Saturday, 29 September 2012

Autumn on the plot

A beautiful autumn morning today - blue skies and fluffy clouds. I wrapped up in winter woollies and jacket to go down to the allotment, but soon ditched the jacket as the sun rose higher and I did some serious digging. Weeds have an amazing ability, as we all know, to grow the minute our backs are turned, but plenty hit the compost heap this morning!
I also picked the last of the beans and took down the canes, keeping to one side some beans that had yellowed.
I have heard that you can keep the beans to plant next year, but my question is this - what do I do next with them and are they as reliable as a packet of shop bought seeds?
On other areas of the plot, the butternut squash are looking good. I counted about 15 from 3 plants. The 2 plants in the ground seem to have done better than the one in the raised bed.
I am hoping that a little more autumn sunshine and they will be ready to pick and store.
The yellow courgettes keep coming -
and the strawberries seem to have settled into their new beds-
Happy gardening everyone!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Autumn on a plate




Onions, beetroot and yellow courgettes from the allotment, roasted with butternut squash (not from the allotment! Ours are not quite ready, but hopefully will be soon) and served with Waitrose love life lentils and quinoa and Waitrose chorizo sausages.  Yum!

Following Jamie's advice, I no longer peel the squash when roasting it. Not only is this much easier- no more hacking away at the skin with a peeler- but it also gives a delicious chewiness to the squash.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

a day of gardening and foodie delights

With the prospect of a few days' holiday, mr digandweed and myself decided to visit Audley End House nr Saffron Walden. Audley End is a beautiful Jacobean mansion, built between 1603 and 1614.
Of particular interest to me was the service wing, which accommodates a kitchen, laundry and dairy ...and the lovely gardens.
The service rooms are presented as they might have appeared in about 1881 and give a fascinating glimpse of how life would have been back then.
I was captivated by the cupboards full of kitchen equipment: tiny tartlet tins and jelly moulds, cream horn cases, brushes and rolling pins etc. and by the gleaming copper saucepans.

lovely preserves in the walk-in pantry
The dairy was a cool, white room. You can see the rows of wide dishes where the milk was left to settle and the cream was later skimmed off to be churned into butter.
The gardens were equally enchanting. There were many different gardens within the whole and each one had a secluded, intimate feel. I loved this archway leading to the pond garden and a glimpse of the walled kitchen garden beyond.


beautiful dahlia

I would love to know what this unusual plant is - maybe an annual climber?
Midday way through the morning, it became apparent that a small film crew were at work in the house and garden. At first, we thought that mr digandweed's fame had spread far and wide and that he was to be the subject of a documentary, then, however, we realised that the crew was for the hairy bikers who were due to arrive shortly to film for a new series. Sadly, although we saw the film crew, we had to leave before the hairy bikers themselves arrived!
We were driving on to nearby Clavering and in particular The Cricketers pub to pay homage to Jamie!
This is the pub where Jamie Oliver grew up and which his parents still run. We enjoyed a delicious meal with some of the friendliest and most enthusiastic service we have encountered. I had wild rabbit and wild mushroom pappardelle and mr digandweed had steak and ale pie, which he declared to be one of the best pies he had ever eaten!
Most of the vegetables served at the restaurant are grown in Jamie's organic vegetable garden nearby and his influence is also evident in the wood fired pizza oven in the pub garden.
All in all a lovely day and both places come highly recommended by mr digandweed and myself.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Indian summer

Last Sunday, after a week of beautiful sunny weather, the temperatures soared even higher to 27c. We decided to make the most of it and packed a picnic.
Our tumbler tomatoes have at last started to ripen and we have been gathering  handfuls almost every day.

I cooked some couscous and added the tomatoes to make a salad. We enjoyed a lovely picnic and .....
followed it with a walk. It's amazing what different colours and textures you can see when you look closely at the hedgerows.
red campion

Beautiful architectural seedheads
ragwort, I think

wild rose hips


Friday, 7 September 2012

I am feeling so proud!

I have my very own compost just like Monty Don's on Gardener's World!
Of course, I can't take much of the credit. Most of the hard work is down to the creepy crawlies - those that you can see and those you can't who have turned all the garden rubbish into something lovely, like crumbled chocolate and almost good enough to eat!
I did have one squeamish moment as I dug deeper into the mound and found what looked like shredded paper - the remains of a mouse's nest with several tiny dead mice in it. Maybe their mother was a victim of the cat which lives on the allotments and which I have named Lottie, but nevertheless, a sad end for some tiny little brown and furry rodents!
Meanwhile, mr digandweed was busy digging and weeding and BUILDING! The compost is destined for two new raised beds which he has been making and which will be home to the strawberry plants for next year.