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A Brassica Week & A Final Finale

This week at my allotment my Michaelmas daisys have begun to flower and they look beautiful, standing next to the yellow and orange marigolds and calendulas.

The purple daisys remind me that Autumn is beginning and I think of these flowers as my allotments’ ‘final finale’ of the summer….and of course, the bees love them:

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I have spent most of this week tidying the remaining vegetables at my allotment:

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I removed the netting from my brassicas and gave them a good weed and removed any yellowing leaves.  By removing any dead foliage, it helps to stop any pests from hiding underneath them.

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I noticed there are loads and loads of white fly this year…..I don’t usually bother to eridicate them, however the white fly have started to cause a ‘sooty mould’ on a couple of lower leaves on one of my spring brocolli plants:

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‘Sooty mould’ is a black or dark brown powdery fungus that covers the leaf and it actually looks a bit like soot.  In severe cases it stops the plant from photosynthesising and severely weakens it or even kills the plant.

‘Sooty mould’ is a fungal disease caused by sap sooting insects such as aphids, scale insects, mealy bugs etc, or in my case it is whitefly.

I removed the two infected leaves on my plant and I will continue to monitor the situation.  If it gets too bad I will use a ‘soft soap’ spray, but for the mean time I will do nothing as it isn’t affecting my plant too badly and in the past I have still had good crops from plants covered in white fly.

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One other thing I did whilst removing the yellowing leaves on my brocolli, was to tie each plant to a support.  I place a support into the ground next to my brocolli and brussels when I first transplant them earlier in the year.  This way, I don’t damage the larger roots when the plants are bigger.

Tying the plants to the supports will help avoid the plants rocking when strong winds blow them about.  The movement is sometimes called ‘wind rock’ and it can break some of the tiny root hairs that are responsible for taking in the nutrients from the soil.  This can cause the plants to weaken and brussel sprouts to ‘blow’.

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I noticed this week that some of my cabbages are finally ready to eat.  Unfortunately these cabbages took a battering from ‘flea beatle’ when they were originally transplanted back in early summer.

Most people dig their plants up when they are attacked by flea beetle, but I always give my plants a liquid seaweed feed and give them a chance to recover…..and everytime they do recover with good results – though they always take longer to grow:

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This week I have also transplanted my Spring cabbage.  I didn’t grow my own Spring cabbage this year, so I bought the plants from a local nursery.

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I raked in some Blood, fish and bone and then transplanted the plants and gave each one a homemade ‘cabbage collar’ to stop the cabbage root fly form laying it’s eggs at the base of my plants.

Cabbage collars cost between £3 or £4 to buy a pack of 30.  To save money I make my own by cutting out a square of thick cardboard and then cutting a cross in the middle where the stem will go.  As the stem grows it can expand because of the cross in the middle.

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I place each collar around the stem and it will stop the cabbage root fly from laying it’s eggs and eventually it will just decompose into the soil.

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Elsewhere on the allotment this week, I have been tidying up my woodland area ready for winter.  I weeded and removed some dead foliage and then gave it a mulch of one year old leaf mould that wasn’t quite broken down enough to use on my vegetable beds, but is great for my woodland area:

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 I also noticed that I have an explosion of weed seedlings around my strawberries, so I gave them a good hoe to remove them:

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An Unfortunate Trip!

This week at my allotment I decided to move one or two large slabs and unfortunately I tripped over backwards and ended up with the slab in the photo below, on top of me!  Luckily the sack barrow took the weight of the slab, but I must have looked like one of those cartoon characters with just my arms and legs hanging out from the sides of the slab!…I must have looked funny.

There was no harm done though and I just ended up with a bruise on my leg and a ‘bottom’ that hurt the next day!

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Finally, at home this week I have been blanching and freezing my sweetcorn.  I have had a really good crop of sweetcorn this year, probably due to the warm summer.

I washed the sweetcorn and then blanched them for five minures before bagging them up in family sized portions and freezing.   It’s lovely having sweetcorn in the depths of winter as it always reminds of summer.

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I also weighed and bagged up some of the tomatoes that are ripening outside at home.  I then popped them into the freezer and I will use these to make tomato soup in the winter too.  The tomatoes will turn mushy when they are defrosted, but this is fine for soup.

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The allotment is continuing to provide vegetables and salads and I think the taste of freshly picked homegrown organic produce is far superior to supermarket produce and it’s cheaper to grow.

