|A Police Chopper flies over the plot. Hangover or not, it would've been a crime not to have gotten down there. BOOM!|
It has been very much a Factor-50 type of weekend up here in the North East, as it appears to have been pretty much everywhere in these sceptered isles. Sunday in particular was an absolute stonker, with just enough breeze to keep conditions from being unworkably hot. Although at one stage very much regretting the second half of a too-moreish bottle of wine that was imbibed on Saturday eve, I managed to get a fair amount of weeding done this weekend, which was much needed as things were threatening to get pretty untidy. We realised we hadn't any plants to go into the gaps that we're just about to create, so I hastily sowed some lettuces, radishes and kohlrabi in modules and Kasia bought some of the last of the leeks and red cabbages from Wylam Nurseries.
But about those gaps: this really is a pretty exciting time of the year, as we've begun hoiking things out the ground in earnest. First up, en masse, was the garlic, which was beginning to look a bit dodgy and rust-afflicted. A few of the cloves had rotted, but we've still ended up with some very good sized bulbs. Last year's garlic was unfeasibly puny (I hate -just hate - arsing about with piddly little cloves of garlic that you can't peel easily), so this is a dramatic improvement. Hurrah!
|Garlic drying out. Don't adjust your monitor; that's an elephant garlic in the foreground.|
We grew Chesnok Red, Messidrome and Eden Rose. No one type has noticeably grown any better than the others. I think I'll roast or confit a bulb of each at some stage to see if there's any appreciable difference in flavour.
Elsewhere, parnsips are doing just fine, and all the better once I cleared the weeds off them. I know I should thin these a bit, but I can't bear to pull up any when we don't have that many to start with. I managed to steel myself to get rid of one which was clearly going nowhere. The tiny little tap root on it tasted so sweet it was almost like vanilla. Fresh parsnips are a wondrous thing indeed.
Another plant that seriously trumps its shop-bought rivals is the broad bean, and ours are doing just great, getting on for 5 feet tall and cropping quite heavily. These are the popular Bunyards Exhibition variety that we planted this Spring after the Aquadulce Claudia we sowed in the Autumn failed completely. We've eaten a few handfuls and they're magic, with just a hint of funk that you just don't get with shop-bought. If I had a small space and could only grow a couple of things, broad beans would be on the list: low maintenance, attractive plants that taste bloody amazing.
Brassicas continue to do really well, I think we might be harvesting some of our Seaweed Kale before too long. Courgettes, Patty Green and Butternut Squash are all going great guns too. I'm determined to get hold of some courgette flowers and do the old stuff-with-creme-fraiche-then-deep-fry trick this year, but they have a laughably short shelf life, those flowers.
|Here today, limp and lifeless tomorrow.|
In really exciting news, our beetroots are doing great. This might not be no great shakes for others, but both Kasia and I love beetroot, and when we tried to grow it for the first time last year it all failed miserably.
We've grown a few different varieties, one of which has these really attractive rings inside. I ate this just boiled, with some very good olive oil and a bit of reduced apple balsamic vinegar and it was one of the best things I've eaten in a very long time. Bullshittingly tasty.
I pulled most of the remaining leeks out the ground. We've made the schoolboy error of leaving these in far too long. The seed stems running through the middle have now a texture similar to concrete, with only a few layers of edible matter around their outside. These are destined for the pot; I think I'll try a Vichyssoise soup with some of our larger new spuds.
I should just put on the record that our strawbs, which I had previously accused of not tasting of much, are now bursting with flavour. That's what a good week of sun will do then. The difference is amazing.
Of only moderate annoyance is the fact that a couple of plots near ours have been quite thoroughly abandoned which doesn't do anything for my hay fever, or mood when I think of all the weeds seeding over our patch. Ho hum, so it goes.
|This used to be an allotment...|
Just when I was about to keel over from what moderate effort I had put in, Kasia arrived with a sustaining and refreshing Fab Lolly. I've never gotten anything for free from writing this blog, but this seems like the perfect place to start: if you're reading this, people who make Fab Lollies, I'll say whatever you want about your singularly delicious product in exchange for a few multipacks...
|"Hi, I'm Lee, and when I'm parched from a hard day's graft on the plot, I always reach for a Fab. You should too."|
With the forecast calling for acres of more blue skies to come, the only issue is making sure we get down to water everything. Which, when you cast your mind back to the dismal "summer" we experienced last year, and indeed the one before that, is exactly the kind of problem you want.