Reflecting on my week #89

Thankfully the weather has improved since last week, though I’m still carrying my umbrella in my handbag just in case. There’s thunderstorms threatened and some more rain, but somehow in London we’ve got to that stage where a thunderstorm to clear the air would be welcomed, as it’s already got to the “too hot” stage for some. I could do with less muggy-ness, but I’m pleased it’s warming up.

There’s been a sudden burst of fruit activity in our garden and we’re regularly picking - and eating - handfuls of strawberries. I love it when plants just carry on producing when left to their own devices, it’s the best type of home grown veg. Short on effort, but long on flavour.

Strawberries from our garden

It’s been a funny week in Greenwich. There’s been a couple of big events at the Old Royal Naval College, where a tremendous amount of fantastic flowers have been brought in to make a stunning place look even better. Then on Friday some cattle arrived and took up residency in a large gilt picture frame as part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.

cows at the old royal naval college

They were hefty old cattle and while I was keen to have a peek I stayed firmly on the outside of the picture frame and did my best not to make eye contact. There was an electric fence, but let’s face it this city girl wasn’t going to put that to the test. It was quite an attraction though, and without the cattle I’d have happily tried the picture frame seat for size.

On Sunday we realised why people have those collapsible fold-up chairs for picnics and such like. We headed over to Greenwich Park for one of the first Bandstand concerts of the year. Sunday wasn’t as nice as Saturday, but armed with a picnic blanket and an impromptu picnic which mostly contained cheese, which was perfectly fine by me. It’s been a few years since we’ve been to a concert in the park, and in those years it seems the ground has got a lot harder, and a lot more uncomfortable!

The bandstand concerts in Greenwich Park
cheese - an impromptu picnic

There’s plenty more bandstand concerts to come throughout the summer, and we’re hoping to go along to more where we can. Each weekend there’s a different ‘flavour’ to the music, this week was country. The one I’m hoping to get along to sounds as if it might be more Cuban, with a band name of Here to Havana, i think there’s a fair chance, don’t you?

The other thing we’ve been picking from the garden over the past week, while enjoying the heady jasmine smells, is cherries. We’ve bowlfuls of them - the pigeons have stripped the top of the tree, but seem reluctant so far to strip the tree bare. So we’re making the most of it, and of my photo editing software as you’ll see below.

editing fun with just one of the bowl of cherries we've picked

I’d been wondering how we could use them, as while some are sweet enough to eat as they are, I prefer them cooked. Today, while having a bit of a browse of the Craft Gin Club site I spotted a recipe for a boozy gin and cherry trifle. Yes, i know, I wasn’t really looking for this, but once I’d found it I knew it would be useful. While we could make our own swiss roll and custard, I’ve opted for some specially made for us by Marks & Sparks, so we can concentrate on the main event, i’ll let you know how we get on!


Love this #80: Mini seed tins

I shared a snippet of these on Monday, and told you how they played to my organisation obsession and my love of tins, which rivals that of notebooks.  And they're full of seeds too and while they're available from Suttons individually, it's better value if you're buying a few tins to opt for one of the two sets.  

A set of mini seed tins from Suttons Seeds

Individual tins are £4.95 each, but the salad or root vegetable collection of six tins cost £24.  That sounds a lot, and you're right it is a lot for seeds, but each tin has three packets of seeds in, so that doesn't make it quite so bad.

And of course there's six tins which look like seed packets, that could be used for things other than seeds.



I chose the salad collection and now have plenty of seeds for pak choi, spring onion, chard, lettuce, leaf salad and rocket.  Lucky that they're all things we eat plenty of, and the type of crop that I expect to grow more of once my new pots arrive (that's another story!)

The root vegetable collection contains two varieties of beetroot, two of carrot and two of radish, which might work better for you.  I suspect my tins will be around for a long time, and not necessarily always for seeds.

What would you use them for?

This isn't a collaborative post, I saw them, bought them and love them.  And that's without eating the evidence - yet!


