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We are busy picking platefuls of raspberries, loganberries and strawberries from our garden.  The first of the raspberries appeared at the end of June, which seemed really early to me – anyone else finding that their raspberries are out earlier this year?

For all the cursing I do during the year about the raspberry canes that pop up in all the wrong places (like the middle of my raised veg beds!), and all the promises I make to pull out all of them over the winter, I can’t help but leave them when we get such a bounty during the summer.

The strawberries have all but disappeared from their original location (overtaken by the raspberries) but have sprung up in unlikely places.  If you pull back their parasol shaped leaves you discover lots of very sweet fruits – a wonderful surprise.

The loganberries are prolific growing over an archway, but I find if I don’t pick them in time many of them that still look ok have yucky little white maggot/caterpillas inside them – those ones go on the bird table.

We have too many raspberries and loganberries at the moment to eat, so I bung them in the freezer until a time when we have enough to maybe make some jam.  The strawberries are fewer so those we are eating.

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Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Mr Rigg, Buddy and I spent this morning down on the allotment attempting to work off the copious amounts of rich food we have eaten over Christmas.

Though the jobs involved shifting poo and digging out a small oak tree, and at one point the rain came driving down, we had a good morning.

The large mound of manure has now gone and the allotment looks very neat…if very brown and slightly smelly.  We relocated four rhubarb crowns from the middle of the allotment to the bottom, to sit happily with the other rhubarb plants.

I cleared quite a number of ratty looking raspberry canes from the end behind the ‘shed’ (should be called a shack really), and together we dug out a small oak tree (one more to go).  I know it sounds terrible to be digging out an oak tree, but the allotment officer advised we should before they get too big.

Before we left we lit up the Kelly Kettle – its first use, despite being Mr Rigg’s birthday present back in May. 

With the bottom part filled with newspaper and tiny fir cones, it soon got the water boiling and we enjoyed a cup of herbal tea in our new enamel ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ mugs.  Perfect for allotment picnics!

Mr Rigg is away in Edinburgh this weekend on a stag do…last I heard was “still up” via text sent at 3am this morning…

Buddy and I are having a much quieter weekend at home.  So far we have trimmed bushes in our tiny front garden, massacred the raspberry canes at the end of the garden, picked a small bowl of loganberries, followed a rumour that a farm nearby sells homegrown flowers at the gate (they do, just none today), and planted winter hardy leeks at the allotment.

Sadly I forgot my camera today when we went to the allotment, but thankfully I have some photos from my last visit looking very much the same.

Everything growing on the allotment seems to have doubled in size since I was last there.  The courgette and squash plants are trailing and spreading everywhere…

The sunflowers are starting to flower and have lots more buds just waiting to pop open…

There is masses of camomile and my pink Cosmos are thick with flowers…

The onions have been dug up and left out to dry – which has been difficult considering the rain we’ve had…

Lots of ladybirds everywhere – I love them so much…

And this cheeky rabbit who clearly thought he hadn’t been spotted…

I came home with a basket laden with onions, one giant green courgette, a single burnt orange sunflower, and handfuls of Cosmos and camomile to brighten up the living room…

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Mr Robin has returned to my garden!  Maybe it is a new Mr Robin, but whichever, I am delighted to see him back again.  He sits on a post at the end of our garden, just about the time we get home from work, and sings a cheerful song.

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I am so hopefully that he will find a nice Mrs Robin (or already has one!) and that they will consider my garden as a place to bring up a nestful of babies in the spring.  This time I am prepared with a selection of nest boxes that I’m going to get N to put up round the garden, so that this doesn’t happen again…

I have also seen a wren in the garden!!  How lovely 🙂

Other news – my vegetable patch at the bottom of the garden is a jungle.  There are nasturtiums trailing and twisting over everything, the raspberries have gone mad and are about 2m tall, the poor little crab apple is groaning under the weight of its orange fruit, and the buckler leaved sorrel has, well – taken over!

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Tips on how to sort out the raspberries would be good, I’m never very good at reading a book and working out what I need to do!

It’s been a while since I posted any pictures of my newly acquired allotment.  I feel that we’ve done quite well with our plot, considering that we only get down there occasionally.

This photo was taken almost a month ago – we had just finished planting five large beds of potatoes! 

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With N out playing cricket, I made a trip down there on Sunday and ended up there for about 3 hours.  The garlic, onions and shallots seem to be doing well. 

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The shallots have started to split, which is quite exciting for someone who’s never grown onions or shallots before:

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I planted some Cosmos that I have grown from seedlings, which had probably spent a couple of weeks too many in their tiny pods, so we shall have to wait and see how they fare on the allotment.  I also managed to plant out some Purple Sprouting Broccoli plants that I bought at least a month ago and have been hanging on to as it said to plant them out in May.

I spent a good while erecting a chicken wire barrier between them and potential death – I’m not sure whether bunnies like broccoli plants, but I’m not about to wait and see:

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Overall I was quite pleased with my attempt, especially as it was quite a challenge with no one to hold the other end of the roll of chicken wire:

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I do feel that having put a fence to prevent the wild rabbits from munching on my tiny vegetable plants that it will attract them.  I worry they will see it as a challenge, that because there’s a fence whatever’s behind it must be even tastier, and therefore they will try especially hard to get it.

