Browsing Posts tagged harvest

Gobbo to go. 22/09/11

This morning I arrived a little late, but just in time for a quick pre-work cup of tea.

After a brief chat with all the guys and gals who’d tipped up, it was straight to work on the first compost bin to the left at the top most Plot.

Yesterday afternoon/evening, Diane and others had emptied it into the second bin, but the front was rotting and falling apart.  Luckily, Gary came to the rescue with a pallet, so we set to work making it fit.

Now, the thing about compost bins is that they soon fill up, and in doing so, unless you plan it properly, the fuller it gets, the more work you have to do.New openings for the left most compost bin.

So, at Diane’s suggestion, we took the new pallet Gary had given us, and cut it in half to make a ‘stable door’ type affair so you could open the top half, and still leave the bottom closed.  You can see it to the right here.

Because I’d cut it right above one of the horizontal slats, it meant that the part we had left was wobbly, so we simply re-used the best piece of wood from the old door along the bottom to strengthen the vertical slats, mounted it -with the ‘proper’ wire string that we can always undo.

Done!You can see the final effort here.

By doing it this way, it means as we empty it into the next bin next year, we’ll simply undo the top ‘gate’ to be able to get at the half-done soon-to-be-compost, then when we’re about half way down it, we can open the bottom gate to be able to get in with our shovels.

Easy!

It was soon lunchtime, and Ian (no relation) had brought some superb food his father had made.  Pork pies, tomato bread and some black pudding bread.  We all tried some (… -it soon went!..), and all agreed that they were much nicer than shop-bought ones.

The afternoon was spent harvesting (…anyone want any French or runner beans?!..) and watering.  Yes, we’ve had a little rain of late, but when I dug down just a little way, the soil was a dry as a bone.

Minipop sweetcorn.Diane had harvested some of the mini-pop sweetcorn you can see here.  Mini-pops are the type you often find in Chinese food -they’re cooked whole, but eaten raw, they are just as good.  Simply take the wrapper off, and you’re away.  Delicious!

Now, you’ve read the title of this piece, and you’re no doubt wondering what I’m on about.

Well, the main event was about to happen in the late afternoon as Diane got a call from the contractors who are building a local school.  She’d been in touch last week, and cheekily suggested they ‘sponsor’ us for the building materials for our new pizza and bread oven.

Well, two guys came down in a car to check out our lane and see if it was wide enough for one of their diggers (…it was!..), then she received a call a few minutes later, and sure enough, a whopping great yellow front tipper truck came crashing up the drive with a load of sand and several bags of cement.  The driver was at pains to say that if we wanted any more, just to give them a call.

We like builders like these!

I’ll be sure to get all their details and post them here -well, its the least we can do to give them a ‘plug’ after their generosity!

SOOOooo, tomorrow looks like I have to finish up here by lunchtime -Friday is a washing day.  Alfie loves it as Daddy tries to get the duvet cover off with him still playing on it!

I’ll be sure to charge my new camera tonight and I’ll get plenty of shots of us having Great Fun laying the stones for the base of our new pizza oven.

I know, I know…  ‘Boys’ getting to play with sand and cement, then in a few days using what they’ve built to make fire.  Hooray!

Awww.  C’mon!  ‘Allotmenteering’ isn’t all about weeding.

Will it, or won’t it? 17/09/11

That was the big question today as grey and heavy-looking clouds threatened to ‘rain on our parade’ throughout the day.

So we put a couple of gazebos, and carried on regardless.

In the end, there were only spits and spots, but you can bet that hadn’t we put them up, it would’ve hissed it down!Too much like hard work...

Almost as soon as we’d arrived this morning (New Ian was first!), little Mitzi made an appearance, and here she is catching some late summer rays.  Of course, this was after I’d fed her!

So this morning myself, New David and Ian (no relation) emptied and turned one of the compost bins up on the top plot.  This is something you should do with compost, but until this year, we’ve never had the time -or volunteers- to be able to do it.

