Archive for the 'Roots' Category

All umbellifers and root crops such as Parsnips, carrots, beetroot etc

Hot and bothered… but loving it

Mixed allotment vegetablesMost things are a little small and stunted so far – obviously because of the heatwave. I’d need to be doing two hours watering at the allotment every day to keep up with it. I can’t.

Wow, but this hot weather is stunning. 32C is warm pretty much anywhere, but in the UK it feels like a blast furnace. Two years of rain and 100% cloud cover weakens one’s tolerance for heat.

But please note: I am NOT complaining. Oh no. I’m loving, loving, loving it.

Bring it on. More! More!

Posted on 20th July 2013
Under: Cucurbits, Potatoes, Roots | Comments Off on Hot and bothered… but loving it

Of cabbages and Autumn Kings

young carrotsHad a fabulous day on Tuesday. A full six hours at my allotment without interruptions, additions, chores, tasks or interference. AND the sun was shining.

I realised later that this was the first time in more than four years that I’ve been able to enjoy my vegetable gardening at leisure: no clock-watching, no frantic weed tugging in a tightly-defined 10-min window between other pressing engagements. It was bliss.

The bad news, of course, is that it got me thinking about my life in general. The most appropriate question arising: What life?

All I do, essentially, is work. When I’m not working (unusual) I’m trying to fit into the few pathetic remaining hours of the week all the tedious chores and domestic tasks I can’t do at work. Gardening is forced into a very lowly position on my list of priorities.

young beetroot plantsI know whingeing is unattractive. I also know lots of you reading this will be recognising your own lives in this rant and thinking “Get over it, Soilman. Grow a pair.”

I have no answer to that. But I promise you: If I figure out a way to work less and garden more, I’ll be sharing it with you here.

Posted on 28th June 2013
Under: Rants, Roots | 4 Comments »

Scorzonera: weird vegetable

ScorzoneraJust to prove that I HAVE done something at the plot: here’s a vegetable I actually harvested.

OK, so it’s pretty weird. If you’ve never grown or eaten Scorzonera, I’ll forgive you for thinking I put five large dog turds in this box. They don’t look very appetising.

And, in truth, they’re not. The taste is… forgettable.

But here’s the thing: they’re astonishingly easy to grow (sow and forget), they’re ready to eat in winter when there’s not much else, and you don’t have to harvest and store them: they sit happily in the ground until you’re ready for ’em. Moreover, if you leave them to seed they have the most beautiful flowers.

They’re a bit of a bugger to cook. They have a disgusting, sticky, resinous layer under their skin which is impossible to get off your hands if you peel them raw. Like beetroot, they should be cooked in their skins, then peeled.

Having said all that, they’re nice in a strong cheese sauce.

But then, what isn’t?

Posted on 10th March 2013
Under: Roots | 5 Comments »

Yellow beetroot: I was wrong. SO wrong.

Well, well. Blow me. I was wrong about the cylindrical yellow beetroot.

Turns out they’re delicious. Better than red beetroot – sweeter and softer, plus bigger and easier/faster to grow. Incredible.

So they’re brilliant and I heartily recommend you grow them. Just one problem: I can’t for the life of me remember what the fuck they’re called. Or which company sells them. Or in fact any useful detail whatsoever.

Still. A crop that’s great to eat AND absurdly easy to grow. That’s a first in the Soilman Allotment Experience.

I’ll be jiggered. Stone the crows. Fuck my boots (etc).

Postscript: I think – I THINK – they must be these. At least, they definitely look like this.

Posted on 19th July 2012
Under: Roots | 7 Comments »

Carrots: Third time lucky

early Nantes carrotsIt breaks my heart to see the carrots so tiny at the end of June. They should be edible (if small) by now.

This is my third sowing – the first two failed because the soil was too cold. Normally I can get good germination in early April. This year I had to wait until late May.

Goodness, but things are behind this season. In one respect at least, we’re doing well: There’s no shortage of water. Er, definitely no shortage. It’s hammering down 24/7.

I got a letter from our allotment management reminding us that the hosepipe ban still applies: ‘Unfortunately, Veolia Water is unwilling to lift its restriction.’

Unfortunately? Nobody’s too gutted, pal.

first new potatoes of the seasonIn more heartening news: I dug the first new potatoes today. Perfect size, perfect taste, perfect crop: they’ve kept us waiting, but all this rain is apple mintmaking beautiful spuds. I’ll be eating them tonight boiled with apple mint and decadently buttered. It’s a small delight, but a perfect one: New potatoes, fresh out of the ground, are one of life’s little treasures.

Posted on 22nd June 2012
Under: Potatoes, Roots, Summer | 6 Comments »

Easy = shit

yellow cylindrical beetrootI’m suspicious of these beetroot. They’re yellow cylindrical ones, and they’re growing far, far too well.

Compare with the bog-standard Bolthardy to the left, which were sown on the same day: The yellows are twice the size, maybe more.

You know, of course, what this means?

