Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Monthly Archive: August 2007

Hi Ho Hi Ho – White Onion

We dragged Sean down to parade round the lotty last night. He made all the right noises and said ooh at the right time so all was well. Poor lad. It was very hard going today as the sun was beating down and there was no breeze at all. Most of the plot holders were trying to sort out exhibits for the sandwell show and we were lucky to be given a reject parsnip which if we had grown it we would have considered superb. They were measuring their runner beans to match a perfect set while we were picking another bowl full to take home for eating and freezing. I don’t think we are cut out for the show life but we shall go to support the local one next weekend.

white onionsnow white 2Keith had harvested his onions and they were laid out to dry in the sun. They were silky smooth, snow white and enormous. Whoops, sounds like a line up for a Disney film. We started by watering the bean trench then weeded it before picking the beans. Rob then moved on to the fruit cage and did a stirling job of weeding while I moved on to the watering. Everything was desparate for water and it was no easy task to keep walking to the butts and carrying the water to the plants. I was tempted to jump in and have a cool down myself. We watered the pumpkin, the melon and the butternut squash plants on plot 18 then finally covered another empty bed with weed supressant and came home hot but definitely not bothered to a hot drink, a nice snack and a bath.

Libbie Waters The ‘martoes’

We made a quick visit to the plot today and took Libbie with us as she was spending the day with us. A slow walk round was followed by a visit to the water butt with the watering can then helping Nan to water the tomatoes. Then we pulled a few carrots, picked a few beans and cut a lovely cabbage.

 

Tidy Up And Cover Up

Another busy day. We cleared the nursery bed , emptied the first composter onto it and covered it with plastic ready for next year. I pulled up the last of the Borlotti Beans from there but we still have a couple of rows elsewhere. The broad beans Rob had sown on plot 18 have done really well and I harvested a small bucketful along with the thinnings from the carrots which were looking long and straight so fingers crossed for them. The Jerusalem Artichokes are now much taller than the shed and when we arrived today one of them had fallen down across the flower bed. I tied it to the 8ft cane and look forward to seeing them flowering soon. We weeded the beds still in use and though there is still more to do it all looked very tidy when we came home.

Jerusalem ArtichokeThe Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus also called the sunroot or sunchoke or topinambur, is a flowering plant native to North America grown throughout the temperate world for its tuber which is used as a root vegetable. “Which way so ever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a loathsome wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented.”  ooooer

 

I Think We Need Another Freezer!

We spent a pleasant couple of hours at the plots this morning and I managed to tidy the two beds in front of the greenhouse and get some of the young brassica plants in there. The Chinese leaf that we had planted had gone to seed so I had planned to pull it up but instead cut of the seed heads and left the plant in place, planting brassicas in the gaps. They may come to something, they may not, we shall have to wait and see. A few of the pak choi seeds we put in have grown but there were a lot of gaps so I popped a few brassica plants in between them too. We covered the plants with the mesh tunnels and netting as the pigeons are still about. We brought a load of stuff back today; a white cabbage, carrots, runner beans (loads), borlotti beans, the last of the Charlotte potatoes, a large courgette and tomatoes. We gave the Chinese cabbage tops to the chickens so nothing was wasted. Every time we go down we pick the runner beans and although we love them and eat a lot I still have to freeze loads. I know that we shall eat them through the Winter and next year till the next crop but there still seem to be too many. I either need another freezer or more friends who like runner beans. The carrots we pulled today were our best yet. They were out of the carrot bin and were a mixture of Rainbow and Chantenay.

 

Barlotti or Borlotti?

pretty beans IIbeansbar

I was given some seeds for these lovely beans by the previous plot holder and have grown them this year for the first time. I am not sure of the correct name for the ones I have but on doing a google I came up with the above. Well wether they are Barlotti or Borlotti I like them. The ones I have are dwarf  in habit but I think you can also get taller ones and I intend to try and get some seeds for next year. They are so pretty both on the plant and when shelled and they taste just great, very tender when picked young and I understand when dried can be used in many ways. I have harvested some and intend to freeze them. I did try them in the shells and cooked them as you would cook runner bean or french beans but found to be a little stringy. I prefer to shell them and mix them with a few peas and young broad beans. Yummy!

Courgette Anyone?

It has been a while since I wrote on the weblog but there hasn’t been much to report. The weather has gone from one extreme to another and there is a definite hint of Autumn in the air already. We are getting loads of runner beans every visit now and we have been amazed at how prolific the four courgette plants are. Every time we go to the plots we bring home a carrier bag full of beans and at least two courgettes which seem to grow overnight. We had never eaten courgettes before but luckily we do enjoy them aswell as being able to give some to family and friends. We continue to dig up the potatoes and it seems like about 50% are blight free so not as bad as we thought and we haven’t had to buy any. The tomatoes have produced a few fruit but on the whole both the tomatoes and the cucumbers have been very disappointing. We shall have to try harder next year.

pumpkin

The pumpkin plant that survived is now enormous with quite a few smallish fruit and one very large beautiful golden orb which Rob has sat on a piece of carpet and looks very grand. The butternut squash and the one surviving melon plant are growing slowly. The lettuce plants have been very nice but have come to an end before the tomatoes have got started so some problems in the planning there.

 

 

sweetcorn

Both the baby corn and the big sweetcorn plants are thriving with cobs already swelling on the bigger plants so we are hoping for a good harvest from them.

We heard that we got 78 points in the local council competition but don’t really know what this means and so as we have received no congratulatory phone call we must assume that the judges did pop their heads into the lean to on that dreaded judgement day and we came out bottom of the class. Ah well.