As we were forking it over before moving it into the bin next to it, we noticed that the ‘soon-to-be-compost’ was still quite moist, which was surprising as these bins are right in the rain shadow of the trees up by the road.

As we were working, more and more people started to show up, including LEAF’s newest and youngest member (4 weeks and two days old!), Thomas who had come with his mum and dad and big brother Adam for an afternoon of fresh air and friends.

At lunch, New Ian had cooked some marvelous pasta and made some really tasty chili tomato sauce on two of his home-made cooking pots.  These pots have integral burners, and are really easy to make, with a little care.  If he brings them again, I’ll get some photos to demonstrate!

After such an excellent lunch, we were far too full to dig and move compost, so Ian and New David spent a very enjoyable afternoon picking while I carried on watering all of our beans.Beans & Peas

Yes, I know you’re thinking that we’ve had so much rain recently, but we really haven’t!  Go out into your garden after a rain storm, and if you dig any deeper than an inch or so, and you’ll find the soil is almost bone dry!  Anyway, you can never really over-water beans and legumes -after all they are mostly water!

Here you can see just some of the produce they picked -the dwarf purple and yellow French beans with just about the last of the peas towards the centre of this photo.

I’ll be going shopping tomorrow for some proper meat -not the kind all wrapped in plastic, and as quite a large portion of these purple and yellow beans are now sat in my ‘fridge, they’ll go well with it.

Also in the afternoon was an impromptu meeting of the ‘Top Table Fire Boys’. -New Ian, Matt, Jon and myself.  We planned out the next few days’ work and what will be involved in constructing the new pizza oven we’re all so fired up about.  (…Pun intended!..)  I don’t want to ‘hex’ our efforts, but we think we can get a superb example (…thanks to Matt & New Ian for the designs!) ready in loads of time for Allotment Soup in five weeks time.Full!

I left soon after five to come back here to do this but when Diane came round later for a wind-down cup of tea and chat, she remarked that Matt had brought a couple of home grown fruit crumbles, and everybody went home well fed afterwards.

Of course, she fed Mitzi again!

And before you start writing in complaining; in that last photo, she’s not dead!

She’s just ‘letting her food settle’, totally relaxed and content with ‘her’ Allotmenteers around her.

More soon.

 

 

 

I briefly popped over to The Plots today to pick some more beans.  I’d seen my Dad the other day and taken him a bag full of ‘normal’ runner beans and and another of the ‘red/purple’ French beans that I’m so fond of.Blackberries!

Luckily, getting hold of freshly picked beans at this time of year is not a problem.  Getting rid of them can be, there are so many to pick!

I noticed while there that there are still loads of blackberries that we’ll have to persuade the Plot Kids to pick this Saturday.

Runner Beans. Here you can see some of our beans down on the bottom Demonstration Plot by the driveway.  In just a few minutes, I’d picked more than three pounds of two different varieties, and tonight for dinner it will be ‘Scarlet Emperor’, and you can’t really get much fresher than that!

So tomorrow morning, I’m meeting Diane, David and hopefully Matt to plan out what we’re taking for our ‘Pizza Extravaganza’ over at ‘Sage Greenfingers’ for about 10.00.  When we’ve got all the stuff together, we ‘boys’ are going to cycle over while Diane takes her car and all the ingredients and some more fuel for the oven.

Now, I’ve never ‘fired up’ a pizza oven before, and to be honest Dear Reader, I’m more than a little nervous/excited.  Yes, I guess its something genetic about boys and fire, but more than that, its a whole step up from simply making a cooking fire for me.  I guess it’ll be a good introduction, because Diane is determined that we build one down at LEAF.

I’m maybe a little concerned that apparently they take upwards of three hours to get up to temperature (!!!), so even though we’ll arrive for about 11.00am, it may well be tea time when we can finally eat!