Yup: They’ll taste vile. Anything easy ALWAYS tastes vile.

Posted on 9th June 2012
Under: Beetroot, Roots | 10 Comments »

At least the carrots are good

carrotsEr, gosh. Wow. Can it really be that long since I last updated this blog?

Dear, oh dear. I’ve not gone a month without posting since I started this nonsense four years ago. I guess circumstances must really be as difficult as they’ve felt. I won’t bore you with the details.

Anyway, I’ve actually been to the plot and dug up some veg. Carrots, my reliable standby, have been excellent this year. We’ve had buckets and buckets of ’em. A welcome consequence of the rain that otherwise ruined our summer (shame about the chickweed, which has run rampant in the wet).

Fountain in front of National Museum of Modern Art, RomeOne nice thing: I’m just back from Rome, one of my favourite places EVAH. Spent three days simply walking… and walking. Really the most wonderful city in the world: beautiful, exciting, stimulating, moving. I’m footsore, but delighted.

Just the one disappointment: couldn’t get into the Galleria Borghese, so missed the ticklesome statue of Pauline Bonaparte, posed from life as she reclined, Venus-like and semi-naked, on a divan. When asked how she could possibly have posed naked, she replied: “Oh it wasn’t cold. There was a stove in the room.”

Love it that she’s still embarrassing her wretched brother all these centuries later.

Posted on 3rd November 2011
Under: Roots, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Mixed allotment produce

mixed allotment produceWhat an miserable summer it’s been. Even September – usually dependably lovely – has let us down this year.

Having said that, the endless rain has given me some astonishing crops. This is just one trugful. I’ve been getting this every week for months.

That’s not to say everything’s been good, of course. Potatoes got blight VERY early and yields suffered accordingly. The corn didn’t like it much, either.

But everything else has gone bananas. I’ve had the best beetroot, onions, courgettes and carrots I can ever remember. The courgettes, in particular, are a menace. I am already a leper to my neighbours – to be avoided at all costs, lest I attempt to foist a courgette upon them.

How did you do this season?

Posted on 11th September 2011
Under: Cucurbits, Roots, Sweetcorn | 6 Comments »

Harvesting in the weeds

mixed allotment produceSo here’s a small selection of vegetables produced on the ‘unacceptably weedy’ Soilman allotment. And there’s a shit load more where they came from.

Weeds there may be, but I’m getting a bumper harvest. In fact, there’s usually a correlation between the amount of weed and the size of my harvest. In a good growing year, you get a lot of weed. Surprise!

I’m over the warning letter now. Have moved from irritation to resignation. If folks insist upon being cunts, there’s not much I can do about it.

huge onionInstead, I’m busy drying my monster onions and preparing for the big potato harvest tomorrow. It’s a month early because we’ve had a major attack of potato blight this year. My maincrop spuds lost the last of their foliage about a fortnight ago – so I’m not expecting a best-ever potato crop.

Still, I’m excited… because a preliminary dig in among the Golden Wonder mounds revealed some monsters. Looks like they’ve done OK, even with blight.

Posted on 20th August 2011
Under: Alliums, Cucurbits, Potatoes, Roots | 11 Comments »

A perfect beetroot amid the insanity

beetrootSo the world financial system is about to crash around our ears, and London is burning.

The perfect time, then, to report that I’ve grown a heart-shaped beetroot.

So that’s nice.

PS (And you just knew I wouldn’t be able to resist, didn’t you?) To my non-UK readers, who are probably aghast and amazed that such things can happen in frightfully ‘nice’ and civilised Britain: Here’s an explanation.

Britain is a rioting nation. Is now, always has been. The cause and the ‘answer’ are the same they’ve always been: the have-nots are fed up with their ‘have-not’ status and the enormous disparity between them and the ‘haves’ (the gap’s been growing for about 25 years).

This will play out the way it always plays out. First, we’ll get on top of it – because of course the law-abiders and taxpayers are the majority, we have the money and we have the material/manpower. Then there will be enquiries and reviews and reports – as usual. They’ll say what they always say: That these luckless, under-privileged people are mistreated and deserve more.

Then we’ll do what we always do: Bribe them with more state handouts and more community support and more locally manufactured ‘jobs’ (in truth, state sinecures paid from taxation) and more ‘stuff’ to enable them to live the way they want. And when we’ve forgotten to do that again, in about 15-20 years, they’ll give up their favourite post-modernist tactic – moral blackmail – and resort, again, to burning down our cities until we re-bribe them.

Naturally, we’d prefer to give them fishing rods, not fish. But a) we’re too mean to spend the money and make the effort required to properly educate and assimilate them, and b) they’re too debased and feral to respond to education and opportunities anyway. They prefer the bribes.

So bribery it is.

This is how Britain works. It is one of our little eccentricities. In less fortunate nations, which can’t afford to bribe their underclass, these people are starved routinely and shot when they get out of hand.

But here in the UK, we don’t like that. It’s messy and well, just not cricket.

Posted on 8th August 2011
Under: Roots | 12 Comments »