|Smoke on the allotment. Which is almost, but not quite, a Deep Purple lyric.|
We've been blessed (figuratively speaking; I'm not thanking any particular deity for this. I don't have much time for those guys) with blue skies and even a bit of warmth over the weekend which has made pottering around on the plot very pleasant.
My parents were passing through yesterday, and in exchange for little more than some genuine appreciation my Dad brought a chainsaw over to hack up some knackered old planks that weren't good for anything much more than burning.
Very much a man of action my Dad, as you can no doubt deduce from this shot. Look at him go. Knacked old wooden planks- prepare to meet thy fate!
Today, one of Kasia's colleagues came and picked up all the sawn-up wood, as well as a pumpkin and some other assorted bits of veg. It was good to get rid of the surplus timber, but there is still a lot of detritus, making the place look untidy. The process of tidying up has been, and will I think remain, slow work. We've got limited time to spend on the allotment, and getting veg into the ground has been the priority, at the expense of clearing away all the panes of glass, broken watering cans and other weird and wonderful items left by our predecessor. We'll get there in the end.
In harvest news, we decided that the time had come to pull up all our sweetcorn plants. These guys have had a fair bit to contend with. They were all blown over at one stage and I don't think they liked the cold, wet summer at all, so I was happy enough that they all produced some cobs, even if they do all appear to be immature. I've read elsewhere that the pollen from the feathery bit at the top of the plant has to be caught by the hairy bit on the tip of the cobs (no, I'm not a biologist, well guessed) in order to produce "proper" ripe yellow corn.
Well, we'll know that for next year. In the meantime we'll be eating what we've got. It still tastes pretty good. It's a shame to see the corn plants go as they give the plot a bit of height and interest. Their roots are impressive at holding onto the ground, which they have to be when its such a tall plant I suppose. The top bit of the root looks like a weird alieny face-hugger thing, but that's crazy ol' sweetcorn for you.
We also pulled up some cauliflowers, both traditional white ones and the Romanescos. The cauliflowers have had the good grace to stagger their growing, meaning we've been able to pick them as they're ready, without having to pull the whole lot at once. How kind and considerate!
|Me, getting all up in a cauliflower's face|
Over the weekend we also pulled up some lettuces, a couple of little purple kohlrabi and a bunch of Spanish black radishes. These radishes have grown brilliantly, both the ones started in module trays and, unusually for us, the ones sown straight into the ground. They look quite different to your standard red radishes too, so an all-round winner.
When we first got an allotment, Romanesco cauliflower was one of the things we wanted to grow as they look so interesting as well as tasting great, so it is a source of no little satisfaction that we've managed to grow them, in spite of our issues with clubroot last year. You've got to admit, as far as vegetables go, it's a bit of a looker...
With the sweetcorn, pumpkins and the last of the courgette plants all now gone, things are really looking a bit bare. Just waiting on Thompson and Morgan to finally deliver (they told me over twitter my order had been despatched, but it never turned up which seems odd... They're re-sending it, which may apparently take 10-14 days!?!) our garlic and onion sets, and we can start to fill in some of the blanks. When things are this sparse, and everything starting to feel a bit wintery it's nice to see anything with a good dash of colour to it. Step forward, Mr Chard.
|I can sing a rainbow (chard)|
Finally, I think I may have found my new favourite way to experience the Tyne Wear derby. I can hardly bear to watch the thing these days, I just find it too stressful, even despite Newcastle's recent good run in this most heated of fixtures. Far more relaxing to listen in from the plot, the excitable (Sunderland biased- what's that about?) Radio Newcastle match commentary blending in with sound of birdsong and hammering noises from a distant plot, while I, in the cooling afternoon air, spread fish, blood and bone over what will become our onion beds. Howay the alliums.