Ready for All Hallows Eve already…

Today was a pretty easy day at the allotment. I laid out some weed membrane on one of the more “weed-free” areas of the plot and have planted my pumpkins and courgettes through it.

My soil is still pretty good after the man a few years back manured it and then left. At the end of this year i will cover the whole bed, but for now I have used some of my compost under the roots and am hoping that these will do ok!

I didn’t add any fertiliser last year and we did well with the marrows so hopefully this year we will be ok too.

We have got 2 Turks Turban, 1 Winter Squash of unknown origin and 2 courgettes (1 green 1 golden). My friend also has a massive amount of white pumpkins she has said I can grow here, so hopefully they will be ready just in time for the wedding! They would be great to add to the decor!

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All planted up

The pumpkins and squash can spread over 6 feet so are planted pretty far apart at the moment but hopefully this space will be taken up soon.

Weed membrane can be a lovely home for slugs, but hopefully my traps and the abundance of frogs will help keep the numbers down. They are just part of the allotment life so I am not wanting rid completely!

Fingers crossed we get another of these –

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Wider than my leg!

Busy Week, With Not Enough Time!

I’ve been neglecting my allotment these last few days/week… poor thing!

My onions desperately need hoeing which will be tonight job, and I still need to get all of the weeds removed from my final bed to get some peas, beans and pumpkins in!

So this week will be a manic one I am sure – it’s all made better when I found this though;

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They are going red!!

So I only managed to get down there for a few hours on Saturday.

I pulled up a few weeds, but because the ground was so dry it was like stone!

So instead I decided to make my mini flower bed for Rachel’s Sunflowers. It is right in front of my greenhouse annex so will be a lovely view when they grow!

I used some of the old roof tiles we dug up from around the plot to edge it. The edge is pretty tall, but that means that i can strim the grass without murdering the sunflowers in high season.

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All in!

The grass still needs another layer of seeds adding as the birds have had a field day, but since I have now stopped them getting to the chicken food and its been a long winter, I thought I would be kind to them.

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Sunflowers in!

I used the tops of the milk bottles from MrT’s strawberry wall as name plates for the different sunflower types. Recycling at its best!

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Give them all a good water

These will all get some sticks put in over the weekend, but for now I am letting them recover a bit.

It does look like the slugs are out in force though so a beer trap will soon be installed… bloody things. I picked a pot full later in the evening and the chickens thought it was Christmas!

Now just to try and keep on top of everything…

 

Sunday Sunshine

Morning!

We have had a lovely but very busy weekend organising wedding stuff the past few days, including spending a few hours having a fabulous drive down to the wedding venue in Shrewsbury. I can’t wait, it all seems very real!

In return for my wedding organising day, I went with MrT to a new motorbike shop so he was pretty pleased too.

When we got in it was still lovely weather so we popped down to the lottie for a bit… glad we did because look what my neighbour left me!

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So many toms!

So while MrT chopped the tops off some milk bottles for me, I dug up my over-wintered strawberry plants from the greenhouse.

He potted these up in to the new milk-bottle-homes and I started planting my toms!

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More toms, less space!

I was told last year that my planting layout wasn’t very economical, so I am following the advice in this years planting. Apparently if you place your tomatoes in a staggered formation, you can fit more in a smaller space and still get enough air circulation to avoid blight! Lets give it a go!

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So Leafy!

Now you see all those fluffy bits on the greyish area on the bottom of the stem? They turn in to roots! So I take off the seed leaves and stem (those funny shaped ones at the bottom) and the next set of leaves up.

Also, you notice those shoots appearing from the tomatoes ‘elbows’? Remove those whenever they appear, no matter how old the plant. They sap all of the nutrients away from the main stem and fruit trusses and make your crop smaller (apparently!).

 

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This is how it should now look!

Now dig a hole big enough to cover the roots and that greyish area of stem.

When plating tomatoes, its good to add a bit of fertiliser beforehand. Lots of people use eggs and banana skins, but I just put in some fungi powder and crunched up egg shells.

