Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Our three, well established rows of Autumn bliss razzers always do well, but are a bit boring to look at until they fruit. Last year we sprinkled some poppy seed in amongst them and now have them flowering, brightening up an otherwise staid bit of allotment.
The rain is certainly not the best thing for an enjoyable summer but certainly brings on the plants. The top picture is a flower of purple podded pea, they are just coming into flower now and hopefully will crop well and taste even better.
The middle picture shows the globe artichokes growing on our new plot. They are a perenial and thus we get to crop them each year.
Lastly the onion bed is looking the worse for wear weed wise and will need some serious clearing out to prevent problems. Onions do not do well if smothered by competition.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Today we "test fired" the pizza oven. As the clay was still damp in areas it was started off gently. The fire is built to one side so that you can fit a pizza into the main part of the oven. The heat of the fire draws air into the oven which then rises as its heated and washes up under the dome and then down and out of the front.
After about 10 minutes, the heat is such that it burns off any smoke before it escapes from the front. As the fire had only just been lit in the pictures, the temperature had not got hot enough to burn off the smoke.
After about an hour the top half of the oven was very hot indeed and had caused some minor "scabbing" of the clay inside which can easily be patched up with fresh wet clay/sand mix. It appeared that the top of the oven was leaking smoke but it was found to be steam as the clay was drying out with the heat.
Next time its full on "cook a pizza" trial.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Two beds of leeks are now in, we eat loads and family like them as well. This year I am growing Jolant and Bleu de Solaise. I dib a hole with a snapped off spade handle about 8" deep and just drop the leek in and then water generously.
The jolant are for late autumn / early winter use and the Bleu are for Later winter into early spring use as they stand the cold exceptionally well. The leeks are planted 12" apart with 12" between rows. I have never taken to the old wives tale of triming the roots and leaves. Why?
The top picture shows part, yes part of our garlic harvest. Its a mix of white and Lautrec garlic which we buy from France for a few euros a kilo. Some were planted in raised beds and some directly into traditional beds in very early October as a very relaxed trial to see which performed best. There was no difference really so next year they will go into traditional beds to keep the raised beds free early season.
The second picture shows the Lautrec garlic top and the white garlic bottom, with a 10p piece to give you scale of the size of the bulbs. they garlic is in the tunnel at present finishing its drying and will them be plaited as gifts for family and for the kitchen and the rest will have the foilage chopped off and stored in trays.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
For something a bit different we are having a "pizza night" for our birthdays (both on 1st July) and to be authentic I have built a wood burning pizza oven.
It sits on the shelf over a log store for our outside fireplace (which does have a chimney pot) and isapprox 24" round and the same high. The cooking base is a heavy set smooth concrete slab with the corner cut off to allow the round shape to be formed. The clay is mixed with water and sharp sand (the sand helps to prevent cracking) and is formed around the base. A wooden former is used to make the opening. Once the sides are up so far I made a mould with damp sand and the clay was laid over this about 3" thick. As a strenghener some wire mesh was laid over this first layer of clay and a second layer of clay was added. The second layer was about 2" thick.
As the clays surface began to dry, the surface was smoothed with a trowel dipped in water. It will dry out over the next couple of weeks and will be kept covered with polythene to stop any rain causing damage and to prevent it drying out too quickly. Cracks will occur due to the thickness of the clay but these will be constantly filled with wet clay until the structure is dry and no more cracks occur.
At this point the sand will be removed and a few more days of drying allowed before a couple of gentle firingd are undertaken. Providing nothing too bad goes tits up we can then have a trial run.
I cant wait, I want to cook one now.
All of the compostable materials from home go to the plot once the home compost bin is full. It really is the engine room of the plot. This bin, one of 5 on plot one is now full but will drop a bit as it rots and will be topped up.
Regular readers of my blog will know that we have some 18 blueberry bushes planted directly into the ground on my plot. They get treated twice a year to some sulphate of iron and other than that they are pretty much left to it. Its a policy that seems to work as they are all hanging with fruit. We get an added bonus as they are underplanted with cranberries and come Christmas time they come into their own for cranberry sauce.
Also in the fruit cage our Red currants are starting to ripen already and a fair bit earlier than last year although the birds got most mainly due to the fruit cage having no netting on it. The blackbirds were rolling about laughing, stuffed fuller than a fat birds shoe with my currants.
The last piccie shows one of our outdoor grape vines. We have two in the tunnels and two on arches, all are hanging with bunches of fruit, so much so that I have had to cut quite a few out. Hopefully the blackbirds will leave a few of the outside ones for us.
The old tunnel (top picture) is now coming into its own tomato wise. We should be harvesting this month and most of the plants are already 4-5' tall with 4 trusses of fruit on.