Sunday, 29 July 2012

29 July 2012 - protection from bunnies

Mike did some protection work at the weekend - he's put a lot of thought into it and when we do the weeding, just pull the posts out because the netting is attached to the posts, and not the boards.  He also made sure that they were only half bed sizes so that one person could do it without getting all tangled!  How cool is that!
carrots growing nicely

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Rhubarb Wine

Firstly, I'm going to announce now that I have NEVER made any wine in my life!  (That covers off any fumbling that may or may not happen from now on!)  Since we inherited a couple of extra rhubarb plants and ours transplanted better than we could ever have imagined.... I thought I'd give it a bash.

The recipe I followed was from Tanya's blog, but I didn't have enough to make the full amount.  Never mind, I'm sure 3 bottles will be just grand!  If you want the full recipe now, check out her blog.  If you just want to see a learner bumble through, I'll be updating this as I go along.

1.15g rhubarb (you're going to love how I got to this!)
700g sugar
1.4 litres water, boiled
1.425 ml strong black tea, boiled & cooled
1t yeast nutrient
1/2 x 5g sachet white wine yeast 
extra water, boiled and cooled

10 July 2012
I had to halve the recipe and I'm a self-proclaimed one-pot cook.  Considering I was going to have to put the rhubarb into a sterile bowl and wash the rhubarb that's already two pots!  Eeek.  No speaking to me! (yup, seriously).

So, I got rougly the right amount of rhubarb balanced nicely on the scales, top and tailed them and chopped into small pieces, washed and into the bowl....
Then I weighed the scraps, deducted that from the original amount and that told me how much more I needed to add to the bowl (considering I have a close friend who uses pythagorus therum to line a cake tin, I can admit that I did this!)
The sugar then got stirred into the bowl with the rhubarb, which I then covered with clingfilm, hid in a cupboard and will now ignore it for 3 days.

See you in 3 days time!

15 July 2012
Okay, so it was longer than 3 days, but we got here!  Had to pop to the shop and collect the bits'n'pieces that we didn't have.  All sorted!

 Here's the mixture after sitting in the cupboard, I scooped out the pieces then drained the syrup through a seive to make sure there were no bits in there.

Here's the mixture with the cold tea and yeast added in.  Waiting patiently for 5 days now.

...and I mean 5 days this time!

23 July 2012
...In my calendar, this is 5 days.....

We had a bit of an issue with the racking - there was going to be too much water added to the demi-john and shouldn't be left half full, so it was a quick discuss with Tanya and decided that a bottle of Scrumpy would do the trick (but our shop didn't have any).... I was tempted to make a second half-batch, but we didn't have enough new rhubarb at the allotment.

I left Mike to sort out how to bung the new bottle out, because the bung was exactly the same diameter as the bottle now.  He did a very good job, as you will see!

This was a two person job, for one very good reason - I'm a rubbish syphoner!  Everything was sanitized first, using the instructions on the bottle and you should only syphon out the clear liquid so we've got a extension bit on the tube that has a hole a little way up to help with that.
This is the gunk that's left.  Nice, isn't it!

There was a bit of a gap at the top of the bottle so we topped up with boiled & cooled water.
Here it is, bung in - there is boiled & cooled water in the bong,so that the water was in the innermost bubbly bit and as the bottle was emptied of air (naturally) the water has been moving to the outer bubbly bit.

You can't see Mike's handiwork very well, but he cut a perfect sized hole in the lid for the bong and we sealed it with bluetack after the bottle was filled.

We now leave this for about a month (you already know that this'll be about a month + 3 days!)

22 July 2012 - how it's going so far!

Me & my turnips!
Mike & his snack

Amaranthus Calaloo

 My plan for putting toilet rolls round each seed so I'd know when an experimental seedling has come up - got a big FAIL - here's the 4 different types of seedling for amaranthus calaloo - definitely recognise 2 of them as weeds!  No idea what the plant should look like... Google images, here I come!

Leaves bed 1

Here's the first "leaves" bed - the brussel sprouts have survived their rabbit attack, nasturtiums doing fine and the toilet roll farm is growing well (whether they are seedlings or weedlings is a different matter altogether!). Got some brocolli and cauliflower come up, the leeks are doing fine between the leaves rows and the spinach is surviving at the end of the bed.

The sweetcorn has started to come up, I'm not sure if we'll get any crop but this is inspiring because I never got this far with sweetcorn at the previous allotment.  Very excited to see more coming up too!  It's not the crop, it's the growing something that counts (that's the link to when all these were planted!)

Here's the first roots bed, with the turnips that we're thinning out gradually (in the middle).

Mike's protected the Jerusalem artichokes at the end (just behind the sweetcorn, and I've protected the smaller sweetcorn and carrot seedlings.

At the front, we've protected some of the Scorzonera and right at the front is some carrot and the unknown-but-probably-beet seedlings coming up.  We've got a few beetroot coming up right by the turnips as well.
Sweetcorn, Carrots, Artichokes

Everything's a bit slower this year, probably because of the amount of rain & lack of sunshine, but here's hoping that everything works out!

