Thursday, 5 August 2010

Getting my knit on and a delicious blackcurrant crumble

I've been getting my knit on and I finally finished the booties, bonnet and gloves for Jo and Stef's baby.

I ordered 3 knitting pattern books from the online shop Knits in the City (they do fast delivery and you can pay by PayPal, plus the lady that runs it is very quick to respond to email queries, so I would highly recommend the website).  I ordered Noro Mini Knits 1, Patons Eco Chunky Quick and Easy Patterns and Patons One Ball Wonders.

On Saturday morning I nipped into town for some 5.5mm needles and came home and made one of the fingerless glove patterns in the One Ball Wonder book (it looks better on, than it does without a hand inside it!)

The glove was very straightforward, knitted on 2 straight needles, and it knitted up quickly.  I love the Patons eco friendly wool, I just wish they did some nicer colourways.  It's bulky so it knits up quickly and it feels really warm.  Steve loves the smell of it - it must smell like sheep! I also ordered another ball of the Noro Kureyon sock yarn, so that I can finally have a go at the strip sock pattern.  The wool is so thin though, it will take me ages to make them.

Down at the allotment on Sunday it was time for more TLC, and going around checking the plants, removing dead bits and pollinating the indoor plants.  I tidied up and swept round too.  I picked some peaches, lettuce, spring onions, broad beans and tomatoes.

The melon is swelling nicely.  The skin has started to crack, but I think this is OK.

The blueberries are getting bigger but they haven't gone blue yet.

There's some very large trusses of big tomatoes in the greenhouse.

The Atlantic Giant pumpkin is swelling, as is the Rocket pumpkin in the greenhouse.

And the outdoor Rocket pumpkins aren't doing bad either.

One of the sweetcorn plants is still peeping out of the broken glass in the greenhouse roof.

I left a tomato and spring onion in my Dad's memorial garden.  My two aunties were sprinkling some of my Dad's ashes at Dundrod where they hold the Ulster Grand Prix.  They went with some of my Dad's old friends from Ireland and sprinkled his ashes on the start and finish line.  My Dad loved motorbikes and watching the Ulster Grand Prix so I'm sure he would approve.

During the week I hacked back the pumpkins in the bottom greenhouse as they were out of control and invading the tomatoes - for future reference I won't let them get as big and I won't plant as many in a small place.

Something had eaten the tassles off one of the sweetcorn cobs, so I peeled back the leaves of the cob to check whether it was ripe and inside was a brown caterpillar.  I left it there, it looked like it was comfy and it was wrapped up in the sweetcorn like a bed so it felt wrong to move it.  I'm willing to sacrifice the cob, and have a moth/butterfly instead.

I found a brown caterpillar in a yellow tomato which I'd brought home from the allotment, so I set it free in the back garden.  I also found a green caterpillar on the living room carpet so I set this free too.  Yes, they might eat some plants, but we need moths and butterflies too, and they've as much right to be here as me.  It's just those slugs that do all the damage!  Saying that, my Aunty Anne's entire tomato crop has been eaten by caterpillars this year, she's been completely over run by them, which is such a shame.

There was a dead song thrush at the allotment - I'm not sure how it was killed but it didn't seem to have been attacked.  I hope it's not eaten a slug that's died from eating a slug pellet and got poisoned.  We're hoping to fit a noticeboard at the allotment so I will put a poster up to say that conventional slug pellets can harm birds and wildlife - people need to swop to organic pellets.  (But what about the poor slugs, Gemma?!)

They finally fitted a new gate at the allotment - the main gate had been on its last legs for months and it was getting really hard work to close, so I'd been hassling the Council to replace it for a while now.  They've fitted a large metal gate which is very easy to open and close, we just need to put some barbed wire at the top to keep any intruders out.

Now for an update from the greenhouse at home.  Here's what it looks like at the moment.

The watermelon is as big as a tennis ball.

And the other melon is coming along nicely.

There's some huge trusses of tomatoes.

A few tomatoes have split.

The aubergine plant toppled over and one of its branches snapped off, so I had to pick the aubergines.

The back garden is growing well, but I think it's missing some sun.  The nicotiana are getting pretty big.

On Sunday afternoon after the allotment I came home and picked most of the blackcurrants off the bush in our back garden and made a crumble with them.  I followed Delia Smith's crumble recipe (from her Complete Cookery Course book - a bargain buy on the flea market, but a book I keep referring back to), and substituted half of the wholemeal flour for porridge oats, which worked really well, and I think this might have been the best crumble topping I've made so far.  The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of caster sugar sprinkled on the blackcurrants, but I think it could have done with 3-4 tablespoons as it was still a bit tart.  The blackcurrants went an amazing purply violet colour.  Mmmmm.  I put some blackcurrants on the bird table too as a little treat for the birds as they don't seem to have discovered the bush yet.

The weather hasn't been great - it's rained everyday since St Swithen's Day.  So I'm hoping the sun will come back soon and make all the plants grow again.  We're still subject to a hosepipe ban, which seems ironic considering how wet it is.

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