First pickings

A medley of tiny vegetables and edible flowers straight of the allotment. They were delicious and gave us a taste of the treats to come. In the basket today was courgettes, peas, broccoli, spring onions, new potatoes, little gem and iceberg lettuce and nasturtiums. A bountiful basket of goodies that were delicately cooked, anointed with butter and savoured, almost reverently, definitely mindfully, each and every mouthful.

The allotment in June.

We’ve been busy at the plot of late and are starting to find our groove in the vegetable and fruit year. Every year is different, depending on time allowable at the plot, health and strength, heat or cold, rain and sunshine and pests. One really never knows how it is going to go, but fingers crossed there comes a point where one sees the weight of ones endeavours tip the balance of favourability towards it being a good year and I think we have just reached that point.

Before I start I will tell you about our failures, the carrot or parsnips didn’t take, the onions didn’t do any good, the beetroot was patchy. We’ve resown the parsnips and carrots, its not too late, we should get something. I have a few onions left, nothing worth mentioning, but enough to flavour a dish or two. This week I have sown leeks, a little late but they should catch up, enough peas for another row, some more mange tout, spring onions, lettuce and an all year around cauliflower for continuity and some more sweetcorn for the autumn. I’ve also sown swedes and coriander along with a little extra rainbow chard. Flower seeds have been popped in the ground, sunflowers finally put into their final place and nasturtiums nestle under the hazelnut tree.

Garlic has been lifted and is now drying for a couple of weeks, I might even have a go at plaiting some.

Lettuces are starting to do well, I should start to crop them in a week or two.

The Crown Prince pumpkins are telling me they would rather it was a little warmer, but they should do fine once it warms up and nestled in is some spring onions for salads.

Our mint is doing well, for the first year it is outstripping our notoriously high demand. Flowering thyme behind that and some rosemary. In another bed we have the most tasteless strawberries you ever did meet, I’m looking for a new variety for next year, if anyone has got any hints and tips on that I’d appreciate it.

The fruit patch which has goosberries, red currants, black currants, blueberries, two apples and one pear tree.

Apples are doing well,

And the pears look magnificent.

The blackcurrants are just starting to ripen, this rain we are having today will be wonderful for them.

The patchy beetroot, such is the trouble that happens when one is battling against the cold and racing for an early crop, but there are a couple of rows like this, so its not all lost and there will be some more for autumn.

The sweetcorn looks to be doing well. ‘licks lips and prepares big pats of butter’

I love these golden courgettes, they are just so pretty.

And soon I will be awash with them as I always grow too many, but there are always happy faces when I appear at our local pub with a few to give away.

Spuds are doing well. International Kidney, aka Jersey Royals to you and me, along with some Charlottes which are 2nd earlies. I don’t grow main crop because they take too much space up and I would rather grow more expensive items and buy a sack of spuds from a local farm. But the sweetness of a new potato straight from the ground is one of life’s simple pleasures.

The brassica’s. Oh so much here. Cabbages both winter and summer and cauliflowers, kale and brussel sprouts, chard and broccoli and purple sprouting. It will thin out as the summer goes along as we eat the summer cabbages and the early cauliflowers.

Peas, mangetout and broad beans.

Some of the peas are nearly ready to pick. Hubby had left the cover off so I think they have had a bit of a pecking from the local wood pigeons, but the covers back on now, so they should recover nicely.

Broad beans are starting to flower.

And the mange tout look very healthy, but have yet to flower.

We have runner beans and french beans, which I have to say are not enjoying the cold.

And then we have the greenhouse which is hubby’s piece de resistance this year. A two tier greenhouse no less. He has dug the borders out and replaced with compost and then planted the tomatoes in tubs with the bottom cut out, which allows the roots to find the dampness below. The tomatoes are grafted onto a strong root stock so they will climb and climb, covering the roof by the end of the season, enabled by a heath robinson structure of bamboo canes. Underneath we have a veritable smorgasbord of tasty treats.

Starting with marigolds, not for us, but for the tomatoes to help keep the whitefly at bay. It seems to work because we never have whitefly.

Followed with tasty lettuces, I think these are little gems.

Chilli’s dot between the plants.

Cucumbers are in the corners. One in a pot one in the border, it will be interesting to see which does best.

And last but not least clumps of spring onions.

I hope you have enjoyed your little walk around my allotment, it is our second year on this new plot. Although there are still a few big jobs to do, I feel that we are really starting to make it our own and enjoy its hidden charms.

Another Birthday!

We had planned to spend a lovely rural day at a local agricultural show, but the heavens had opened some 24 hours previous and gave no signs of abating, so we trotted off to Birmingham to wander around and sample the delicious delights of Fumo, an Italian styled tapas restaurant with delicious wines and cocktails, situated on the top floor of Selfridges.

We arrived on the dot of our booking and alas, the restaurant was full. No matter, the manager escorted us to the bar, gave us drinks on the house of which I had a glass of champagne (well it was my birthday!) and left us to chat for a short while.

Birthday Selfie

Shortly we were escorted to a lovely central table and after taking our time over the considerable menu ordered three or four things each. The menu is designed to have small bites of delicious treats and I chose scallops, a tagliatelle ragu, cheese garlic bread and a mixed salad. Hubby chose some lamb chops and monk fish wrapped in parma ham, and Son no.1 veered towards buffalo cheese and truffles, a carbonara dish as well as some of the antipasto offerings. We happily shared our dishes, enjoyed with another glass of champagne and a delicious glass of red, everything was delicious.

Birthday cake!

While we were relaxing having taken our time to order a dessert, this appeared. It was so cute and so unexpected, I loved it, and just as we were sharing it a round of “Happy Birthday’ struck up from a choir of seven that had appeared from behind me, a rousing chorus of melodious Italian men and women’s voices, headed up by the Manager that I had met earlier. They were very impressive and as they finished the restaurant erupted into cheers and whistles. It was brilliant. I was blushing as bright as any beetroot, but I did love it so.

Our deserts were equally good and we wandered back into Selfridges happy and content, having had rather a lovely experience on a very wet birthday.

Son no. 1