28 February 2013

Berry Border

This season we will expand our berry varieties to include blueberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants and loganberries in addition to the already existing raspberry bushes and strawberry plants. Oh yes. We were really lucky when we took over our allotment as we had a long row of raspberry bushes greeting us there. About third of these did not produce any berries though, so out they came making room for our four new berry bushes, which were all very wanted and liked presents from fellow veggie grower friends (thank you J&T!).  The soil on our 'berry border' is moderately acidic, which should work well for all the plants. 

Last year most of the raspberries disappeared in a mystical way to the chops of hungry gardeners, but some managed to get to the safety of the freezer, and they now remind us of sunny summery days on top of porridge on cold wintery mornings. Although clearly nothing is growing on the new additions yet and they look quite sad in the frosty ground, I have plans ready for what I'm going to do with the produce. Gooseberries will be boiled to Gooseberry & Limoncello Jam which I make every year. Blueberries will of course be used for a blueberry pie. Loganberries will be enjoyed as they are or on a berrylicious cake.

Now blackcurrants.. well I must admit I'm not really a fan of blackcurrants, they just do not tickle my taste buds although I have been eating them throughout my childhood. But as I'm sure we all know, these little bad boys are somewhat of berry heroes packed with health promoting antioxidants. Therefore, we will be having a shot of homemade blackcurrant juice every morning throughout the winter months; we will be fit as fiddles and will never have a cold again. That's the plan at least. Blackcurrant shots, here we come! (so wild.) Now, fingers crossed we will get some harvest..
Mr and Mrs V x
P.S Thank you for all your 'likes' on Facebook!

24 February 2013

An Allotmenteer's Sunday

pH testing takes you back to chemistry lessons. Warning: more than one blond needed!

Tea break

 P.S. Who knew everyone's friend rhubarb's roots resemble those of everyone's foe Mare's Tail's? Note to self: next time when weeding next to the rhubarb bed, practise caution. 

Mr and Mrs V x

19 February 2013

You know he loves you when...

...when your recent conversations have followed a pattern like this:

Mrs V: This year I'm thinking of trying to grow Globe Artichokes.
Mr V: Globe Artichokes? I believe they permanently occupy 1 square meter of space per plant and the yield you will get from them is not huge and the heart of the artichoke that you cook is so small.
Mrs V: It's not only the heart, the whole plant is a gourmet treat. I'm imagining Italian Riviera, warming sun with little bit of a summer breeze, the waves playing their melodies at the beach, a small restaurant by the promenade, pulling the leaves off a steamed artichoke head and dip them in hollandaise sauce enjoying the tender flesh. Perfect. And the closest to this you can get in England is by growing your own tasty artichokes.  
Mr V: Fussy food, fussy plant. It requires good soil, regular watering, liberal manuring and frost protection at winter. And you know cropping begins the season after planting.
Mrs V: But the statuesque artichoke will be a stunning feature on our herbaceous border.
Mr V: We don't have a herbaceous border.
Mrs V: Well not yet.. and given a sunny spot artichokes should carry on producing tasty buds for 4 to 5 years with little attention.
Mr V: Sunny spot... You can hear the pouring rain outside right? So the answer is no.

...but then one day you come home after a long day of work and there they are, picked up by Mr V, waiting for you. Two artichoke offsets for the allotment. Who would've thought rooted suckers can make you happy.  

You know what would make this salad even more perfect?
Yes, you guessed it. 
Grilled artichokes.

Mrs V x

17 February 2013

Onion Appreciation

The glorious sunny day invited us to give the allotment some much needed TLC. Due to the recent constant rain we are quite a few weeks behind in getting everything sorted out for next season, which meant today was devoted to digging. And oh boy, did we dig! Yesterday we managed to get some well rotted manure through friends, who themselves have an allotment, and having been invited to help ourselves to a substantial sized heap of left-over compost from a charity plot, we filled our onion and potato beds full of nutrients. While the beds are ready for planting,  the seed potatoes are chitting away in their egg boxes while the onion sets are still waiting to be picked up from a store- we are not brave enough to start them from a seed yet!

Having our own onions for the first time last year was ridiculously amazing, partly because it was the first thing we harvested from our allotment and partly because onion is an essential kitchen vegetable. Our attitude towards onions changed though. Suddenly you could not use the before-so-everyday onions for chilli con carnes, Bolognese sauces and curries. You wanted to use them for something where the Stuttgarters and Red Barons would be the leading the star, not the support actor; French onion soup, onion gravy or onion tart, where the flavour of onion could be fully appreciated. As expected, when the days passed and other produce became ready to harvest,  the humble onions returned to be the darlings of risottos and soups. However, knowing how easily exited we get, the first onions we harvest this year will surely get a royal reception- no matter if they end up in lemon-and herb- stuffing for a fish or tortilla espaƱola.
Mr and Mrs V x

14 February 2013

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'll be treating Mr V to cute mini cheesecakes like these. This is my interpretation of Valentine's Day Roses in the form of a cake. Although roses are the classic and traditional declaration of love, I'm more of a peony sort of a girl. We even had peonies growing at the allotment until I let Mr V loose with a strimmer the first time. He didn't listen to my instructions prior to strimming around, you see ;) Mrs V x

12 February 2013

Pumpkin Love

I love pumpkins. Growing, cooking and eating them. And just looking at them. If it was up to me, our whole plot would be used to grow pumpkins. Luckily Mr V is sensible enough not to agree to this. And I do realize it would be wrong against all the lovely parsnips, beetroots, leeks, beans and sweet corns. However, I did manage to negotiate a relatively big patch of our plot for the pumpkins this season.  Hopefully we will manage to grow a truck load of pumpkins to compensate for the fact that as a youngster Mr V only had a carved swede for Halloween.  And with all that space to grow pumpkins, I'm very excited to expand our horizons from the bright orange Charmant to three different edible varieties.
With the success of growing them last season, Charmant will naturally be one of the varieties.  They are perfect for some extreme pumpkin carving at Halloween. We also hope to make it a tradition to give one of our own pumpkins for all the nieces, nephews and other cute little people in our lives for Halloween.  The Charmant seemed to enjoy growing at our plot. Charmant PMR F1 shows resistance to powdery mildew, but somewhat unsurprisingly, they did suffer from it -my money is on the dreadful weather. Despite this, they managed to produce many round and tasty pumpkins  that were mainly roasted, but also turned to soups, casseroles, stews and even jam in our kitchen.
The second one is the gorgeous icy blue- greyish Crown Prince. My research tells me the skill level needed to grow these is that of a beginner, so suits us well. The rumour also has it, that it is one of the best tasting winter squashes, so can't wait to sample those fine flavours when we eventually get there.  
The third one will be a cute little mini pumpkin, the Hooligan. I must admit, I just had to order the seeds based on the name alone!  I can just imagine walking home after a hard day's work at the allotment with a hooligan in my pocket, popping it to the microwave for couple of minutes and there- dinner sorted! These would also make brilliant individual soup serving bowls for a dinner party. Now, if anyone wondered about the name of the blog... makes sense now!
And of course we also have to try to grow some so-ugly-they-are-gorgeous gourds for autumn decorations. Now some may deem these as waste of space, energy and time as they are not edible, but when you have an attractive table display built of nature's own goods bringing you beauty, you just have to love them.

Mrs V x

9 February 2013

Where it all starts

Tried and tested. Found to be true. Well, so far at least.
Welcome to our new blog!
Hope you enjoy reading of our allotment ventures, get inspired by the recipes and like the other randomness we may blog from time to time!
Mr and Mrs V x

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