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Happy Together

I learnt a new word today after spotting this teasel amongst the dried flower heads.

Vivipary– when seeds germinate whilst still on the parent plant. Viviparous germination isn’t uncommon, particularly when it’s been rainy and warm. I have noticed it before on Nigella and calendula but it’s a bit more obvious on a teasel. We still haven’t seen any birds enjoying the seeds – we were particularly hoping to see the classic goldfinch shot – and they clearly missed a few on this seed head!

It was a HAHA workday yesterday and there was a friendly group of volunteers cutting back the hedgerow, particularly the bits growing through the fence, and clearing rotting wood from around the site including, sadly, the Wildlife Plot bench that the vandals smashed up – it was beyond repair. 

HAHA Work Day

The spikiest prunings (blackthorn and hawthorn) were used to plug gaps in the hedge in the hope of spiking any would-be intruders! The rest of the clippings were added to the marvellous bonfire.

Some of the wood was spared from the fire because it had interesting life forms so we added that to the wildlife plot wood instead. Like this fascinating fungus – Candle Snuff fungus. It’s common in the UK, but I don’t recall seeing it before. It’s also known as Stag’s horn fungus for obvious reasons.

Another fungus, that looks more interesting up close is this resupinate polypore. New word of the week #2, resupinate = upside-down. This fungus manoeuvres it’s gills to point to the ground for quick spore dispersion. Up close it looks a bit crumpet-y to me and rather pleasing.

Crust fungus on decayed wood

Apart from fungi, one particular piece of rotten wood was home to many insects including millipedes, wood lice and centipedes. And something that does tiny rectangular poops…

And a handy hint regarding garden critters: Fast moving insects tend to be good for gardens, as they’re often predators of the slow moving insects which are more likely to be pests due to being herbivores. It isn’t always the case and not all herbivores are slow (being a herbivore myself, I find that insulting 😄). We also found a few snails where they are probably preparing to hibernate. These lucky ones were found by Kate so were put back somewhere cosy rather than being slung over the hedge 🤭

A handful of snails

These and other interesting subjects such as the dredging of the canal which is currently ongoing, birds over the marsh, otters, the vandalism, obviously, and so much more were discussed during snack time after the work was completed.

And the fire kept going until we left after sundown – 4pm…. The weather was dull all day and we were very lucky that the rain arrived later to dampen down the pile of ash.

It was a fun and productive day, we won’t let the haters get us down too much. The song title is brought to us by The Turtles.

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Bitter Tears

Anyone else had a really rainy start to November? It was so rainy on Sunday that we had to shelter in the car when we got back from the allotment! The rain was streaming down the road.

Rain gauge

While we were on the plot it felt quite warm and we even saw the Sun for a short while. We went to the plot specifically to pull our last potato plant – Nicola. Surprisingly they’re not very scabby and don’t seem to have been slugged. Although they were rather muddy.

Nicola potatoes

I pulled up the Chinese cabbage which had been desecrated by slugs and snails. I was pleased to find a couple of cabbages that weren’t completely destroyed and had matured enough for form a heart. I think I’d try them again, under a sealed enviromesh net as they are very tasty. I like them raw but they’re a nice addition to a chinese dish too.

November harvest

That’s a nice harvest for November. The tomatoes are continuing to ripen on the plants and the Chinese Dragon radish are lasting so that was plenty to feed me for a couple of lunches.

Home-grown salad

Yesterday, I added some left-over marinated tofu to the plate.

Salad with tofu

Last week I roasted two small squashes for dinner. A Honeyboat and a Winter Celebration. I thought it was a bit too much for just me (Jamie’s still refusing to eat my lovely squash) with the Spanish rice and grains but I’m glad I chose to cook both squashes. 

Roasting squash

The Winter Celebration tasted nasty, bitter (lucky Jamie didn’t choose that day to try again with the squash!). I threw it away along with the two remaining ones from storage. I’m aware that cross-pollinated squash can develop a bitter taste, however these weren’t saved seeds and looked pretty regular. Apparently environmental stress can also cause bitterness, but that’s usually a result of temperature fluctuations rather than just the extreme heat of this year. Or, perhaps the lovely looking orange squash wasn’t entirely mature. Whatever, it was rather disappointing! Luckily the Honeyboat was as tasty as usual.