Anyway, not to worry.  There’s no rain forecast, so it’ll be a great day out and a marvelous chance to see old friends and see how their plots are getting on.

I’ll be sure to charge my camera and get some photos to Blog, hopefully tomorrow night.

Speak to you then!

 

A new fruit harvesting season has started and already in Abundance NE we’ve harvested a lot of apples and pears. We’ve got another trip out this time to some trees in Ecclesfield we’ve been offered, and we’ve also got a number of apple trees in Burngreave to get round to. If anyone needs any fruit or can think of local charities etc that might make use, please let Diane or Nick know.

Also there’s a new blog that may interest some of you its the new PXI-Plot107 blog all about the new allotments in Parson Cross Park and the work PXI is doing as part of that, here’s the link.

All wrapped up. 07/08/11

Yesterday was a day of wrapping. (…As opposed to ‘rapping’, but we haven’t got the huge sound system or the ‘Bling’ for any of that…)

We ‘wrapped up’ our precious cabbages in a long bed at the top of our Plots.Wrapping up the cabbge bed.

Here you can see Gary helping me sort out the long netting we had for the job.  If you look closely, you’ll see he’s putting old fence paling in ‘X’ patterns to support the sides.

After we’d done this, we put cut-down paling in the centre every few yards, then put old white plastic cups over the ends to stop them poking through the netting.

Then we had the so-enjoyable job of actually planting the different varieties of cabbages, making sure each cabbage was well down in the soil and that the soil was well compacted around them.All the cabbages safely planted and watered in.

As you can see, we’ve planted them and then given them loads of water.

Now, because this area is largely in the shadow from the trees by the road, we figure they won’t need too much watering, but we’ll have to keep an eye on them.  Yes, they’re not in direct sunlight, but they’re also in the rain shadow of these same trees, so won’t get a lot of direct rain water.

We’ve grown the cabbages from seed.  First, we planted them in seed trays, then they went through two further transplants before they got to this stage, so we have a great deal of time and effort invested in them, so they’d better get on with it! (…As I took a final look over them before leaving last night, I stood over them and told them so.  Well, you talk to your plants, right?  Does them good to know who’s boss…)Weeded leeks.

So yesterday started off pretty slowly, but through the afternoon, more volunteers turned up, and in the end we got loads done.

To the right here, if you click on the image to enlarge, you can just make out the leeks we planted some time ago.  New Sarah and Gary weeded these, and we think its looking much better.Di's sunflower.

During the lunch break, I wandered round with the new camera, and came across this.

This little beauty is on the end of a bed of squashes and was sown and transplanted by Diane a few weeks ago.

Okay, sunflowers may not strictly be ‘Plot Plants’ -apart from the seeds which are delicious for the birds, but we think they add colour and just shout ‘Its Summer!’ to anyone passing.  We also think they add a little ‘sculpture’ because they’re so tall, but at a little over four feet high, not too overpowering.Elephant garlic in flower.

I also managed to get a shot of this:-

Sat forlornly on its own in a bed that had shallots and onions in until recently, this is an elephant garlic that we’ve let go to seed.  This had been mistakenly left in the bed from last season, and as it looked so odd towering above everything else in there, we left it in.

Also on offer were some flowers from the dreaded bindweed, and as you can see here, they really are quite beautiful.Flowering bindweed.

This particular flower was poking out from the top rose bed that this autumn is going to get a severe haircut.  Yes, the roses (…and bindweed…), may be beautiful, but when you can’t walk all round it on the paths because of the encroaching roses (…and bindweed…), you just know you can hear the sheers and big loppers calling you come autumn.Roses.

Here you can see some roses from that same bed, and even though they haven’t been pruned in many a long year, they’re still quite beautiful.

I guess that’s the thing about savage pruning.  When you’ve finished, you look at just what you’ve done and think you’ve finally killed any chance of any fruit or flowers the following season.  Hells, you think you may even have killed it, but as Diane’s completely brutal pruning of the blackberry fence last year showed, things do grow back, and they grow back all the stronger from that pruning.

