A bagful, a sinkful, a plateful – maybe a bellyful

10_27_12_Swiss Chard growing on the allotment

I’m talking about growing, harvesting and cooking Spinach and Chard. It all starts around this time of year, sowing seeds in teeny pots to be planted out as young seedlings, watered in and forgotten about until autumn. Throughout Autumn and … Continue reading

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Mackerel Coconut Curry and the Lauren Project

Fresh Fish Sign_Hastings

I rashly said I’d join in on Sharyn’s challenge to cook something for her friend Lauren and at the same time celebrate her 1st anniversary blogging at the Kale Chronicles. Rash because of time restrictions and because I’ve never really joined in anything like … Continue reading

Excitement Mounts as does a Weedy Weekend Window

Can you see what I see?

Yes 3 days of sunshine are predicted. Now I know you may look at the temperature and say brrr - but will you just focus on that sun symbol! Do you know how positively giddy that makes me feel? We’ve had weeks of rain and grey clouds, a few glimpses of blue sky here and there, the odd peak of the sun but the predominant weather pattern has been cool and wet and windy and grey. Bluerrgh.

I realise now that those grey clouds made me feel flat. Deflated. In fact they made me feel grey too. I need sunshine in my life.

I’ve just come back from the plot after a quick session of weeding, I took a couple of snaps with my phone to share, so I’m sorry about the lack of quality – but you’ll get the picture (literally!)

I think the nasturtiums are on a takeover bid. I leave them to self seed every year, let them ramble around, they smother the weeds, they attract the good buzzies and detract the baddies away from my precious delicate veggies. Nasturtiums come in every colour – from deep maroon-red, bright orange-reds, vibrant yellows and pale-yellows.

A real burst of vibrancy, so even when the sun isn’t shining I do get a burst of sunshine and warmth looking at them. I plan to pick a few seeds this year to try and make some capers – poor mans capers are made with nasturtiums. We’ll see if I get round to it, if it works and if I like them. We have to try new things don’t we.

And then there is this. A real piece of sunshine. A bright yellow courgette flower – hopefully one of many.

And as I’m working tomorrow I’ll be out and about this weekend enjoying the sunshine, and yes my sunhat will get an outing! Hoorraayyy! ! I’ll be weeding – all that rain has made the weeds grow like crazy monsters but it also means they are easy to pull up by the roots. Let’s call it a Weedy Weekend or maybe a Weed Window might be more accurate before the sun dries the heavy clay soil. The combination of rain and sunshine makes weeding a simple task. And as I weed and try and tame the plot I’ll take the big camera up and we’ll do a show and tell, a progress report for all you growers and foodies alike.

And tonight’s meal? A real allotment meal. I picked the first courgette today. Ding Ding Ding! Alongside a bowlful of spinach, chard and beetroot leaves, a forkful (garden sized) of New Potatoes – so maybe a Sag Aloo. A handful of sweet tasting peas. How do I know they are sweet tasting? I munch on them while I’m weeding,. so I can see a peas pilau to go with the Sag Aloo and maybe a dal. The courgette – who knows, perhaps raw in a salad with a light vinaigrette for starters?

This meal tonight is beginning to sound rather grand isn’t it! But it’s inception is as I wander around the plot and look at what needs picking, what is ready and as I picked a few leaves I mulled a few ideas around and there you have it – a mini Indian feast of fresh garden vegetables.

And then there are the beetroot, I could always make a beetroot pichadi but to be honest I’m more likely to roast them and have them as a salad over the coming days. Time and energy will tell.

And as I pulled the last of the radishes, they are getting too big now the skins toughen up and the inners go woody. The good ones to eat, the remaining composted; and while I’m talking about radishes I’ll write a reminder to myself to sow a handful more this weekend. In the meantime there are always radish pickles. Crunch and munch my friends.

Ahhhh that’s better isn’t it. Happy days are here again !

It’s stopped raining, me and the bees are out and about

Rain, rain go away, come again another month. Go on buzz off!

The skies have cleared, the sun is peeking out, a bit weak and wobbly after the deluge, left wondering what on earth has been going on. You and me both sun!

It’s time I went up to the plot, took a look around, got some work done.

The garlic bed was weeded before the rain, I know I know, the weeds will come back, but I’m determined to have better garlic this year. We are down to our last garlic bulb, this year’s crop won’t be ready until mid June onwards. We need to get weeding and mulching and then sit back and wait, it’s had a good drink now it can start fattening up.

Fancy another garlic porn shot? There’s a bit of rust on it, but that’s ok it doesn’t seem to affect the bulbs, what I’m worried about is a repeat of white rot. But we say that word very quietly then walk away.

There is more hope in the shape of broad beans and a few early flowers – they need to get moving and growing, come on you know you want to, you know I want you to, so what’s holding you back?

Maybe I should pull the Mustard Greens, they are well past their best but no they can wait, I’m enjoying the size and colour of their leaves, they are deceptive – the peppery heat is a real POW! I’ll let them be a while longer.

We all have those jobs don’t we, that we put off ad infinitum. Mine is mowing grass. But the grass is in serious need of a haircut. My latest excuse? I’ll leave it for a few more days to dry out.

There’s work to catch up on but I daren’t walk on the soil, I will only compact it and then walk off a few inches higher with most of it attached to my boots. So I stand and stare out of the greenhouse and plot and plan

And then turn my back to get planting – beans of all shapes and sizes await me. Dwarf French beans – filet type, Climbing shelling beans of every hue with wonderous names capture me and my dreamy taste buds.

A bit more pondering and staring out to sea is always time well spent. The view from the greenhouse is one of those estate agent views – “sea glimpses”, but I can see a touch of blue in the churned up rainy grey today. There’s hope.

Check up on the seedlings and their progress, there are trays of Kohl Rabi, Brussel Sprouts, Salads and Beetroot making their first appearances into this new brave rain-free greenhouse world.

And then time to pack up for today, time for a last cup of tea and to sit in amongst the yellow clouds of brassica flowers and watch and listen to the bees.

On a last note I think my mother is spinning in her grave, so I’d like to make a public apology for the title of this post and the shocking use of the English language. Sorry mum, I couldn’t resist!