The potatoes have finally shown their faces – I was beginning to think that maybe all five beds were lost…but fear not, they are growing:

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The fruit canes (believed to be raspberry) behind the ‘shed’ are now green and leafy with lots of flower heads appearing, which means (fingers-crossed) lots of berries – my mouth is already beginning to water at the thought of harvests yet to come:

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I burnt off at least one of the three-and-a-half-bars-of-chocolate brownies that we made for N’s birthday by hoeing a piece of ground at the bottom of the allotment.  I am undecided as to whether I will sow it with purple clover (which is a green manure) or whether I might try making it into a mini meadow. 

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I do think it’s a shame you don’t drive along country roads in this country and find odd patches of meadow brimming with colour and buzzing bees like these we’ve found in France:

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And finally, the rhubarb has shot up thick stalks topped with a foam of white flowers.  How pretty.

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I must admit that although I did have time to post last night after the stinky boyfriend went to bed, I instead curled up on the sofa with a very cuddly bunny to watch recorded episodes of the Great British Menu.  Borage was unusually friendly last night, and even relaxed enough to rest his chin on my arm – he even had a little snooze and did lot of eye fluttering and paw twitching…I can only guess he was running through lush green meadows in his dreams.  Funny bunny.

Borage watching tv

Borage watching tv

It was only two weeks ago when I posted my April garden update and yet the garden has changed so much since then – the photos were in fact taken at the beginning of the month, but still the changes are notable.  The incredibly warm sunny weather we have experienced recently has probably has something to do with the growth spurt.  I realise my last garden update was pretty dull, so I have taken lots of photos this time – I do enjoy documenting the changes that the garden goes through as things sprout, grow, fruit and eventually die back.

Those delicate little lettuce seedlings that I bought and carefully protected under improvised cloches are doing really well, with gorgeous glossy leaves.  You might notice I’ve suffered two losses of the green batavia (one rotted early on, and the other snapped off, but left a couple of tiny leaves which seems to be recovering well if a little behind the others):

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It is becoming very difficult to resist picking these luscious frilly leaves:

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The first set of radishes are starting to plump up nicely into small rubies:

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These are small cos lettuces that I have sown from seed:

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And beautiful burgundy coloured red oakleaf lettuce:

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This is one of my raised beds.  I have planted to rows of peas, and in between them rows of different salads – some baby leaf, some whole lettuces. 

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The peas are doing so well and I can’t wait to shell my first pod and pop the first pea into my mouth:

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I adore the way they curl their tendrils around the pea sticks and twine.  You can almost watch them stretching out their delicate tendrils, and wrapping their fingers around whatever they can find.

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I have sown two types of spring onion – ‘Guardsman’ for salads and ‘Paris Silverskin’ for pickling.  Both rows are looking healthy:

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The tiny carrot’s have unfurled their frothy green foliage :

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The rows of oriental saladini and baby leaf salad are starting to form their individual leaves – some round, some spiky, some lush green, others deep purple:

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Enough of salads and onto fruit.  My strawberry and raspberry ‘jungle’ has transformed from just a month ago:

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The wild strawberries are flowering and the raspberry’s have sent up lots of new suckers:  

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I will certainly be netting my blackcurrant bush this summer – last year the birds got most of the fruits:

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In the ‘greenhouse’ the seeds that I have sown are coming along.  There are sweetcorn seedlings:

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Uchi Kuri squash:

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Jack-Be-Little pumpkins:

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And my first cucmber seedling has sprouted:

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I will leave you with this lovely shot of Mr Blackbird sitting on ‘his’ spot as he does every evening as the sun sinks, singing his beautiful tune to us.

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Recently I have taken on an allotment.  It’s in the small town next to us, about a five minute drive away – I put my name down on for all the allotments in our town, and the next, because I was told it would be about a three year wait (!!!) for allotments here.  Back in February, when I’d given up all hope on the allotment front, I received an email from the council and went to visit a couple of allotments that had become available.  For a start, the plots were a lot larger than I imagined the would be – a full plot is 250 square metres!!  The first plot I was shown was overgrown and had been unloved for over a year – this one filled me with fear, I just didn’t have the time to sort it out.  The next looked more manageable, so I signed up and I now have an additional 125 square metres in which to grow.

my new allotment

my new allotment

There are a lot of raspberry canes at the bottom of the plot, in amongst the rubbish.

raspberry canes and rubbish

raspberry canes and rubbish

And quite a lot of rubarb.  It’s quite exciting to be given a plot that already has things growing on it.

rubarb coming through the weeds

rubarb coming through the weeds

A couple of weeks after I’d taken it on and still hadn’t been down to do any digging, I was beginning to think I’d taken on too much.  I finally managed to spend a couple of hours there on Monday last week and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

freshly dug raised bed

freshly dug raised bed

I dug over a number of the raised beds that were left by the previous owner, and put in all my garlic and shallots, and half the onions I’d bought. 

rows of garlic, shallots and onions

rows of garlic, shallots and onions

N dropped in on his way home from work on Friday afternoon to check that they hadn’t been decimated by some naughty bunnies (wild ones, not the cheeky pets this time), birds or mice.  They were fine – thank goodness! – and still sat neatly in their lines.  I’ve never grown shallots or onions before, so I shall keep you posted with how they go.  I adore all things onion-ey and couldn’t live without them in my kitchen, so I am looking forward to the day in autumn when I can (hopefully!) cook some of them.  Garlic I haven’t had much luck with in the past, so fingers-crossed I’ll do better this year.  If anybody has any garlic growing tips – please leave me a message in the comments as I would love any help I can get!

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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