Oh, and talking of blackberries; I haven’t forgotten!

Yesterday quite a few of us made a ‘group effort’ and picked many, many blackberries, and I have four large punnets sat in my ‘fridge laughing at me, daring me to go ahead and make their day and turn them into blackberry jelly in the coming days.  Luckily, the chaps who refitted my kitchen left me a load of emulsion, so I’ve really got no excuses.  Blackberry juice on the ceiling and walls? (…There will be loads.  I’m an ‘enthusiastic’ chef!..)  No problem!  No need to scrub: simply re-paint!

Of course, it will be utter mayhem and carnage in my kitchen when it all happens.  There will be much cursing, there will be huge mess, but hey:  It’ll be great fun!Mitzi-Moos, surveying 'her' kingdom.

And so, I couldn’t leave you without yet another picture of the main lady from The Plots.

Mitzi was on top form yesterday, directing work in her own special no-nonsense way.

Of course, this was after I’d fed her and we’d all given her maximum fuss and attention.

Well, you have to.  After all:  She’s a cat.

To see all my photos from Saturday on Flickr, simply click HERE.

The best time of year. 30/07/11

Summer on an allotment really is the best time of year.Runner Beans in flower.

Its a time for gentle watering and gentle picking, and today was no exception.

But first, Ian and myself had a bed to dig over and partially empty so we could plant some young cabbages that were getting very pot-bound in one of the plastic hardening off greenhouses.

Here is the bed before we started, and as you can see, it was a real mess of weeds!Cabbage bed.

Actually, you can’t see much at all through the green pigeon netting, so here’s a shot as we took the netting off to reveal all the nasties beneath.Are there cabbages benath all that lot?

Quite a sorry sight, but no problem!

We have loads of young cabbages more than ready to plant out, so we quickly took out all the weeds.

Because we’ve had so little rain recently, the ground was just large clumps of dust, so weeding was very easy and satisfying.

Another problem with this bed was that the netting didn’t quite reach over the large hoops, so any hungry pigeons found it very easy just to nip under the edges and have a feast.  Well, today, we put a stop to that!

I suggested that we cut the hoops down to make them shorter therefore less high, but Diane suggested that we use a metal bar and a lump hammer to punch deeper holes where we wanted the hoops to go.

Had the ground been wetter, this wouldn’t have presented us with a problem, but because it was so dry, as soon as we pulled out the metal rod, the dry earth collapsed back into the hole.  New cabbages with proper netting fitted.Undeterred, when we’d driven the stake far enough in, we watered the soil around it to make it sticky.  This way, when we pulled the stake out, the hole didn’t collapse.

Anyway, the finished result you can see over here to the left, and we were pretty pleased with it.

After this minor triumph we walked around seeing just what was ready for picking, and what a feast we picked!Freshly picked produce.

Here you can see just some of our produce -not including masses of potatoes that by rights we shouldn’t have.  When we’d dug up potatoes from a bed down on the bottom plot towards the end of last year, we’d left a few in -completely by mistake.  This year, when they’d started to grow, we thought as an experiment we’d leave them and see what grew.  Well, we must have more from this one bed from little stragglers that we’d left in than we had in total from the bed last year when we’d planted proper seed potatoes.  Great big, fat white ones that will be excellent for baking.Celery.

Also on the bottom plot is our Great Celery Experiment, and as you can see, both the lines are coming on really well.

Near the celery is the latest pea/mange tout bed, and before we cleared out the cabbage bed, Ian went along it with his magic pea stick routine.Mange tout and peas.

The line to the left is the slightly higher-growing mange tout with the peas to the right.

If you look very closely, you’ll also see the two anti pigeon frames that he’s left on.  The mane tout and peas had already started to climb onto these frames, so he thought it better to leave them be.  We did this last year with peas up on the Therapy Plot, and they were none the worse for it.

