Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Crop rotation featuring drums and guitars. "Roots Manuover" if you will.

"Roots, Brassica and Other" these are the three sections by which the vegatable world is broken down in terms of growing.

Brassicas are cabbage type plants.(inc Cauliflower and Brocoli).

Roots are veg that grow underground (inc potato and carrots).

Others are anything that does not fit exactly into Roots or Brassica description.
Others would include Tomato, leek, onion, sweetcorn, squash, pea and lettuce.

Each section must to be rotated from year to year. You can't grow cabbage where cabbage grew the year before for fear of disease, the same goes for root veg. So in order to stop diseases and maintain soil balance we have to move around the three types of crop every year.

I have four sections to my allotment. What am I going to do with the foorth part? Roots Brassicas Other and.... Livestock? Sadly too many foxes (don't get me started). Roots, Brassicas Other and....fallow? That seems like a waste of land, besides in such a small area a bag of growmore organic fertilizer and some well directed horse muck will help the land recover better than a year left fallow.

The festival will probably just be me on a stool belting out classics on my acoustic guitar. If by classics your mean Love me tender, twikle twinkle little star and a painfully stilted version of Ode to Joy in C. Thanks to Jay (in yellow) for the Glasto photos.

I'd better go away and have a think about this.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

What's orange and sounds like a parrrot?

A carrot!

Best gag in the world. Best food in the world when grown correctly. Have you ever tried carrot juice from freshly picked carrots? It's excellent for hangover recovery.

We've done OK with them this year. Take a look.

In praise of "greens"

OK they are not cool or exotic. You know I think its the lovely greenish blue haze they seem to give off.

These funny looking things are Itallian Black cabbage. Steam them on their own for five minutes, drain and then toss them in some olive oil and a tiny bit garlic and add half a finely chopped fried onion and tell me you don't like cabbage.

Custard is not as funny as butter.

A quick trip through a classic pudding with no silly gags this time.

This was how our Rhubarb patch looked in June this year. It's kind of small but you should see it now. There's a rainforest expedition team training in the canopy this evening.

When the last of the year's rhubarb was ready to pick, I caught an uncharacteristic bout of nostalgia and I took a trip down Amnesia Lane. It's great to visit with an old friend.

Cut the Rhubarb into uniform sticks about as long as your thumb. John, if you are reading this, I don't mean your thumbs as yours are freakishly long.

Put the sticks into a baking Dish. If your dish is metal then line it with some foil for protection as the baking syrups will stain the dish.

Cover the sticks in two table spoons of unrefined sugar and enough water to just cover the bottom of the dish. Cook for 25 minutes in a medium oven until soft but still holding its shape.

Gently place all the rhubarb and syrup into bowls and pour over some freshly made custard. Grab a spoon and enjoy.

Corn on the cob. Done!

Let's do this.

In the "corn jungle" at 4pm in allotment somewhere in Essex...

a little piece of magic has been happening.

This is the moment.

Dark brown tassels. I'm not talking soft furnishings or scatter cushions. My interest in tassels stops when there is no stainless steel pole involved. But not today.

If I could arrange the PRS I would have "Stay Gold" by Stevie Wonder playing at this moment.

Here it is.

The humble sweetcorn. Not frozen, not cut in half and sealed in a bag, but wrapped as nature intended; in some leaves and really annoying stringy bits. The idea is that you gently peel back a couple of leaves to reveal the corn. Give a kernel or two a squeeze. If a milky fluid escapes then pick it, you're good.

So as Gordon Ramsey would say.....

Kitchen? Yes?

Cut. Yes big boy? Excellent.


Knob. (Oh come on)



Now !~*# off out of my Kitchen.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

A vague promise of mellow fruitfulness

August. High Summer.

(insert joke and/or ironic laugh here)

So far we've done amazing things with the plot. When I think back to May and the sea of weeds we had to fight through just to get to the shed I'm astonished at what we have achieved.

Over the next couple of posts I will be looking at the some of the crops that we have on the plot and how they have progressed.

Here is a taste of things to come.

Not bad at all. The beetroot is a bit larger than you'd find in a store but even at that size it tastes great. That was one of the great discoveries for me this year. Beetroot which has not been pickled tastes really nice. Huh! Who knew?

I still hold the view that the first person that ever pickled beetroot had a cold when they opened the jar three months later. The freshly decanted pickled beetroot then paralysed his taste buds. Sadly, Everyone else then ate the pickled beetroot and just humoured the chap because they were really, really hungry. (Mmm! It's lovely. Nice! You used real vinegar and everything.)

In that instant pickled beetroot affected the human gene pool and ruined British cuisine for the next 700 years by destroying a nation's taste buds. It's the only rational explanation for how stores manage to shift so many units of pickled beetroot every year.

The French pickle the tender shoots of White Asparagus in white wine vinegar with a hint of fresh tarragon. We pickle beetroot in malt vinegar. What went wrong? How, in such a short trip across a body of water so small, can one idea be so horribly, horribly tortured?

The cauliflowers have been great this year. Beautiful creamy white, dense crowns with a great smell. Cauliflowers can be a bit hit and miss on a plot but all this warmth and rain has given us an excellent crop. This little beauty is about 10 inches across.

Even the "Gem" lettuce tastes distinct and has a flavour of it's own. Pretty good for a garnish. I can be cruel about lettuce sometimes.

Cute alert:

My Nephew Ben came to help out last weekend. He rode in Grandad's wheelbarrow and ate Nanny's raspberries. This is him with a particularly tricky chocolate digestive. Being two is coooool!