19 November 2014

Nearly winter veg

I've had a bit of time out from the blog having been to Mallorca for part of October and more recently making sure that I had everything sorted out ready for the Arnside Knott Race that I organise and which took place last Sunday.
Despite it nearly being winter there's still plenty to be harvested from the plot ,including salad leaves ,Cavolo Nero kale, January King cabbage, and brussels sprouts which particularly appreciate the heavy clay soil!
The parsnips wouldn't win any prizes and while the leeks are still small (an Italian winter variety) I've started to lift them early as they have a lovely ,slightly sweet, taste and there are plenty more to last through the winter.
Scorzonera ("black salsify") is an unexpected bonus.A few plants that were not fully dug up last year have  developed much bigger roots.

I think it will be less parsnips and more swedes and scorzonera next year as they seem more suited to the soil.
Last night's supper recipe was add a large potato ,then cut veg up into chunks and simmer for a few minutes.Drain and empty veg into a baking dish ,then pop into a hot oven adding a skinned wild salmon steak on top part way through the baking time.Salmon was rod caught from the River Lune of course from the freezer at the new Aldi in Carnforth.

6 October 2014

Slovakia and eastern Austria September 2014

In early September I revisited Slovakia and eastern Austria,staying in some of the same regions that I went to last year.
Here's a link to the photo album.

After flying to Bratislava I went by train and bus to Stefanova,a small village on the north side of the Mala Fatra mountains and climbed Velky Rozutec an impressive limestone peak much loved by the locals.
Maly and Velky Rozsutec from Stefanova

Originally I'd planned to walk across the mountains the next day but learnt that the way was blocked by severe landslides and the valley approach closed so I took the bus to Strecno via Zilina and walked up to chata pod Suchym a lovely mountain hut.
After staying the night I continued up to the the main ridge, then down to Vrutky and caught the train to Ruzomberok which I used as a base for trips to chata Magurka from Liptovska Luzna valley,and chata pod Borisovom from Liptovske Revuce.

Garden in Zelena dolina

chata pod Borisovom redecorated since my visit last year
For the second part of my trip I travelled back through Bratislava ,staying in Vienna before travelling on to Murzzuschlag to start a four day hut to hut walk in the Schneealpe and Rax mountains which are 2000 metre high limestone plateaus surrounded by steep cliffs.
Although it was 27 degrees C walking up to the first hut  the weather deteriorated over the next couple of days so I had to adapt my plans and take a lower route on the second day to avoid a difficult protected scramble in the rain.
Schneealpe from Lohmgraben
Ottohaus through the Torl
After walking down from the Ottohaus to Payerbach I was able to catch a regional double decker commuter train back to Vienna and then stayed in Bratislava on the final night before flying home.I'll probably do a similar Slovakia/eastern Austria trip again as there are so many variations of walks and huts to visit.

25 September 2014

Early Autumn haul

Still lots to be had from the plot .Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and all that......
Golden,Rhurbarb and Pink Passion chards with wild rocket at the back

Runner beans,mangetout peas with Trombone ,Pattypan and unknown squash

Cylindra beetroot and unknown pepper

23 September 2014

North Yorkshire Moors and coast walk August 2014

In mid August I did a six day walk with two of my long time friends Richard and Andrew,starting at Helmsley and then following the Cleveland Way round the western and northern edges of the North York Moors and southwards down the coast to Whitby.
Here's a link to the web album.

A somewhat brief and belated post as I've been away again since to Slovakia and Austria....photos of that trip published soon.......

19 August 2014

Vegetables in abundance

I seem to have posted more about my holidays than the allotment this year.Just back from a North York Moors walking trip so I decided that a veggie photo was in order after a good harvest this afternoon.

Salad crops including lettuce,Golden Frills mustard,wild rocket,rhubarb chard and mint.
French and runner beans.
Globe artichoke,Trombone and Pattipan squash.
Some excellent beetroot,decent turnips and rather poor carrots didn't make the director's cut.

5 August 2014

Tuxer Alps July 2014

In mid July my friend Ernie and I went on our annual hut to hut walking trip to Austria.This year it was in the Tuxer Alps which are bordered to the south by the Zillertal Alps and  Brenner Pass to Italy ,and by the Inn valley to the north.
Link to trip photo album here

On the 12th July we arrived into Munich on the overnight sleeper just after 7 am and the journey south through the Austrian Tyrol to our starting point near Steinach am Brenner didn't take long, and soon after midday we were ready to set off up to the first hut on our seven day trip.
Geraer Hutte looking towards Italy (Sudtirol)
Five of the six huts are above 2000 metres and for the first couple of days we crossed quite a few snowfields as we headed northwards to Tuxerjoch Haus and Lizumerhutte.
Snowfields near Pluderling Sattel
From Lizumerhutte we'd planned to take the direct Via Alpina/Inntaler Hohenweg to the Weidener Hutte but because the Wattens military range was in use that day we had to choose an alternative route to the hut via the Torjoch,Vallruck Alm and Geiseljoch.The landscape now had a greener look to it with less snow except for part of the next day when crossing over Rastkogel (2762m) to the Rastkogelhutte.
Heading down from Torjoch
Approaching Rastkogel

Hausgemachte speck knodel mit wild mushrooms in rahmsose
Apart from the Tuxerjoch Haus which had rather disappointing cuisine and a naff conservatory extension,  the rest of the huts were great each with it's own particular character and lovely food!
The Kellerjoch Hutte was a great finale, positioned on a ridge high above the Inn valley with views north to the Karwendel mountains.And even more mushrooms in cream sauce!
Kellerjoch Hutte and Inn valley
After the end of the walk we spent a couple of days with friends in Munich and then brought the hot weather home to the UK.

