Summertime update

Spent a lovely few hours down the plot with MrT this evening.

Its been super busy recently with our friends’ wedding coming up but thought i would show you all how its going!

Starting with the sunflowers for the top table display

My lemon cucumbers are looking fab…

And make great additions to drinks!

The greenhouse is starting to look like a forest

And the courgettes have gone from tiny to huge in a few days

The pumpkins are like triffids in the sun

But the onions are as big as they are going to get i think

I plaited them up so that i could hang them to dry in the sun without the Rottie Beasts eating them all!

Lots of planting over the next few weeks to try and get the winter greens in, so i will keep you all in the loop when i can.

So proud of 2018 so far, even if i have spent most of the time and effort working “behind the seens” on the bramble control situation!

Think i deserve that cider…

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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!

Spiced Marrow Cake

Yet another glut of marrows, they seem to be never ending!

These were supposed to be Courgettes, but since we went away for a week I’ve come back to some serious monsters.

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Its huge! 

Now what to do with them?

We tried a bit of the old roasted marrow, but it’s not particularly flavourful and MrT got all cheffy on me about it. So while he went off to work in his baking hot commercial kitchen, I pottered about my own little ‘Heart of the Home’ and came up with this spiced marrow loaf to get rid of the glut.

Four cakes from one big marrow

Four cakes from one big marrow!

It freezes really well and is great with an afternoon tea in the sunshine or as a quick sweet treat. It a lot lighter than you’d think it would be and is super easy to make, just mixing and baking.

They also make great gifts wrapped up in paper and with a nice ribbon, but that far too pretty for me and my parchment and string did the job!

Marrow Cake

Wrapped up, although not for long!


Ingredients;

2 hen’s or duck’s eggs (mine came from my ex-batt girls, so super fresh)
200g of caster sugar
100g of softened butter or “baking spread”
3-4 drops of vanilla extract
300g of marrow, well grated skin and all
300g of self-raising flour
1tsp of baking powder
1tsp of cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger, whichever you fancy (I use cinnamon)

How To;

Grease your loaf tin and add in a rectangle of baking paper in the bottom, overhanging the sides to make your loaf easier to lift out.
Heat your oven to 180°, or 160°fan.
Mix together the butter and sugar until it is light and creamy.
Add the eggs, vanilla and marrow and mix well until combined.
Add the baking powder and spice to the flour and combine.
Gradually stir this into the wet ingredients, being careful to work it as little as possible. It should look like a dough.
Plonk this into your greased and lined tin.
Bake for about an hour, but keep an eye on it after 50 minutes. It should be golden brown and a skewer/knife should come out clean.
Let it cool down in the tin a little bit, until it pulls away from the sides.
Use the paper tabs to lift it carefully out of the tin.

Let it cool fully and enjoy!


These cakes are a great way to use up courgettes and marrows, and they can be frozen after cooling. Simply bring it out a few hours before you need it and let its thaw thoroughly before enjoying.

You can also add other ingredients; nuts, raisins, sultanas, all work great in this loaf!

We like to eat it with a good spoonful of my Marrow Jam, and a nice cuppa. It store really well too so you can easily wrap it up and take it down to the allotment again.

Perfect for a sunny afternoon.

Marrow and Ginger Jam

We went on holiday. Don’t do that if you have an allotment. What was a courgette at the weekend was a marrow as big as my thigh by Thursday.

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MrT and the Giant Marrow

So what on earth can you do with a giant marrow other than the usual roasting?

Marrow and Ginger Jam

Marrow and Ginger Jam!

I saw a recipe for Courgette and Ginger Jam, and altered it a bit to gave it a try with my huge marrow.

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That’s my leg! And that’s my marrow!

You’ll need a big old jam pot or heavy based saucepan and a sugar thermometer if you have one. If not, don’t worry, I have a good trick for that! You can also test the jam without a thermometer by putting a plate/saucer in the freezer well before you start cooking your jam. plonk a little spoonful of the jam onto the frozen saucer, and wait for it to cool. If you then poke it with your finger and the jam wrinkles up, it has reached setting point. No wrinkles? Keep boiling it a while longer!

Id also recommend investing in some good jam jars. Places like Wilko’s often have them on sale through summer/autumn and if you get pretty ones they can make great Christmas gifts. That’s where most of mine went!


Here are the ingredients you’ll need;

  • 4 lemons
  • 2kg marrow
  • 2kg jam sugar (with added pectin)
  • large knob fresh root ginger, about 95g

How To;

To make the jam, grate the zest from the lemons but be careful not to also grate off the pith, which is the white inside layer. This is really bitter. Then juice them, and reserve the juice, shells and seeds.
Tie the pith and seeds up in a muslin bag or a clean tea towel if you don’t have muslin.
Chop your marrow into rounds and remove the seeds from inside.
If you want to include the skin (I did – looks good and makes it marmalade-y) grate the skin off the rounds using a cheese grater. If you don’t want to include it just peel your marrow and throw it. Then chop the remaining marrow into cubes of roughly 2cm.
Put the marrow and the grated skin (optional) into a preserving pan with 2 tbsp of the lemon juice, then cook on a medium heat, stirring often, until the pieces are turning translucent and soft but not mushy. Make sure the skin doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Cook off any juices before stirring in the sugar, the rest of the juice,  and the muslin bag. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
The grate up the ginger, and stir this into the pan along with the zest of the lemons.
Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes until the marrow has softened completely and the jam has reached setting point (105°C or “wrinkly on a plate”).
While this is boiling, wash your jars thoroughly in hot soapy water, then dry in a low oven. You can also run them through the dishwasher, but this will take much longer and I find it harder to get them ready perfectly on time. 
Pot the jam into sterilised jars while the jars are still hot.
Lid, label and store your jam in a cool dark place for a few months and the flavour will only get better!


Now no more excuses for chucking out soft courgettes or big tough marrows when your plants really get going or if you miss one during picking

I love ours on toast or with some cheese and crackers.
Best of all is on top of my Courgette Cake!

 

Crikey it’s chilli in here. Let’s turnip the heat.

Everything is growing!

Isn’t mother nature wonderful?

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Giant Strawberry!

We were so late in the year getting the strawberry plants in that we didn’t really get many this year. And those that we did grow were ravaged by the blinking bunnies. And to think, i used to love watching them hopping about… not now!!

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A very proud chicken!

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My first cucumber! Now now, heads out of the gutter.

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Tommys and eggys!

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How cute are these baby peas?

As soon as everything starts setting pods/fruits, water is key. I am up there most evenings now when its been hot watering away! Just make sure that the sun isn’t still hot and that the water isn’t too cold, especially in the greenhouse.

I also make sure to give everything a good feed when they start fruiting. I don’t know if it is necessary, but it seems to be helping.

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Courgette tea!

Not everything is ready to eat yet though. Look how well the spuds are coming along. I am not sure if they are supposed to have flowers though?

I cant wait to get munching on my home grown veg! It seems to have been a long time coming!