If you’d like to see more of my photos (…really bad though they are!..), if you click HERE, you’ll see some more from Flickr.

More soon.

Today was one of those gentle, easy days you sometimes have down The Plots.  The kind of day that even though its not bright sunshine, you really can’t be bothered to do much at all.Freshly dug up potatoes.

Again, loads of volunteers had made it today, and we were set our various tasks.  Ricky and Graham started off another compost bin, Ian (no relation) dug up a load of potatoes which David weighed, while I wandered around taking photos at first.

Up to the right here you can see Ian’s efforts, and this was from just four plants!  Gorgeous little beauties, with very few slug holes.  These will be perfect for this Sunday’s bash when we host the Crosspool Harvest Group who are coming to see how we work then share some food with us.Celery in plastic drainpipe.

As I wandered round with the camera, I couldn’t help noticing our great celery experiment down on the bottom Demonstration Plot.

Here you can see some of Ian’s planting, already sat snugly in its plastic downpipe.  This is because this particular variety isn’t ‘self-blanching’, so the tube protects the stalks from the light and stops them turning green with chlorophyll.Both lines of 'experimental' celery.

Here you can see both lines, with ‘mine’ as yet uncovered.  In a few weeks as they grow, I plan to wrap mine in sheets of newspaper and tie them up -the ‘old fashioned’ way.  It’ll be very interesting to see just which comes out the best.

Today was also a ‘bean day’, with lots of the many different beans now just coming ‘into fruit’.  Indeed, I took some home with me tonight, and can report that they’re delicious!Red climbing french beans.

Here you can see some climbing French beans on the Therapy Plot, and by next week, we’ll not know what to do with them all.  I’m seriously considering looking on ‘FreeCycle’ again for another upright freezer to store them all in.  Ian (no relation) is thinking the same, and he’s got more room than me.  Maybe I can persuade him to get two!

Anyway, I’d better get off pretty soon, but I’ll just leave you with this.A Southey Rainbow.

The other day, I’d come out of my flat to be greeted by the perfect rainbow, so I quickly ran back in to get the camera, and I’m glad I did.

Its funny, because quite a few LEAF volunteers also saw it and got shots of it too.  If I can just figure out where the ends are, I can dig for the pots of gold that are sure to be there.

Heavens knows, we could do with them about now.

More tomorrow, hopefully when I’m more awake!

Bright and cold. 13/11/10

Once again the weather forecasters got it right, and my fears about the wind were groundless.

Whoooops.

Whoooops.


continue reading…

Abundance stall

The Lord Mayor, Cllr Alan Law, will be joining the celebrations for the councils “Greening the Cross” project on 27th November at Mount Tabor Methodist Church, Wordsworth Avenue (bottom of Southey Hill).
As well as the Lord Mayor helping to plant the final two trees of a number of new ones being planted in and around Parson Cross area, there will be a number of stalls from local groups and projects. LEAF have, I believe, been invited to have a stall which I hope they will, but we are also planning an Abundance NE stall. If anyone wants to help, just let me know by sending an e mail to: freshexnick@live.co.uk
Hope to see you there!

Some of the First Fruits (apples from Meynell School grounds) these were taken to Early Days Centre at Palgrave Road.

Well we had another good morning of harvesting today with another couple of trees from a garden near Yewlands Technolgy College. A small but merry band (me, Angela and the two children to be precise) managed to collect just around 40-50llbs of cooking apples …. we’re hoping to go back later this week and finish the job by harvesting the eaters from the other tree.
All the apples are safely stored for the time being at Mount Tabor Methodist Church, and will soon be distributed on the estate through the usual sources.
Priority for next season is getting ourselves a fruit press so we can juice those apples that aren’t at their best anymore – and of course more of the jam and chutney making that has been discussed in the past. So if there’s any keen amateur jam and chutney makers out there – please get in touch. I’ve got the apples, and the jars, we just need you!


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