Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Bank Holiday Beanfest

A couple of hours were wrested from a busy bank holiday on Sunday morning and spent among the crops and weeds. After a storming July, August has been decidedly nippy, with wild talk of frosts in those sheltered rural areas that seem so inclined to it. It was therefore very nice to feel the the heat of the sun chase away the last of the dew as we worked.

If you've ever wondered what time is optimum for picking peas, allow me to suggest 10:30 am. Those we picked and ate while surveying the plot were about the best I've ever tasted; sweet as anything, with beads of the night's precipitation still hiding in the pods. We've managed to have plenty of these to eat at the allotment for some months now thanks to three successional sowings, although have hardly gotten any home, so good are they straight from the pod.

A frenzy of beans
No such issues with french beans. Our old reliable Blue Lake has come up with the goods and no mistake. The bean pyramids are on the verge of joining forces and forming one great beany mass.We picked a massive bagful and there's a dickload more coming in the post. No complaints: when a man is tired of french beans he is tired of life, I shouldn't wonder.

Enough for now
My current methode du jour with them goes like so: top, tail, and boil until just tender and then quickly refresh in cold water. This stops the cooking and keeps them green. Meanwhile, soften two finely sliced cloves of garlic and a red chilli in a few tablespoons of olive oil over a slow heat. Once soft, toss the beans in garlic, chilli and oil in a large bowl. Season well, and stir through a generous scattering of za'atar. As delicious as it is simple.

Back to the plot, and I spent the rest of the time digging up spuds. It was gratifying to see the back of the earlies which have just been shit.  This is how many I got from a row of about 6 plants. Never in the field of potatoes was so much dug for so few. I'm guessing we just got a bad batch of seeds? Conditions have after all been pretty favourable this year.

Further evidence in favour of this theory is that all our main croppers - I also dug a row, the first we've ever harvested of King Edward - seem to have done well, producing plenty good sized tubers. As I type, Kasia is roasting a pan of these for dinner, yum. I like the blotchy pink and white coats, very urbane.

I'm just reading that Delia herself has proclaimed this variety to be quite the best for making gnocchi. I always wanted to make gnocchi, perhaps the time is nigh.

The time is very nearly nigh for the tomatoes, a good few of which are right on the point of premium ripeness.

After all our polytunnel problems this is likely to be the last time we grow these for a while, at least at the allotment, so it would be great to have bit of a glut.

That was about all we could squeeze into a couple of hours, enough to be going on with. Hope you had a belter of a bank holiday, whatever it gave you.


  1. What variety of potatoes were the failure as Rocket was rubbish on our plot?

    1. First earlies were Rocket, 2nds were Arran Pilot. Both complete rubbish. Both mains, which we never grew before, have been good. Odd!


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