Monday, 17 August 2009

So Saturday was open day! And great craic it was too! We met lots of new allotment friends and my cover was blown thanks to one of our allotment neighbours whose not-the-designer-wellies were £10 from Dunnes! It wasn't you I was talking about earlier honest! Thanks for the tea and traybakes - yummy - and I hope you raised a lot of money for Assissi! In fact with the free potatoes from Maurice the farmer, the tray bakes for Assissi and the bag of delicious fudge thanks to Broom Cottage, I had no room left for my scone!

The Head Gardner was able to sit and show off his produce and talk to visitors about his onions! I felt very proud of our allotment as well and tried to take credit as much as possible obviously!

I then thought it would be nice to display some produce in my basket of loveliness at the bottom of the allotment - shame I hadnt thought of it before we left home because our house is coming down with allotment veg and what was still in the ground wasn't quite ready but I made quite a good fist of it anyway. I actually lifted some potatoes! Out of the ground! For the first time! We have had some already but this was the first time I lifted them. The head gardener is very proud of his potatoes and in fact we have named them tescoknocknagoneyensis. People were asking what kind they were. We got half a dozen salad potatoes long past their best at the bottom of a bag from a well-known supermarket that shall remain nameless but was Tescos. The head gardener split them in half and planted them. From that we got a whole bed of lovely potatoes! So that is why we have decided to call them tescoknocknagoneyensis because that is where they came from.

We had originally planned to make some beetroot soup - recipe to follow - but unfortunately one the head gardeners colleagues was leaving and Friday was her last day. So drinking took priority on the Friday night and it was a much as we could do to get up on the Saturday at all much less make a vat of beetroot soup. We had plenty of visitors anyway and one lady wanted to know how to cook beetroot so just on the off chance that she might read this - I know I am optimistic - here is the head gardeners favoured recipe for beetroot soup which I can vouch for -

Head Gardener's Delight Beetroot Soup


Oil for frying
1 onion
1 clove garlic
500 - 600g beetroots (or as many as you have/want) chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 litre stock (preferably beef)
Feta cheese

Step 1 Fry the onion and the garlic in the oil in a large pan until soft.

Step 2 Add the chopped beetroot

Step 3 Add tin of chopped tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil.

Step 4 Simmer until cooked thoroughly.

Step 5 Return to pan and heat through

Add feta and serve!

Pride of place on our allotment was what I call our north american plot with the pumpkin and the sweetcorn on it!

There were a few stalls there and quite a large number of visitors. To the lady who took it upon herself to sample our peas I would like to say that I hope she enjoyed them! The octogenarian mother has always been desperate for that - no bunch of grapes in the greengrocers is safe. As a teenager it made me cringe with embarassment (then again is that not what parents are for when you are a teenager?) and pretend not to be with her. I still do this because so does she! She calls it "sampling". She would have loved today because she would have been able to go round and chat to everybody and get their life stories! Unfortunately she was otherwise detained at a vintage car rally in Ontario. What else would you be doing on a Saturday?

It was also very nice of the Ards flying club to put on the air display for us! Although on reflection I think it was more for the Tall Ships Festival in Belfast.
We actually went to see them afterwards - very impressive but very crowded.

So to sum up what happened today -

Hours - 12 noon - 6 pm
Activities - lifting spuds, weeding (head gardener)talking to people eating things showing off to visitors muttering about people taking our peas without asking veg talk gardening tips cookery ideas
talking to people I went to school with about a century ago - no names no pack drills!
Feeling old because of the above.
How much did plants and seeds cost - no idea
what has been planted so far onions, leeks, garlic, peas, italian beans, other beans sweetcorn, pumpkin, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, brussel sprouts, potatoes, cos lettuce, iceberg lettuce, italian lettuce, raspberry canes, blackcurrant, redcurrant and whitecurrent.
what has been brought on in the greenhouse - nothing due to lack of greenhouse. Mind you I frequently get a shock when I look in the hotpress.

harvesting and weighing of produce - about an hour. supermarket value would be about £5.

Time spent on social activities 6 hours time well spent.

Wildlife seen: butterflies, housemartins and a peregrine falcon having a dust bath in the car park!

We were speaking to the man from the beekeeping association who said that there might be a plan for keeping hives at the allotments. That would be brill.
The head gardener then thought it would be great to have chickens and maybe a time-share pig or two.....................................

And I forgot about the courgettes.

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