Archive for July, 2009

A typical basket NOT from Tesco

Peas and courgetteA pretty standard basket of veg picked on the allotment at the moment. Lots of peas, LOTS of courgettes.

I’m always struck by the absurdity of those supermarket TV ads competing for prices on ‘a typical basket’.

Whatever they’re punting, it’s not my idea of a ‘typical basket’, that’s for sure.

Posted on 24th July 2009
Under: Cucurbits, Peas and beans, Summer | 7 Comments »

Soilman: Knows his onions. Er, mostly

Drying onions“That Soilman, he knows his onions.”

Unfortunately I didn’t overhear this, and in the wider sense it IS bollocks. If you want proof, consider my shitty leeks. Failures? You bet.

But insofar as we’re talking about onions, I do pride myself on having the knack of growing good ones. My ‘secret’: Lots of humus, not too much nitrogen and not too much water (ie don’t water them too much, even in hot weather. They like a bit of drought).

All academic, of course, when there’s downy mildew about; two years ago, my crop was all but destroyed by it.

Moral: Even when you know what you’re doing, you can still cock it right up.

Posted on 21st July 2009
Under: Alliums | 4 Comments »

Gordon Brown: What an arsehole

It had to happen: First the Obamas, then the Queen, now Johnny-come-lately Gordon Brown jumps on the grow-your-own bandwagon.


What an A1, gold-plated, card-carrying arsehole.

Posted on 19th July 2009
Under: Flowers, Rants | 14 Comments »

Gherkins and Leeks

Salted gherkinsWell first the good news: I have more gherkins than I’ve ever had… ever. Tons of the buggers. More than 30 already, and they’re only just getting started. Wife is salting them furiously, but we still can’t keep up.

Now for bad news: I think I’m on course for a 100% crop failure.

It’s the leeks, the ones I put in so confidently a few weeks ago. Not only have they not grown, they’re now dying. Slowly.

Why? Haven’t a clue. It’s not anything obvious – I’ve checked all the major allium diseases. The buggers have just decided to cop it.

Which is depressing the hell out of me. Mostly because I know it’s my fault: if I’d been to the plot more often, I’d probably have caught it earlier – whatever it is – and been able to take remedial action.

But I couldn’t, because I have no time. It’s a refrain of my life. I do everything by schedule, snatching minutes here, seconds there.

Jeez, even in the khazi I’m usually crapping against the clock. Most of the time, I long to scream: “Just give me five minutes, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!”

Posted on 16th July 2009
Under: Alliums, Cucurbits | 12 Comments »

First cooked peas in five years

Fresh peasIn five years of allotmenteering, I’ve never cooked a single pea I’ve grown.

They’ve never got near the pan – too sweet and delicious. These only got cooked because I left them a fraction too long and they lost their sweetness.

They were OK. But on balance, I wish I’d scoffed them raw. As usual.

Posted on 12th July 2009
Under: Peas and beans | 6 Comments »

What to do with cauliflower?

Cauliflower curd ready to be pickedThe caulis are ready again, and all coming at once. It’s a problem: I have 15 cauliflowers stuffed in bags in the fridge.

What the hell to do with them? Can’t cook cauliflower cheese FIFTEEN times, and plain boiled is… boring.

Suggestions (of the non-Cordon Bleu variety) gratefully received!

Posted on 8th July 2009
Under: Brassicas | 16 Comments »

“Unhand me, grey-beard loon!”

dwarf French beans

Some folks at my plot site are eating beans already, but mine went out rather late (May is one HELL of a month for a gardener, isn’t it? I chase my tail 24/7 trying to get everything sown, brought on, repotted, planted out, watered, weeded etc etc etc).

This lot will soon be glutting along with everything else, and relatives will be shrinking from my pleas to take courgettes. In late July I become like the Ancient Mariner; I accost total strangers in the street to recite my allotment travails and beg them to relieve me of a marrow.

PS For anyone interested in the business of journalism – what I do with my professional hat on – you may have something to contribute to the conversation about journalism’s online future I’ve been having with Simon at Freelance Unbound.

When I’m not worrying about my courgettes, this is the Big Topic that troubles/concerns/maddens me. It’s fallen to my generation of editorial folk  to ‘fix’ a system that’s been more or less stable for 500 years – but which is now comprehensively broken. And none of us has much of a clue what to do.

Posted on 5th July 2009
Under: Peas and beans, Summer | 3 Comments »

Here comes the glut…

All the year round Caulifowers and Ratte potatoesThick and fast now, thick and fast. It’s all going crazy.

We have Ratte potatoes, Orla potatoes, All-the-year-round cauliflowers, Early Nantes carrots, Bolthardy beetroot and Russian courgette/squash hybrids (don’t know what these are called in English, but they’re known as ‘Kobachok’ in Russian).

The missus and I are stuffed to the gills with veg every night.

Posted on 1st July 2009
Under: Brassicas, Potatoes, Roots, Summer | 3 Comments »