Ornamental Gourds plants
Globe artichoke
Potatoes bed 1

First raspberry crop

2nd turnip crop

Slug eater bathing!

22 July 2012 - Transplanting update

Here's a little update on how those plants transplanted in January have been doing.....
If you didn't see the original posts, you can read about them here

Gooseberry, Redcurrant & Blueberry
The berry plants have done really well in their new spot, we had some redcurrants which went into the delicious summer fruits pudding that Mike made for me!

Not had many gooseberries and I think the too-much-rain we've had got to any blueberries, although I haven't actually seen any.

The asparagus is at the other end of the berry bed, and as you can see, it didn't show up at all, not sure whether this means we've lost them - there should be 3 or 4 rows here. 

We'll leave them in and see if there's anything going on next year, afterall, it's not the plant's fault it was moved, maybe just napped this year?

This was the garlic that I dug up from the end of this bed - I split the cloves and planted them out, wondering if that'd work or not because they weren't in a state fit for cooking with.

Looks like we've got a lot here and I've found a recipe for a garlic pesto which I'm dying to give a go!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

8 July 2012 - Garlic & Skinks

Today was pretty much a tidy up day.  We did get a visitor from our old allotment who wanted to be nosey - lucky for him I hadn't unpacked the camera yet, so there's no pic.  Next time, definitely next time!

I was a lady-wot-lunched with his wife yesterday and we were proudly showing him round horse poo & manure today - don't we just live the highlife!

I weeded the potatoes bed and put in a plant we picked up at Tynwald on Tynwald Day (Isle of Man national day) which loves sandy soil - left the tab in and now forgotten what it's called, but here's a photo.

Mike started weeding the garlics bed (which was way to overgrown for a before photo!) and I helped finish it with him because it was such a big job - better to finish two beds than have half jobs to go back to another day.  We were really pleased with how many garlic have come up and I've found a recipe that is a garlic version of pesto that I'll have to try later.

The raspberries definitely appreciated us taking the time to protect them earlier!  Here's how they're doing now. 

We'd left the brussel sprouts uncovered thinking they were strong enough to face the wind and now not little seedlings that slugs might like - completely forgetting that we have rabbits nearby.  Ooops, schoolboy error, but hopefully not too much of one.  They're covered up again now.

Someone forgot to tell the skink that sunning itself in the Isle of Man this summer is not the best idea in the world - but this one gave it a go anyway. 

(I wasn't happy to see a far-to-large longtail, but a Skink is okay)

While we were showing our friend around we noticed that someone's growing something very big of the onion variety!

I've never done very well with onions, and don't really like them much, but it doesn't mean I can't appreciate someone else's efforts!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Summer Fruits Pudding

I was very lucky that Mike got an allotment cookbook for his birthday and it just happens to have a summer pudding recipe and we just happened to have some picked on our latest visit to the allotment....and we had some spare strawberries in the freezer to make up the difference!  How very fortunate!

We didn't have any Cassis, so looked for alternatives and found a Delia recipe which said "using sliced white bread just will not do!"  Well guess what Delia, it does!

Mike did pretty much all of it, I was at the other end of the camera and the professional clingfilm cutter!

As per usual, what we actually used is in (italics)
9 slices of white bread - one day old
250g each blackcurrants & redcurrants and 325g raspberries (460ish combo of blackcurrants, raspberries and strawberries)
100g caster sugar (just sugar)
2 T creme de cassis (juice from the berries)

line the bowl with clingfilm and then the bread and simmer the fruits until fruits are soft and sugar is dissolved.  The idea was that the softer fruits went in last, but we just chucked it all in.

Spoon the fruit into the breaded bowl and drizzle the juice so that the bread gets a coated a bit.  Cover the pudding with the last of the bread, then clingfilm, put a small plate on top with a tin on that, to weigh down and help the juice of the fruit get all over the bread.

chill overnight in the fridge.  Turn out and serve!

Monday, 2 July 2012

2 June 2012 - filling in the gaps

 The latest bed that was cleared of weeds, the toilet rolls have got the cauli in, so I don't pull up my last 5 seeds thinking they're weeds! - in this half theres:
chickory, purple cauliflower, green kohl rabi, kale, rainbow spinach and savoy cabbage.
In the other side of that bed is:
purple brussel sprouts, nasturtium, purple sprouting brocolli, pak choi and purple kohl rabi

at the very end of the bed are some old seeds - that may, or may not come up.... sweet pepper bush and a licquorice scented herb plant.... well, may as well give them a chance....

 Then there was filling in the other end of the roots bed, and filling in the gaps where no seedlings have come up.  Because nothing goes to plan (and I wouldn't have it any other way.....) one envelope split, so in my hand is possibly spinach beet, or beetroots of some sort.  I put it at the end and we'll see what we see!

we have some new flowers in the pond ;-)
the raspberries get bird-proofed
Have a look at the quick 30 second video - my first attempt at uploading one on here - the resident sheepdog rounding up the chickens! 
Round and round and round she goes - when she stops, nobody knows!