Now is also the time to put in your tomato collars if you use them. I haven’t invested in any yet but I have heard good things! They make watering easier and help the fruits avoid splitting.

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All in!

By the time you have finished, your plants will look about half the height that they did, but don’t worry. They will have a huge root ball now and grow much better.

Water them in really well, but don’t get it on the leaves. Water on the leaves makes them burn and go spotty. It doesn’t harm the plant in small areas, but it can wilt them quite badly!

Don’t they look fab!?

So while I was doing that MrT had watered all of my onions, garlic and spuds, replaced all of my weedguard, fed my chickens and quail and made this stunning bit of wall art

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Strawberry wall!

Isn’t he a good egg?!

We had a lot of trouble with bunnies and slugs eating my fruit last year before they were ripe, so hopefully this will help avoid that. It also helps with recycling all of that dreaded plastic! Just make sure you poke some drainage holes!

Now just to repaint the wall and it’ll look ace.

I am so proud of him
It’s still not worth a new motorbike though…
Maybe when he has built my fence!

One Year On

So today marks one year since i got the call to say a plot was ready for us.

Still a few days to go before we actually got the keys, but I remember it like yesterday!

Unfortunately it has been far too hot to do any work down there this weekend, so I have stayed at home and potted on some tomatoes instead.

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Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration

Morning!

Look at what we managed to get done yesterday!

It was MrT’s last day off for a fortnight or so, and it was gorgeous weather so I abandoned work after an hour and a bit to get some allotment work done.

Molly’sDad and the PigeonMan had a shed that they wanted removing, but it was still in really good condition so they offered it to us. Que lots of heavy lifting and bad backs as we dismantled and moved it up the tiny gap between our greenhouse and the hedge.

After we had done all of the dismantling, we had to build a base. And typically, it was right where MrT had piled up all of the bricks from his last demolition job!

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He was not amused.

We finally managed to move them all, but them realised that the ‘ready-built’ base we thought we had from a previous shed was too big! That meant we had to build two new runs of bricks to make the base the right size for our 8×6 shed.

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Just a quick layout before knocking them in

All of the junk will be moved at a later date, as this appears to have been the dumping ground for the previous tennant.

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The floor fits! 

Then it was just a case of lugging the bits up the massive walk from one end of the allotment to the other. That was a workout and a half!

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Its taking shape!

Because I wanted it out of the way, it was very difficult to get the sides and top on. There were tree branches, broken glass and all sorts of old tat to try and not break an ankle on.

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Bloody blokes

If MrT complains he is hurting these photos prove why. It was his own doing.

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Thinks he is a squirrel

While he did the refelting, I moved all of the tools into the new shed. At some point i will get some tool hooks and put everything in neatly, but for now I was just ready to go home and sleep!

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Its up!

Oh, and i added a hanging basket with nasturtiums in. As you do. Lets see how long it takes until I paint it grey and cover it in bunting!

Another job well done!

Quail Scotch Eggs

This weekend saw me turning my Quail eggs into some lovely Scotch Eggs!
Pork and red onion meat, and ‘seedy bread’ crumbs – delish!

Pro Chef MrT was very impressed by my runny yolks too, and that is a result!

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Mmmmmm ❤

You’ll have to excuse the awful photo quality throughout, I was using Facebook Messenger and forgot to take some better photos with my real camera – Oops!

The recipe originally came for a well known Essex chef with an aversion to Turkey Twizzlers, but I adapted it for my own cupboard stock and I think it turned out pretty well!

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How Pro do these look?

It isn’t too tricky to do, and the hardest part is getting the shells off the eggs, but there’s a good trick for that later…

Ingredients

  • 10 quail eggs
  • 3 thick sausages – I used pork and red onion
  • 2 sprigs of thyme – Rescued from the drowning window box
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 large egg – Courtesy of Cluckingham Palace residents
  • 3 slices of seedy bread – crumbed in a processor but not too fine
  • vegetable oil , for frying

