Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Gladioli all over!

It must be summer because the shops are selling gladioli.  I love these flowers and they're only available in July and August.  We planted some bulbs in the garden last year, and they've popped up again this year, they're not ready to flower yet though.

My little purple Vauxhall Corsa, who I fondly refer to as Maud, passed it's MOT test on Friday, and thankfully it only cost £80, which was I was glad about, because I didn't fancy forking out a fortune on car repairs.  Well done Maud, 15 years old but still going strong.

Friday's red wine was a Spanish Rioja called 'Faustino V Reserva'.  It was a bit more expensive than what I usually pay, it had a dry aftertaste, but I prefer an oakier, smooth flavour, which this lacked.  I'm still favouring the Campo Riejo Gran Reserva, that was soooo smooth.

Chris finished off the new raised bed at the alloment, so this needed filling up with compost.  I thought 4 x 40 litre bags would be plenty, but when I emptied them into the bed they hardly made a difference, so I had to go back to the shop and buy another 6 bags!  The bags were really heavy, and I nearly hurt my back carrying them from the car to the allotment (Chris came to help with the last 6 bags).  The raised bed is nearly full now, but, due to the rain, I didn't get chance to plant out the leeks into the new bed, but they're ready to go in once the weather improves.  Whenever it rains I feel a sense of relief that nature has done my watering for me, rather than me having to go around everything with my watering can.

The most expensive of my Dad's amateur radios sold on Sunday and a man came from Blackpool to collect it.  We've still a few more things to get rid of including a massive spiky aerial on my Mum's shed roof.  My Dad never did things by halves, especially when it came to his hobbies, he always had to have the best of everything equipment wise.  I'm glad the majority of items have now been sold, as it seemed like an impossible task when I first comtemplated listing them on eBay, not knowing a thing about 'ham radio'.

I harvested the first garlic on Saturday.  The leaves on about 6 plants had turned brown and flopped over, so I picked these and left them in the greenhouse to dry out.  They're pretty big bulbs and I'm very happy with how they've turned out.   I can't wait to cook something with them.  Next year, I'll plant a lot more in the hope that we'll become self-sufficient in garlic (and the same for onions, too).

I also picked 2 beetroots and boiled them for an hour, and we had them with a salad for our tea.  They were good but I think I prefer them pickled.

Some of the sweetcorn is touching the roof in the greenhouse, it's taller than me now, and it makes me smile when I think back to when I initially planted it into the border soil and how I was worried about if it was going to take to its new home.  It won't be long before I'm boiling up some freshly picked cobs in the pan.  Believe me, home grown sweetcorn, cooked straight after picking, is a totally different kettle of fish to supermarket sweetcorn.  It's so much more tender and sweet.  That's why I've grown about 15 plants this year!  Plus it's a very easy vegetable to grow under glass.

The sweetcorn's tassles have appeared.

The pumpkins are going crazy, they obviously love being in the greenhouse.  I went round with a brush pollinating the flowers to ensure the fruits set.

The courgettes and marrows have formed and the plants are beginning to spread out and fill the rough patch.  Already the fruits are around 4 inches long, so they certainly don't waste any time.

Chris sowed some cornflower seeds a few months back and the plants have just flowered.

The peaches keep getting bigger, but they haven't much colour yet.

The lady on the plot next to ours has a really cool ferny plant.  I don't know what it is though.

The plants in my Dad's memorial garden are getting bigger.

At home, I picked 4 huge cucumbers from the greenhouse.  The aubergines have flowered so I hand pollinated these, and some of the chillies have started to flower too.

I pinched out some of the side shoots on the cucumbers and melons, as they were getting out of control.

No red tomatoes yet, but I can see one of the sungold cherry tomatoes is starting to go orange, so not long now.

Once the first crop is ready, I'll roast some in the oven with brown sugar, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Then I'll serve this with cold mozarella balls, salad leaves and sliced french baguette.  It's totally delicious, and I've not made it for ages so that it's even more special when I make it with my homegrown toms.

We went to the flea market on Sunday morning, I didn't buy anything, but I got a parasol for our new outdoor dining table, which we didn't get chance to try out because of the rain.

Then I took my Mum to see my Grandma, as my Mum's car exhaust is broken, and she's going away on holiday to Cornwall tomorrow.

I must admit I'm disappointed with myself.  I didn't go to the open morning at the college on Saturday.  I don't know why, but I didn't.  Maybe it isn't the course for me after all.  I wish I knew what was the course for me.  I just want to do a qualification that will allow me to be happy in my work and earn more, then I can afford a nicer house with a bigger garden.

On Monday night Chris's dad, brother and aunty came to visit us, and we took them to the allotment for a look around.

On Tuesday evening I started off a Borrowdale Tea Bread (from Mary Berry's Baking Bible).  The fruit in the cake needs soaking in tea overnight, so I got things started ready to finish baking on Wednesday night.  The recipe made 2 loaves and I've frozen one.  It was very moist and lovely served with butter and a nice cuppa tea.   Mmmm.

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