I feel very priviledged to be able to provide my family with the fruit, vegetables and salads that I grow.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

Leaf Mould & A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10

This week at the allotment, I have been concentrating on my ‘autumn clear up’.  There were loads of fallen leaves from my fruit trees, so I raked them into piles and put them into my black dalek compost bin, where I keep all my leaves together.

The leaves will make a wonderful leaf mould in a year or two, which will be added to my allotment beds.  It doesn’t add any nutrients to the soil, but it is a brilliant soil conditioner.  You can read about how I make leaf mould here.

I also chopped down my Jerusalem artichokes.  I prune these when the foliage starts to turn yellow in the autumn.  As I live in the midlands, I leave them as they are after I have cut them down, but if you live in colder areas you can put a layer of straw over them so it’s easier to dig them up when the ground is frozen.

I have also planted a Rambling Rose called Rosa ‘wedding day’.  I have planted it at the base of the large plum tree in the woodland area, in the hope it will ‘ramble’ through the branches and look beautiful.  I chose this rose as I thought it looked so beautiful in the pictures on ‘Gardeners World’, when Monty Don was also planting one.  I used some of my birthday money to buy the rose, as I thought this would be a lovely way to have something that will give me many years of enjoyment.

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Today I picked some Cape Gooseburys:

My daughters love to eat these and there are still loads of them to ripen in my polytunnel (provided it doesn’t get too cold in there).  The plants are really big now.  You can see them in the picture below.  The plant I grew outside of the polytunnel didn’t do well at all and there are no Cape Gooseburys in sight.

I saved the seeds of one of the Cape Gooseburys, so I can grow them again next year.  I put the seeds on a piece of paper towel, leave them to dry and sow them again next year, with the paper towel still attached to the seeds.  It works everytime.

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Today I picked an enormous swede.  I’m not sure how I missed it before.  I also picked a cabbage that had quite a few slug holes but it was lovely inside.

The swede was enough for three pans full, so we had one pan for tea and the other two I will freeze.

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On Sunday I took my daughters shopping to buy gifts for this years ‘Shoe Box Appeal’.  We wrapped the boxes and lids separately (as advised by the website) and put all the presents into it.  My girls really enjoyed doing this.

We donated £2.50 towards the shipping expenses and then took the boxes to ‘Shoe Zone’, which is one of the designated drop off points.

I just hope that two children love our boxes.  It made us all realise how lucky we all are.  If you would like to donate a ‘shoebox’ too, all the details of ‘Samaritans Purse Uk’ can be found here.

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A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10.00

This week I thought I would set myself a challenge of cooking seven main meals for my family, for under £10.00. If I can do this, it will show people that we can and do actually live well on less’. So watch this space Jamie Oliver!

To keep the costs down, I will be using my home grown vegetables and in the style of ‘Ready Steady Cook’, I will have free use of store cupboard items, which can be found on Mondays post.

The total I have spent so far is:

 Sunday = £ 3.33

Monday = £ 0.87

So my total spent so far is £ 4.20

Tonight I made a chicken and roasted butternut squash pie and served this with vegetables from my allotment (cabbage. swede, peas and potatoes).

I made some pastry and a white sauce with the store cupboard items I have.  You can find how to make a white sauce here (just omit the parsley from the recipe).  I mixed the white sauce with the last of the leftover chicken and roasted butternut squash and then I covered it with the pastry and glazed the pastry with milk.

Tonight’s main meal cost me £0.00 to make.

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Yesterday I made naan bread and promised to tell you how I made them:

Homemade Naan Bread

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Naan Bread Recipe

1 teaspoon of fast action dried yeast

1 teaspoon demerara sugar

200 grams plain flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground corianda

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

2 tablespoons of milk

1 tablespoon warm water

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Mix the yeast with the warm water in a cup.  Stir in the demerara sugar and leave the cup in a warm place for 5 minutes, until the yeast is frothy.

Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, ground coriander and baking powder together.

Stir in the olive oil, natural yoghurt, milk and the frothy yeast mix.

Knead the mixture for 5 minutes and then leave the dough in a warm place for 15 minutes, with a damp tea towel over your bowl so it doesn’t dry out.

Preheat your oven Gas Mark 1 / 140C / 275F

Split the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll into oval shapes on a lightly floured board.

Transfer the naans to a greased baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes, turning once, until they are lightly golden.

 

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Thank you for reading my blog today.