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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 🤬


Published by Belinda Robinson

Photos of planting, growing, harvesting, (occasional) vegetarian cooking and wildlife - this is why the Marsh Lane Allotment site in Hungerford is such a fabulous place to spend time. A record of successes, failures and it's a handy reminder for me too. From 2017 each post title brings a song to add a little extra music to the world - enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Bitter Tears

  1. It’s certainly been a rainy, and breezy, month so far but surprisingly mild. I didn’t go to the plot at all last weekend and not until Wednesday.
    Well done with the harvest. Shame about the bitter squash, I would blame the weather this year.
    My sympathies regarding your site. Mine is council owned and there have been periodic rumors for years that they want to sell it to developers for housing. xx


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