On the plot: Potatoes, borlotti beans and apples

We'd been meaning to get over to the allotment to dig up the rest of our potatoes for a while, but with four weekends away from home it was much later than we'd hoped by the time we got there last weekend. Our potatoes were late in anyway, as most of them didn't make it into the ground until after our party in June. I've no idea how I managed to be so late with them, but I was hoping that they would recognise the earth and do their growing thing, even if they were a bit behind everyone elses.

And they did.  Phew.

It's our second year of growing potatoes and once again we weren't disappointed. We ended up growing them in the same part of the plot as last year, as, well as you're coming to know my plans to dig over the allotment, complete the circle work in our garden and everything else, were a tad ambitious!

But they grew, and last Sunday we dug up our second batch of potatoes. Almost 10kgs.



Which is a lot of potatoes for someone that rarely buys potatoes! 

Digging them up was quite addictive, and it wasn't long before our paper carrier bag was heavy. The challenge then was to get them home without them dropping through the bottom of the bag. That would have been disastrous, but no doubt funny afterwards.

They have done their magic though and improved the soil - the picture below is where they grew, and while there are a few weeds (ignore the edges, where there are a lot of weeds!) there are significantly less than on other parts of the plot. Plus the soil is soft and crumbly and full of large worms, which must be good. I think some of those large worms got a bit peckish as some of the potatoes had large worm shaped holes in them, but I guess I can spare a few when they've put in so much work on our soil!

Freshly dug because this is where the potatoes were

Elsewhere on the plot my tardiness is benefitting other wildlife, the birds have started nibbling the sunflower heads, and I'm more than happy for them to do that. I only saved a few of the sunflower heads last year and still have lots more sunflower seeds than I know what to do with. I will save some of the smaller sunflower heads, because, well... free seeds!

Sunflower heads providing food for the birds

This year the sunflowers on the allotment have grown super thick stems, some have had a single flower at the top like the one above, but others have had smaller flowers all the way up the stem like the one below.  I like both types equally and it'll be interesting to see what kind I end up with next year!

And still tiny sunflowers on a very thick stem

I was pleased to see the rosemary cuttings thriving, in fact no longer cuttings and more like a bush. They've grown so well that I plan to take cuttings from this and plan to grow a rosemary edging to our plot.

The tiny rosemary cutting has flourished

Before leaving I stripped the small apple of its apples and while some of them are small the colour - and taste - is fantastic. And while they look good on our table, we will be eating them!

The potatoes also got another look over once we were home - there's three different types in here, two whites and a red - and I'm loving the colours in the box. They're now in double paper carriers in the shed, and I'm hoping that they store well. Last year we stored them in the house and even though we'd chosen a cool place, they still sprouted. 

Back home I checked the potatoes again

It could be that we'll be eating our home grown spuds at Christmas if I'm lucky. I'll also be looking out for some potato recipes!

Then there were the borlottis to tackle

There were also more borlotti beans left than I'd thought, no longer fresh though as they'd semi-dried on the plants. They're all podded and drying fully so they can be stored. They also made for a great picture!

shelled borlottis, rosemary and a few runner bean seeds

Being back on the plot was great, but there was also a reminder of how much we still need to do. We're aiming for our next few visits to be much sooner. We've a few more potatoes to dig, and I want to weed the edge of of this section and put down some membrane so we can avoid repeated weeding here. We've already weeded it more times than we need to, so this time we're taking further precautions.

I want to take some cuttings from the rosemary, I'll take more than I need as I expect I'll lose some over the winter.  And while our potato growing area is clear, unless we get some garlic and onions to plant there we plan to cover it with tarpaulin, which of course we need to buy.

The central bed which has been covered since we inherited the plot is on our list to dig over.  The optimist in me thinks it will be an easier dig, but the realist isn't quite so sure.  We'll see, and you never know by the start of the growing season we could end up with another section semi-tamed.

I mean, stranger things have happened!