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, or 160 for fan ovens.
  2. fill a pan half full with water, and add a splash of white vinegar. This helps the shells peel right off but adds no ‘fishNchip’ flavour.
  3. Cook the eggs in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then plunge into cold water and carefully peel. Don’t put your nail through the yolks like I did on the first two..!
  4. Squeeze the sausage meat into a bowl, giving the skins to the patiently waiting dogs, then pick in the thyme.
  5. Beat the hen’s egg in a shallow bowl, put the flour on a plate, and place the breadcrumbs onto another plate. Its easier to roll them around then.
  6. Roll your eggs in the flour. Don’t make it thick, just a little dusting to help keep the eggs from bursting all over the place.
  7. Divide the sausage mixture into 10 pieces, then shape around the eggs and carefully roll into a round. The best way I found was to squish the ‘meat blob’ into a pancake with your fingers and wrap this around the egg long ways. Its super sticky. Then just fold up the ends and carefully roll between your hands. Don’t leave any gaps!
  8. Dunk them in the egg, all the way around. Use one hand for this and one hand for the next step or you will look like a Kentucky fried chicken piece before you’ve finished them all!
  9. Roll each round in the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
  10. Very carefully heat 5cm of oil in a deep pan to 180ºC and very carefully fry the scotch eggs in batches for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden. If you don’t have a thermometer (not a health one a food one!) then when you think it may be hot enough, plop a breadcrumb in and see if it sizzles and browns.
  11. Remove with caution and drain on kitchen paper. Do Not let them roll off the worktop into the waiting jaws of a dog like one of mine nearly did.
  12. Bake in oven for 5 minutes, then serve!

The yolk should be just the right runny-ness, and the outside crispy and golden.

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Perfect for your next picnic

Good right?

Perfect mouthful sized snacks for lunchboxes, or if you are like me, whenever you walk past the fridge

Say hello to my little friend…!

So today my friend came to The Goose Roost to help out and get her little patch of land ready for her wedding flowers.

Meet Rachel!

We had to check the chicken run before doing anything else, as unfortunately two doors down lost 4 overnight to MrFox and had to dispatch another thanks to a bitten leg and foot. Luckily ours are safe, but i will pop back when MrT gets back tonight (11pm ish) and take the dogs up to wee everywhere…hopefully that’ll keep them at bay!

He has got babies living on the wasteland (the fox not MrT!) so i dont blame him for being hungry, but i do wish they would only take what they eat, not kill several!

But anyway…back to our wedding workout. The area was pretty clear. It wasn’t all that great to look at at first though!

Her little area!

Rach is having a beautiful cobalt blue and sunflower wedding, so we want to make sure that the flower heads are ready for the end of July!

What she doesn’t use of this plot will be grassed over to create a lovely seating area for the summer, and to also keep the weeds down for another year until we cultivate it.

Half way through

We arrived at about 3pm to gloom and grey clouds, but luckily the weather stayed dry for us.

We managed to get it all dug over in about 2.5 hours and ready to rake and sow grass seeds later in the week.

Done!

Shes a good grafter and we had a good natter while we did it! Even managed time to have a luke-warm cup of hot chocolate. I must remember to take mugs next time….

Sowing sunflowers

Next stop was to pull up the few weeds in the greenhouse and sow the seeds. While she did her sunflowers (several varieties and all gorgeous!) I sowed some marigold seeds. Its way too cold this year to sow them direct, plus it means that we will know what is a plant and what is a weed. Thats always a bonus.

Very technical

I heard that marigolds are good to distract nasty bugs from eating you veg, so hopefully they will be around every bed this season. I had awful problems with ‘friends’ last year.

Look at those strawberries though…

It was Rach’s first time planting anything really, so a good opportunity to sound like i know what I’m talking about. In actual fact i just pulled up weeds and filled up a watering can, but we wont tell her that will we?

All in!

How beautiful is this looking!

I can’t wait to see things staring to sprout. We saved some seeds to sow more in a week or two so hopefully at least something will have flowers on for The Big Day.

Ready to be raked

Productive afternoon to say the least!

Makes me want to paint over that red though…..

When it rains, it pours

Cold and wet day down the lottie today, but the hens were happy and the blossom is out!

