Sunday, 8 December 2013

Midwinter Roots in the Gloom

Hey look, an allotment!
With a fair dose of trepidation I shambled, rigger-booted and sporting a moderate second day hangover, down to the plot this morning. There had been grim communications from the committee to the effect that plots had been broken into and some property stolen. Also, I hadn't been down for a couple of weeks and, well, you just never know what might have blown away or gone tits-up, do you? Fortunately we were not among those singled out by whichever crew of barbarians has been nicking and smashing stuff. Perhaps because our plot's unkempt aesthetic does not lead one to (rightly, as it happens) believe that any especially desirable treasures lie within it for the taking.
I spent a very pleasant couple of hours, alone with the magpies, robins and my thoughts, in conditions for which the lallans word dreich could have been invented. The rain had the good grace to restrain itself to only the odd spot until I was ready to stagger off home.

The allotment comes into its own on days such as this. Without it I'd have sat in the house watching football all day, which is all good and well, but not terribly fulfilling. Everyone needs some place to go and do something, and the allotment is exactly that. I attacked a couple of patches of weeds that had been getting ideas above their station, asserting themselves to an extent that just won't do. 

I composted a bunch of old card and newspaper, finding some catharsis in turning two week old op-ed pieces by Barbara Ellen and Nick Cohen into worm fodder. I'm sure they'd be honoured. Composting is usually Kasia's domain as I am apparently not sufficiently patient, and don't chop it all up small enough. I hope that my efforts on this occasion pass muster.

Despite the time of year, we've still got some very edible veg coming out the ground. I pulled up the last of this season's romanesco cauliflowers. These were great last year; not so much this time out. This one, a relative tiddler, was the only one that didn't bolt. In a year of plenty, the rising tide did not lift all boats equally.

Last of the caulis
I dug up a couple of canes' worth of jerusalem artichokes, which are a good size and plentiful, and then - hurrah! - a couple of whopping if bizarrely shaped parsnips. 

Jerusalem clartichokes
I've said it before, but only because it's true; the reek of freshly dug parsnip is up there in the class-A of nostril-fodders afforded to the veg gardener. These pair had only a mild sprinkle of canker and will make a meal on their own. I'm thinking about something involving cumin, honey and maybe some labneh.

As for the jerusalem artichokes, I love the smokey, nutty flavour of the things, in addition to their unusually firm-yet-tender texture, but honestly: their flatulence inducing capabilities makes cabbage look like an amateur by comparison. If anyone has any recommendations on how to counter this, I'm all ears. I hear asafoetida and the aforementioned cumin can help. I'll try those for starters.

Strange root
In other news, both the fruit trees we planted a couple of weeks back are standing proud, despite the recent gust-tastic conditions. Really looking forward to seeing what they produce next year.

An apple tree, earlier.
I trundled slowly home from the plot a bit booshed, resolving to re-learn to drive very soon or at the very least get some lighter footwear, but happy for all that.


  1. Your soil looks like ours soggy. We just managed a harvesting visit this weekend

  2. Sounds like you had a good day. I really need to get more of my plot sorted...but everything is so busy at the moment..oh well I will get there in the end!!


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