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Mouldy Banana’s And Beneficial Insects

To begin with, I thought I’d show you my first broad beans of the season.  These are an over-wintering variety that I sowed in pots at the beginning of November.  As the weather was dreadful, I didn’t plant them out until February and to be honest I nearly put them in the compost bin as they were so ‘leggy’ by then.  However, I had room in my polytunnel so I put them in there, tying each one to a cane to try and stand them up.  I didn’t think they would come to anything and I have been proved wrong, so I am very pleased.

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The above broad beans went straight down to my father-in-law, as he absolutely loves them.  He has been very poorly recently and has only just come out of hospital again, so this put a smile on his face.

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My strawberries are finally growing well, even though they are slightly later than usual, due to the cold spring we have had.  I always lay straw around my strawberries, as this stops the strawberries from rotting when they lay on wet ground and it also helps to stop annual weeds from germinating around them.

Another job I do is to put a net over them, or the greedy birds will eat all of them.

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A long time ago, I was told I wasted space at my allotment by growing too many flowers. Yes I agree, if I didn’t grow so many flowers I would have more space for vegetable plants. However, I strongly believe I would also have fewer vegetables to harvest, as there would be less insects around to pollinate my crops.

You only needed to stand and watch my wild flower patch last year, to see the buzz of activity there. It was absolutely amazing to watch and took my breath away every time I stopped and stared.

As an organic gardener, I try really hard to encourage beneficial insects into my plot , as they keep the ‘bad bugs’ at bay. As an example, if you watch blackflies, within a few days you will see the ladybirds having a feast on them. I don’t use pesticides as these will not only kill the ‘bad’ insects, but it will also kill the ‘good’ ones too.

I try to let nature do the work for me.

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I try really hard to attract bees onto my plot from early spring until late autumn, by planting a continuous range of flowers. As an example, I stood amongst my poached egg plants for less than ten seconds a couple of days ago and managed to easily take photos of four separate bees:

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 After the success of last years wildflower patch, I decided to have another go.  Last month I sowed the seeds and they have started to come up now, together with seeds that self sowed themself from last year.

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The plants that are growing from last years seeds are far more advanced than the seeds I sowed last month and I have even got a flower on one of them:

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 If this years display is half as good as last years, I will be happy.  Below are a few photo’s of last years patch:

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Two Mouldy Banana’s:

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I hate waste.  However, there is always something that you find lurking at the back of the fridge or the bottom of the fruit bowl that you have to think hard about how you can use it.  So what on earth could you do with two mouldy, black bananas’ that only look fit for the compost bin?….

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…..I made a lovely banana cake:

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Banana cake

2 very ripe bananas’s mashed

170g caster sugar

170g self-rising flour

170g soft margarine

3 eggs

Half a teaspoon of vanilla essence

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Plus extra margarine and flour for lining the tin

A little icing sugar for dusting.

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Preheat your oven to gas 3 / 325F / 170C

Line a medium loaf tin by greasing the tin with margarine and dusting with flour

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Put all the ingredients into a bowl

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Mix until they are all combined and pour into your loaf tin.

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Bake for approximately 1 hour. 

(Test the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the cake and if it comes out clean then it is cooked).

Dust with icing sugar when cool.

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at approximately 4pm.

 

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A Frittata Recipe With ‘Leftover Vegetables’ And A Week Of Allotment Work

It has been a very busy gardening week at my allotment.

I started by feeding my fruit bushes and trees with ’sulphate of potash’, which is a good feed for fruit and flowers.  I sprinkled it around the plants and forked it into the soil and then I gave them all a layer of my own allotment made compost:

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I also planted broad beans at my allotment.   I sowed the beans in December and they had sat quite comfortably in toilet rolls, in my cold greenhouse at home.  I raked some blood, fish and bone fertiliser into the soil before I planted them  (it is better to rake this into the soil two weeks before planting, but I was a bit late doing this).  I planted two double rows, each plant 20cm apart and approx. 60cm between the double rows:

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Another thing I planted was the garlic I had sown in pots in my cold greenhouse over winter.  Unfortunately, I lost most of the garlic I planted directly into my allotment soil, before Christmas.  I think this was probably due to the constant wet weather we had.  I’m glad I planted the garlic in pots as a backup now:

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Remember my bean trenches?  I finally finished filling the second trench with peelings etc. and I covered the trench with soil.  The runner beans will love to be planted here at the end of May, as they love deep, moist, fertile soil.

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I also received the snowdrops ‘in the green’ that I ordered a couple of weeks of ago and planted them in my new woodland area.  If you have read my blog recently, I ordered these so I can remember my friend who passed away last month due to a brain tumour.  Snow drops were in flower when she died and the snow fell heavily during her funeral and she would have loved how pretty it looked.  It seemed fitting to plant snow drops in my woodland area that will always remind me of her:

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It has been a really tiring week as I started to prepare my potato patch ready for planting next month.  I started by digging up my remaining leeks and parsnips:

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After this, I forked in loads of manure.  When I am moving and spreading my manure, I always wish I was a 20 year old fit male, instead of a 46 year old struggling female!  I find this job such hard work and I’m glad I’ve finished it now.

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Later, I froze the parsnips by peeling them and chopping them into roughly equal sizes.  I blanched them for two minutes and then froze them on a tray before bagging them up.

By freezing the parsnips this way, I can remove the required amount of parsnips from the freezer and roast them from frozen with my roast potatoes on a Sunday lunch time.

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I froze the leeks exactly the same way.  These will be used in soups, spag bogs, chilli’s etc.

You can read how to freeze vegetables here.

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Today, I thought I’d share a really easy recipe with you, that I cooked this week.  It’s a good way to use up cooked vegetables that are left over from the night before and it is so filling:

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Frittata with Leftover Cooked Vegetables:

8 eggs

Leftover cooked vegetables e.g. potatoes, peas, carrots, French beans

1 Courgette (I use ready sliced courgettes that I froze last summer)

1 Onion

A handful of parsley (again I use parsley that I froze last summer)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

A handful of grated cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

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 Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.

Fry the onion and courgettes over a medium heat, until soft.

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Add the leftover veg and continue to fry until they are heated through.  Add the parsley.

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Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and add the salt and pepper.

Pour the eggs over the vegetables and cook gently, without stirring, until the egg is approximately two thirds cooked.

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Sprinkle the egg with the grated cheese and put the pan under your grill for a further few minutes until the egg is set.

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Slide the frittata onto a plate.

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Cut into slices and serve hot with a nice crisp home grown salad.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I’ll be back again on Monday.