Squash for dinner

We’ve had so much rain recently and it’s been mild so there’s a lot of new growth. The HAHA Wildlife plot is looking good with plenty of ground cover with mostly welcome weeds and evidence of self-seeding from some of the flowers from this year. Very little grass and not too many thistles in evidence so far… In this photo I can see borage, foxgloves, allysum, daisies, evening primrose, golden marguerite and lots of nigella seedheads.

HAHA Wildlife plot

I should have put this photo on my last post, which was titled Autumn leaves, it’s been so colourful this year. Just look at this lovely lot from a tree by our flat.

Colourful Autumn carpet

The song title is provided by INXS, partly due to the bitter squash experience, but also the bitterness I feel to the housing developer and landowner of our site. In February a 10-year lease was proposed, with a  1-year cancellation clause, and was verbally agreed – Hooray! – then in September they “changed their minds”. So the Council have to cover the cost of legal fees every year. Appalling and disrespectful behaviour to the 80+ households currently enjoying the site and the wider community. The latest development plan showed the Marsh Lane site as being ‘not currently developable’ – for 15+ years but they’re just trying to use the site as a bartering chip for other inappropriate building schemes.  They make me sick 🤬

Autumn Leaves

Flashing pumpkins

Halloween was on Monday, which isn’t the best night to celebrate, but the clocks have returned to Greenwich Mean Time so we got an extra hour in bed at the weekend which is always a bonus. We spent a couple of hours concentrating on Sunday afternoon… carving pumpkins is a serious business 🤭

Only one of those was home-grown this year but we have to have one each; one for the plot and one for home. I had a 4-day weekend which was great. We had a lovely walk at Bowdown Woods in Newbury on Friday. It was warm and sunny. I was hoping to find some fly agarics but they were all past their best, nibbled or booted.

Woodland walk

I photographed this little lone mushroom at the allotment. I’m not sure what variety it is, it looked like that all weekend. I’ll see if it changes over the next few days, if it isn’t completely eaten.

Last weekend the temperatures reached 21° so we were in tee shirts on the allotment. I wonder if this is weather we’re going to get used to for future years. The weeds are loving it, especially with rainy mornings and sunny afternoons. The garlic has germinated already, in just 4 weeks – that’s fast, I normally find it quite slow to germinate, which is why we’ve ended up with two plantings some previous years!

Garlic sprouting

Jamie sowed the broad beans on Sunday. Aquadulce Claudia We don’t want them to grow too quickly this side of Christmas but we wanted to get them sown before the really cold weather arrives… if it does arrive. The little cloches are for mouse protection.

They’re far enough apart so we can put net cloches over once they’ve germinated.

Broad beans sown under cloches

I cleared the raised bed. I’m planning on it being a herb bed from next year. That’s lettuce at the end of the bed. Slugs have avoided it so far – famous last words; they ruined my Chinese cabbage ☹️

Cleared raised bed

Ivan showed me how to trim back the bearded iris where a fungal disease has damaged the leaves. They’re sprouting new plants around the crown. That’s spread a lot since it was planted last year; the corms need 7hours of sunshine a day to be happy and flower.

Bearded Iris

Talking of Ivan, he gave us some of his dried peppers. They’re not chilli, so I look forward to adding them to some dishes over the next few months. And our peppers in the polytunnel are finally changing colour! They’re yellow at the moment.

Dried peppers

This was a meal we had in the week – mostly home-grown (apart from the plant-based steak strips) including some of our Salad Blue potatoes, roughly chopped and roasted.

Blue potatoes with a veggie stir-fry

Here are a few more pics from our Autumn woodland walk. The song title is provided by the Goo Goo Dolls.