Rosmary flowers

Apple blossom

Cherry blossom

Strawberry flowers

Pear blossom

Strawberrys

The hens were treated to another hay bale today to try and soak up some of the rain. The old stuff i dug out i put around my berry canes. Hopefully this will be a wonderful manure for them! I love raspberries and am hoping for my first home-grown crop this year.

Hopefully a bumper crop!

The rain them started belting down, but as i was already up there i wanted to finish up. I covered much of the top end of the bed in weed membrane as the same sun that has helped my plants grow has also helped the weeds, and i wont have time to get it all perfectly dug over like the spud bed.

Weed membrane, trying to battle nettles!

All home and clean now, but my boots have seen better days! Poor things have got so many holes in now, they definately arent waterproof any more!

Ready for a nap!

Back off up there tomorrow to get some sunflowers in for my friends wedding… lets hope its drier!

Have you heard my under construction joke? It’s not done yet.

Two days off in a week, means two demolition/fire/destruction/smashing jobs done in a week.

I should have known really when the sledgehammer ended up in the boot of the car that something dramatic was about to happen.

This ‘building’, or ricketty pile of bricks, is built in the most inconvenient place in the allotment. It blocks access to a good 20sqm of space which could otherwise be useful.

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Very inconvenient old walls

I mentioned my wish to have this *eventually* removed to MrT a while ago.

So while I was planting my spuds, MrT was making some smashing and grunting noises around the back of my greenhouse. I would have been worried if I couldn’t hear his grumbles.

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Smashing away

 

He didn’t move anything, he just wacked it.

 

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Gone!

We did, however, find out that those walls were supporting my greenhouse… Bugger. Now thats got to come down to as all of the wood is rotten and its being held up by its shelving!

Soon enough he had got it all down and stacked up the bricks nice and neatly while I finished putting my spuds in.

Just out of curiosity, who mounds theirs up and who doesn’t?

I just dig a hole, push my shovel forwards so that it makes a deeper hole, drop my spud in and then removed the spade and fill in the hole.
I don’t bother mounding them up unless a spud sticks above the surface and always seem to get as much of a crop as everyone else.
I also don’t faff about with worrying which are First, Second or Main crops. I just plonk them all in and harvest them when the plant tells me they need harvesting.

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Spuds are in

I have put 6 rows in, some of red King Edwards and some of Maris Pipers. I am waiting on the complaints and criticisms of the other plot holders on my site about my lack of lines and mounds, but to be honest the less work the better.

At least I got to use my adorable signs that I bought in the sales last year!

Wilkos Signs

A day of good and bad… and its only 9am!

We lost one of our chickens this morning… poor girlie.

We think she may have had a sour crop, but unfortunately there was nothing we could do to help her. She had been very quiet all day, sitting in the coop, but having been broody for a week or so we thought nothing of it. When I went in to feed and water though it was obvious she wasn’t very well.

We put her into the spare coop we call the ‘recovery coop’. Its bright pink and lovely and warm and quiet. We gave her lots of clean bedding and water with Apple Cider Vinegar, and ‘burped’ her as best we could. She seemed a little perkier before we left and was snuggling up into her bedding, but unfortunately she was gone by this morning.

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Itsy, Bitsy and Small…

We did have three new arrivals today!

Welcome Itsy, Bitsy and Small.

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Itsy

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Bitsy

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Small

These three ladies have come to join my current boy and two girlies. They are a bit bigger than the resident 3, even if they are a lot younger.

The resident quail came from a facebook friend who needed to get rid of them quickly. They knew I rescued my dogs and ex-batts so contacted me. They knew I wouldn’t say no, so they ended up living with us! They were very, very scared, and unfortunately 4 soon became 3. We think they are much older than we were told, but we don’t mind. They have only laid 3 eggs since we have had them, but winter was hard this year and it is only just beginning to warm up.

The new three are Jumbo Coturnix Quail, and are adorable! They are very inquisitive and active, and are already braver than my other three. The man says they have already started laying, which is brilliant for MrT’s cheffy antics!

I hope they settle in wonderfully and that they will have a lovely happy life with us.