24 July 2014


In the past I've baulked at the idea of netting my crops in the hope that "nature" would protect them.This year however the birds have discovered our allotment site and the sparrows in particular are ravaging the more tender seedlings such as peas,beans and chard as well as feasting on the establishing soft fruit.
So I've been trying out some netting solutions mainly using recycled materials.
The soft netting bought some years ago,which did good service combined with plastic hoops (now defunct due to sunlight), seems to work well when draped over the rows of strawberries and also over the black and red currants underplanted with rhubarb chard and lettuce.
I've also been developing a method of using the spare fence wire netting to make some crop covers.
My first try was to double over the netting to produce a fairly rigid framework and then to secure it to the ground with plastic pegs which were part of the original soft netting/plastic hoops kit .The ends are filled in some old bits of rigid netting.
On my later attempts I've threaded spare canes along the base of the hoops and wired two together,which makes a more rigid frame and they are easier to remove for harvesting or weeding.
The only current expenditure has been on a new close weave net for a brassica cage.I'd tried cheap plastic nets which ripped when being secured,and also my soft netting which had too large a mesh to keep the cabbage whites out!
The net is 10 x 8 metres ie HUGE.Initially I draped it over blue piping hoops which I've had for a couple of years but that left vast amounts of material around the perimeter,so it's now supported on poles which I bought some time ago and hadn't found a use for.
It's a bit OTT.Next year I think I'll cut it into two peices to cover separate beds using the hoops and smaller poles.

While there have been lots of slugs this year they don't seem to have caused as much damage as the birds.
My Orla potatoes seem to have suffered the most from slug damage with about a third of the crop affected,while the first early Premiere and 2nd early Blue Kestrel have been virtually pest free.
Blue Kestrel

I've just returned from a walking trip in the Austrian Tyrol and will be writing a post,with photo album, soon.

3 July 2014

June Solstice trip - Glens,Lochs and Bothies

Over the June Solstice me and two friends ,Philip and Andrew, did our traditional walking trip,this time in the area between the Great Glen and Rough Bounds of Knoydart.
Link to trip photos here 
I need to change the camera back to BST from New Zealand time!

We started from Strathan at the head of Loch Arkaig and headed for Glen Pean bothy in the late evening.From there we had a fairly short day through the rugged upper glen and down to Oban bothy on Loch Morar and then spent the afternoon exploring the immediate area.
The following day we took the good stalkers path up Gleann an Lochan Eanaiche then went down into Upper Glendessarry and over the Mam na Cloich Airde to Sourlies bothy on Loch Nevis.
Sourlies is a fairly small bothy on a junction of well trodden routes and it was fairly cramped on the second night.We had the only rain of the trip on a day walk up Glen Carnach,a very wild and beautiful area.
On the final day of the main walk we retraced our steps to Upper Glendessarry and down the lower glen to Loch Arkaig.
After a night's wild camping near the head of the loch we headed down to the outlet at the eastern end and walked round to Invermallie bothy to spend the last night of the trip.A nice bothy but I wish folks carried their rubbish out rather than let it pile up and attract vermin!

24 June 2014

June Solstice fruit and veg

I've been walking in the NW Highlands for the last week and have come back to a good harvest from the plot.

Link to web album is here

First early premiere potatoes and
lots of strawberries.

Also pleased with the maturing leaf and hearting lettuce.
And the globe artichokes too!

4 June 2014

Cross Bay run

Last Wednesday I did the annual run across Morecambe Bay with my running club Dallam.While we were guided safely across it was quite wet under foot on the fairly direct route between Flookburgh and Red Bank that was chosen because of the River Kent being divided into several channels at present.
Some great photos on http://johnleechstudio.smugmug.com/Events/Cross-Bay-Run-2014-Dallam-Run/

28 May 2014

Madeira photos

Here's a link to the photos from my recent trip to Madeira best viewed as a full screen slideshow.
My previous visits have been in our winter months but on this May trip I saw the landscape in all it's glory with the summer flowers in bloom and plots full of vegetables.
Fabulous weather for the whole trip.No rain but the levadas come into their own to irrigate the cultivated land.

Curral Jangao and the central mountains
Flowers on a levada wall

Cannas at Boaventura
Trad shed and garden at Santana looking south towards the mountains
Origem da Levada Achada Grande above Boaventura

8 May 2014

The lone lettuce

Quite surprised to find a lone lettuce growing on my plot that was ready to eat so early in the season.It must be last year's seed which lay dormant over winter and then decided things were warm enough for it to grow away.I think it's Marvel of 4 Seasons and has made for some very good salads with a few young chard and mint leaves throw in.

Hopefully this year's lettuce will be just as good.I've sown mixed and Webbs varieties which are coming along nicely but will need some serious protection with slug pellets.