Autumn in Bowdown Woods

Round Here

Our allotment planet! I do love these ‘little planet’ style photos and I found instructions on this site. I thought you needed a special bit of kit to make these images. You must have seen them before, there are some amazing images on-line. I find them very pleasing 😌

Tiny planet
Tiny Planet allotment

Here are some other things that have pleased me over the last week.

Like that beautiful clear blue sky on Saturday and a robin singing his little heart out in the ash tree by our plot.

Robin redbreast singing
Happy Singing robin

A trug full of veg, including my tiny butternut squash and some baby patty pans, for delicious garlic-roasted vegetables, which covered one evening meal and two lunches.

Autumn vegetables in a trug
Trug of Autumn veggies

Opening the curtains to a beautiful sunny October daybreak so Jamie and I could have a plot barbecue with sweetcorn straight from the plant (sorry I dropped yours in the ash, Jamie).

Hungerford rooftops at dawn

Seeing the bright pink spindle berries in the allotment hedge, knowing that their next phase is to reveal their amazing orange fruits.

Spindleberry - beautiful pink berries
Spindleberries

And, did I mention this little chap serenading us all afternoon?

Singing robin
Robin

Remembering to zip down the polytunnel so our tomatoes and peppers didn’t get nipped by the frost on Saturday night, it sank to -0.5° and hit plants outside the polytunnel, though not the everything – surely these are the last of the courgettes?! That pleases Jamie 🤭

Final courgettes of the year?
Final courgettes?

Pulling a single Sarpo Mira plant on Sunday and getting all these great spuds.

Sarpo Mira potatoes
Sarpo Mira potatoes

Enjoying fiery Autumn skies as sunrise and sunset get closer together. 

Hungerford, October sunrise
Fiery sunrise

Oh, and did I mention the robin and that blue sky? We sat for hours just soaking up the rays while we contemplated doing some deadheading (pointless, the frost got them the next day) or weeding. And Ivan came to join us for a chat about his wine-making – his first batch of wine from his allotment grape vine is in preparation!

Singing robin

And yesterday I found that Little Planet tutorial which turned this panorama into that tiny world. 

Panorama
Panorama

It’s just converted using a bit of image manipulation. Here’s the ‘world’ from a different angle.

Little Planet Allotment

I hope you find some cheer in your world, have a good week. Song title provided by the excellent Counting Crows.

Golden Skans

Jars of home-made rose hip jelly
Rose hip jelly

I made rosehip jelly – it was a bit of a palaver to be honest. Two little jars of gold – they look great, but I think they may just be super-sweet and maybe not worth the effort. We’ll find out in a couple of months… I used this recipe from LarderLove. We ended up having to buy the apples and then today someone has left bagfuls of crab apples on the freebies shelf – they would have been perfect for it. 🙄

Rosehip jelly Ingredients
Rose hips and apples

I only had 250g of rosehips so used about 500g apples and 250g sugar plus a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice. I filtered it through coffee filter bags (I didn’t want to risk getting the itchy hairs in the jelly- yuk!) The juice was cloudy throughout the process so I was pleased when it went clear during the final part of boiling the juice with the sugar. All that sugar!

Squashes and peppers

I picked the last of the squash as the temperature was forecast to fall last week. It did and reached 0.6°. I’m sorry that we only got those two Honeyboat squash, they’re usually one of my favourite squash varieties. The peppers have been delicious fried up on cheese toastie-lunches and there are plans to eat the remaining ones this week. They had to be picked because I snapped a branch off the plant by mistake. There are probably another 8 big ones that we’re still hoping will go red on the plant.

Inside the polytunnel

And finally the tomatoes are going red in (what’s now) the squash store. The cold nights have gone for the timebeing and we’ve had some good heavy showers. The sweetcorn is delicious but the pollination is a bit hit and miss as you can see.

Corn on the cob
Sweetcorn

We had a lovely few hours on a mostly-sunny 17° site this afternoon. My Czechmate Wight garlic arrived from DT Browns yesterday, so I planted it out. It’s a hardneck variety so hopefully we’ll get garlic scapes to eat ahead of the bulbs – two harvests from one planting 🙂

Garlic for planting

The two bulbs gave us 31 cloves! They’re on Plot3 by the leeks, in front of the squash tunnel. I’ve planted some of them a bit deeper this year, in the hope for bigger bulbs.

