Monday, 27 July 2009

Puppets to sell tomato sauce. It never would have occurred to me.

So the tomato forest is finally taking shape.

Of the three varieties that we are growing this year Roma, Gardener's Delight, and Money Maker, Roma looks the most exotic and different. It's a plum tomato and likes a lot of sun.

This batch of Roma plants, we recently discovered, are a bush plant. Which means that they get quite leafy and are very squat. Fortunately this does not detract from the fact that they are very, very heavy cropping. Look at these beauties.

The Roma tomato is your buddy if you want to make tomato sauces. Fleshy and fragrant (on the bush) their high flesh to low water ratio makes them perfect for rich sauces that can me heavily flavoured if required.

Home grown toms with home grown garlic and herbs. That's what this lark is all about. OK so I'll have to freeze it but It will still taste better than a jar of branded pasta sauce. I can't begin to tell you the unspeakable things that they do to a tomato before it becomes pasta sauce.

Here's some of my garlic...

and here are my herbs.

When's My Dolmio night? I don't have one. Now beat it and take your creepy puppets with you.

I'm off to get some new pans!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

For every action there is an opposite but equal reaction. I'm not sure it's equal.

Don't let anyone tell you that allotments are easy. There is a pastoral dream associated with growing your own veg that has been cultivated (if you'll pardon the expression) by the BBC, Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver and others. Don't believe a word of it.

Unless you have your own walled garden and garden staff ( and all of the above do) then you can't just step out into the garden and pick a bunch of veg for a salad or a soup or for Sunday lunch with out a significant amount of time invested in digging, sowing, weeding and general husbandry.

Don't believe me? Try scattering some parsley seeds on the ground and six weeks later nip out into the garden and try and find the parsley let alone pick it!

So the pay off for all the hard work is the fresh food ( and it really is very fresh)

I've got dirt under my fingernails just about all the time. I spend my free hours gently sweating in work boots, denim and tatty t-shirts. I dream of carrots and spades, I fret about weeds growing on my land whilst I'm at work. I measure weed encroachment between visits to my plot. I can tell the difference between various ages of horse poop and I have a minimum of two baths on Saturdays and Sundays.

My allotment is in many ways better than the gym, and a good deal less expensive. The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge £10 an hour, we can't call it "Jumping up and down".

This is just jumping up and down really. My muscle mass has increased dramatically, I'm fitter and I'm more flexible than I've been since I stopped playing rugby. I've just about deadened my fear of spiders (via allotment induced immersion therapy).

I have open access to seasonal cut flowers and fresh vegetables at all hours of the day and night, which is much more handy than you may think. I whilst I've never been one to knowingly turn up empty handed anywhere, at this time of year I can turn up with seasonal veg and occasionally fresh cut flowers as well as the obligatory bottle of wine.

Like most things in life you get out what you put in. I put in sweat and manure I get back tomatoes. Which luckily do not taste of sweat or horse muck for that matter. Fascinating!