8 December 2013

La Palma photos

La Palma 2013 photo album best viewed as full screen slideshow.

Just back from a week's walking on La Palma ,the most north westerly of the Canary Islands.Lots of good coastal and mountain scenery,flowers, food ,colourful houses and bus stops!


10 November 2013

November greens and roots

A visit to the allotment in the afternoon sunshine to collect some veg.Last night's first heavy frost of the Autumn has knocked back the vegetation on the Jerusalem artichokes but not the serrated stems of the Globe variety.

The "greens" that I cut were multi coloured and include Cavolo Nero,Red Ursa and Scarlet kales,green and orange chard , radicchio and flat leaf parsley.

I lifted the first of the Jerusalem artichokes as well as a few more parsnips and leeks. While looking for a suitable pot to park a Bee Balm plant that was being smothered by the globe artichokes, I "rediscovered" the Harlequin carrots which have been grown high in pots to avoid carrot root fly. Quite a decent crop from the contents of one pot so far.The yellow ones seem to be the cleanest roots.

1 November 2013

Bonus spuds

I cleared another area of the plot today and gave it a top dressing of horse manure which I will leave to overwinter. While forking over the soil and removing weeds I found three Salad Blue potatoes which I'd missed in August.
They are quite difficult to spot in the dark soil and I managed to fork through one of them.Apart from that they have very little damage except from some brown scab which appears standard for this variety and is only skin deep.

They look pretty good after cleaning and peeling, and there's no slug or eel worm damage!

I'm looking forward to eating them as they have a delicious taste and are particularly good for soaking up the gravy.
A must grow for next year,along with some other coloured flesh varieties and perhaps Romano or Shetland Black.

24 October 2013

Late October colours on the plot

I've been doing an Autumn tidy up ,clearing the spent bean and sweetcorn plants and putting a layer of horse manure on any freed up areas that will have brassica,beans and potatoes on them next year.Today's warm ,dry and windless weather was perfect for completing the T shaped membrane path on the lower half of the plot. I'm quite pleased with this simple path system as it gives good access to the plot without sacrificing too much of the growing area.

There's still a colourful display of seasonal veg including : scarlet ,red ursa and cavolo nero kales; radicchio; gold, pink ,rhubarb and green chards ; parsnips and leeks.


New asparagus bed

The leeks look bigger now that I've weeded them

18 October 2013

Mallorca October 2013

Port de Pollenca

I went to Mallorca for the first eleven days of October during a very warm spell of weather,with the daytime temperatures 25c+ and pleasant warm evenings where you could eat outside comfortably. 

Link to photo album here

The usual mix of mountains,food,drink,flowers and some colourful shots of Palma market just before I left for the airport for my return flight.

Above Cuber lake looking east from Puig Sa Rateta

On the first three nights I stayed in the capital Palma for easy access by bus to the north west coast and mountains beyond Esporles,then the next three nights at Lluc where the mountains are accessible from the doorstep and the last four nights in Port de Soller which has good bus and foot access to both coastal and mountain walks.

Cala de Deia

Palma market

Quite a few of the mountain shots appear to show someone following me in a balloon! Very annoying as I thought it was caused by dirt on the lens but it seems to be something inside the camera itself. I'll have to resurrect my old camera or buy a new one.

13 October 2013

October harvest

I've just returned to a good harvest from the plot having been to Mallorca for eleven days.

The Trombone courgettes have done well ,especially where they can scramble up the fence or bean supports and they've been cropping all summer.I cut most of the remaining ones and also collected more of the garlic and shallots that I've been drying off in our communal greenhouse.

Some of the chard is now bolting but at this stage it produces lots of tender leaves and florets that can be used in salads or cooked like spinach.The row of peppery leaves that I sowed in April is still cropping with various types of rocket,red dandelion and coriander and I also found some spring onions and late sown radish to add to the salad bowl.

This year I grew Cherokee beans for the first time.Earlier in the summer I was picking a few as tender young beans but found the texture and flavour improved as they "beaned up" a little but were still all green coloured. I then left the rest to grow on as shell beans but before I went away had my doubts on whether they'd do this before Autumn fully took hold. Before I flew home on Friday I saw dried borlotti beans on the vegetable stalls in Palma market and when I got back was pleased to find that my beans were at a similar stage drying on their vines.A six foot long double row has produced half a carrier full bag of beans.                                