Garlic clove spacing

The squash tunnel is useful for storing the canes off the ground over Winter and we’re thinking we’ll grow our beans up the tunnel next year and have the squash elsewhere for a year.

Empty squash tunnel
Winding down

The slugs have arrived with the rain and have found my Chinese cabbage, which is annoying! They don’t seem so keen on the pak choi so far. Jamie’s lettuce are still tiny but should provide us with a bit of salad in a few weeks if they don’t get decimated…

Lettuce seedlings
Winter lettuce

The chard was looking good in the sunshine. I’ll be having some more of that made into ‘crispy seaweed’, it’s my preferred way to eat chard now that the leaves are bigger.

Chard

You may remember the ugly warty Desiree potatoes from my last post. We’re pleased to report that they made delicious mashed potato and we’ll be having more tonight. We expect to have a few more courgettes this week and I’m hoping to have some roast veggies, including the smallest butternut squash – unless the courgettes get bigger than expected!

Autumn on the plot
Still colourful

The zinnia and other flowers are still looking okay and still need deadheading, but windy weather in the week caused a bit of damage, so I have a bunch of flowers beside me. The Love-Lies-Bleeding is going to drop everywhere I think.

So that’s another weekend over, another new month begins and we had another COVID jab last week – my 6th one… I hope you can all have a good week. Here’s a great song by the Klaxons with ‘golden’ in the title, but don’t ask me what ‘skans ’ are, perhaps ‘scams’ is more apt in England at the moment.

Across the Universe

How amazing are the Yin Yang beans! The patterns are great. Unfortunately only three of my seeds germinated this year, so the beans I harvested this week are being saved to try again next year.

They’re also known as Orca beans. That is all the beans I got from the three dwarf plants; I was expecting more but either they aren’t as prolific as Speedy dwarf French beans that we usually grow or the hot weather had an impact.

Borlotti beans

The  Borlotti beans and a few Gigantes are a bit more colourful and are in the jar for eating over the next year. In fact, I still have some left from last year and will be using them in a meal this week.

These pods had all dried on the plants but there are plenty more which I’ll dry off in the polytunnel if rain threatens. I prefer to let beans and squashes ripen entirely on the vine, but last week we had a frost warning – I know! In mid-September! So, I picked most of the squashes that look ripe and stored them in the polytunnel.

That’s two Festival, two Sunshine, three Butternut, two Winter Celebration and two Spaghetti. You can see how lovely and sunny that day was and the night stayed clear too. The temperature in the zipped-up polytunnel plunged to 1.1°.  At the top of site some plants show signs of frost damage – did I mention? It’s mid-September!

Talking of the top of site (actually the southern end) I mowed the central aisle yesterday and this is the view – with lines that <ahem> straight they may ask me not to do it again 🤭

Apart from that, the only jobs we’ve had are watering the polytunnel and pots, dead-heading – a never ending task, until the frost hits our plot – and harvesting. 

Lovely tasty sweetcorn is arriving and, as you can see courgettes haven’t quite stopped yet… 

Those three courgettes were nice with carrot and cheese on top of Smokey beans (not home-grown). 

This orzo, marinated tofu, tomato and courgette was delicious, with chilli-oiled chard cooked like crispy seaweed. I even did some baking, well, an apple crumble with forayed cob nuts provided by Ivan and apples from Alfie.

Apple and cobnut crumble

And today, with an extra Bank Holiday Monday due to the Queen’s funeral, Jamie and I enjoyed a barbecue on the warmish-sunnyish allotment with occasional chats with Ivan and other visitors. The birds were busy, including a very noisy duck over the hedge, and the road was quiet so a very pleasant afternoon while it would appear most other people were watching the Queen’s state funeral.

The song title is a dubious association with Yin and Yang – Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. And it’s a lovely Beatles song by Fiona Apple with a pleasing video, from the film Pleasantville.

