to high heaven, but the taste is comparatively mild. A washed-rind cheese, it's unbelievably creamy and buttery with just enough lactic tang to balance its outrageous richness. Sat in an allotment shed, watching the rain, eating fantastic cheese and bread; total happiness.
A gob's eye view of some stunning fromage


  1. Well it sounds like you had a great day.

    The reasons for your seeds may purely be that they rotted before they ever got chance to germinate. Over the years I have learnt to sow as much as is possible in pots and then transplant out as I used to get fed up of the wasted space. Try again though next may be luckier than me (to be honest it wouldn't be hard!) I just like to know what I have got and sowing in the greenhouse lets me know earlier if I need to re-sow stuff but at the same time does add in a little more work and time.

    1. Thanks Tanya, I think we're going to have to go for the mass-module tray approach next year! Like you say, it"s so frustrating to have prime allotment real estate full of non-ggerminating or non-growing seeds!


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