There should be some colourful shots of market displays at the end of my Mallorca trip photos which I'll link into my blog after editing.

25 September 2013

This year's spuds

I've finished digging up the last few rows of potatoes.To start with there were nine rows with an average of eight tubers in each row. I think I got carried away after my visit to Madeira where potato growing is a bit of an art form.
To try to counter possible late blight I cut off the haulms of the 2nd early and main crop varieties and then left the tubers in the ground.This seems to have worked well against the blight but has resulted in some varieties not fully maturing and a feast for slugs and wire worms.

I started off with Orla in late June.They were my joint equal best variety, with a fabulous new potato taste. Some of them were quite large given that they'd only been in the ground for just over 11 weeks. The first ones dug up in the dry spell had quite a lot of common scab but they cleaned up nicely.There was less scab  after it started raining in July.

The Belle de Fontenay flattered to deceive.They looked good but had a disappointing flavour.
The Sharpe's Express were more like a slow goods train. Partly my fault for removing the haulms too early which resulted in stunted tubers which were bland tasting.

In contrast ,the Salad Blue were another fabulous tasting variety although the slugs and eel worm seem to hate them.Quite a lot of brown scab on the surface but very clean when peeled.
I got quite hooked on these.
Salad Blue

Saxon were a major disappointment.Well developed tubers ,but when I dug them up they all felt lightweight relative to their size. The slug and eel worm damage was obvious on some of them but on others the only outward sign was a small entrance hole which then revealed a maze of tunnels when the potato was cut in half.Yuk.

The last two types dug up recently have been better. Harlequin are a kidney variety that cropped well and I've still been able to get a decent number even after sifting out the very small ones and any with pest damage.They look like salad potatoes but are quite flowery when cooked.Quite a nice flavour.
 Romano were an afterthought on my return from Madeira when I decided that I needed to grow more spuds.I'm quite pleased with the results.Although there are only a few tubers from each plant they are a decent size ,with relatively little pest damage ,good looking ,and have a good flavour.
 I'll certainly try to grow Orla ,Salad Blue and perhaps Romano again next year.I'm looking out for other varieties with coloured flesh as it seems to ward off pests.Apparently there's a Salad Red type?

19 September 2013

Slovakia and Eastern Austria photos

Here's the photo album from my late August/early September trip.

I flew from Liverpool to Bratislava and then took the train to Liptovsky Mukulas which is about half way across Slovakia with the High Tatra to the north on the border with Poland and the Lower (Nizke) Tatra to the south. Having been to the High Tatra a while ago I took advantage of the good local bus service to do some day walks in the Nizke Tatry and neighbouring Velka Fatra range. The Slovaks must like these mountains as there are a huge number of signed paths and some lovely mountain huts.

Chata pod Borisovom in the Velka Fatra

While the Demanovska Dolina to the south of Liptovsky Mukulas has a large amount of winter skiing paraphernalia ( as well as some famous tourist caves) the mountains to either side are very attractive and I had a wonderful walk from the top of the Chopok cable car east along the ridge via Dumbier (the highest point of the range) and the Chata M R Stefanika (famous Slovak ,google him) then down to Vysna Boca to catch the bus.

As it was only a 10 day trip I then travelled back through Bratislava and on to Vienna where I stayed a night before heading into Styria for a three day walk in the Hochschwab mountains north of Bruck an der Mur.
Posh nosh in Vienna

The Hochschwab are the next range east from the Gesause Alps ,where I went in early July, but are more easily accessed by public transport from the Vienna side.
Great huts, food and drink as usual ,as well as scenery.

Late lunch

After finishing my walk at Tragoss I took the bus down to Bruck an der Mur and the next day travelled back through Vienna and then down the Danube by boat to Bratislava. A fast catamaran which made it difficult to take un-blurred photos. I hadn't seen much of Bratislava earlier in the trip but the old town was an enjoyable place to spent the final night and most of the last day before my late flight home.

23 August 2013

Late August allotments

Took some late August photos for the annuls, showing the plots 20 months on from when we did our first  clearance work on the site.Everything is looking abundant.

There's a particularly attractive combination of veg and flower planting at the top of Kath,Chris and Steven's plots.

 The bees (wasps?) are busy on the Buddleia

 On my own plot I've decided to leave any of the spiky globe artichokes to flower.

I've just started harvesting sweet corn and reckon that it's about three weeks earlier than last year.