Day of the Sunflowers

This is the veggie bake I made at the weekend – so pretty, but it took a long time to cook even though I’d thinly sliced the veg. The veg (potato, courgette and tomato on top of fried onions and garlic) was covered in a cheese sauce and baked.

Veggie bake

The tomatoes were kindly given to us by fellow plotholder, Iulia. She gave us a bagful of different varieties, which was a real treat. She has said that I can dig some of her abundant horseradish. I saw a Nigella recipe with tomatoes so will have a go at that. When (when!) it rains, the horseradish smells so lovely but I don’t want the meal to be too spicy hot.

Tomatoes

Some of those split tomatoes were boiled down with garlic and smoked paprika, which we had with gnocchi (and courgette) last night.

Courgette and gnocchi with tomato sauce

As you can tell, courgettes are still playing a major role in our diets! We thought the plant was dying back a couple of weeks ago but it (and the patty pan) have had a new lease of life. So… we made patty pan and carrot chutney at the weekend. It looks rather like marmalade, but I’m sure it’ll be tasty. It’s using our go-to recipe where we just change the veg for what we have available. We only made one and a half jars this year.

Carrot and Pattypan chutney

We had a most enjoyable HAHA (Hungerford Allotment Holders Association) picnic on Bank Holiday Monday. It’s so nice to sit and chat with our fellow plotholders. I made a colourful purple potato salad for the picnic and we’ve bean eating a few more of our super-sweet Lizzano cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. 

HAHA Picnic

And the prizes were awarded by Ted for the Plotholders Choice award (well done to Jenny) and the Tallest Sunflower (well done to Zoe).

Prize-giving

Zoe’s sunflower measured a towering 3.51m! Somewhat surprisingly, the first and third tallest on site are both multi-headed sunflowers. They’ve made an impressive display around the site, so I’m sure we’ll run the competition again next year.

Zoe’s winning sunflower

Here we are measuring Zoe’s earlier in the day. Jamie’s job was up the ladder (I realise he’s not in the photo!). This year’s top two heights were taller than last year’s winner – which was 3.21m.

No ladder required for measuring ours the day before, which now seems a paltry 2.49m.

I bought some potted perennials at the market yesterday (Jacob’s ladder, Coreopsis, Leucanthemum and Scabiosa). I’ve planted them in front of the bench for a more permanent display. I cleared some of the terrible bindweed round the pond and a golden frog appeared to see what was going on.

Frog

That was the last day of my long weekend; it was a welcome break from work. Yesterday afternoon we dug an area on Plot3 for planting some of Neal’s leeks. It was quite exhausting, the ground was hard in places and just dust in others, but it looks better now and perhaps we’ll get a bit of rain ahead of the leeks going in at the weekend. 

Prepped for leeks

I peeked under the netting at the Chinese cabbage and pak choi that I sowed at the beginning of the month. I’ve left the enviromesh on to stop it being nibbled so much. I need to thin the cabbage but the pak Choi is probably ok.

Chinese veg

And we’ve been having a few of the thinned baby carrots. Some are really tiny and so tasty.

Jamie sowed some Winter lettuce in the raised bed and then we played with the bubble machine 🤭

I’m eating chard and beetroot with other bits and pieces for lunches. The mornings are still beautiful but the sun is rising later and setting earlier, Autumn is definitely in the air at times.

The song title is provided by Basement Jaxx.

Look Up

I spent quite a lot of yesterday looking up. It was so lovely to return to sunshine and blue sky after a few days of feeling rather Autumnal, and it feels too soon.

I have a few very welcome days off making it a very long Bank Holiday weekend.

The weather yesterday was perfect and we enjoyed our lunch on the plot.
The birds were very chattery in the hedgerow, which is full of berries. The swallows are still gathering and swooping, preparing for their Winter Sun – lucky them. Meanwhile, between looking-up-sessions, we were deadheading, feeding and watering the plants – of course. 

The sweetcorn cobs are growing and I only appreciated the other day that the tassels, which develop from the female part of the plant, are each literally connected to what will become the kernel, if it’s pollinated. Obvious really, but I didn’t quite appreciate the link until I read this one. Anyway, the smell of sweetcorn pollen on Thursday, which was a rather drizzly day, was so strong I hope it made it to the tassels and is doing its job.

Looking up through sweetcorn

The bees and other insects are really enjoying the flowers, perhaps even as much as I am! We saw a Hummingbird Hawkmoth yesterday (they seem to be out in large numbers this year) and the other day we saw a Hornet Mimic Hoverfly – the UK’s largest hoverfly. No photos unfortunately but I’m keeping a watch to see that beast again.

You can see that the clouds started to build during the afternoon and it was very muggy.

When the clouds covered all the blue we decided to call it a day.

And as this is a Summer 2022 blogpost and that is the silhouette of a zinnia, How can I not share some of the beauties from their better angle? They have made a delightful bright display in front of our bench.

The wildlife plot has cheered up a bit since we had the rain. It had begun to look rather dead, though one section is thick with birdsfoot trefoil which has remained green and flowery throughout the dry Summer; it’s provided such thick ground cover it must still be wet underneath – hopefully our little froglets are living there. We’ve had to keep watering the bog garden (luxury of a borehole on site) and these lovely bright red flowers (Hesperantha coccinea, I think) have been pretty constant throughout the Summer. We saw a large dragonfly zooming around the plot the other day; it would be good if it laid some eggs there.

Various seedlings are emerging so I hope they’re preparing for next year’s growth (and are flowery plants). The teasels have had a second flush of flowerheads. We haven’t seen any birds eating from them yet, but there are lots of goldfinches around so we live in hope….

We have the HAHA Bring-Your-Own Picnic on Monday, after it was previously postponed because of the heatwave. It’s also measuring day for the tallest sunflower so it should be fun with prizes for that and the Plotholders Choice award. One of our sunflowers (we managed to grow two eventually) is tall but not in the running for a prize. Actually ours are meant to have giant heads, not tall stems so that’s a bit odd. Well, let’s blame the weather!

Sunflower from below

Song title is provided by Joy Oladokun. Stay chirpy and keep looking up.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I remembered we have cucumber moulds, so the continuous supply of Baby cucumbers are now looking different. 

Heart-shaped cucumber

As long as they’re sealed in a plastic bag in the fridge they are still perfect after 3 days. I’ve seen some tasty recipes for them, but we’ve mostly been having them in sandwiches or with hummus dips. Jamie has made this soured cream salad with added tomatoes and salad onions a couple of times which we’ve enjoyed.

Star-shaped cucumber

The big news this week is, of course, the weather. After the super extreme heat it actually rained – proper rain, with thunder and lightning two evenings in a row! The plots looked much healthier as a result.

On Tuesday morning we were greeted on site by a ‘flight’ of swallows (I prefer the collective noun ‘gulp’ actually) on the overhead cables and it was marvellous when they all swooped off together. And there was also a flock (a ‘charm’) of goldfinches. It was a beautiful morning actually, shame I only had an hour. The birds were clearly relieved that the rain had arrived and the extreme heat had past (thought it was still very warm).

Not exactly a tunnel this year

Tuesday evening we had the most torrential downpour. We opened the windows to enjoy that welcome sound and smell.

The RAIN!

The next morning the rain gauge showed it to have been a proper drenching – 25mm in one night.

Too late for the French beans (right) which seem to have gone over very quickly but the runners (left) are still producing flowers at the top and the borlotti/gigantes wigwam (centre) is looking bushy and healthy.

Runners, borlotti, gigantes and French bean wigwams

I needn’t have fretted last week. As Flighty pointed out, the cob tassels will soon arrive after the flowers start providing the pollen. And here they come on the Lark sweetcorn.

And look! The Lizzano outdoor tomato has given it’s first fruits – what a feast 😁 Well, it’s quality not quantity that counts! And you can see, there should soon be more…

Trugs are colourful at the moment with the chard and more of the Salad Blue potatoes. 

Also a Nicola potato and I podded those French beans to have with orzo (a pasta, which rather seemed like slippery rice on eating), What the Cluck and a sun-dried tomato pasta sauce.

Orzo meal

Last night I used chard to make a sort of colcannon with the Nicola potatoes. It was very tasty, but I think I should have made sure there was less water in the chard before mixing with the spuds. Although it wasn’t sloppy, it didn’t quite mash properly. It’s served with What the Cluck and garlicky-shallots.

Today it’s feeding day for the plot, though it’s certainly beginning to feel a bit Autumnal which is sad. It’s still a lovely temperature and no rain expected today. Even the clouds in the photo below, from yesterday, didn’t produce rain. It’s probably just because we’ve got used to blue skies and sweltering heat. But there are plenty more flowers and veg on their way, lots of deadheading to do and surely more cucumbers and courgettes to pick!

Aah, this song will pretty much sum up today I think. And what a great song by the Small Faces! Can’t believe I haven’t used it before. For the rest of today, I shall be mostly speaking in cock-nay 😆

Rinse and Repeat

What a sunny scene of home-sown flowers 😊. 

Sunny flower bed

I must remember to sow lobelia into modules next year. It’ll make it far easier to pot them on. Zinnia seem to be the flower of the moment. And ours are appearing. They’re multi-coloured so some of the orange flowers are zinnia rather than marigolds. 

I’m seeing them everywhere, but look closer and they’re even more fab. No wonder the bees were enjoying them today.

Zinnia Macro

I’m really happy with the Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus Caudatus). There are 4 plants around our plots. This one on Plot7 is the most advanced and this lovely long tassel has started to turn the deeper red. Such an amazing plant from the tiniest of seeds. The birds will apparently enjoy those seeds in the Autumn and I may well try some myself, as explained here by the Laidback Gardener’s blog. I hope some will set seed to re-grow next year.

Love Lies Bleeding

The harvests are continuing and are not very varied, but a bit of creativity means that meals don’t need to be boring. That said, I am missing the kitchen at work where I used to leave all the surplus for my colleagues to take home. I must admit that we left a large patty pan and over-grown courgette on the spares shelf at the allotment and I was pleased to see that someone actually wanted them! I’m also very pleased that the chalk addition to the patty pan watering has largely resolved the blossom end rot problem.

Trug of veggies

This Rose Harissa dish with sticky rice was tasty though a bit too spicy for my taste (I got carried away with adding the harissa paste!)

Harissa flavoured veg

The only flavouring in this stuffing, with added pine nuts, was the garlic, shallots and garlic oil. We had this in stuffed courgettes, with some left over for lunch the next day.

Vegetable and pine nut stuffing

This weekend has been so sweltering that cold salads have been best for lunches. 

Cucumber, beetroot and vegetarian pastrami salad

The temperature has reached 33° in the shade but it’s been lovely sitting under the sun umbrella with a deskfan run on a Jackery power station, which we’ve bought for heating the polytunnel in Winter really!

Making shade

The weather is what everyone is talking about. We even had to postpone our HAHA picnic; not due to rain, but because we’re in the amber extreme heat warning area.

It’s just beginning to cloud over.

It’s still sweltering and some of us aren’t convinced that the rain/thunderstorms will hit Hungerford over the next few days, but the temperatures are forecast to drop to a more average 23°. Too late for our pumpkin, which has gone into emergency mode and decided to skip a couple of months.

Early Halloween pumpkin

The other squashes don’t seem to have had the same idea, so hopefully more than one fruit per plant, though the ‘tunnel’ hasn’t quite developed this year.

Squash tunnel

My Florence fennel has sadly all gone to seed. It’s just not been possible to keep it wet enough.

Florence fennel

At last the sweetcorn has developed tassels but no cobs are emerging yet, which seems rather slow. We’ll see…

Summing up the last week: Work, water, harvest, deadhead, work, water, eat, sleep and repeat. And, I must say how much I like it 😊 Song title provided by Riton.